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Minivans - Domestic or Foreign



  • Hi - I'm looking for a minivan that I can remove the 2 captain chairs that would be in the 2nd row and then take the 3rd row bench and put it in the 2nd row. I'd like all three young children in the second row within reach and next to each other for maybe another year or so but then I'd like to have the option of having the nice seperate captain chairs for when they are a little older. Anyone know of any minivans that can do - we're looking for something used? Thanks so much!
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I'm not sure you can do that in any van... you're best choice might be an 8 passenger Sienna, or the Odyssey (it has 3-place seating in the second row which is handy for small kids, but over 7 years old, you'll want one in the third row.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    I don't think there are any newer minivans that can do this. One of my mothers previous Caravans could (1996 model IIRC) and that's what she did for maximum cargo capacity and five-passenger seating. Her newer Caravan has the folding 3rd row which can't be moved, which is how nearly all are made these days.

    As mentioned in an above post, the 8 passenger Odyssey and Sienna are the only two I know of that already have seating for 3 in the 2nd row. I'd say the Sienna is more comfortable, but for kids it may not matter too much. When I was shopping, the 8-passenger Sienna was a fairly stripped down model. We went with the Ody EX-L mainly because of the 8 passenger seating. The middle 2nd row seat can be removed from the Ody whenever you're done with it. I'm not sure how the Sienna 2nd row works.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    As far as I know, none of the current editions on the market can move the 3rd row bench to the 2nd row. I'm not sure how old you'll need to go to find something that can do this.

    The current Odyssey and Sienna offer models with 3 across seating in the 2nd row.

    In the Sienna, the 3 seats are essentially the same size and do not incorporate armrests. The middle seat in the second row can be positioned several inches further forward (so it can be easily reached by the front seat passenger). The middle seat can removed, but the resulting 2 seats aren't really captains chairs.

    In the Ody, the two outer seats ARE full captains chairs and the center seat is much smaller. However, with the armrests folded up, seat comfort in the center +1 seat is actually not nearly as bad as it may look and should be more than adequate for small children. You may want to try it with the kids involved to see how well it works for your situation.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    In the Ody, the two outer seats ARE full captains chairs and the center seat is much smaller. However, with the armrests folded up, seat comfort in the center +1 seat is actually not nearly as bad as it may look and should be more than adequate for small children. You may want to try it with the kids involved to see how well it works for your situation.

    Yes, and considering you only want to do this for about a year or less, it might be the best option!
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    The Caravan and Grand Caravan Sport 2001 through 2004 have 2nd row captain chairs. Some had one piece 3rd row bench seat and some had the optional 50/50 split bench fold and tumble 3rd row seats that could be moved forward to put where the 2nd row bucket seats were after the 2nd row bucket (captain) seats were removed. The Sport was also offered as the eL and eX in 2002 and 2003.
    The 2001 - 2004 T&C LX (with eL or eX option also) is a clone of the Grand Caravan.
    The early 2005 Grand Caravan SE did NOT have the "Stow 'N Go" 3rd row seat and those model 3rd row seat could be moved forward to the 2nd row position when 2nd row bench or 2 bucket seats were removed.
    The 2005 - 2007 Caravan SXT still has the capability of moving the 3rd row 3 passenger seat (or 50/50 split 3rd row seats) forward when the middle row captain chairs have been removed.

    It is true the 2005-2007 Ody EX have seating for 8 since there is a nice, padded, removeable middle arm rest between the outer middle row captain's chairs where the 3rd person can sit in the middle row. The middle position is more comfortable than the rear seat in almost any sedan.

    With the 2004-2006 Sienna 8 passenger CE or LE, the 2nd row has 3 seats in the middle row but there are NO armrests for any of the 3 passengers in the middle row.
  • We have an 01 DGC EX with 2nd row captain chairs and the 50/50 3rd row bench. We have taken out the 2nd row captain chairs once and moved the 50/50 3rd row bench to the second row with know problem. It worked great for us and had a lot of room in the cargo area. The only draw back to this, if you don't have a place to store the 2nd row captain chairs, is you can only tumble and lock one of the seats in place in the third row. The other will have to sit there tumbled forward, but not locked in place. If you do go with a DGC or T&C, make sure it has 2nd row captain chairs and the 50/50 3rd row bench. These are a lot lighter to remove and lift out of the van. (I've heard it is a pain and takes two people to remove the solid bench seats.) :shades:
  • garandmangarandman Posts: 524
    As mentioned the older Caravans could do this.

    Depending on the age of your children, some people put one in the front seat, as long as you have the appropriate airbag technology.
  • We are looking at a used Odyssey or Sienna, some of these have side air bags some don't. Our children are 5, 3 and a newborn. Are these safe for children - this is a big concern of ours - should we get one with or without the side airbags? Also, do you know what year they started putting these in for the Odyssey or Sienna?
  • We're shopping for a used Odyssey in the year range 2001 - 2004. Can you tell me did they change anything at all during these years, anything bad about 2001 vs. 2004. Any engine changes, did they put side airbags in different years, anything you know would be helpful. Thanks.
  • viamedeviamede Posts: 26
    The older versions of the Mercury Villager and Nissan Quest do exactly this (at least to 1998 not sure about after. Lets you run it as a big wagon basically. But these are getting old and only have three doors (up to 1998 anyway).
  • I had a 2004 Town and Country with the middle buckets and rear split bench, and you could not move the seats forward, they were too wide.
  • cccompsoncccompson Posts: 2,388
    Side curtain airbags were first offered in the Odyssey starting in 2005 when they were installed in every trim level. Toyota began putting them in the Sienna in '04. They were an option on the lower levels and standard on the higher levels.

    I haven't seen any reports that side curtain airbags pose any risk to youngsters. Even if they do - bear in mind that these are triggered in side impacts where there is precious little mass in your vehicle to absorb the forces of a crash. If you get broadsided by a Tahoe going 40 mph it seems to me that you should want (and need) anything that might less their chance of severe injury.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I would definitely go for one with side airbags, if not side-curtain airbags. The Honda Odyssey, beginning with the 2002 model year, had standard side airbags but not the curtains. (one major reason I bought the 2002 versus the 2001) The curtain airbags were standard in all Odysseys starting with the redesigned 2005 models.

    The Sienna I am not so sure but I'm pretty sure that side curtain airbags were available in LE, XLE, and XLE Limited trims from 2004-2005 depending on option package, and side curtain airbags are now standard across the board from 2006 onward.

    In regards to the third row seat moving forward, you'll have to look into a 1993-2002 Nissan Quest or Mercury Villager, 2001-2004 Dodge Grand Caravan, or the Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country.

    I know that you can put the third row in the second row in the Chevrolet Venture, but the safety record of that car is not exactly admirable.

    I would definitely get as much airbag protection as possible- the curtains will help in a side impact accident with something like a Tahoe or Expedition. If you can't afford to get a used Sienna or Odyssey with curtain airbags, then definitely get driver and passenger side airbags.

    The curtains should be safe for children- I haven't heard anything to the contrary and I wouldn't hesitate to put my kids in the backseat of a car with curtain airbags.

    Good Luck :)
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    The 2002 models got several updates (that carried thru 2004) that include slightly updated styling, 30 more horsepower (from 210 to 240), went from a 4-speed auto to a 5-speed, got a leather interior option, and ran on regular fuel (the 1999-2001 asked for premium to get all 210 horses, while the 2002-2004 made all 240 on regular).

    There are a few other very minor changes (such as extra cupholders in the 2002-2004 models) but the big changes I mentioned above.



    You can notice the 2002-2004 has amber turn signals (the 2001 has all red taillamps/signals, and the 2002-2004 has updated wheels and a bolder grille as well.

    Here is the leather interior.

    May I suggest reading the comparo of the 2004 Odyssey here on Edmunds, found here - 2004 Odyssey Comparison
  • jannsjanns Posts: 1

    For models with no rear air conditioning, I understand that there will be only one control knob but will there be any other ac/heat vents except the ones in the dashboard?

  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Probably depends on the vehicle...
  • I've been searching and lurking at various minivan sites for last year or so and thought I was ready to jump into a 2007 Odyssey LX. Liked the firm, sporty Ody ride better than Sienna.

    After reading some positive reviews, decided to take a look at Kia Sedona before pulling trigger on an Ody. Found the Kia to be very close in performance to the Ody (= power and safety features and Ody handling/ride was only slightly better) but the Kia price was way below anything I could get on the Ody LX. Best Ody LX price I got was $22,900 and ended up buying the Sedona LX for $17,550 before tax, title and license. The Sedona LX has $3000 rebate and I qualified for an additional $1000 competitor rebate (currently own Chrysler Town and Country).

    Put ~ 300 miles on the Sedona so far and I'm very pleased. For those looking for a minivan right now, the Kia Sedona LX is a great value that is tough to pass up.
  • I'll be in the market for a used minivan next spring, when my lease is up on my 04 Honda Odyssey LX. (suprised by the quality issues, so I'm not going to purchase at lease end)

    Here in southern Wisconsin, the Fords are actually about $1,500-$2,000 less with the DGC equipped with rear stow-and-go bend seat. Starting dealer used prices of $13,000 (Ford) vs. $15,000 (Dodge).

    I've read about the brake and transmission issues with the Ford, but are they really common enough to warrant an extra $2k for the Dodge equivalent?
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    Repair "reputation" doesn't effect selling prices nearly as much as you'd think. If so, you'd see a huge price break on those '03/'04 Ford lemon SD's which were so bad they hit the US Today....

    I think the Dodge is just a better and obviously more desirable vehicle, hence the price. Same reason the Honda still brings top-dollar even though they have a shady transmission history. More people are willing to pay for certain things... I paid for the performance/handling/features of the Ody and could care less about reliability. If I was shopping for a used bargain...Dodge Caravan hands down. I wouldn't even shop the Ford (I've had rentals and that was enough...).
  • guestguest Posts: 770
    The Caravan SXT has SEPARATELY controlled temperature for the driver and front passenger Plus heating vents under the front seats for the 2nd row passengers. As with all minivans, there is just one fan for the front heater or A/C. :shades:
    My more expensive Sienna LE does NOT have the luxury car feature of separately controlled temperature for driver and front passenger that is standard equipment on the Caravan SXT or that was on my 2002 T&C LX....and my wife and I will have to get rid of our 2006 Sienna LE to get a minivan with this feature.
  • Why would you buy a vehicle from a company that's given up on it's own products? The Mercury has already been discontinued, and the Ford Freefall (star) will cease to be built shortly after the new year.
  • guestguest Posts: 770
    You've hit a nerve here :) Ford and GM gave up a long time ago on the Minivan market, DCX is at least trying to stay competitive and the 2008 redo better be a home run. Look at Ford for example, They had almost 5 years to at least copy the 1999 Honda Ody, and a name change, new instrument panel and fold in floor rear seat is all they could do?????? I wouldn't even say they copied the Ody, they did the very least they could, counting on rebates and financing to sell Minivans, NOT the product itself. Same for GM and their 10 year old chasis and features!!
  • A Chevrolet Astro might fit your need. They stopped building them in 2004, but, you might find a good used one. They don't fair well in crash test, but, are built on a proven platform. The two back rows are bench seats. We used to put all three of ours on the second row and fold the back of the third row, or remove the third row bench. However, to remove the bench seats from this van, you'll need to strong guys as they are very very heavy. We had a 1999 AWD Astro and my wife really liked it. We had no problems with it and traded it at 110,000 miles.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I've been in these in auto shows, and I don't really see what's wrong with them, especially if you are in the market for a used one. They can be quite the bargain. You have the fold flat third row, it's ok in the safety department, and CR has the reliability pegged at average.

    Then again, I've never driven one so I couldn't draw final conclusions, but I wouldn't just write it off.

    I'd say give it a shot, especially if you're going used. :)
  • 204meca204meca Posts: 370
    I went to look at a Spectra 5 today & stumbled on this new mini- mini van called a Kia Ronda, the dealer had just gotten in.

    I was stunned by it's good exterior & interior looks, it's safety features and the price. :shades:
    It is a quite compact, about the size of a Ford Escape, but seemed very spacious inside much more than the Escape. The seats were very comfortable with a great interiour layout. Safety wise it come standard with traction control, ABS, Electronic Stabity control, 6 air bags. With a 2.4L engine it was rated at 22 city & 29 highway and price in the mid $18K range.
    It is not on Kia's website & seems to be all but invisible to Google. Does anyone know anything about this rig or was I dreaming?
  • Have you read the discusions in the Freestar forum? Of course they are "bargins". They are vehicles being discontinued because no one will buy one.
  • 204meca204meca Posts: 370
    Saturday I stumbled upon a rather nice looking mini-minivan at the Kia dealer they had just received. Kia is calling its new player the Ronda. The very spacious interior layout was looked great, power is a 2.4L engine, & it had a full suite of safety features including 6 airbags, ABS, traction control, & dynamic stability control all for a little over $18K. My inital impression was very positive.

    I had not heard of this model & apparently the is very little info on the US model (tried Goggle). After some hunting I discovered that this car is marketed as the "Carens" in the UK. It is available there with a 2.0 gas or diesel engine. UK reviews, while not bad, are lukewarm when compared to the Mazda5 and the comparable Renault and Vauxal models. Hard not to envy the European's wide selection choices of efficient vehicles! Time will tell how well it can compete in the US.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Isn't the Kia Ronda really a small station wagon instead of a mini-minivan? :confuse:
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