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SUV vs Minivans



  • dardson1dardson1 Posts: 696
    I'd be a little afraid of a hot-off-the-press Ford. I like how the new Explorer looks, but I never buy 1st year models. Have you looked at the Expedition? I had a '98 and loved everything about it but the gas milage. They're tried and true and seem to be nearly as cheap as Explorers with all the incentives.
  • bessbess Posts: 972
    I recently just replaced my Ford Windstar with a Ford Escape SUV..

    While we had children less than 2 years old, the mini-van was by far the best choice for us.. There's just alot of 'stuff' to haul around day to day, and especially on trips, (strollers, high-chairs, portable cribs, diaper bags, etc..)

    My wife and I just didn't like this particular Windstar (99 LX) as it developed spark knock (for the third time), the interior had some rattles (again), and the interior also an electrical problem where the interior lights would sometimes blink off/on, and an oil leak (repaired under warranty).. It also didn't have some features that we should have gotten (thats my fault for buying this van, no adjustable seats, no cd-player), and also found some quirks that I didn't like non-factory dealer installed keyless remote entry locked doors upon startup rather than 5mph, would not allow the vehicle to start unless you press the unlock on the fob etc.. Ok, enough excuses, we just didn't like it..

    This was our second mini-van, as we origionally had a 95 Windstar, which had no problems but we wanted 4 doors in late 98 because of our 2nd child.

    I also like to keep vehicles for a long time if possible (over 100k miles, 7+ years), but wasn't sure the current van was up to the task.. Unlike many previous Fords we've owned that are still running with 220k miles on them.

    So I started looking into the options.. All of the other mini-vans were nice, such as the Honda Odyessey, Dodge Caravan etc, but to get the the van that we would like, the cost was in the 28k range.. ouch.. So I told the wife, the Windstar is just fine, everything will get fixed under warranty and we'll just drive it, theres nothing wrong with it...
    Then she mentioned, have you looked into the SUV's? Well, my first thought is that SUV's are generally more expensive than mini-vans and that they generally have less storage space that mini-vans.. The storage space was not as much of an issue, as the kids are over 2 and 5, there's alot less to pack for trips now.. So we started by looking only at the mid-size SUV's (like Explorers, Blazers etc). I was suprised to see they the cost for these was in the same range as a new mini-van, but still more than we wanted to pay..

    Then we looked at the Escape (a mini-suv).. The front and rear seat room was the same as the larger SUV's, just the cargo area was shortened. Then we took it for a drive (3.0L 4x2).. WOW.. It handled much better than any of the mini-vans we drove and had ALOT more acceleration. And it gets better MPG's than most mini-vans as well. The ride was 'firm' but not jolting as I expected. Mostly because it weighs alot less than a minivan.. It had all of the features and options we wanted, and all for around 20k..
    We got a fair price for the van, and paid a few hundred over invoice for the Escape and we drove it home..
    The kids love it, the wife loves it, and I'm extremely pleased with it..

    The only thing we're really giving up? On long trips I have to use the roof rack for 1 or 2 bags.. I never had to use the roof rack with the mini-van..
  • Bess - it sounds like a Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable Stationwagon would have fit the bill for you as well. Just an idea - but it does look like you found a vehicle that is the right size for you.

    Congrats on not buying an Expedition/Yukon type vehicle. There are too many in your position who have made that mistake.
  • aggie76aggie76 Posts: 265
    Well, after more test driving and agonizing, we've made a choice. Went and drove/examined in detail the Ford Explorer EB/Ltd and was shocked at limited rear seat and cheap materials. Salesman was worthless - couldn't answer questions and when handle for storage area pulled out he was shocked and didn't even say anything to me. We left. Went back to Acura for another drive of MDX and given choices of Sequoia, Minivans, we decided to go with MDX for our needs.

    Wow, what a trial by fire.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    You really put a lot of thought and effort into your decision, and it payed off. As all of us in your boat found out, their is no perfect vehicle...each has it's own strength/weakness compromise.

    My wife and I were both very impressed with the MDX and strongly considered it when we were shopping for our SUV.

    It sounds like you picked the best vehicle for your needs and are happy with your choice. Enjoy!
  • skimmelskimmel Posts: 43
    Congratulations from me as well. And thanks for sharing your experience. It helps others to hear your thought process.
  • stacystacy Posts: 91
    the 4wd sequoia can be kept in that mode at all times without damaging the vehicle, making it basically a permanent 4wd suv if you keep it in this mode. This info is readily available all over the suv board and the Toyota mechanics of this are all discussed in one of the chat rooms in the suv area. So - if this is an important issue for you, dont let the 4wd system scare you out of an suv which you like. just some food for thought. hope this might help some of you.
  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,627
    If you don't tow or go off-road but need to haul people and/or a lot of stuff, you can't beat a mini-van. I just traded our Mecury Villager in on a '01 Pathfinder LE. After a week I already miss the room of the Villager, and that wasn't even a large mini-van. I would have purchased another mini-van if we didn't have a boat to tow. Now I don't have to worry about how far the lake is or how steep the lauch ramp is. With an SUV I hardly notice the boat is behind us and I don't have the feeling that the transmission may fail at any moment due to the weight I was pulling. I'm not ashamed of having an SUV because I have a genuine need for one. If it wasn't for our boat, I'd have a sport sedan or a mini-van that would drive as nice or better, and get much higher fuel economy.
  • The Honda Odyssey is a far superior "kid and stuff mover" when compared to the Sequoia. The Toyota suffers from a high step-in height for when your twins start to walk. The Honda is easier to drive, has more cargo space, handles better, has a more flexible seating arrangement, gets better fuel economy, and (short of AWD) comes with pretty much everything you can get on the Sequoia - all at a lower price.

    For your needs, this one is pretty much a no-brainer. Big SUVs have their place in this world, but carting around children isn't their strong suit. Tell your wife to get over it - the car doesn't make the person.

    Here's what I would suggest. Make her drive the two vehicles back-to-back (make her park them, too) and then have her look you in the eye and tell you which one she would rather drive on a daily basis. I am confident that the Odyssey will win - and given the lower price, so will you.
  • For a long time, I've been looking for a vehicle with the best combination of SUV and VAN. As most of you would agree, 2001 Honda Odyssey is the best minivan this year, and 2001 ACURA MDX is the best SUV this year. I like the 2001 Ody, but it lacks the horse power, entertainment system, and leather of MDX's luxury. I like the ACURA MDX, but it doesn't have the roomy and convenience of the Honda Ody.

    The new 2002 Ody has changed everything. The new 2002 Ody put the best combination of both 2001 Ody and 2001 MDX. The new 2002 Ody added MDX's 240-hp 3.5 liter SOHC 24-valve V-6 engine, it also added MDX's 5-speed automatic transmission. So this 2002 Ody has the nice 2001 Ody look (interior and exterior) but with MDX's strong body. Don't even mention leather seats and DVD entertainment system, and best of all, you're not paying the $38,000 MDX price.

    If you're looking for a vehicle puts the best of both world, 2002 Ody is the car you want to own.

    According to this review, , the 2001 MDX shares about 12 percent of the 2001 Odyssey's architecture. MDX was built on Ody's platform. Now after Ody borrowed MDX's engine and transmission, I bet both 2002 vehicles would share about 50% of each other.

  • jona57jona57 Posts: 190
    While others have pointed out the people-moving utility of minivans, another advantage is that the enclosed cargo capabilities of vans are unrivaled for a given fuel consumption. For example, the larger mini's (e.g. Chryslers, GM's) have a cargo capacity roughly that of a Suburban (160+ cu. ft.). If you can tolerate mid-teens MPG highway mileage, a full size van can haul significantly more than any of the large SUV's (well over 200 cu. ft) and can be outfitted to carry a dozen people (or more in long wheelbase vans). The old Chevy Astro and the somewhat pricey VW Eurovan split the difference between the mini and full-size vans in size.
    The downsides of minivans are limited trailer towing capability (about 3500#) and limited off-road ability. Those 4WD systems on minivans do not make them into Hummers.

    Personally, my family has had a FWD minivan and a sport sedan as our 2 vehicles since the modern minivans first came out in the mid '80's. I have found that a nice mix as I can grab a set of keys appropriate to what I need (or want!) to do that day. I have never needed the off-road capability of an SUV, and have found the minivan's FWD with traction control to be quite adequate for most all Midwestern suburban winter driving. On those few days when I got my sedan stuck in deeper snow in my driveway, I was able to get the minivan out & moving with its higher ground clearance. The penalty in weight, complexity, and handling with 4WD systems in the minivans does not seem to be a worthwhile trade-off for my driving needs.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    Ah, but the AWD minivans are great for carrying 7 eager skiers to the ski slopes! :-)

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  • I've been reading the posts saying nothing is a better people mover than a mini-van, but I'm many people and what else are you moving. I have 4 kids, 3 are in carseats. When I throw a stroller in the back of my Windstar, there's not much room left for the groceries! I caught a glimpse of the inside of a Suburban, and the SPACE looked like a dream come true to me. Can someone tell me why or why not to go there?? I had a Taurus Wagon ('90 - hubby still drives it) then went to the mini van with baby #3. With only 1 sliding door, getting everyone in and out is a pain. We've looked at other vans...but they seem smaller than mine! We do travel alot...45 miles to the grocery store, home to see Grandma every 6 weeks or so. I'd appreciate any input!
  • egrandegrand Posts: 14
    Having four kids myself I would urge you not to get too excited about the added storage space in a suburban vs minivan. The access to the third row I think is much more difficult in the suburban vs minivan particularly if you'll be the one trying to yank them out of their cars seats in the third row. You may want to consider Caravan/Town and Country or odyssey minivans which give more storage room. Elliot
  • gasguzzgasguzz Posts: 214
    the suv and minivan. We picked the van over a mid-size suv. Wouldn't have without the DS sliding, but I have half your load - 2 car seats plus stuff. If it's a consideration, you'll pay more for gas (and insurance???) on the Suburb. Higher ingress/egress too on the suv, but a bigger engine. Yes, traversing through front/mid rows a boon in bad weather fastening the lil ones in the minivan.
    Good luck.
  • This problem goes into the "grass is always greener" category. We have 3 kids, all in car seats. We had a Dodge Durango, and got tired of pulling kids from 3rd row, dinging doors, etc. So, we looked for the biggest AWD Minivan we could find, which wound up being a 2002 Chevy Venture AWD WB edition. Seats 8, plenty of room to haul stuff (we are on the road nearly every weekend). The two power sliding doors are very convenient. The entertainment system keeps them busy on long trips. If AWD is not necessary (it is for us), I believe other vans will match for size...but the Chevy seating (pull out individual seats or fold down) is extremely convenient. When the kids get older I can see us moving back to a SUV, but for now the minivan is better.
  • cavillercaviller Posts: 331
    Obviously, there are exceptions. But when comparing a large wheelbase minivan like Odyssey or Grand Caravan to an SUV with similar cargo space like Expedition, consider:

    The minivan will get better mileage and less emissions. The minivan will have more seating flexibility, and easier access to rear rows. The Minivan will have larger sliding doors and a lower step-in height making loading and unloading easier. The minivan will have better handling and braking. According the the IIHS, Vans over 4000 lbs (Includes Odyssey, Windstar, Grand Caravan etc) are in the best group for lowest death rates ( ). The minivan will have lower tendency to rollover. Odyssey and Windstar also get top crash ratings across the board, something matched by very few SUVs of any size. The minivan will also be less hazardous to other vehicles in a crash, as the unibody design tends to crush to absorb energy instead of acting like a battering ram. Similarly equipped, minivans tend to be a bit less expensive, though this can vary depending on trim level.

    On the other hand, the SUV will be much better for towing. With 4WD, it will also be much better for serious off-roading and very severe weather. The also don't have the family "image" of a minivan. These are not small considerations, especially if you must do heavy towing or off-roading on a regular basis. In those cases, a minivan is probably not an option.

    Again, there are exceptions, I only state some generalizations for sake of debate. Which is right for you depends mostly on your specific needs.

  • Mom,

    Prior to purchasing our 2001 AWD Chrysler T&C, we test drove large SUVs. We have two kids in car seats, but with their friends and the grandparents and all that, functional seating for 4 rear passengers was always a requirement.

    Though we enjoyed the Suburban, Sequoia, Tahoe etc. the choice for an AWD minivan was easy. Price and operating costs were factors, but so was ease of access and configurability of the interior for hauling all the kids' stuff.

    The minivans are far more flexible. We go to downtown Seattle regularly, and my wife found parking the Suburban to be a hassle. In addition, they don't always fit into newer parking garages.

    Re: storage, we easily fit our stroller and ten grocery bags behind the third seat. If you need more space, consider getting a roof box--they are wonderful and affordable.

    Another option that I have seen larger families go for is a full-size commercial-style van. They aren't sexy, but they are sure functional and not pricey.
  • scape2scape2 Posts: 4,119
    is an ego thing. I am a 35 year old male and would not be caught in a mini-van!!! Thats why a mini-Suv with my 200HP v6 suits me fine!
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,968
    We have a discussion just for you :-)

    Where are the high performance minivans?

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