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SUV vs Minivans



  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,095
    A reporter is looking to interview owners of a 2007 or 2008 minivan, SUV or crossover that is loaded with two or more high-tech features such as a navigation system, DVD player, heated mirrors, parking sensors, rear view cameras, iPod connectivity, radio data system, Bluetooth, satellite radio, tire pressure monitoring, universal garage door opener, Sync, etc. Please respond to [email protected] before Friday, October 10, 2008 with your daytime contact information and a few words about your vehicle.

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  • We're shopping for a new family car. Have a van now (mazda MPV FWD) and love a van. But we need better rough weather (snow) control. We're looking at the Sienna AWD van but now thinking about going the SUV direction.

    Does anyone have info on the difference between AWD and 4WD?

  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    We probably have too much info. :)

    4WD & AWD systems explained

    You'll find some details about the Sienna's AWD in the Toyota 4WD systems explained discussion.

    If you aren't using winter tires on the MPV, you may want to research that. I drove FWD cars in snow country for a couple of decades, including minivans, and did pretty well with studded tires. They aren't legal everywhere, but winter tires like Nokians may work for you.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The catch with the AWD Sienna is you have to get those dreaded run-flat tires. They cost $800 a set, are lousy, and don't even last. Google it and you will find tons of complaints.

    There is no room for a spare because the driveshaft takes up that space (FWD models have it underneath).

    I own a Sienna, and I'm a fan of AWD, but I passed.

    Get FWD and snow tires, or get something else.
  • Can someone please help me! I have a 2001 Dodge Caravan SE, 3.3L 6 cylinder engine -- with 133K miles, but drives like the day I bought it. The most reliable car I've ever owned. I can find no suggested replacment schedule for the "timing chain" (not "timing belt" like the 4 cylinder engines have). If I ask the dealer, they'll probably just tell me to replace it. But does it really need replacing? And when do I do it??

    Thanks so much
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Timing chains don't ordinarily require scheduled replacement and I don't see any replacement requirement in the Edmunds Maintenance Guide. They can wear, but your van wouldn't be driving like new if your chain or sprocket were worn. Enjoy the ride!
  • Thanks so much for your response!
  • My 1982 Ford Travel van E150 broke a timing chain (350V8) at 278,000 kms, in 1993 and screwed up the piston timing and the cost was too much to bare so dumped it in Ford dealer's lap and used what I gaught ($750) for a 1 year old 1992 Ford Taurus, long-stoke. I currently have a 214,000 kms 2002 Honda Odyssey and replaced the timing belt (V6) and water pump at 154,000 kms. The book ways to replace the belt at 168,000 and inspect the water pump; but since the pump is in the same area it is wise to replace at the same time (no use spending double the money if the pump goes lateer). By-the-way a FWD Minivan makes more sense to me for the great cargo space over any vehcile; exvept a gas-guzzling FULL-SIZE van.
    Ontario, Canada
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's still a pretty long interval. Let's see, 278k km is 164k miles. A lot of vehicles don't last that long.
  • I know this is a late response, but just want to add that our 96 Grand Caravan has never had the timing belt changed or serviced, and we are at 236,000 miles.

    Biggest service expense we've had was a transmission that needed rebuilding at 140,000 miles. That cost $1500, and the transmission has now lasted almost another 100,000 miles since the rebuild and still working fine.

    All other problems were sometimes irritating, but relatively inexpensive and easy to fix. Two O2 sensors, 1 Manifold Air Pressure sensor, and a couple of window regulators. (did the window regulators and the MAP sensor myself).

    In 45 years of driving all kinds of vehicles, there is nothing like a minivan for all around usefulness. Hauls an amazing amount of stuff and/or people, and in great comfort. Great for long distance trips, or short runs around town. Hauled kids to all their activities as they grew up, then moved their stuff to college, apartments, etc. Hauls lumber, including 4x8 sheets of plywood for home improvement projects, and many other bulky materials.

    Cannot see any rational reason for a family getting an SUV unless you need to tow something big or if you live in snow country and cannot find a minivan with AWD. (of course, these days, they call a minivan with AWD a Crossover...)

  • mnrep2mnrep2 Posts: 200
    I have to second your sentiments about the "lowly" minivan! We don't have kids but have always owned one because I demonstrate equipment. Except for a full size suburban, there isn't an suv out there that can carry the cargo a mini van can, and still offer low 20's mpg, while offering a car like ride.

    I don't carry equipment around as often as I used to but we will still always have one minivan in the fleet. ;)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    there is nothing like a minivan for all around usefulness

    So true...

    I just got back from a family reunion in Florida. The amount of people (up to 8 at any given time) and especially luggage that thing carried was incredible. And it handled the payload well, no bottoming out, and nothing had to go on the roof.

    Coming back from Florida to DC it carried 6 people and their luggage, and almost all of the luggage in the cargo area (up to the ceiling). Everyone was comfortable so no compromising. We had about a dozen suitcases, 2 of them oversized.

    The utility can't be beat.

    Oh, and they watched movies coming back. No asking "are we there yet?"

    We hauled coming back (dad hit 90 at one point) and had lots of weight, so mileage was just 24 mpg or so. I usually do 27-30 with a lighter load and at more prudent speeds.
  • I am currently a mother of two, a one year old and a six year old. However, I will have a new addition to our family in several months. We will have two full size car seats and a booster seat. I will also have two strollers and a pack and play. Therefore, i have come to the dreadful conclusion that at the age of 28, i need a minivan. I am having a hard time deciding which one to choose. We put about 20,000 miles on my car every year. I like the idea of stow and go seating, would like a rear entertainment system, automatic doors, and a few bells and whistles. I have always driven foreign cars (my last two were a VW and a honda) but I am not opposed to domestic (my husband is a ford man). We would like to stay around 20,000 or less whith less than 30,000 miles. Does anyone have a suggestion? Thanks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If you want to carry all 3 kids in the 2nd row, your best bet is a Toyota Sienna.

    The Ody is the only other van to even offer 8 seats, and there's no way it will be wide enough for an infant seat, a child safety seat, and a booster, all 3 side-by-side.

    Better still, in the Sienna you can position the middle seat forward, so you can reach the baby from your seat. The older kids would sit outboard. Plus you would still have 99 cubic feet behind that row, i.e. tons of space.

    In any other van you'll need the use the 3rd row for that 6 year old, and he/she will feel cheated.

    Tip: get power doors, they're great (LE 8-passenger w/pkg 2 or higher).
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    In any other van you'll need the use the 3rd row for that 6 year old, and he/she will feel cheated.

    In my family, my cousins in a similar boat here. The family now has a 2001 Navigator, with a 3 year old, 5 year old, and an 8 year old. Since he could put on his seatbelt, he's LOVED finally being on the third row, being the "big boy: all by himself. All he has to do is walk between the captains chairs, just like in a 7-passenger minivan, except in today's minivans, the rear seat accomodations are MUCH more comfortable than the back of an old Navigator.

    Just a thought; it may actually be preferable to have the two captains chairs in the 7-passenger Sienna or the 8-passenger Odyssey with the removeable center 2nd row seat. That way, he/she can get back to the 3rd row without having to move a carseat/booster seat to move the 2nd row chair out of the way for them to get back there

    Both the Odyssey and Sienna are nice vans which are aging relatively gracefully (the Odyssey debuted in '05, while the Sienna debuted in '04 and has gotten a new powertrain in the last two years). Putting that many miles on a van, you might also consider the Entourage or Sedona with their 100k warranty. If you're grimacing a lot about checking out a minivan, I'd suggest at least looking at the Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook/Buick Enclave by General Motors. They are the roomiest crossovers, offer similar economy to the vans (while still not having the amount of room as a minivan), and lots of luxury options.

    Ateixeira won't lead you astray; he has an 8-passenger Sienna and loves it. I've put many miles on an '05 Odyssey and love that it handles like a 120% Accord; very carlike and feels smaller than it really is. The Sienna wins in the engine-department, while the Odyssey is simply the better drive of the two.

    Happy hunting!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Funny thing is besides the Sienna the best 2nd row I've seen was in the Navigator's clone, a plain old Ford Expedition. It also has 3 individual seats for the 2nd row.

    When you don't need to put passengers in the 3rd row, you have SOOO much more cargo space.

    A friend of mine has 3 kids and traded a Suburban with a 2nd row bench for a Chevy Traverse with captain's chairs. She must always use the 3rd row for one kid, so her cargo space is less than half of what it was before. She's had trouble adjusting to packing so light for trips.

    The Ody is a lot bigger than a Traverse, so that may not be a problem, but check it out carefully, take the kids with you, ask them if they are comfortable, make sure you still have enough room for gear.

    We chose our Sienna democratically - both kids and even the nanny had a say in our purchase. Everyone voted Yes for the Sienna. Other vehicles got 3 or 4 votes, but nothing else was unanimously liked by all.

    I vetoed the Expedition because of horrible gas mileage and because it drives like a truck!
  • Looking at the soon-to-be-released Nissan NV2500. This looks like a $45,000 vehicle. I LOVE the size. I was thinking about buying Dodge Sprinter but it's reliability is questionable. Does anyone know is there are plans to make a basic plain-jane cargo version of the NV2500? Hopefully, I could get one for around $30,000. I want to be the NV of the neighborhood!
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I missed the concept stuff last year, so this is new to me.

    Looks like it's possible that Nissan could start making them in Canton next year. NY Times

    They may wait as long as they can to see how the Ford Transit does.
  • NV2500 is not to be confused with the NV200 (which is Nissan's version of the Ford Transit) NV2500 is TWICE as big and at LEAST twice as pricey. The "Transit" type vehicle are okay I guess. There are MILLIONS of them in Europe already. Perfect delivery and maintenance vehicle for their narrow streets and alleys. May not catch on here though. More comfortable mini-vans can carry just as much junk when rear seats are removed. We'll see.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Yeah, there's a rumor that the NV200 could come to NA too. Just rumor though.

    The NV2500 looks like a Chevy Avalanche that ran into one of those old utility company crewcabs with all the doors hanging off everywhere and quadrupled the cubby holes.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sprinter isn't really a Dodge, they just sold them through Dodge dealers.

    The diesel ought to be plenty reliable. They've been used for ages in fleets.
  • We are going to be buying a suv or a minivan within the next couple of months. My husband and I have one little girl but plan on having many more. I HATE car payments so I want to buy a car and keep it for many many years. I think that there is no difference body style wise too drive an suv or minivan, they both have no body styles in my opinion and if I wanted to look flashy I would buy a convertible. I just want honest families opinions on what car would be best for us. We both drive foreign made cars but are not opposed too buying american. We just need advice from people who own already and love their cars! Thanks!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Minivans are a shoe-in, especially since you don't prefer the styling of big SUVs.

    They are roomier, cheaper to buy, more user-friendly, and cost less to operate.

    You give up 4WD and a low range, and can't tow 9000 lbs, but for most people those things are overkill anyway.

    Definitely try a minivan.

    What features to get? Power sliding doors. Love 'em. Much easier to carry a sleeping child if you get home late. Consider a power hatch also.

    We have an 8 passenger Sienna LE and love it. 266hp, power sliding doors, 149 cubic feet of space to fit all your stuff. Paid around $25k and it still costs about that much today. The XLE adds a power liftgate and more goodies but would be closer to $29k or so.
  • tmk100tmk100 Posts: 2
    In my family we have both a Ford Explorer (v8) and a Toyota Sienna LE. The Toyota has more cargo space, more room to comfortably seat adults, and gets about 4 mpg better than my v8 Ford. The Explorer has good towing capacity and has been a reliable, safe and fun vehicle. In fact, its safety profile is excellent (check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), better than the Sienna's if I recall correctly.
    A couple of things to consider that I didn't think of when we purchased our 2010 Sienna: the liftgate is pretty heavy, so getting a power liftgate may be more of a necessity than a luxury. I didn't even think about that because my Explorer has a split liftgate and the top half is light and easy to open and close.
    Also, in order to get automatic headlamps on the Sienna, you need to buy them as an option or get a Limited edition. My Explorer and previous vehicles have had automatic headlamps, and remembering to turn the Sienna's lights on has been an adjustment. I'm frankly surprised that a vehicle with a standard 6 disc cd changer, and so many other features doesn't have this important safety feature. (and if anyone has tips for me for dealing with this please let me know. One friend suggested that I leave the switch in the on position so that the headlamps are on during the day and night, but I'm a little wary of doing that.)
    good luck,
  • ojhaojha Posts: 6
    I didn't read the whole post but I was thinking which one ( suv or mv ) untill last week...then did test drive and got my answer.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Leaving them on works, the daytime running lights would be on either way.

    The only catch is the interior lights dim slightly - so the trick to overcome that is to crank the dimmer switch all the way until it clicks, then the dash will stay at its brightest.

    Works for me.
  • igiban1igiban1 Posts: 24
    I can think of a few reasons people choose 7-seat SUV over MV, even if they know full well that they don't need AWD/towing that much, and MV offers more room for cargo and people.

    1. Look and image. While some SUV look just a boxy and un-sporty as MV, they certainly have better chances to look more exciting than MV. Image, well, let's just say some soccer moms/dads just don't want to look that soccer'd!

    2. Luxury and brand cache. The MB/BMW/Lexus of the world don't make MV. So if you care about that then you have to get SUV.

    3. Enough superficial stuff. For people do go (unpaved) outdoor a lot, SUV does make a bit more sense due to its higher clearance and suspension (more or less but generally better than MV).
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    "Park scientists have found that the bears tore up minivans more frequently than other types of vehicles. It found that minivans represented 29 percent of the 908 vehicles torn into by bears between 2001 and 2007, even though they made up just 7 percent of the cars that visited Yosemite."

    For Yosemite bears, dinner arrives in a minivan (Idaho Statesman)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's because our kids spill enough food to actually feed a bear.

    It's not the type of vehicle, it's the stuff inside, the smells of all that spilled food. No doubt.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    That, and they look like coolers. :shades:

    I can say that to you since we both own vans. :)
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