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Minivans - Domestic or Foreign



  • tifightertifighter WAPosts: 1,367
    The Mazda 5 can definitely be had new for $20k. Whether the size works for you or not only you can determine, but it works for lots of families in Europe and Asia.
  • I have been offered brand new Kia Sedona LX vans for $19,999 (NE Ohio area). Also someone mentioned the Mazda 5, but that is not truly a van but a station wagon with sliding doors; it is VERY small if you are used to a regular minivan.

    The problem with the Sedona LX is that at the base level, they have stripped out everything that makes them nice -- no alloys, cheap plastic hubcaps, cheap peach fuzz upholstery, fewer cupholders, no fog lights, etc.

    Also: several dealers have informed me this is the LAST YEAR Kia will make the Sedona. Hyundai has already discontinued it's sister van, the Entourage. It is not clear what they will replace the Sedona with, if anything. It was a poor seller for them -- they won't even lease you a brand new loaded Sedona because of the model's severe depreciation problems.

    You can of course buy a used van for $20K -- I've seen 2009 Nissan Quests with 30K miles for that price. But you can't touch a Honda or Toyota; they sell for hyper-inflated values because of the name. Good vans, but seriously overpriced.

    The biggest thing is to look for a van with low miles; they are hard to find. Most people buy a van to run it into the ground, and if they have kids, the van can look like trash in a year.

    Today it is common to see Japanese vans asking $20-25,000 with 90K and not even clean condition. People will pay anything for that Honda/Toyota nameplate.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Keep the stock wheel/tire set as your beater/winter tire, and get a set of alloys with tires mounted, probably a grand or so.

    That's dirt cheap, is that with the new engine? Not a year-old model? Bargain, I say.

    Buy the kids each an iPad, another grand.

    Add a portable GPS.

    For about $22 grand you have all that you really need, with a warranty that goes until 2021!
  • Let me start with this, before i end up getting everyone on here jumping on my back.. I drive about 100-150K miles a year. I work in the IT field as a tech that needs a van to carry equipment around. I tend to buy minivans because they are easier to see out of then wagons, get better MPG then SUV's and are easier to park then cargo vans.

    With that said,
    I have owned 23 cars in 12 years.
    Dodge caravan 2002 model died a fire related death after 3 transmissions at 175K miles. (Owned for a little over a year)
    Kia Sedona 2004 died at 140K miles with a warped head from over heating, even though the temp gauge never moved.. (owned for 6 months)
    Honda Odyssey, which i will say was my favorite looking van was an awesome van, but suffered from a transmission issue at 130K miles then had electrical issues at about 160K, i sold it at 200K miles.. It still ran good, but the newer transmission was starting to slip.. Again.. (owned for almost 3 years)
    Toyota Sienna 2001 model which i currently have, i have had this and a Nissan quest 2005 model for about a year. I bought the Nissan to replace the sienna, but have decided to keep the sienna. The Nissan is hard to see out of, its also burning oil at 75K miles.. (owned the Nissan for about a year, but have driven it about 25K miles)
    The Sienna is not my first Toyota.. It is not perfect, it is bland, the interior is hard plastic and the fit and finish, i feel is not as good as some of the other vehicles i have owned, i guess they are made that way, because they know you need to be comfortable waiting for a tow truck.

    So while i will say, No.. Toyota does not make anything exciting.. They are really, really bland.. What i will say, if you pay more now, you will pay less later.. As long as you take care of it.. Oil changes every 3k miles.. etc..

    Best of luck to all those who have bought a Dodge.. I would suggest buying a fire extinguisher and keeping it in the van at all times. Or at least a lawn chair and a beer to watch it burn...
  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    Well I have a 2005 Dodge GC. I have had pickups for years, but when I discovered this Dodge had fold away seats, I traded in my truck for this mini van. I found out with my Brother's Dodge minivan, we could get as much or more in it as I could get in my truck. Except he hated having to take the seats out of it. I will have this van almost 6 years in Dec. and so far have had no problems with it and it has all kinds of electrical stuff on it. The only time it wouldn't start was when my Die Hard Platinum battery gave out after only two years.

    Yes you will pay more for that Toyota new. You will also pay more to have it serviced, every so many months. While it might be worth more in two or three years, there won't be much difference when you compare what you paid for it, even if that Dodge might need some repair. The only way you really make out over the Dodge, is if you trade it in after only a few years. I plan on keeping mine at least another couple of years.

    But I bought mine so that I can carry things in it. I am always buying stuff or moving things for my kids, so I didn't buy it as a people mover. I'm glad you like your Toyota. But don't judge all Dodges by your one experience. I don't hear of many of them burning up.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It may not be exciting, but read your own post - that 2001 is still running while several newer vans bit the dust.

    The 2004-2010 Sienna is a bit nicer, I feel like the 2011 model cut some costs (fewer soft-touch surfaces) and isn't as nice inside. You may want to look for a used one in that age range. The 3MZ engine (3.3l, 2004-2006) was good and the 2GR (3.5l, 2007+) even better. Also, the 5 speed auto used from 2004-2010 had fewer issues than the 6 speed in the new Siennas.

    Check the doors if you buy one, that's the most common issue.

    Newer Hondas and Dodges also seem to have fewer trans missues, too. If an option for a tow package is available, try to get it, because it adds coolers and heavy duty alternators, stuff that may help in the long run given your IT equipment loads may be heavy.

    Good luck. :shades:
  • I would take a tow package in my next Odyssey ; but go to an after-market trailer-cooler supplier and get them to replace the Honda installed one. Last year I had an after-market cooler added to my 2002; Honda dealer recommended after-market.
  • I am looking for a used minivan as my 2000 Chrysler T&C has this annoying habit of dying at random times while I'm driving. Have spent way too much time and money trying to fix that problem and time to move on. I know my budget is under $15,000 and my biggest issues are space and safety. I have to be able to get inside to buckle three or four kids into carseats. LATCH would be helpful. Renting a 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan now and not liking the cramped interior at all! The back seat is so small! But obviously I'm looking for something older and more affordable. Have heard bad things about both Chrysler and Dodge. And had my own bad experience with Chrysler. Interested in opinions since I don't really have time to get out there and test drive. I REALLY want stow and go seats and quad seating. I would love for all the seats to be able to fold down for hauling. Would like to be able to fit a full sheet of plywood in when folded down. Anything else would be a bonus. Will try to buy private to keep costs down. Suggestions???
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    I would recommend the 2004 to 2010 Sienna in 8 passenger trim. Those years the Sienna had the most LATCH positions available- 2 in the third row and 3 in the second row (with 8 passenger option) for a total of 5. The power train is reliable and 2007 and after has the most potent engine in the market. Our 2008 LE hasn't had any problems yet, but weaknesses from what I gather are the door hardware and water leaks around the rear hatch. Unlike the Honda, the Sienna 8 passenger will truly hold 8 adults comfortably.

    Stow-and-go 2nd row is a proprietary option for Chrysler so you aren't going to find it on anything but the Chrysler and Dodge models. Everyone except Nissan does stow the 3rd row in the floor. With the 2nd row removed the Sienna will comfortably hold a 4'x8' sheet flat on the floor in the rear.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    The two better options for you are the Sienna (as mentioned above) and the 2005+ Odyssey. Problem is....$15k doesn't buy you much in the Honda/Toyota world. We sold our '05 Ody last spring with 100k miles for more than that. In that price/age range, the Ody feels more roomy. As mentioned above if you want folding 2nd row seats the Dodge/Chrysler is the only game in town.

    Since you mentioned wanting quad seats, you don't want the 8-pax version of the Sienna as recommended above. If anything the 8-pax versions just make it more difficult to get to the 3rd row when the 8th seat is installed. In the case of the Sienna, the 8-pax version also has smaller 2nd row buckets so it's not just a case of removing the 8th seat and having the same seats as the other models. If you really need 8-pax seating it's a great choice, but otherwise too many compromises in my book.

    When you say the "back seat is so small" on your rental Grand Caravan, are you speaking of the 2nd row seats or 3rd row? The 2nd row seats in the Dodge/Chrysler are smaller which is part of the folding Sto-n-go seats. No free lunches!!

    I think for your budget and needs...the Dodge/Chrysler really seem like the way to go. You can get into a much newer and lower mile model on that budget and still likely have warranty for awhile. The Dodge isn't as reliable per most published documents, but I don't believe the real-world difference is that huge. You're comparing your 12 year old model which most anything that old is going to have problems, even in the Honda/Toyota world.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    edited November 2011
    I missed the part about wanting quad seats... probably because it is incompatible with wanting easy access to buckle four kids in car seats. The 8-pax option is much better if you have four kids in seats... I know because I have four kids from 7 months to 6 years.

    If you do 4 kids in most vans it means you have to squeeze between two car seats in the captains chairs to get back to the 2 seats in the third row. With the Sienna 8-pax you put a car seats in the middle position and one out board position, then tumble forward the other side to give easy access to the 2 seats in the third row.

    A quick search of Craigslist here says $15k gets 2006 & 2007 Sienna LE 8pax at dealers. A little footwork and haggling is sure to get more.
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    The extended version of the Chevy Uplander or Pontiac Montana SV6 may do, although the seats do not fold entirely in the floor. These vans have been problematic but if the warranty work has been done and avoid the power sliding doors, then you should find a decent low mileage van. I bought a 2007 SWB Chevy Uplander LT with 55k miles for under $12k (taxes included). Stick to a 2007 or 2008 model because they have the 3900 V6 with 240 HP and come with a 5 year 100k mile powertrain warranty. If you buy from a GM dealer ask them to do a search for the warranty work done on the van. Problem areas are head gasket, cross over pipe gasket, wheel bearings, and sway bar. My van had all this work already done. So far I'm averaging 21 to 24 MPG for combined highway-city driving. Good luck.
  • I am looking at 2 vans and hope to get it in a few days
    2007 LE/28k miles with hub caps [wife hates it] gold color . 17,700 .I have to add dvd player and a gps to it. say 500$

    2009 Nissan SL/35k - dvd player ,leather loaded 18,900.

    which is a better option to last say 5yr/60k .
  • One more
    2010 LE/w 42k miles. 17,700
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Well, don't get any car your wife hates, because marriage counseling costs more than any car payment. ;)
  • I am so frustrated. We have a 2001 Venuture that we bought new, need to get rid of and get something used. We will not get another Venture, ours has been a piece of junk from the get-go, thankfully we paid $300 for an extended warranty! which paid for itself a few times over five months after the manufacturer's warranty ran out (manifold gasket I think, plus something else) and at least $3500 more in repairs before that ran out. It is wheezing and gasping yet again, this time needing a new CV joint, another valve job, transmission, etc. No more money is going into it. We want to buy used, preferably 2007, vehicle with third row seating. We are on a very limited budget, and after the Venture fiasco insist on buying something that we can purchase a warranty on (hence the 07) but everything seems to small. We will also not even consider the Uplander or Terraza because of the issues they have had.

    We have two teenagers, one who is 6'4, the other already 6'0 who will be driving, riding in middle row and often riding in the third row. We will also be transporting my parents (who aren't handicapped but can't climb into a third row anymore) on an increasing basis. We thought we had the answer in the Sedona until we put the kids in it. They fit fine in the front, marginally in the middle and the third row was borderline on dangerous. There seems to be tether/anchor clips of some kind on the ceiling right where their heads go. The taller one's head doesn't fit under it, the shorter one's head skims it. If we were to hit even a speed bump they could be injured, and the leg room is inadequate.

    When I look at specs on line, nothing looks like it is any bigger than the Sedona by enough to fit them. We can't afford a SUV new enough to qualify for a warranty, and a sedan is out due to the need for six comfortably and gear. Does anyone have any suggestions? Don't know what we are going to do when it comes time for road trips or when all six of us need to travel together. Getting desperate, need something before the Venture croaks, which by all indications is going to be sooner than later.

  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    edited March 2013
    Only one I can think of that's adult-comfortable in 3rd row is a Suburban. I have several of them for my biz and we haul around 6-7 adults on a regular basis...many times off-road and so far we haven't had anyone smack their head on the ceiling! They're very expensive though...even well used. Have you looked at Honda Odyssey? We had an '05 and i don't recall the 3rd row being horrible. Most other SUV's are FAR worse than the minivans in 3rd row space.

    I can understand your desire for a warranty...particularly coming out of the vehicle you had before. But you will NOT find a reputable warranty for anywhere near $300 today....think $1,000-$1,200 minimum for a Honda/Toyota/something inherently reliable. Other brands will be even higher..I believe GM wanted close to $3,000 for an ext warranty on the last suburban I bought (I never buy warranties regardless). I will say that the Suburbans serve us very well. The one I usually drive is a 2010 with almost 90k miles on it and no real problems...and it's in construction/mining sites on a regular basis. We have another with 125k miles that's also not had anything more than a couple minor issues.

    Your venture was an anomoly in the vehicle world. If all vehicles were that un-reliable the warranty business would not exist...or would be priced so high nobody could afford one. They're in business to make money (and they do) so odds are NOT in your favor by a long shot.
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516
    I agree with sebring95's suggestion of a Suburban, but if that's truly not practical (or if your parents can't manage the step-in height), look for a base-length full-size van - Ford E-150 Club Wagon or Chevy Express/GMC Savana 1500 - with three rows of seats and the V6 or smallest available V8.

    With all the tall people in the family, you have clearly outgrown the minivan class and will have to look to full-size vehicles.

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  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I'm 6'4" and have no problems in the third row of an Odyssey. All it takes is the second row passenger to move their seat up by about 2". If the aging parents aren't overly tall, that may be a better solution (my grandmother sits in front of me at 5'8" and has plenty of room). The vans (Sienna and Odyssey anyway) have sliding captains chairs that make legroom a flexible endeavor.

    Just a thought from this big 25 year old - the smallest car I can really comfortably drive is full-size.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Try a place like CarMax where you can sample many brands. I think it would be worth one visit and they should have all the major brands.
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