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SUV vs Minivans



  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Ha - got you. That's really a camo Nissan Quest. :P

    People are paying attention to the new IIHS reports and some people are concerned that the car they intended to buy has fallen off the "top safety pick" list for 2010.

    8 SUVs made the list, but no minivans did.

    Tough New Roof Test Whittles Down Field of IIHS 'Top Safety Pick' Winners (AutoObserver)
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    Steve and I are looking for investors for start up capital in a company that manufactures airbags that install in the roofs of mini-vans. Email Steve for details.
  • dbtdbt Posts: 298
    I've posted this before, but to be clear, the reason no minivans have passed the roorf crush test and hence why no minivans are on this IIHS list is a simple one:

    they have not been tested yet.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Thanks for the reminder; the IIHS needs to get a move on. I wouldn't expect many to pass the test but I wouldn't have guessed that the Element would have either.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 12,685
    awd minivans don't get much if any better mileage than suv's.
    a couple things i like about suv's, they handle things poor road conditions better due to more suspension travel and taller tires.
    also, in a lot of snow, the extra ground clearance can allow you to get where you are going easier.
    we have snow in ct, too. ;)
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2017 Ford F-150 Limited
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I'm going to post that MSN link you found over here - interesting reading about why the IIHS didn't test some cars for roof strength.

    Toyota, safety group squabble over ratings
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 5,164
    Minivans get better mileage, ride more comfortably, drive more like cars, have more room, and cost less. Sliding doors don't ding the adjacent car in the parking space when your rugrats open the doors. They also don't ding your other car in the driveway or garage.

    But perhaps the biggest issue is that minivans don't roll over as easily. We had friends and 2 weeks after buying a Range Rover they had to evade a car that cut in front of them, swerved, and it rolled over. Luckily nobody was hurt but the RR was totaled.

    My brother knows a nurse in Minnesota who watched a swerving SUV roll over 2 cars ahead of her. As a nurse, she stopped and rushed to the scene. She found an empty child seat in the upside-down car. Mom had been ejected (no seatbelt) and was killed. Luckly the rugrat was not in the car at the time.

    I would say get an SUV if you must have off road capabilities or towing capabilities. Otherwise you're likely paying $10K more for the privilege of not being in a mommy-mobile. Image *IS* important! :shades:
  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,727
    Hard to beat the room of a minivan, not many cross-over SUV's can match the room of a minivan. That said it comes down to what you want/need. I've owned one minivan a Mercury Villager, and several SUVs (Pathfinder, Suburban and now an 07 Expedition). The only reason I have a full size SUV is I own a boat and travel trailer. Yes, the Expedition is superb in bad weather, with auto 4wd, plus traction and stability control, more ground clearance etc. But, I found the minivan to be very good in the snow too. Granted, I wouldn't want to drive in deep snow, but 6-8" snow was never an issue.

    I know the minivan has never been cool, but neither are most SUVs. Except for those in the MDX class. But they don't have near the room either. My BIL has an 08 MDX and it's awesome, basically feels like a tall sport sedan,but my SIL has a minivan for family duties.
  • Minivans are not perceived as "cool," by most, since image seems to be critically important to most people today. However, the minivan remains as the most practical vehicle on the road, as you can't beat a rectangular box for maximum practicality. As for gas mileage: I would say 26 to 27 MPG on a fully loaded minivan on a summer vacation is acceptable (my own experience with our van).

    If you go off road or tow, buy an SUV. However, if all you do is take your kids to school, go to the mall, or load everything up for long road trips and vacations, buy a minivan. Otherwise, you're buying a vehicle for image only.

    Winter operation: I live in central Illinois, and receive quite a bit of snow during the winter. I've never been stuck, or couldn't drive in the worst of snows, with our FWD minivan. Remember, the driving technique is sometimes more important than the technology available on the vehicle. It's always quite funny to observe which type of vehicle is in the ditch, or in the median on the freeway, when we have our first substantial snow storm -- it's always a 4WD SUV.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The only AWD minivan right now is the Sienna, so it's not hard to compare:

    [with tongue firmly in cheek]

    Vehicle, Cargo Volume in cubic feet, EPA MPG:

    Sienna, 148.9, 17/21
    Suburban, 137.4, Censored
    Tahoe, 108.9, Censored
    Expedition, 108.3, Censored
    Seqouia, 128.1, Censored
    Armada, 97.1, Censored

    Didn't want to scare people. ;)

    To be fair the Suburban does have a longer cargo floor, but it still cannot take a 4'x8' sheet of plywood inside like the Sienna can.

    SUV mileage is really only close if you compare trucks with much smaller capacities. Explorer has just 85.8, or a little more than half.

    If you don't need to tow or off road, you can't beat a van for sheer space and efficiency.
  • I agree that vans are the best - but what about in the snow? I have asked almost 100 people and everyone agrees to two things
    1. Vans are the best for efficiency/space/convience
    2. Vans will not perform as good as SVUs in the upstate NY/Canada snow/ice/rain
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Tires help. When I was up north I drove minivans for ~12 years. They did fine with studded tires, but we didn't get lake effect snow either. Seems like studs are banned a lot back in that part of the world. Studs really helped out at the intersections in town, both to stop on the black ice and then to get moving again.

    Ground clearance could be an issue if you insist on going out during one of those infamous two foot dumps of snow.

    Then there's the AWD Sienna to toss in the mix.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    And that Sienna has extra ground clearance, too, a lot more than an Odyssey, for instance.

    The only catch - you gotta get run-flat tires.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Run-flats would just about be a deal killer. Are people able to swap them out?
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    You are right about the tires, steve, if folks would keep aware of wear and replace before they need replacing -- a front wheel vehicle with great tires will take you through a lot of trouble. A set of 4 snow tires for northern climates can offer additional security. Great tires on a fwd trumps awd on baldies everytime.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Fortunately, yes. The Sienna's rims will fit standard 17" tires. You may want to get a donut and toss it in the 3rd row well, though.

    Ody has odd rims (17.5" IIRC) that will not fit standard tires, but Honda doesn't offer their SH-AWD system on it anyway. Pilot it is, for Honda.
  • have been there myself for the last couple of months, deciding whether or not to ditch my Ody for a cheaper SUV. Almost bought a 2003 MDX yesterday. When it came right down to it, nothing can touch the Odyssey for practicality, comfort and
    cost to operate. Granted, I dont live in a snow area, but the thought of giving
    up that much room, the sliding doors for the kids, the better mileage, being able
    to run on 87, it just wasn't worth saving the money to buy a used car. If I were you,
    I would be pick up a CPO 2009 Odyssey. You get teh benefit of the powerliftgate.
    make sure if you do, the transmission judder has been addressed. good luck!
  • Hello - I am a mother of 4 looking for my next vehicle. I currently drive an 03' Chrysler TC MV. I have four kids ages 7 and under and all are in car seats. I am packed to the gills. I am looking at both new MVs and SUVs. Any thoughts or suggestions out there. My biggest complaint in the MV is that there is no room to take a guest and not enough cargo room for week long travel. We have to pack the aisles and add a car top carrier. I hate to be crowded. I would really like some cargo room and the ability to bring a friend or sitter along comfortably. Gas mileage and reliability are important. I live in Indiana so snow is not a real issue. No towing or off-roading. I am NOT concerned with status - I want functionality and space. Any suggestions?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If you don't want to put cargo in the aisles, the primary thing is to avoid captain's chairs.

    I suggest the van I chose - an 8 passenger Sienna. Get a 2010 model, because you get 3 adult-sized chairs. The middle one is a full 20" wide.

    That lets you put 3 kids there, and just one in the back row. You can split fold the back row and get a big, L-shaped cargo area, for a lot of cargo.

    You can also seat 6 children.

    Here is a huge image:

    Imagine you fold the 60 portion of the 3rd row, you'd have plenty of cargo space. The only catch is the 4th child would sit alone and next to cargo, so make sure it's secured to the tie-downs that are supplied.
  • OK - so I love the layout however in looking at the model online I discovered a few more things that I would like to have......leather, heated seats, camera, dvd, etc. The 8-passenger Toyota is not available in any configuration that includes leather. Any other thoughts - I really do like the layout of the 8 seater. Thx.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yes, good point, 8 passenger only comes with the CE and LE models. You could add aftermarket Katskins leather if you really had to, but other equipment would still be missing..

    The Odyssey offers an 8 seat model, but the seat is more narrow, it's really just a bridge between the 2 others seats. I'm not sure if 3 child seats across would even fit, as the seats tend to be fairly wide.

    Ody and Sienna are the only 2 minivans to offer 8 seats, IIRC.

    Here's a pic of that van's interior:

    I would test-fit your car seats first, to make sure they fit. It has fewer tether anchors, too, I've heard.

    Toyota will launch a new Sienna soon, but the middle row looks more like the Ody's, with a narrow mother-in-law seat in the middle. Can't find a pic with the 8th seat, but it would go between these chairs: econd-row-seats.jpg
  • occupant1occupant1 Posts: 412
    Whether 'tis nobler to weather the slings and arrows of being a minivan owner, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by driving an SUV, end them...

    My wife has given the go-ahead to try and sell our 2000 Durango (199K, 2WD, 318, 6-passenger) to attempt to purchase a same generation Chrysler minivan (I found a well-kept '98 T&C with 184K locally, the guy is willing to trade even up).

    Our Durango has been an interesting purchase. We bought it from a dealer in Oklahoma on eBay, knowing three things: a) it was a good looking truck inside and out, b) the engine was known to be bad, and c) it was a bank repossession with 172K on it. For $1700 in February 2009, it was a good deal. I went to a junkyard and purchased a 124K mile engine for $600 and paid $550 for my local mechanic to install it. We had a running driving truck with cold AC for the next year. Two problems got fixed, one, the torque converter bolts backed out and our mechanic fixed this for free, and two, the radiator and water pump failed. We had those fixed for about $230 each and it's been great. Now the A/C has a leak at the port where you fill it, and it's a $120 part. So we're looking into the minivan thing, because finding a third row seat to match the interior is driving my wife and I crazy. They're either the wrong color, or the wrong fabric, or the junkyard wants $400+ for the setup.

    If nothing else, it will be a learning experience. The last Chrysler van I drove was a taxi in Dallas, a 1999 Grand Voyager with the 3.3L. It was very comfortable to drive and I look forward to that experience with the Chrysler. I'll update here as needed. I know my wife will miss her truck, but I also know she would love to take our kids to see my grandmother for the first time before she passes, and with the 6-passenger Durango, one of us would have to stay home.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You must have some funny junk-yard stories to tell.

    Good luck with the swap.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I just did a quickie road trip and saw one car broken down on the side of the road in 3 days. It was an old Caravan/Voyager - it was a short wheel base one like my old '89. It was probably pushing 250,000 miles.

    I had a rental Grand Caravan a couple of years back and it drove well. I was happy with the free upgrade.

    Oh, I need tires on my current van so we took the Outback. It'll hold everything we need, but the van sure is easier to pack. More comfy too.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,079
    A reporter wants to talk with recent buyers of a 6+ seat vehicle. Please respond to [email protected] by Friday, June 4, 2010 and be sure to include your phone number and the vehicle model you own.
    Jeannine Fallon
    Corporate Communications


    Need help navigating? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I take it 3 years ago is not "recent"? :D
  • Hello my husband and I are going to be car shopping in March. We will be buying either his or mine cash . He is getting a 2010 Charger while me the mommmmmmmmmm has to get a SUV or mini van........ Which I don't want a mini van. Currently I have a Armada but bc of the high miles I will be selling it and putting the cost to a new SUV for me. I did look at the 2011 Odyssey (spelling) and I love the look on the outside but honestly don't know. I think I'm gonna get a Honda Pilot. I'll be honest.......... and say I like the look of my Armada a lot better then the Pilot and Odyssey however bc we are coming into some money to buy two new cars I need to stay within a certian price.( One car will be cash probley my husbands ) and I'll put $15,000 down on mine. I want to keep my payments as low as I can and bc of our credit I THINK that is leading me to a Honda Pilot. I wish it was a 2010 or 2011 Armada but the cost difference is just to much for us as the whole goal is to get my car payment down lower then what it is now.

    We have to have 8 seats. Cargo is not a big worry as I do shopping when kids are at school etc. We will be going on Vacation next summer however will use the luggage rack for that.

    Can anyone give us advice on if it is smarter to buy a 2010 Charger with cash and put $15,000 down on a Pilot or Pay Pilot Cash and say put $10,000 down on the Charger and finance that?

    also does anyone know how much they come down on prices if your buying cash? Say the SUV cost $32,000 ( the New Pilot we looked at today) How much do you think they normally come down on it if it's cash? thanks in advance.

    A heart broken Armada owner LOL

    btw my kids are older kids and fit fine in the Armada.
  • Also. does anyone know since we won't be buying for 6 months ( when we get the money) how much the price will come down on 2010 models?
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    It won't matter; there won't be any new 2010s left by Spring of 2011.
  • cccompsoncccompson Posts: 2,388
    Paying cash does not result in any price reduction on a vehicle - in fact, it deprives the dealer of another way to make money because they don't get a cut of any financing.

    When the time comes, closely examine manufacturer financing incentives. Dodge seems to run zero percent deals frequently, certainly a better way to go than paying cash for a vehicle that will depreciate like a rock. Also, Honda always runs a big President's day promotion in February.

    Last thought, unless you really need 4wd, get over that minivan dislike. Feature for feature, they are usually less expensive than an SUV. Further, they drive and ride better, are easier to park, a far more versatile (try hauling 4 x 8 foot sheets of plywood in a Pilot) , and get better mileage than SUVs.
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