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Minivans - Domestic or Foreign



  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Make sure your dealer will install the Mr Grille option to protect the portion of the air conditioning located just behind the front bumper of your new Odyssey. ;)
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    I have been gone 10 days, return, and there are posting numbers listed for this forum but can not be accessed. :confuse:
  • ClairesClaires Chicago areaPosts: 1,221
    They were removed, leaving a gap in the sequence.


    Need help getting around? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    What is definition of "Best Choice"? :blush:

    Based on sales numbers, a small percentage of buyers made the "best choice".
  • Hello.
    My girlfriend and I are planning a two-month road trip in the US and we'll need a vehicle to get around in. We both have very little knowledge of cars and have know clue what we should be looking for. I'll make a list below of some specifics that might help you help us out.

    1. Budget: $2000 (think used cars)

    2. We will be mostly camping or staying at cheap roadside motels. But we definitely would like the option of laying down a mattress in the back of the vehicle and getting a night's rest in the car. I'm 6 ft 2 in.

    3. We'll need storage space for our things. 2 medium sized suitcases, 2 big backpacks, a tent, 2 sleeping bags, a propane stove, a cooler and some food. Plus room to sleep in (see previous item)

    4. We'll definitely be doing quite a lot of driving, but we will also be stationed in certain towns, cities and parks for short stays. Mostly road driving. We don't have any plans for driving on terrains where we'll need 4x4, but on these kind of trips, I guess that could always be a big plus, not essential anyway.

    5. Comfortable driving and keeping the noise down is important, but we're not spoiled. If we have to stretch out every 2 hours and massage our butts that’s fine. And it doesn't have to hover over the highway without a sound. If we hear the engine working, it's perfectly OK. We'd just like it quiet enough so that we can hear the music playing on our car stereo.

    6. Since we both aren't very knowledgeable under the hood, we really need a car that is as reliable as they come. I know that getting a used car at such a low budget is looking for trouble, but still, I'd like to keep the risk factor as low as possible.

    7. We'll be on a low budget. So miles per gallon ratio is definitely something to consider.

    8. I have no problem using a shift-gear stick, if that helps to broaden the options any.

    We both thank you very much for any help, tips or advice you might be able to offer. We'll try and keep you posted as we search and buy.

  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    IMO - you best bet would probably be an extended cab 4wd pickup, preferably a 4-cyl to help (a bit) with the gas mileage.

    I don't think your going to find anything really suitable for $2k but consider the fact that if you buy something with 75k - 100k miles on it and drive it for a couple of months putting another 5k - 10k miles on it, you aren't REALLY going to lose all that much money if you sell it again when the trip is over.

    Also, I think you'll end up regretting not having the ability to get off-road to see more of America a bit closer up. Particularly if you intend to spend any time out west. Personally, I could probably spend an entire month in Utah, both on and off-road, and be one happy camper. :)

    A small truck w/ little camper shell will be fine for sleeping in; the extended cab will give you some place to put all your paraphenalia in when sleeping. A moderately used (not abused) Toyota or Nissan compact truck should be reliable enough that you don't have to worry about it when on the road and will still retain most of it's value after the trip is over.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Agree with rorr....IF you can find a good used small Datsun/Nissan or Toyota extended cab. However, beware that most used car dealers in the USA are believed to be rip off artists and will sell you overpriced junk with no regrets. :cry:
    Since you implied that you aren't very well trained mechanically, I would recommend a rental of a new Grand Caravan SE with Stow' N Go at a reputable rental agency. You may not be able to off road much, but the GC will deliver 25 MPG or more on the highway, have plenty of room for sleeping by folding all the seats into the floor, and have no worries about reliability. ;) \
    Additionally, there are many roads in Utah and other areas that are dirt cow paths and if it rains, you could be in deep trouble even with 4 wheel drive. :sick:
  • Adihead,

    I have the perfect vehicle for you. I'm the 2nd owner of this 1988 Dodge Grand Caravan with a 3.0 liter V-6 and 3-speed lock-up Automatic trans. Now before you poo-poo this van, it was originally from Arizona when I bought it from the 1st owners, with 115,000 miles. I have personally taken care of all the things needed in the way of maintenance. In it's day it was the top-of-the-line Dodge. I just changed the timing belt, replaced the valve seals, complete brake job, Power steering rack & tie rod ends, nearly new tires (15 in.) and various other items. Since replacing the valve seals, it uses absolutely no oil between oil changes (4000 miles) The dual Air works but it needs about $300 worth of work (compressor, and reciever drier) It has a Midas Exhaust system, and the trans has been flushed and fluid changed every 30,000 miles since I've owned it. It drives like a new van, and best of all it gets about 26 MPG on the hwy! It now has 192,000 Miles on it, and the clear-coat paint is starting to fade, but no rust anywhere. I have van-camped with this vehicle out in Colorado, and there is a lot of room when you remove the rear 2 seats. The roof rack will hold quite a lot of stuff too if you use a roof-carrier/box. My wife doesn't like it because the paint is faded and doesn't look modern like the new vehicles. but it rides and drives as good as my 2004 Sedona, and gets about 7 MPG more on the hiway. All this for $1000! That leaves $1000 more for gas and food, and camping fees.
    Now, I would be a little leary about a vehicle with 192,000 miles on it, but I know THIS particular Dodge Van, and I wouldn't hesitate to drive to California from Fla tomorrow with out any worry. Heck, I've had more problems with my NEW Kia Sedona than this Dodge even with all those miles.
    Don't rule out an older Chrysler Mini-van that has been well maintained. I would stay away from the over-drive transmissions, as the early ones were the reason Chrysler/Dodge fell from the top of the mini-van heap. 3-speed with a lock -up Torque converter (as opposed to overdrive) were very reliable transmissions. You can probably get up to a "95 with the 3.0 liter engine and 3-speed trans for around $2000.
    Check it out!

  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    I completely disagree with CR written portion in the March 2005 issue. While CR has unending praise for the Odyssey and Sienna, they trash the Grand Caravan with brain dead comments.
    Specifically: ..."Many controls are busy and hard to read, and many are not lighted at night".

    After driving my son's 2001 Ody EX and now looking very closely at my friend's new 2006 Sienna LE, the controls on my 2002 T&C LX seem MUCH BETTER organized and EASIER to use than the controls on either the 2001 Odd EX or 2006 Sienna LE. Sadly, the 2005/2006 GC SXT does NOT have all the controls on the door lighted...but they are on my 02 T&C LX.

    I do have to admit that the 06 Sienna transmission shifts more quickly than the transmission in my 02 T&C and the Sienna seems quieter inside than the almost 4 year old T&C. ;) The new instrument panel of the 2006 Sienna is VERY attractive and I like how the Sienna has the gated shifter with D, 4, 3, 2, L and the range lights up in the instrument panel and at the base of the gated shifter.

    The 2001 Ody EX of my son was NOT as quiet as my son's 2002 GC Sport. :blush:
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    While unloading the groceries yesterday, I realized how easy it is to get them from the cargo area of my 2002 T&C and was glad I did not have to lift them out of the deep well of the DC minivans with Stow 'N Go, the Ody with the Magic Seat, the Sienna with the Split and Stow, etc.
    For most purposes, the deep well behind the 3rd row seats is NOT beneficial . :sick:
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    I purchased a drop-in bin for behind the 3rd row on my DCX with "Stow N Go", it has a lid that bring height up to floor level. The lid then turns into a table when I'm camping :)
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Looks like you "almost" have the "Best of Both Worlds". (I admit that I am not very quick to buy the latest technology and like the middle buckets and 50/50 split folding 3rd row seats of the 2002 T&C/GC).
    How do you like the 2nd row "Stow 'N Go"? Do you often stow the seats or use the storage under the floor in front of the 2nd row seats?
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    For most purposes, the deep well behind the 3rd row seats is NOT beneficial .

    Add IMHO to that statement. It's the best thing going in my book. If you don't like the deep well, you can just fold the 3rd row down and viola you have the same setup as you currently do. Anyone that doesn't appreciate the much improved cargo capacity of the deep well, probably isn't using the 3rd row for passengers anyway.
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    I love the "Stow N Go" concept, I'm sure others right now are trying to implement it on their Minivans.

    I'm afraid I'm going to wear out my 2nd row seats, dropping and raising them all the time. Normally I keep em down and passengers have a mini limo in the back.

    I like the sunken bin behind 3rd row. When I'm at Sam's shopping, nothing rolls around the trunk or floor like before. It's all trapped in hole.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Sienna LE just feels more luxurious inside. Odyssey EX is the undisputed power leader. Grand Caravan SXT has the lowest price. It is difficult to make an honest, unbiased statement that one is "THE BEST" since it is impossible to have each of the 3 equipped exactly the same.
  • sc00bssc00bs Posts: 87
    Ok, I think I found were I should be, lol.

    I am pulling my hair out. I have researched until I am blue in the face and have done so to the point of complete and utter disgust. I am very very confused.

    Background: Single mother with two children, my youngest has autism. I am looking for a larger vehicle due to the fact that my son is flipping out if anyone sits near him or around him, I need a vehicle that can actually hold things (current car is a 93, Geo Tracker Convertible), I have a very very fixed income and need something that is under $8,000 and would prefer something with under 70k miles on it. I am 5'9" and have very long legs, I need a mini van that can allow me to stretch out and still leave leg room for the people behind me ( I push my seats in cars all the way back). I have decided after researching many cars that I like the Chevy Impala or some type of minivan.

    My questions about minivans are the following:
    1. How reliable are these vehicles?
    2. How safe are Mini Vans? The thought of driving a bubble scares me, what if this thing rolls over? My friend used to work for the State Patrol and told me NOT to buy any mini van as she saw lots of them ripped in half or totally squished regardless of make or model. Any thoughts?
    3. I simply can't afford a Toyota or a HOnda and from what Ive read their status is WAY over rated. I see lots of Dodge Minivans in my price range with low low miles. I also see Ventures in my price range with about 60k miles. For some reason the Montanas and Olds are the same vans but are priced WAY over what the ventures are. I also looked at a Quest and wow it was tiny, can people actually fit in those?? I also have heard to stay away from MPV's from a lot of people and even dealerships, but haven't figured out why exactly these people are saying these things. Any thoughts?
    4. I have read so many sites on how to buy a used car that my head is spinning. What exactly is the difference between kelley blue book, nada, and edmunds? I have looked up prices in each and they all come out different. I have also noticed that a lot of car dealerships are using Kelley's and then when I present Edmunds or NADA they laugh at me like I am stupid. What are your thoughts??
    5. When dealing with a private party, should how far down from a price is acceptable to ask?? I have run into a lot of them that are asking dealer retail according to KBB but the PPV is way lower. On edmunds its often even lower.
    One website said to ask $1000 over trade-in.... confused.
    6. If a car has been sitting on a lot for a really really long time should I avoid it? There was a minivan that I looked at when it was first traded-in. It sat on the lot with a KBB tag asking 9800. It then went to a clearance sale were it sat again, this time with a price tag of 6750. Then it went back to the dealership lot with the asking price of 9800. This car has been there for almost 6 months. Is that typical for used cars??

  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Welcome to the rest of confused people. One bit of advice: MAKE sure you do not get a vehicle that was underwater in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, or Alabama !! My personal opinion is to have your youngest son sit alone in the back and try to save some money if your Tracker is not costing too much in repairs. However, here is my take on your specific questions:
    1. Reliability. You can be lucky and get a good minivan of any brand OR unlucky get a bad one of any brand.
    2. Safe? Any vehicle is only as safe as the driver's driving habits dictate. I think minivans are very safe.
    3. Toyota and Honda have a better reliability history as reflected in pricing. There is more profit in most used vehicles than new ones. Montanas and Olds are priced higher than Ventures because they normally have many more options.
    4. KBB, NADA, Edmunds....I would trust Edmunds the Most but dealers use the one that has pricing that benefits their profit the most.
    5. Private party: Offer about 1/3 between TRADE-IN and retail pricing that is given in Edmunds. Try to find out the REAL reason the private party wants to sell the vehicle.
    6. Dealers get most DC minivans from rental agencies or fleets. Honda and Toyota are more likely to be one owner trade ins. IF a vehicle does not sell within a few weeks or a month, most dealers dump them at auctions. :blush:
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,441
    I would probably go with a Venture in your situation. They have pretty good powertrains and you should be able to get one with decent miles for 8k.

    I have an MPV an its been great. I suspect the dealer that told you to stay away from them didn't have them on his lot and wanted to sell you something else. 8k should put you in a 1999 MPV.

    Private party sellers are often emotionally attached to their vehilces and think it is worth much more than what the market indicates.

    Don't worry about making an offer to low (they can always say no or you can increase your offer)

    If you want...go look at a couple vehilces and get all the necessary info, then come back here and post. I'm sure myself and the rest of the gang would be more than willing to give you our 2 cents worth. ;)
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    I agree, the Venture would not be a bad choice for someone in your position. NO it's not the hum-dinger of minivans but it will provide you with what you need and should be fairly reliable. From my days of corporate fleet buying, we always went with the GM's whenever possible. Over 120k miles, they were by far the cheapest to buy/operate and $8 should put you in a fairly low-mileage unit.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    GM vehicles have normally had a good powertrain and have higher depreciation than the Odyssey or Sienna...which works to the advantage of a person buying a used vehicle.
    A person almost always spends LESS money by keeping the vehicle they currently own unless it is a lemon. :lemon: IF you need more space than your Tracker has, the short wheel base Venture is probably the least expensive vehicle to buy.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    One thing you all are overlooking with the Venture is it's safety rating. It's HORRENDOUS!!!! It is the most unsafe van on the road today. The new Uplander, which is probably too expensive for sc00bs, is rated much better.
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,441
    fish, I don't think you can get a "new" Uplander for $8,000.

    I have never read of the Venture having a "HORRENDOUS!!!" saftey rating. Care to provide a little more info on that please.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    The Venture does get a Poor rating from the IIHS, however so does the dodge for the most part in this price range. Generally speaking though, Poor doesn't necessarily mean absolute death. It's certainly a step up from a Geo Tracker as far as safety is concerned, pound for pound.

    The Ford Windstar has a better safety rating and is likely as cheap or cheaper than the Venture. Buyer beware IMHO on the reliability side. Anyone I know that's had one, doesn't anymore because the problems DURING warranty were bad enough.
  • artgpoartgpo Posts: 483
    the former GM minis were the most unsafe as tested by the IIHS. Their frontal offset crash test results were dismal.
  • sc00bssc00bs Posts: 87
    Wow, I see that rating of Poor on everything but the chest area. Just a question, aren't these test crash ratings based on a similar vehicle hitting them? i.e. another mini-van hitting the mini-van? So technically speaking if a Toyota was hit by a larger vehicle the test ratings given would not reflect the probability of an occupants survival or injury outcome??
  • sc00bssc00bs Posts: 87
    I am currently driving a horrible car as far as safety is concerned. Although we did get rear-ended by some nut going 55mph and no one got hurt and my car faired rather well (the car behind me did not). Another valid reason to get rid of my car, its got a bit of a dingy, lol. That was 5 years ago, still runs good. The car has 150,000 miles on it, with only a handfull of repairs. Which is another thing that scares the heck out of me when I read all these forums about any of the newer model cars they all seem to have problems. My car has had the heating switch replaced, the normal maintenance things (belts, fluids, brakes, etc.)

    I am looking at the frontal offset crash results and see that some of the Hondas did not do so hot (95-98) and that in the Rear Crash tests the 05-06 models received a marginal and an acceptable for restraint (there first year, because prior to that they scored either marginal or poor). Frontal driver side 5 star for 99-06 and 4 stars 95-97. Frontal passenger 5 stars 99-06 and 4 stars 95-97. Side front 5 stars 00-06 with a safety concern noted in year 05 that the drivers side door came open during the crash that could increases the likelihood of occupant ejection. Side Rear 5 stars years 00-06. Rollover 4 Stars.

    Toyotas did Good in Offset crash (98-06), but for rear crash they scored a POOR for the 05-06 models. MARGINAL for restraint in the 01-03,05-06, GOOD to ACCEPTABLE in the year 04, and POOR in 1999-98. As far as frontal crash ratings the Sienna got 5 stars for driver yrs 98-04 and 4 stars for driver 05-06, passenger got 5 stars for all years. Side crash frontal got 4 stars for yrs 99-03 and 5 stars for 04-06. Rollover rating was 4 star 01-06.

    The Ventures offset crash for all years is POOR. The restraints are GOOD for 2001-2004, and POOR for years 98-00. Rear crash is only available for the uplander and its results are POOR. As far as frontal crash ratings the venture got 4 stars for driver, 4 stars for passenger (98-00 got 3 stars). Side front got 5 stars, side rear got 5 stars yrs 99-00 and 4 stars 01-05.

    I am seeing similar results on all these models for these tests (dodge, mazda, etc.)

    So basically depending on how you get hit by another mini van (or vehicle of like size and shape) you will get different results in all these vans. Hmm..

    As far as reliability is concerned (J.D. Power)

    Toyotas got good marks for their short term 90 day dependability. The other years either got 3 or 4's for long term dependability. Ok, so overall they have good long term dependability (which I like, because frankly my car rates the same can you beleive that, lol). I have seen posts about sludge problems however, what year does anyone know???

    Honda has some good years and some not so good years. Hmm..

    Chevy... well what can we say about these vehicles. They consistently got 3 out of 5's for all the years listed,lol.

    One big difference I noticed between these vans was that the GM line and Ford line were more plush and frankly more comfortable. The toyota's and honda's were very unplush and really cheap looking (im not sure that is the term I am looking for). I think you get my drift....

    Still thinking.. lol.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    Yes, the tests are only comparable between similar sized vehicles. It's an excellent measure of what it's like to off-set crash a concrete barrier at 40mph. Certainly not real-world worthy in other circumstances but it's the stick used to measure by the IIHS. As they put it, it's a test of the structural integrity of the vehicle. Not a guarantee of what will happen in an accident, as the variables would be so many the outcome could be totally different. It's also an excellent way for the manufacturers to design a vehicle to get top-rated scores in this area. I'm sure if someone tried, they could make a really unsafe vehicle pass this test with flying colors. I drive a truck right now that doesn't have the best rating but I haven't lost much sleep over it.
  • sc00bssc00bs Posts: 87
    " I drive a truck right now that doesn't have the best rating but I haven't lost much sleep over it.'

    I think most newer cars would fair better than most older cars, with I am sure a few exceptions. Newer cars typically have more safety features than older cars (gesh, my car doesn't even have air bags, lol). Literally speaking ANYTHING would be safer than my car, lol. Sigh... decisions, decisions.. :)
  • allison5allison5 Posts: 130
    To the person who is looking for a minivan for he 2 kids. I completly believe in a minivan or something that has a third row in it for a child that has Autism. I have 3 kids and I know from "personal experience" that the extra space for that child is a goddsend for everyone. As far as the type of minivan I have done TONS of research on vans and SUV's as well as having both, not trying to sound like an expert because far from it but just an extra opionion. If you are looking for comfort and something that is not as expensive I would definatly go with an American model- I had a Ford Windstar for 6 years and even though my 96 was in the shop constantly after less than 30,000 ,miles it was so comfy. I am looking for a van again after having a SUV -too flippin expensive for gas anyway I am looking at Toyota and Honda vans just because I have had my fill with American cars and all the darn problems. I have had friends that have gone with Dodge and even though they don't have best reputation they can last.... Hope all goes well
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    I have had some bad experience with American brands and foreign brands. Toyota has been consistently a little more reliable than the others I have owned...but it usually costs more for service at a Toyota (or any foreign brand) dealership :cry: .
    Dealer service is more important to me than the label on the vehicle. There are more things to consider than purchase price alone.
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