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SUV vs Minivans



  • jaw2000jaw2000 Posts: 133
    I had a 97 Gr Caravan, it was garbage. SPent more than 4 mos in the shop in less than 2 full years, lost arbitration, finally traded it in at a significant loss because I did not feel that my family was safe in this automobile.

    Today I have a 02 Suburban, it is safer, larger, holds as much or more, does more, the kids, my wife and I all like it, it is safer in the 3rd row seats. I can go on but won't.

    I will say it cost more (how much is relative to bells and whistles) for the 4wd, insurance is similar (more but not by much), and fuel costs are greater for me.

    But I will trade the added safety of my Sub and the versatility of it, and its added quietness (that may since have been refined in the MV), for the extra cost of gas.

    The rest is a wash, in my book that is. By the way, my resale is higher (by a lot) and the auto may last significantly longer too, but that may also be attributable to the individual.

    Look at the Edmunds cost to own data and if memory serve me, the MV is 3 cents per mile less?

    Just some data/details that you may not have been aware or cared to show some other readers/posters.

    By the way, Steve, you wouldn't be piling on, when a person shares you worldview would you?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    If I was "piling on", I would have posted this story from the Auto Headlines instead. Only thing else SUV or MV related today was Saab's decision not to make a SUV.

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  • jaw2000jaw2000 Posts: 133
    By the way, even Consumer Reports states something to the effect the Suburban carries more than most Mini Vans.

    They must have cornered the ping pong ball market.

    And, SAAB is just making that decision for now. You know if anyone out there was really smart they would take the best out of the MV, the SUV and the Large Wagon and market them to the masses. Not like the Mercedes or BMW types but as a safe, versatile, similar -- can do type vehicle.

    Too bad the Madison ave types added to the designers prefer to stick with what got them to the show rather than improving on it once there.

    You know despite my experiences with my MV, the creation of them was a gutsy move, now they need to address the versatility of the MV/Wagons with the features of the SUV and take it to the next level.
  • jaw2000jaw2000 Posts: 133
    By the way what might have happened had they victims been in anything else?

    If not at least as big (or bigger) than the MV?

    Gee, I'd hate to see this article posted on the other forum! It could prove the argument of the day, that these boxes might just be kinda safe afterall.

    Also funny that the model and size of the SUV was not named. Heck it coulda been a CRV -- smaller and lighter, hit, rolled and no major injuries, what if it ahd been a NEON, then 2 dead people?

    Or it could have been a Suburban, (how it would roll is beyond me though), but again safety wins.

    Or it could just be that being t boned in a SUV lets the SUV victims have the protections that they paid for (or thought they paid for).

    GeeZ! It rolled and no one was seriouly hurt when the evil MV transferred risk to it by broadsiding the innocent SUVers.

    Nah, I must be dreaming.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Which article? (I hope I'm not repeating myself ).

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  • li_sailorli_sailor Posts: 1,081
    By the way, even Consumer Reports states something to the effect the Suburban carries more than most Mini Vans.

    Suburban: 138 cu ft

    Chevy Astro...170
    Chrysler T&C...168
    Chevy Venture...156
    Chrysler Voyager...147
    Honda Odyssey...146
    Pontiac Montana...141
    Toyota Sienna...134
  • li_sailorli_sailor Posts: 1,081
    Well, I'll, darned.

    When I first clicked on the "headlines" link, I got a list and the one I was referring to was the one about "Why Folks buy SUVs" ( I forget the exact title). But when I just clicked on it now, I got a different mind.

    I'm deleting the post since it's wrong...
  • jaw2000jaw2000 Posts: 133
    The one linked as 'story'.
  • jaw2000jaw2000 Posts: 133
    While Consumers did not provide the Data for the Astro or its Safari twin, the following was provided:

    Cargo volume, cu. ft. 77 Max. load, lb. 1,610
    Town and Country
    Cargo volume, cu. ft. 73.5 Max. load, lb. 1,150
    Chevy Venture
    Cargo volume, cu. ft. 75.5 Max. load, lb. 1,365
    Honda Odyssey
    Cargo volume, cu. ft. 67 Max. load, lb. 1,250
    Toyota Sienna
    Cargo volume, cu. ft. 63 Max. load, lb. 1,160

    Looking at the differences in cargo volume one must assume that the vehicles, if used for one of their intended purposes the Suburban beats all the others in both volume and weight tests.

    Steve how come the Consumer's numbers and the Edmund's numbers are so different?

    Is it that built in pro-SUV bias Consumers has?
  • cavillercaviller Posts: 331
    Today I have a 02 Suburban, it is safer, larger, holds as much or more, does more, the kids, my wife and I all like it, it is safer in the 3rd row seats. I can go on but won't.

    I can go on a bit-

    There's rollover risk, and the extra energy absorbed by the passengers when a rigid truck-based vehicle hits another truck-based vehicle or a wall or a pole. There's also the inferior handling and braking, and the lack of side impact and offset crash tests (and the mediocre offset performance of Ford/GM full-size pickups which have been tested) for large SUVs. Don't forget about the severe danger they pose to compact cars. You mention Consumer Reports, they have an ongoing preference against truck-based SUVs. (Most recently, see the sidebar on p. 55 of the May, 2002 issue)

    You might consider some of the links at the bottom of this page before assuming a large, truck-based SUV is safer than a top minivan:

    "By the way what might have happened had they victims been in anything else?

    If not at least as big (or bigger) than the MV?"

    Keep in mind the minivan is lower to the ground than an SUV and would be more compatible with a passenger car. With a unibody frame, it will also tend to crush better in a crash. Mass does not play a significant factor in side impacts as it does in frontal impacts, and that is one reason why you can compare side impact results across weight classes. I suspect a mid or large sized passenger car with decent side impact ratings would fare at least as well, primarily because it would have much less risk of rolling.

    I'd much rather have my family in a Windstar, Sienna or Odyssey than any SUV. Of course, I don't do serious towing or off-roading.


  • jaw2000jaw2000 Posts: 133
    Just trying to add some missing information to the picture. If you prefer the MV good for you, I have had both and I don't.

    In this side impact mass clearly did play a role, the crush zones you speak of are in the front and rear, not the sides (to my knowledge), and bumpers have been significantly lowered in most if not all SUVs (late/new models) my bumpers meet my wife's (hers is a 00 Accord), fianlly, in the case of one auto accidents, I have not seen enough evidence of the statistical significance of the SUV in this type, in other words if memory serves, the once car accident is usually NOT a SUV, so the point while never moot, may be less of a concern.

    The MV has a 3 star rollover rating (most of them anyway) the Suburban does as well.

    The Suburban received 4 stars to both front passengers.

    The Suburban, Yukon XL, and Land Cruiser are the only full sized SUVs recommended by CR.

    The Suburban has some kind of crush cap (similar to to a cumple zone in the currrent model.

    I am not stating that one is the only way to go, there are many factors, I have had both, I will not return to the MV, it does not meet my needs, wants or planned uses as well as the full sized SUV.

    Just a few more cents for anyone looking for more information and a fuller picture (clarity does not come from me) it must be determined by those making decisions.
  • jaw2000jaw2000 Posts: 133
    Do you live in an area where snow prevents you from getting milk and other provisions for the kids, I do. The 4wd is a blessing under those conditions. We also use it to fish at the beach (Delaware).

    Remember I am making a case primarily for versatility, and not trying to wage war with someone who happens to prefer something else. That is your choice, if you are happy then so am I.
  • cavillercaviller Posts: 331
    In this side impact mass clearly did play a role, the crush zones you speak of are in the front and rear, not the sides (to my knowledge),

    I assumed by 'broadsided' the article meant a T-bone. Front of MV struck side of SUV. In this case, the SUV is lucky it was struck by a minivan; the unibody minivan would crush in front, while a ladder-frame SUV would not have crushed as easily and more energy would have been transferred to the SUV being struck.

    In this crash, the vehicle being struck is not moving toward or away from the oncoming vehicle, so it's mass would not be as significant a factor as it would be in a frontal crash. Of course, the mass of any steel in the doors where it is being struck would be important, as would their design. Unfortunately, most SUVs don't have side impact crash ratings for comparison...

    I encourage you to read the FAQs about crash testing at the NHTSA and IIHS sites, as well as the statistical links on the page I provided as a background.

    The MV has a 3 star rollover rating (most of them anyway) the Suburban does as well.

    The Suburban received 4 stars to both front passengers.

    Incidentally, the MVs I mentioned, Sienna, Windstar and Odyssey all have 4-star rollover ratings, 5-star frontal crash test ratings, 4-5 star side crash ratings and "Good" IIHS offset crash ratings. With the exception of the Acura MDX, which shares the wide 66" track of the Odyssey, you can't buy an SUV with a 4-star rollover rating. Also, you can also check the rollover risks in the Kimmel index ( ). Suburban is indeed among the better SUVs in this index, but still not as low as Odyssey or Windstar...

    The Suburban, Yukon XL, and Land Cruiser are the only full sized SUVs recommended by CR.

    CR produces a separate Safety Assessment (4/02 edition, pps 15-25). While Odyssey, Windstar and Sienna get "Excellent" safety ratings, many larger SUVs are unrated, partially because no offset or side crash tests have been performed.

    Incidentally, in my April, 2002 Consumer Reports, the Suburban did not get a "Recommended" overall rating. The Land Cruiser was the only one (p.25) that did. The June, 2000 issue also has some comments about CR's preference for minivans and SUVs, starting on p. 50.

    Remember I am making a case primarily for versatility, and not trying to wage war with someone who happens to prefer something else. That is your choice, if you are happy then so am I.

    Each person has their own definition of versatility. I prefer the large doors, easy step in height, flexible seating and easy 3rd row access of a minivan. You need serious off-road capability, fair enough. On the other hand, you did specifically mention safety in your previous post, so I responded with my opinions.
  • li_sailorli_sailor Posts: 1,081
    I'm sure you didn't make those numbers up. To some degree, it's a problem of different sources measuring different things.

    Those look like "volume behind the 2nd seat" opposed to total volume.

    C&D gives the following for the Sub:

    • to Seat 1...138.4
    • to Seat 2...90.0
    • to Seat 3...45.7

    I think Consumers does its own measuring (the ping pong balls) so their numbers are a bit different. I think most (if not all) other sources (like Edmunds) give a govt standard measurement.

    Which is more accurate or more reasonable, I don't know.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    budmelon "Mazda MPV 2000+" May 9, 2002 8:05am

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  • bob57bob57 Posts: 302
    I don't remember if I posted this or not but on the local TV news a while back they had a short thing about SUV's, safety, etc. The closing sequence was a young woman (~18) standing beside her (?) rather large SUV saying, "This thing weighs 6000 pounds - NOTHING can hurt me".

    Excuse me but that has very little to do with it. Yes, the heavier vehicle may come out better versus a Yogo or something but I got the impression she (and others her age) now think they are impervious with a large SUV.
    Are we giving the children the impression that you are now safe and will endure zero injuries driving a monster SUV built for invading small countries? I've seen more SUV's stacked up in crashes than MV's but that could be due to more SUV's on the road - or are we thinking impervious again?
    Just a thought...
  • jaw2000jaw2000 Posts: 133
    You are seeing much of what you want to see. On another board here the SUV injury/fatality rate is a bit (insignificant) lower than the % of SUVs. While the injury/fatality rate of small cars is more than double the % of small cars.

    THis suggests many things among them that SUVs in general large ones in particular are safer than most others on the road.

    By the way, USA today had an article in March? that stated that the safest 3rd row occupants are in full sized SUVs. They specifically mentioned the Suburban as an example. The death rate of 3rd row occupants in rear-end collisions (what speed I have no idea) in MVs is about 75%. In the Suburban it is 0 -- at least that is what the article said.

    Just more fodder for the cannon.
  • cavillercaviller Posts: 331
    Good point. Bigger, heavier vehicles do fare well against small, light compact cars. Of course, they often do so by slaying the passengers of those cars. Unfortunately, they fare poorly against other rigid trucks and in single vehcle crashes against walls, poles and rollovers.

    The biggest fallacy is that we are not all safer by driving massive vehicles. Yes, drivers of the big vehicles do gain an advantage against smaller vehicles in the transition. But when the vast majority have adopted big trucks, we are all worse off than had we not given into the trend. More mass and stiffer frames means more energy in crashes and less ability to absorb that energy in the frame.

    Incidentally, here are the death statistics. Note that minivans do very well:

    Here is the article on 3rd row safety:

    Some additional reading:



    No offense or intention to wage war as you put it. I understand there are various reasons that large SUVs are a good choice. I don't feel that safety is necessarily one of them, at least compared to some of the top minivans, sedans and wagons that may serve the purpose for many people who don't ever use their large SUV for serious off-roading or towing.


  • stacystacy Posts: 91
    I am one of those struggling with the decision - Ody or Denali XL(basically a Suburban w/ AWD which the Ody is lacking). I read your thoughtful and extremely informative posts AND links and I just about decide to get the van and then worry - although I am well aware of your viewpoint and reasons. I'm still undecided. Basically, because of the 3rd seat so close to the glass. My two eldest will be sitting in that backseat, ages 2 and 6. I will check out the above sites soon but I had a moment and wanted to tell you that I appreciate your posts and they really are helping us.
  • cavillercaviller Posts: 331
    Extended wheelbase minivans do have reasonable room to the rear hatch. Not as much as the biggest SUVs, but certainly more than smaller minivans and midsize SUVs with a 3rd row of seating.

    Rear impacts are not very common according to the statistics ( and NHTSA FARS database). Severe rear impacts that cause seat failure are even more rare. The problem with 3rd row seats would be compounded if you frequently have multiple heavy adults in the rear that would further load the seat back, especially if they are seated in a position without a shoulder belt and/or headrestraint (which isn't safe anyway).

    Kids in harnessed carseats have an advantage in the third row. They are much lighter, and won't load the seat back as much. Plus, a 5-point harness is going to prevent ejection even if the seat back does fail, and that was a major concern of the author. Finally, the shell of a high-back carseat will provide protection from intrusion and whiplash. All in all, I'd be much more hesitant to put a 2-3 adults back there than small kids. Here are some more threads for reference on this issue:


    Another link that might be helpful:

    Hope that helps!

  • pilkopilko Posts: 22
    I currently have a Dodge Caravan and have to go on family trips with two adults (including myself), one baby in car seat and a 70lb dog.

    For safety reasons I do not like the dog unrestrained in the vehicle. ( For anyone worried about third row safety, have you also thought what happens when a 70lb dog goes flying around in an accident?) I can either use a dog safety belt or keep the dog in a cage behind the rear seat. If I use the safety belt on the third row then the luggage space is tiny. Even in the Grand Caravan the luggage space is not large. I don't consider the portion of the luggage space that is higher than the rear seat of any use, again because of flying objects.

    We always go to Michigan for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is a 300mi drive for us and we practically always see snow. Emotions at those times probably mean it is difficult to make the right decision if conditions look bad. For this reason we would really like 4wd when we go.

    Two of the vehicles that come to mind are the Suburban/Yukon XL and the Dodge GC AWD. I don't really like large SUVs because of the excessive weight/height and truck based structure compromises but it would have much more useful luggage space and the depreciation on a GC AWD is just terrible.

    I know access to the third row of the Suburban has been critisised by many, is it any better if you get the 2nd row bucket seats?

    Anyone care to comment on how they transport a dog on family trips?
  • stacystacy Posts: 91
    Access to 3rd row of Sub is much better w/ capt. chairs. The only way to go, if you dont need seats for 8. Regarding the dog situation - I used to show a Rott and ALL the show people use cages to transport their dogs in their vehicles. Many of these dogs are worth a living to these people so I think you ought to put the dog in a cage and be safe and strap the cage to the trunk space as best you can. Good luck.
  • dplachtadplachta Posts: 109
    I just played around with Edmunds new Total Cost to Own feature and was amazed at the total cost difference between a minivan and SUV.

    I compared a Honda Ody to a Chevy Trailblazer EXT. 34,342 vs. 51,043. $16,000!!!

    That's a lot of cash to throw around if you're just looking for a family vehicle.
  • jaw2000jaw2000 Posts: 133
    Because when I did the same with the Suburban vs. Chrylser T&C it was pretty close.
  • rudy2000rudy2000 Posts: 32
    True, MV's and SUV's seat 5 to 8 people, but that's the only similarity. MV's relate to station wagons and SUV's relate to crew-cab pickups. Some people buy a MV to haul people and cargo with an easy to maneuver and park platform. While still other people buy an SUV to haul people and cargo into rough terrain. To compare the two is likened to apples and oranges. I bought a MV because I live in the city with lots of traffic and tight parking spots. I have no need to take my MV off-road or into rough terrain. Besides, I dislike SUV's. If I needed to get into rough terrain, I would buy a crew-cab pickup. Rudy
  • jaw2000jaw2000 Posts: 133
    Why the crew cab pickup vice the SUV? Cost is similar, and the SUV might have lower fuel costs (I can't figure out why), but most are lighter than their truck siblings, and lower ins costs as well.

    By the way, having owned both (MVs and SUVs) I will say that MVs maneuver better than SUVs -- those of comparble size, it is still poor when compared to sedans. So even that trade off is not enough for me.
  • ody01ody01 Posts: 100
    Odyssey 7 adult more comfort Trailblazer 5 adult. Odyssey more space luggage 7 adult than Trailblazer 5 adult. Odyssey much better gas mileage 18/25, Trailblazer 16/22 (15/21 4WD). 3rd row seat difficult access any SUV.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    My opinion: you can't make a rational comparison between an Ody and a Trailblazer. Ody is kiddie van, Trailblazer is macho machine--takes 7 qts. of oil and accelerates by wire!!
  • tj_610tj_610 Posts: 132
    Don't know if this has been addressed, I'm new to this board and just read the last 20 or so posts. But the biggest difference between MV and SUV for us is the power sliding doors. Until the kids can clamber into seats on their own, nothing beats them. Haven't seen an SUV with this feature, and probably never will.

    Regarding the weight issue, the false sense of invincibility is definitely a concern. I live in central NC, and we don't get snow often, but have had a few large storms in the last few years. Lots of SUV's driving too fast, IMO. But a fact is a fact - vehicle mass is a major factor in crash outcome. But most MV's aren't exactly lightweights.

    jaw2000 - Your Cost to Own comparison of Suburban to T&C isn't fair. Edmunds had to factor in the cost of a new Chrysler transmission every three years LOL. OK, just kidding, no flame wars, please. I'm just a happy Odyssey owner who still lusts after a loaded Limited T&C every now and then.
  • jaw2000jaw2000 Posts: 133
    I had a Grand Caravan and never lusted after any other MV, and now owning a Suburban I am glad I do.

    If I had to own a MV it would be the Odyssey (there is no other competitor as far as I am concerned).

    My youngest is 3, 4 in mid September, she who is of averager size for her age, can and does get her own door, in fact she gets upset if we get the door for her (entry only BTW).

    I like the idea of auto open/close doors, but that, to me is a short lived convenience. On the other hand since I never had the pleasure of having it (were not available when I had the MV), I may not be a good judge.

    But I can say, if the cost comparisons are that close, and the other issues are strictly of convenience, I'd choose the versatility of a SUV over that of a MV 7 days out of 7.
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