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Used Sienna or Caravan

jmirrorjmirror Posts: 3
I plan to buy a USED minivan and keep it until it dies. My top concerns are:

1. Safety
2. Reliability
3. Overall cost of ownership

I am considering getting a 2006 Sienna with approximately 40k miles for about $13k (based on listings on the internet). My primary reason for picking this model is that it comes with standard side and curtain airbags. Additionally I want low miles to maximize the life of the vehicle.

I am considering my alternatives in the Dodge Caravan world. These are the prices I see:

2006 Toyota Sienna 36k miles -- $13k
2008 Dodge Caravan 19k miles -- $13k
2006 Dodge Caravan 36k miles -- $9k

Hence for $13k, I can get a much newer Caravan. Alternatively I can get an equivalent mileage/year Caravan for only $9k.

What is my best option given the three concerns above? I am not very concerned with quality of ride or internal fittings/space.

Comments

  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    The price 2008 Dodge should trigger a lot of questions about why it is so cheap. Unless it is a fleet/rental being retired the original buyer gave up a lifetime powertrain to get rid of it at half the purchase price. Why?

    Safety is good so that isn't a worry.

    The previous owner took a huge depreciation hit, so a big chunk of cost of ownership is taken care of. They are not the most fuel efficient vans on the market; even the EPA ratings on the underpowered base engine are overstated. With any Dodge, make very sure that if the transmission fluid gets changed only at the dealer as Chrysler transmissions take a special blend of fluid not found at most service stations and the tranny will die a quick and expensive death if the wrong stuff is used.

    Reliability is the question mark though. The first year of a new domestic model is always bad news. Early reports look particularly bad for the 2008 Dodge (see Inside Line's long term test).
  • jmirrorjmirror Posts: 3
    I have noticed several Dodge Grand Caravans with the 20k - 40k mileage for around $12k to $13k range. I am assuming these are rental vehicles.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    Based on the observation of family members who got retired rental cars, I wouldn't go near one. Renters don't exactly treat those kindly and gently and so long term they have lots of problems. A minivan may be better off than, say, a Mustang, but it still wasn't driven by people with any care about how it would run in the future.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    A couple of things...

    Those early Dodge vans are not only lacking the SAC you mention, but the 2nd row windows don't open. They have aged a lot and will seem old the day you buy them. I'd reeeeeaaally try to stretch and get the newer generation van if you pick a Dodge.

    Second, buying an ex-rental would be like buying a used mattress from a cheap motel. Used by a lot of strangers that didn't really care for it.
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