I love my minivan. I just can't say enough about it. I get asked a lot as to whether or not a woman should make the big jump into minivan-land. This is why I made that scary leap at the young age of 25 and we never looked back. This is the best baby-equipment besides my dishwasher and Tivo.
We purchased the minivan right after I had my first child. We were going to purchase while we were pregnant, but we got great advice from my mother-in-law who suggested we wait until we had lived with a child so we knew what our needs were.
So I drove around the Expedition for about 6 months. I hated it. I couldn't easily get the infant carrier in and out of the car because it required upper arm strength. The doors never opened enough to accomodate the infant carrier so I was forced to park far away or risk banging my door on another person's car. It was difficult to drive and got terrible mileage.
We took the car on a road trip through 5 states when my daughter was 3 months old. Whenever she started crying we would have to pull over so I could climb out of the car to sit next to her. Changing her diaper on the seat was difficult because her head would always rub on the seat buckles.
My husband and I went back and forth. I REALLY wanted a minivan for the sole reason of ease of the sliding doors. In Los Angeles there is a new trend of repainting parking spot lines so the spots are smaller, not compact, but not big enough to accomodate a large SUV. He really wanted me to get a smaller SUV like the X5 or Escape.
When he realized it was *my* car we decided to start looking. We settled on the Quest because it had the best safety rating for the 2004 year. We had decided to purchase it and went to test drive it just to be sure. We bought it on the spot and got a great deal.
The car features I love the most are; motorized adjustable seats, seat memory, steering wheel adjustment, GPS navigation (I seriously cannot live without it), seat warmers, and leatherette seats. As far as child friendly features; automatic sliding doors, automatic trunk, DVD system, sky roof, and GPS navigation (great for last minutes pit stops and searching for fast food on road trips).
I remember a trip to OR with our minivan right after we purchased it. We had owned the car for one week before making the road trip. It was snowing and my daughter started crying. After we pulled safely to the side I had to make my way to the backseat to change her diaper, make a bottle and cheer her up. Instead of having to put on my shoes and sweatshirt I was able to stay in the car and walk to the back - easily. This is probably the thing I like the most about my car.
We are often waiting somewhere; for a friend, or for daddy. And I let the kids roam the car playing, rather than having to chase them or leave them in their carseats. They get a bit of a break without me having to put on several pairs of shoes.
We have put almost 30,000 miles on our car in 2 1/2 years. We have taken it to 10 states. We travel with infants and ALL the infant gear. There is always plenty of room. And when the trip gets too long we pop in a DVD.
The only thing I would recommend is getting different tires. They may have fixed this problem in subsequent models, but we were sliding all over the road in the factory tires. But for $500 we solved the problem after-market. We have had NO other problems with the car. It has been inexpensive to maintain and the mileage is great. I highly recommend this vehicle or any minivan with these fantastic features.