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Like many of you here I have been driving (and repairing) an old (2002) Chevy Astro Van. Well the other day my trusty Astro died on me and had to be towed in for new fuel pump (@ $800!). My wife said that’s it, I don’t want you stranded far from home in that thing – time to get something new. But what? All I’ve driven in the last 27 years has been my 1990 and 2002 Astros.

I use my van mostly to transport bicycles. These are big (84” long) and expensive recumbent bikes that you don’t really want hanging off the back on a carrier. The Astro was great for this because a pair of bikes would fit inside upright. That’s something you can’t do with a typical minivan. And I want to stay with something that is “garage-able”, so that rules out all the full sized 20 foot long and 85” tall vans. In looking around I was initially interested in the Ford Transit Connect. But there were a few problems with that. First, I really want windows all around, and the cargo version is not available with glass on the rear quarters. I could go with the passenger version, but that has newfangled seats that don’t really come out, meaning the bikes won’t fit. But most important the darn cockpit is so small that it feels like flying coach. It would be fine for a day trip, but I couldn’t see loading up the bikes and driving cross country in it. I tried sitting in the passenger seat, and when I crossed my leg I hit the gear shift on the center console. I checked out the Chevy, Dodge, and Nissan equivalents of the Transit Connect and they were all the same or worse.

But in researching these vans I did find one site that also listed the Metris as an alternative. I’d never heard of a Metris, but it sure looked interesting. A call to a dealer and a short test drive later and I was smitten. With the rear seats removed there is room for a whole bike shop back there, with great visibility too. And while it may not be as luxurious or as fancy as a Lumina or Odyssey, it’s magnificent compared with an old Chevy. The dealer offered some nice discounts on the ones available on the lot or at other dealerships, but they were all loaded up with options that I didn’t want that were more than the discounts. So I went ahead and ordered just what we wanted. Rear view camera (now standard), cruise, power mirrors, comfort seats, fancy steering wheel, electric side doors, trailer hitch, winter package, rear door trim, 180° hinged doors, only one rear seat, and alloy wheels. Now we wait.

I do have some reservations though. I’m used to really great visibility with my Astro, so I wanted the rear hatch door on the Metris. But when open the hatch is too high for most garage door openings, so I’m stuck with the hinged doors and the center pillar in my rear view. I’m also a bit leery of a rear wheel drive car after driving only AWD Astros for the last 27 years. So I guess I’ll be looking into snow tires and some emergency chains. And of course I’m worried about repair costs, so I’ll see about purchasing some type of ELW as lots of folks here seem to recommend.

I’ve learned a lot lurking here for the last month, and I look forward to learning even more.

Steve Christensen
Twin Cities, MN
 

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Not some type of ELW, one type. Mercedes Benz Extended Limited Warranty
 

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So I went ahead and ordered just what we wanted. Rear view camera (now standard), cruise, power mirrors, comfort seats, fancy steering wheel, electric side doors, trailer hitch, winter package, rear door trim, 180° hinged doors, only one rear seat, and alloy wheels. Now we wait.
Great options (though I would have picked rear hatch over hinged in your configuration). Care to share how much it cost you?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Great options (though I would have picked rear hatch over hinged in your configuration). Care to share how much it cost you?
Well as I mentioned I too wanted the rear hatch - but with the van in the garage the 85" tall hatch would swing up and hit the 83" tall opening of the garage. It was also so heavy that my wife could barely pull it closed. As for my order, here it is. Not sure if there will be any incentive later, especially since I ordered this one, but I'm not counting on it. But as I said before, the incentives on existing models were more than offset by lots of extras we didn't want to pay for.
 

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I like the seat configuration and especially the folding curbside seat. I have removed the two-place second row and moved the three-place third row to the second row but the only access to the rear area is through the rear hatch.
I agree with your wife about the rear hatch being heavy. I preferred the barn doors but my kids insisted on the hatch for tailgating when they inherit it!
 

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Good point - and poor wording on my part. I meant some length of coverage, not MB vs. Geico.
The funny thing is that after the purchase of my Metris,(3days ago) I got the extended MB Warranty, when I called Geico as my long time insurance company, they said that unlike my extended warranty of my Cheverolet P/U truck they would not offer this on the Metris. When I asked why: too expensive in parts and labor, so they wouldn’t offer it.

Glad I got it though.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
....I agree with your wife about the rear hatch being heavy. I preferred the barn doors but my kids insisted on the hatch for tailgating when they inherit it!
I do have to admit it would be awesome to be standing under that giant rear hatch during a rainy or snowy tailgate party. It's almost like a tent under there.
 

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Well as I mentioned I too wanted the rear hatch - but with the van in the garage the 85" tall hatch would swing up and hit the 83" tall opening of the garage. It was also so heavy that my wife could barely pull it closed. As for my order, here it is. Not sure if there will be any incentive later, especially since I ordered this one, but I'm not counting on it. But as I said before, the incentives on existing models were more than offset by lots of extras we didn't want to pay for.


I have a V class with the hatch door, it's electric and you can progam how far you want it to open. So, there's that. I'm from Mexico so I'm more used to the metric system, but can tell you that in my current house (in the US) I have what it seems to be a standard garage, and the hatch opened all the way is probably 1 1-1/2 inches (5-7 cms for me) away from the bottom of the door when fully open.


That being said, if you really want the hatch, you may be on time to make a change, maybe? You can always ask for a demo unit with a Htch and take it to your garage.
 

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Congrats on the order!

We found a preowned van with everything we wanted—except I was hung up on it not having the hatch. We bought it anyway, and I later decided I'd rather have the double doors afterall. They are easier to quickly open/close to get stuff in the back and you can pile up gear high against the left door without it falling out. I do wish the passenger vans opened 270° like the cargos so they aren't in the way when left open.

AWD would be nice, but tires matter the most in snow. I'm waiting on some Nokians to come in and I did buy chains last winter. Even my old '83 MB diesel does well with snow tires, so I recommend tires for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
....That being said, if you really want the hatch, you may be on time to make a change, maybe? You can always ask for a demo unit with a Htch and take it to your garage.
Well hereabouts the standard garage door opening is 83", maybe 84" at most - still too low for the hatch fully open. My dealer was generous enough to let me drive the 30 miles or so back to my house with a demo unit to test the fit, which is how I was able to come to the conclusion that for garage use the hatch rear door is really a non-starter. I prefer everything about the hinged doors except the center pillar blocking the rear view, and I guess I can learn to deal with that. (It's what I had on my first Astro for 12 years.)
 
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