Sponsored by Nuffnang and Mercedes Benz
As the kids grow and we get more and more settled into our life here in Australia as a family of five, the more I realise we need to figure out our car situation. We all *just* fit into the car we bought six years ago when we had one tiny preschooler and twin babies on the way. Back then we were only focused on getting something that was safe, fit the three car seats and got great fuel efficiency. Bonus if it had room for the massive pram in the boot! We did not think too far down the road when there would be friends, overseas visitors, bikes and camping trips.
That was mini-van territory.
We were not a mini-van family.
But we were going to be. That was predetermined the moment I found out that Gemma would not be our only child. Why don’t they tell you that when you get the positive pregnancy test? Something like, “Congratulations on expecting your second (and third) child, time to start taking a multi vitamin and shopping for your mini-van now!”
There are a few things that seem to stop people from considering a mini-van with style, drivability and fuel costs topping the list. When I heard that I was getting the chance to test the Mercedes-Benz Valente for a week, I was excited. I have been a long time Mercedes-Benz fan and one of my first cars in Los Angeles was a used Mercedes-Benz. It was awesome to drive and had luxurious style for days, but it wasn’t a people mover. I did not think of Mercedes-Benz as a people mover kind of car company. Luxury SUV, yes, but practical people mover? Yes, too! In fact, the Valente has won the Delivery Magazine’s People Mover of the Year award for 2012 & 2013.
I headed to Mercedes-Benz Melbourne to meet with Michial Flynn who was the Sales Executive in charge of my customer experience. Easy to get to and filled with options, this dealership is the spot to go for your Mercedes-Benz. I only had to wait a moment before Michial was ready to run through all the options on the vehicle…I did not even get enough time to have a coffee in their waiting area expresso bar!
I was a bit nervous to drive off the lot because the Valente is not a small vehicle. Seating for 8 adults plus 730 litre luggage space means it is a big thing, but as soon as I got up in the seat and headed off, I was confident. This people mover drives like a car. My next concern was parking something of the Valente’s size, but in addition to the Parktronic system of lights and audio alerts to guide the driver in tight spots, my model came equipped with the reverse camera. I had her parked outside of school at pickup with no problems at all. Only a few hours in and I was smitten with the Valente calling her “Sweet Van O’ Mine”. Alec did jokingly ask what we were delivering when he saw it for the first time. It isn’t trying to hide the fact that this is a van with loads of space.
Let’s get to what the kids were most excited about. Dual sliding doors and two rows of seats meant that they barely had to see each other all week. After six years of sitting arm to arm to arm in our car, this was heaven for them. The back is nice and bright despite the tinted windows due to the front and rear sunroofs. As the driver, I felt like I could see for days! They were so excited about the personal space that they did not even ask to watch a DVD despite always asking for me to install a player in our car and the Valente having one built in!
I was so excited to have all the extra room that I offered to drive my kids and their friends everywhere. Eight seats meant that we could take our family and each child could bring one friend. That is absolutely amazing to me. With room for picnic supplies and for the kids to pile their bikes and scooters in the back. All loaded up, the Valente still had the power to drive smoothly.
Driving not only my kids, but the precious children who belong to my friends is an awesome responsibility and I need to make sure the vehicle we choose is extremely safe. The Valente ticks that box as well with a 5 star ANCAP rating. The Valente has an adaptive ESP system that can actually detect the weight distribution of all passengers and compensate accordingly in an emergency situation. Gotta love technology!
My friend who had dropped me off at the dealership when I picked up the Valente was not available to drive me home after I returned it, so I just easily folded down the back row of seats and loaded my bike into the back. Once I returned the car, I had a beautiful 17 kilometre ride home along the beach. I have never been able to take my bike anywhere for a ride because it doesn’t fit in our car and I don’t know how to take it apart and reassemble it. Nor do I want to have to do that. It was such a treat to just pop her (Iris, I named my bike too. I can’t be the only one who names cars and bikes?) in the back and go.
The best and biggest surprise came at the end of the week when I returned the Valente. With all that driving during the week, we had only used 1/4 of a tank of diesel. I was astonished. Practical, stylish, easy to drive and fuel efficient. The Valente has it all. It would be a great upgrade for this one car family.
Have you considered a people mover for your family car? What would make this the car for your family? There is so much more that I did not get to touch on, check out the full information on the Valente from Mercedes-Benz here.