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SUV vs Minivans

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  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    Being the owner of a Freestyle, you're right in that the 3rd row is usefull for adults. I've had my mother-in-law back there, my 5'11 brother, and other adults. The reason I bought the Freestyle was because of the leg room in all three rows. It beat the Pilot, Highlander, & Pacifica and I didn't want a minivan or big SUV. Just compare the leg/head room specs for the Freestyle and get inside. Plus I get about 24mpg average (26hwy/20city) and I only paid $23K. I put on 18,000 miles since buying it last Feb and yes I'm a happy owner.
  • fljoslinfljoslin Posts: 237
    I have just replaced a 1995 GMC Suburban SLT with a 2006 Odyssey EX-L. I would give it a toss-up for seating comfort. The Suburban middle seat is better, but the Odyssey's back seat is better and more accessible. The Suburban has more room with all seating positions up, but not all that much. I am 6'4'' and am as comfortable driving the Odyssey as the Suburban. This is a real test for me which many vehicles fail. I could not even climb into a 2005 Mustang. The Suburban weighs 6000 lbs and has four wheel drive. The Odyssey weighs 4500 lbs and has front wheel drive with traction control. I get 15 mpg highway, 12-13 mpg city in the Suburban. Expect 25 mpg plus highway, 18-20 mpg city in the Odyssey. Pay you money, take your choice.
  • I posed this question in one of the Acura forums before I realized that this forum is here...

    We are considering an suv when our minivan lease is up in the spring. We have had a minivan as our main family vehicle for 5 years, first a T&C, now an 04 Odyssey. I love the Odyssey, don't get me wrong, I would just like to drive something different, and something I enjoy driving. I love to drive & spend a lot of time driving. No sports car in my future (3 kids, youngest is 10 months), so this may have to do.

    Specifically, we are considering an 06 Acura MDX. My husband has an 05 Pilot and he loves it. I know, I know, it would be a little silly to have both the Pilot and the MDX, but they are both great vehicles! While I do NOT see the MDX as a "chick" car, he and I joke about the his and hers versions in our driveway.

    Anyway, I see someone mentioned the transition from a Suburban to an Odyssey, but I'd love to see if anyone has gone FROM a minivan TO an SUV. I know I'll really miss those power sliding doors... but I'll get over it, right?

    That's the question. I'd love your input. Thanks. :)
  • I have waited for a long time to purchase an SUV. I sacrificed in my Corolla for 7 years and now finally the time has come. It seems now we are expecting our first child and the need for a larger car is imperative. I would love to get an SUV, but we do a few family (meaning mother, sister, and niece included) per year and a 5 seater will just not suffice.

    My dilema...a large enough SUV to hold husband, myself, baby w/ carseat, and the family (on occasions). I have test driven a Sequoia, Tribeca, Murano, Pilot, and Armada. I have never liked the 4runner or Pathfinder. As you can see I am into Japanese models more than American born, but I am running out of options.

    I LOVE the Volvo XC90, but don't want to spend 50k on a car.

    I have been contemplating a Sienna and really never saw myself driving a minivan. I guess I am mostly venting, but would like some input on how folks resolved this issue.

    Help if you can!
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,972
    no matter what you decide, keep the corolla. you can use it for banging around town. that way you do a short term lease on whatever you decide and not be locked in for a long time, in case you don't like it.
    an x-c 70 gives you the foreign appeal you are looking for, and is pretty decent on gas. just rent a van for the weekend when needed.
    overall, ford mid size suv's are the most efficient package for up to 7 people. had to get in a plug for what i drive. :)
  • asif1asif1 Posts: 49
    I started my vehicle journey from sedan (Camry) and moved on to sienna with growing family. Pretty soon i realized that i am not that much of a minivan guy, although my wife loved it. Sold it and bought 4Runner, i loved it very much. It was very powerful, very refined and the build quality was superb (4Runners are made in Tahara Japan, where they build only Lexus). But 4 Runner was very compact. especially 3rd row and even 2nd row was tight. I sold that one too and bought Sequoia. I thought that would be my last vehicle since Seq was a mid price biggest and badest. But in summer when gas prices went sky high, Seq was very expensive on pocket. Fill up the gas tank and it cost you 80 bucks that ends in 300 miles. No matter what i did i averaged at 15 mpg. Then there was a time when Seq was sitting in my garage mostly. Also because of weight, Seq was not very responsive. Brake distance was long, turn radius was large and mostly i was never utilizing it as Body on Frame vehicle. I never used it for towing, not much offroading and that's what these SUVs are really for.
    In the end i sold it and bought Ody. Much lighter on my pocket. Much better Fuel economy, easy to ride, very responsive. Brake distance, acceleration, turn radius all are excellent. Very convenient for kids and other passengers and wife likes it.
    I might buy SUV some time in future, just for myself but not for family. For me a minivan ended up being best choice as family vehicle.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,972
    thanks for your post. the one part that bothers me is the part about 'japan built'. my bil has an rx330. he specifically made sure it was built in japan (not canada).
    he drove a loaner for six weeks while they tried several times to fix the dash rattle(well documented on many sites). i doubt that he will ever feel it is fixed for good.
  • allison5allison5 Posts: 130
    I had a 1996 Ford Windstar, then in 2000 bought a Honda Odyessy minivan and last year bought at 2004 GMC yukon after my odyessys lease ran out. I loved my windstar for the 1st couple of years until I started having very costly problems, then after almost 4 years of my Odyessy I was tired of driving a minivan. I too absolutly love to drive, it has always been something I have enjoyed even though most people I talk to think I am crazy. Anyway I truly feel like I have made a mistake after going to a SUV for more reasons than one. I am now thinking of seriously thinking of taking a financial loss and going back to buy a 2006 Odyessy even though I am not crazy about driving a minivan. I have 3 kids, youngest one is 5 years old. I do tons of driving to extra cirricular activities, drop off, pick up with school etc etc and I TRULY MISS those sliding doors. I am telling you, if you drive as much as I do with school, dropping off, picking up, taking kids to those extra activities etc etc you will really miss those doors. I did not think it would be big deal, I was soooo wrong. However everyone is different. The way I look at it, when the kids are older, I will get the car of my dreams but right now I would rather have the conviences in any way I can. I too looked at 04 Acura MDX, 3 kids could fit for sure but would not be as comfy and a pain to get in/out.

    I will be upside down on payments, but with my GMC it has had nothing but problems from the beginning, it's a hugh gas guzzler (not fun with 2.75 a gallon still in CAlif) etc and its not worth the headache. Good luck with what you decide, will be interested in hearing what you do.
  • We went through the same debate here, and ended up with the Sienna. The way I handle it is:

    1. Enjoying the better gas mileage (about 21 around town)
    2. Enjoy how easy it is to run through car pool line now (you'll understand when your kids are older)
    3. Dream up ways I can "pimp my ride". Although, in reality all I did was add heavy duty rubber floor mats to completely cover the floor.
    4. Got a red one with pin stripes. If you look at it quickly, then turn away, you kind of think it might have been an SUV.

    Something else to consider, in favor of getting something other than a minivan:
    1. How much do you actually drive - will the gas mileage make a big deal in your pocket?
    2. Your needs with small kids is very different than when they are school age. I went without a minivan for eight years after having kids. When we needed a van, we rented one. Now, I am glad I did - I like the ones now much better than the smaller ones from when my kids were babies.

    I also loved the Volvo XC90 - have had Volvos for years. And, the price was also a drawback. Have you check the used Volvo prices? They are usually good deals, and come with complete warranties if the are less than four years old.
  • li_sailorli_sailor Posts: 1,081
    ...never saw myself driving a minivan.

    Funny how some things never change :)

    Also funny how many folks don't ackowledge the real reasons for most SUV/MV decisions that end up SUV.

    Question: do folks considering SUVs worry that gas prices (which are back down again now but will prob spike again in 6 mo or so) will be a problem down the road?
  • I admit it...it is image for me. I can't say why others choose suv over minivan, but for me it is true image! I am feeling a little Hilary Clinton flashback here..."I can stay at home and bake cookies or..." You know how many women went nuts when she made that statement...so here's mine...I know I will enjoy being a mom, but do I have to SCREAM MOM ON BOARD as I ride through the streets? Not saying that Volvo's don't do a little mom on board screaming too!

    For me, any purchase will give me a gas attack...remember I drive a Corolla. What is that like 3000 mpg? Most are reporting that there is very little difference between the mini and suv. A difference of about 5-10 mpgs or so.

    I have about 20 days left before I have to make a decision or I'll have to reapply for financing.

    Thanks for the input!
  • allison5allison5 Posts: 130
    about what kind of car to get AGAIN!! Truly thought I had this car thing figured out and was going to go back to a Honda Odyessy from a GMC Yukon. I guess I did not realize that the way back windows in new Odyessy do not open. I realize that to some people this might be not big deal at all but 2 of my 3 kids tend to get car sick especially sitting in 3rd row on long drives. I had this problem with my previous van but hoped that my kids would of outgrown this but no not yet. So I really need some advice.. Do I still buy this van anyway (Siennas seats are lousy for my bad back) or do I buy a Sequoia, Pilot, MDX or whatever. The GMC has had sooo many problems. THe only problems I see with Pilot or MDX is the fact that I have 3 kids and more often than not I drive 3 more around carpooling etc etc. My youngest is 5 and goes up from there and all 3 kids are very tall. Love to hear from anyone with advice or in similiar situation.I also go to the mountains here in Calif 3-4 times a winter where usually there is a lot of snow. I heard someone say the Odyessy does well in snow even though it is not 4 -wheel drive, however tendto wonder.
  • Thanks allison5 for your response, and thanks to everyone else who was discussing similar issues that continue to keep my thinking about my decision.

    Allison5, I KNOW that I will miss the sliding doors, especially in tight parking spots! But regular doors will give me one thing that the sliding doors will not -- I can put the child lock on and the kids will not be able to open them until I open it for them from the outside. I don't think I can do that with my sliding doors -- I either have to have them "on" or "off". Sometimes my kids jump the gun a little, open the doors, & jump out in the parking lot before I'm really ready to "corral" them. I've found that when I drive my husband's Pilot, it is nice knowing that they are NOT getting out unless I WANT them to!

    That being said, I do wish you luck in your own search. Are you sure that the way back windows do not at least tilt open in the new Ody? My 04 Ody has opening rear windows (they don't come "down", they open on the side). But maybe that's not enough air for them? Come to think of it, the windows for the 3rd row passengers in a Pilot/MDX do not open, either, do they?

    Thanks again for the input...
  • fljoslinfljoslin Posts: 237
    You should probably look at some of the American SUV options. At least test drive them. You have nothing to lose. You would probably love a Tahoe if you could get around the fact that it is an American brand.
    Have you test driven the Honda or Toyota Minivans. These are both quite fast 0-60 in 8.5 sec (relatively speaking) and handle well.
  • I actually drove an older Tahoe from FL to NY. It was great, but you are right. The brain would have to change. I am really leaning towards a volvo, but can't seem to part with the 50,000 price tag.

    I will drive a tahoe again before I make my final decision. Thanks for the advice.
  • gf2020gf2020 North of BostonPosts: 45
    Personally I agree that owning a Pilot and an MDX would be kind of silly, but I know families that own 2 of the SAME car so it's not that far fetched.

    My wife drove a 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan for 4 years and 90,000 miles and then switched to a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT V8 with the 3d row seat. We loved the room of the Dodge minivan and it was a great vehicle, we paid $0 in unscheduled maintenance or repairs.

    My wife liked the look of the redesigned Explorer for '02 and she wanted to get 4 wheel drive after facing a few situations where her minivan bordered on being stuck in the snow, so we became SUV owners.

    Now after 37 months and 75,000 miles with the Explorer we are itching to get rid of it. It rides well and has enough room for our family of 4 plus the occasional 3rd row passenger. It even gets decent mileage for a V8 SUV, about 19 or 20 MPG on the highway. However, it's been in the shop numerous times for repairs, including 21 days this past May when the 4.6 liter V8 engine was rebuilt. Our extended warranty (thank heavens I purchased that!) just ran out so we are looking to dump this lemon. It's too bad because I know lots of people who have had good reliability out of their Ford Explorers, and Expeditions too, but not this one.

    We are considering going back to a minivan, maybe another Grand Caravan or the Sienna or Odyssey this time. The redesigned Nissan Pathfinder is a strong possibility too. I have a new Nissan Titan crew cab that has been a trouble free delight for the first 7 months and 11,000 miles.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,938
    The rap on the Sedona is that it is heavy and gets (got?) mediocre gas mileage. I didn't see the reviewer commenting on the mpg. As I recall, the early ones got around 16 in town; it'd be nice to see that bumped up 2 or 3 mph.

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • littlezlittlez Posts: 167
    Why are you into japanese models? There are a lot of very good American choices out there if you give them a chance. The Ford Freestyle for example gets great gas mileage and has room for 7 passengers. The new redesigned Ford Explorer also has room for 7 passengers with it's fold flat third row seat and tons of features. To help with the vehicles you've listed, the Sienna is rated as one of the worst minivans in rear crash tests. (I wouldn't put my children in it.) The Armada has the worst gas mileage of all full-size SUVs and its quality is below average. The Pilot has been recalled along with the Odyssey several times for a variety of problems, as has the Murano. You would be very unhappy with a Sequoia. Korean manufacturer quality is at the bottom of every quality study. They just don't make cars and trucks that last. I wish you and other car buyers would at least look at American products again. They have improved over the years while foreign quality has declined. This is a fact.
  • ctalkctalk Posts: 646
    To help with the vehicles you've listed, the Sienna is rated as one of the worst minivans in rear crash tests.

    And yet it is one of the top rated vans on IIHS.
    http://www.hwysafety.org/ratings/summary.aspx?class=80
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    "I didn't see the reviewer commenting on the mpg"

    Actually the reviewer did comment on mpg Steve. Stating "the Sedonas all new 4 valve per cylinder powerplant delivers 50 more ponies than last years v6 and gains a 9% increase in city fuel economy and 12% on highway."

    So, somebody break out a calculator. Looks about 1.7 mpg more city and 2.4 mpg more highway. The 2006 Sedona shed a few pounds and is suppose to be much lighter than the previous model.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,938
    lol, no wonder I missed it - math was involved.

    Thanks Jipster.

    Someone else pointed out to me today that the new and larger V6 RAV4 was going to get 20 to 27 mpg on the highway, depending on configuration. That's minivan territory too. Not to mention that the four-cylinder would top out at 31 mpg. (link)

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • allison5allison5 Posts: 130
    I am still dragging my feet with the car thing, now have another question. Is their any difference as far as space goes between the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX in the 3rd row? I know the space in both cars in the 3rd row is pretty limited but just want to know, I have 3 kids the oldest 11 1/2 years old. He is average height for his age and obviously will just get taller. I should be making a car decision by the end of year, it is between Odyessy, Sequoia or Acura MDX. I just had a friend come up to me and say just go by the big suburban I would if I had 3 kids and a dog. It does make sense but gas wise OH GOLLY!!! :(
  • Hi, we went from a 2004 Sienna (fantastic) to a 2005 Pilot (also fantastic). We wanted/needed the Pilot to be able to drive out on the beach as well as for New England winters (although, this is my first car with AWD, I rarely missed it). The Pilot is great, but I miss the minivan each and everytime I need to put more than 2 kids in the car. I carpool a lot and the 3rd seat in the Pilot just can't compare with the ease of the van. We probably replace my husbands aging Jetta with a minivan sometime in the next 6 months or so.

    The windows in the Pilot/MDX do not open in the 3rd row. Good luck with your decision!
  • I will try a Tahoe, but still not convinced on American products. Just from my own ownership exp. No probs with my japanese models. BIG probs with the old Americans. It is always 50-50 with friends who own American makes, esp. Ford. Some love them and have no problems others have big problems. Can't say the same about the japanese car owners. Almost all (who bought new) are very happy. But, to each his/her own. Currently we have an odyssey (four door model) and a corolla. Very little maintaince on either. Both late 90's models. My husband wasn't convinced, until we got the odyssey. He was a big American car guy Ford, Caddy, etc. But now...I think he has converted.

    Lastly, many cars have had recalls and other probs. not just foreign makes. The real question is still SUV or a Mini. I hope to pick up something in the next 14 days.
  • bandemommy, Thanks for your comments... (Although I think it was allison5 who needed opening rear windows.)

    I know that the lack of easy of entry into the 3rd row will be an inconvenience, but to be honest with you, my kids don't really find it all that easy to get into the back right now, anyway. Seems like there is always something in the way, lol.

    I just want so desperately to drive something that I can wrap my arms around and say, "I LOVE this vehicle!"

    PS: We're in New England, too. :) A lot of New Englanders seem to like posting here.
  • gf2020, thanks also to you for your comments...

    Ouch! It is too bad that you haven't gotten what you wanted out of your Explorer. It seems like there is a bad story for every good story as far as the Explorer goes.

    I am sticking with Honda/Acura or Toyota/Lexus for two main reasons: 1) like their vehicles & they are usually quite reliable, and 2) these companies offer lease terms and deals that the American co's can't touch. I don't know why it is this way, but with our last two deals we shopped around a lot and even gave Chrysler a real shot at our business, but they couldn't even come close because the residual values aren't nearly as high as they are on Hondas and Toyotas. I have nothing against any of the American co's; my previous vehicles were a Chrysler Town & Country and an Eagle Vision. I just have to do what's best for my family and my wallet, lol.

    Good luck with your decision!
  • socalawdsocalawd Posts: 542
    I am still dragging my feet with the car thing, now have another question. Is their any difference as far as space goes between the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX in the 3rd row? I know the space in both cars in the 3rd row is pretty limited but just want to know, I have 3 kids the oldest 11 1/2 years old.

    I was in the same situation this last spring. We had outgrown our Caravan and really wanted a AWD car based SUV. Looked at the Pilot,MDX and XC90. The rear seat was small in all. My 10 year old boy looked like he was ready to outgrow it and the car seats(I have 4 year old twins) in the second row make it hard to get in. We tryed some big sedans still cramped. While we were looking at the Pilot my wife said let's look at that new Odyssey. We weren't sure but when she opened the back and found almost 40 cu. ft of storage things changed. The ody is a good car to drive and I'm not upset that I got another minivan!

    Do a comparition of the 3 and you'll see the Ody has alot more storage/seating comfort. It is also alot easier for getting in and out. Enjoy!!
  • I just wanted to let you know that the specs say that the 3rd row in the Pilot holds 3 people and in the MDX, it holds 2 people. We have a Pilot and I have looked at the MDX a few times and I do believe that the MDX's 3rd row is smaller width-wise. Why? I don't know. Something in the "luxury" design maybe. But I don't think that head or footroom is vastly different. You can go onto the acura or honda website and do a vehicle compare to see the dimensions & cubic feet side-by-side, along with any other vehicle you are looking at.

    I have a friend who's oldest is 10 and was pretty cramped in the back of the XC90. She considered the Nissan Armada but didn't feel comfortable driving it, so she ended up with a Chev Trailblazer and loves it.

    I have decided that I personally am not going to overthink this, how tall my kids are and are going to be, etc, etc. If my oldest gets too big for the 3rd row, then she just won't sit in it anymore!

    Hope that helps.
  • Lest anyone think that I am totally biased, I HIGHLY recommend the Odyssey. I think it is probably one of the very best vehicles on the road today, an almost perfect creation.

    But it's not for everyone, I guess.

    Anyone I know who is looking to upgrade their family vehicle from a sedan or tiny suv -- I immediately steer them toward an Ody (or a Pilot if they just can't "do" a minivan).

    For me, it is just a matter of time and boredom. I've been driving a minivan for 5 years and *yawn*, I'm bored.

    Enjoy your Ody!
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