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#345917 - 04/23/11 05:47 PM Minivan recommendations
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17766
Loc: NoVA
So, we're at the point where wedging 3 littles in the backseat of a Volvo wagon is becoming less than pleasant, particularly for long trips. So we're looking at a (used) minivan, since we both hate SUVs, and minivans really seem more utilitarian. My preference is for Siennas and Odysseys, 2006 or newer.

One wrinkle is that the Sienna is available with AWD, which seems to add a premium of at least $5K, if not more. Since we might be moving to snowy-land, that's a consideration--or should it not be?

Anyone have any direct experience with these or strong opinions in any which way (other than "minivans suck")? It's not as sexy as Tom's Mercedes, but maybe when my kids are a lot older...

We rented a Chrysler Town and Country a few weeks ago, and my wife liked it well enough. I found it to be overly tall and it was somewhat lacking in the handling department. That's probably par for the course, but it really felt like an older Ford Taurus to me. I despise Tauruses.
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#345918 - 04/23/11 06:00 PM Re: Minivan recommendations [Re: Ken.C]
Adrian Offline
axiomite

Registered: 12/27/08
Posts: 6609
Loc: It's all about the location.
Are "crossovers" off the table?
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#345919 - 04/23/11 06:07 PM Re: Minivan recommendations [Re: Adrian]
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17766
Loc: NoVA
I need 7 passengers and relatively large cargo capacity.
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#345927 - 04/23/11 07:36 PM Re: Minivan recommendations [Re: Ken.C]
tomtuttle Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/20/03
Posts: 8283
Loc: Tacoma
Ken, we still have a minivan (a 99 Ford Windstar). It is incredibly, annoyingly, practical. For utility-driven satisfaction, you simply cannot beat it.

Personally, I think they are MUCH better where it counts than a crossover or SUV. Do not overlook the absolute bliss of a sliding door in a parking lot. You and everyone else can simply get in and out much more easily than with a conventional swinging door.

Sure, we often make the foghorn sound when navigating the SS Tuttle Ferryboat, but that thing has taken us all over the western US in comfort.

If I were going to buy a minivan, I would not consider anything except the Honda and Toyota. I have a colleague with a brand-new Chrysler Town and Country, and it is luxurious but buggy. I don't trust Dodge.

I don't know how those newer, nicer models are configured. I found that having separate climate zones for the front and rear made a big difference for us. It might be standard nowadays.

I'm probably useless on the AWD question. I know that's too big a premium for where I live.

It's okay. Really. It's the right thing to do. You're living the American Dream.
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#345931 - 04/23/11 08:41 PM Re: Minivan recommendations [Re: tomtuttle]
CatBrat Online   content
axiomite

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 5837
Loc: Some random location
I heard today that gas is going up to $6 a gallon. That should do a good job of squashing the American dream.

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#345936 - 04/23/11 10:01 PM Re: Minivan recommendations [Re: CatBrat]
jorge016 Offline
local

Registered: 02/11/04
Posts: 247
Loc: Minnesota
We've been driving a '05 Toyota Sienna since our twin boys were babies. We've had no serious problems (actually no repairs except batteries and tires). Consistently get 26+ mpg on the road. It's a great kid hauler-not too comfortable for adults in the back 5 seats. With good snow tires it handles snow and ice ridiculously well. Nothing too exciting about the vehicle-just has been real solid for us.
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#345937 - 04/23/11 10:04 PM Re: Minivan recommendations [Re: tomtuttle]
Adrian Offline
axiomite

Registered: 12/27/08
Posts: 6609
Loc: It's all about the location.
Tom, you must have lucked out with your Windstar. Anyone I've known with one had trans failures, intake manifold failures, electrical problems and/or serious rust problems amongst others. My friend told me his wasn't very economical to boot although they may or may not be partly due to driving style. If I'm looking at a 7 seater, I'd start with one of the Lambda platform SUV's from GM, which are roomy, and pretty much as economical in the real world as most comparable minivans, but that's just me.
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#345938 - 04/23/11 10:21 PM Re: Minivan recommendations [Re: Adrian]
CatBrat Online   content
axiomite

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 5837
Loc: Some random location
I used to have a Chrysler mini-van. It had trans problems. I think that they put a car transmission in these things. Their heaver than a car so the trans don't last as long. I don't know if that's true across the board, but that's the problem I've had.

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#345941 - 04/24/11 12:08 AM Re: Minivan recommendations [Re: CatBrat]
HomeDad Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/29/05
Posts: 3301
Loc: Central,California
We used to have a Honda Odyssey, my wife loved it until we found out for that particular year they had transmission problems, although ours never had a problem we decided we didn't need a van as well as a Suburban, so it got traded in. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Odyssey, and if we ever get rid of the Suburban I would get another Honda minivan. Also with their front wheel drive I found it easier to drive it in snow than my Suburban in 4wd.
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#345942 - 04/24/11 12:10 AM Re: Minivan recommendations [Re: CatBrat]
jakewash Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 12/26/03
Posts: 10398
Loc: Calgary, Alberta
I would suggest staying away from the Chrysler minivans unless you are going to lease it and give it back when the warranty is up. I haven't seen much difference between any of the current minivans from Nissan, Toyota or Honda, all of them are pretty well designed and have few problems. The AWD option would be a personal choice as most FWD vehicles are very good in snow.
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