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#399928 - 01/11/14 11:30 AM Once again..7-8 passenger vehicle recommendations?
Ken.C Online   content
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17782
Loc: NoVA
We're finally getting serious about buying a car that will fit our family more comfortably. We've got 3 young kids, all still in carseats, so we're looking for something with 7 or 8 seats. I was all set on an Odyssey, but my wife wants more options, specifically SUVs.

Any recommendations? We're looking for late models, under 35K or so, new or used.
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#399929 - 01/11/14 12:04 PM Re: Once again..7-8 passenger vehicle recommendations? [Re: Ken.C]
tomtuttle Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/20/03
Posts: 8290
Loc: Tacoma
Odyssey is the best choice. The ease of ingress for you and the kids just can't be replicated by an SUV.

Really.

We still really like our 2007 Acura MDX. If that's not enough persuasion, Ray recently got the 2014 version and seems to be over the moon with delight. I drove MANY SUV's when our minivan was dying, and liked the Acura the best, but I was looking for amenities, fun to drive and flexibility. Our 2 kids are 16 and 19.

It is so much worse than a van in parking lots it's not even funny. It's also a labor for 5 people. It doesn't have nearly as much interior space, either.

You guys need a van. You will be happier.
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#399931 - 01/11/14 01:37 PM Re: Once again..7-8 passenger vehicle recommendations? [Re: Ken.C]
Socketman Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 07/12/09
Posts: 1194
Loc: Whitehorse YT
Ken, I know most people don't want to be that cliché, soccer mom with mini van but when our 3 boys were young having a van was a godsend. The van allows you to separate the kids from one another. In all honesty if I had to do it now I would get a Dodge Caravan . Maybe when the kids are older you could go with a Sport Utility when they are able to get in and out on their own and buckle their own seatbelt. I say take the whole crew and go testdrive , the salesman will love ya. smile
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#399934 - 01/11/14 03:00 PM Re: Once again..7-8 passenger vehicle recommendations? [Re: Ken.C]
nickbuol Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 4476
Loc: Marion, IA
Minivan is the way to go. It may not be "sexy" or anything, but otherwise it trumps most SUVs in features for when you have a family to haul around.

Case in point. We (still) have a Dodge Grand Caravan despite our youngest being 14 and our oldest half way through her sophomore year of college. My wife and I would love to get rid of it, but right as we start talking like that, some need comes up to use the space of it. Show me an SUV under $30,000 that can haul several 2-sheet "sets" of 4foot x 8foot sheets of drywall? I can in my minivan and still close the back. When we go out of town for things like Christmas, we bring 3 of our pets with us. So with just the back bench seat down, we crammed in all of our luggage (we stayed for a week and the 3 ladies in my family don't pack light), Christmas presents, pet food, a couple of pet kennels (one cat and one dog), plus my youngest brought her chameleon and its cage doesn't collapse down, so it is 20" x 20" x 36" tall. That is almost floor to ceiling and a lot of space.

So we sure can fill it. Then there is the 90% of the time when it is just 2 or 3 of us and it is now too big, but for those few times that we need the space, it is great to have.

Now, flash back to when our kids were younger. A sliding door is a lot easier to get kids in and out of, especially when parked on a street where a regular door, like on an SUV, would stick out into traffic while the youngsters take their time making their way out. The sliding doors also open up more fully, not just front to back, but a little taller too.

Power sliding doors are awesome too. If or when you have kids old enough to at least climb in and out, then you can pop open the doors from the driver's seat or keyless remote, and they pile in (or out) and you push another button and the doors close.

OK, now flash forward again to our family vacation last summer. We were in one of our favorite states to visit, Florida...

We rented a "Standard SUV" because it should be bigger than a full size car. It was listed as bigger than a crossover, and smaller than a Chevy Suburban or monster SUV, and again, I was with my family of ladies and they pack a lot of stuff. We were nervous as we got there and were hearing someone else get a "standard SUV" and it was a Ford Edge. What? That has less cargo space than a full size car, and seats the same number of people. We thought we were screwed.

Well, with my rental status, they put us into a 7 passenger, top end Ford Explorer. It had every bell and whistle and was damn sexy looking compared to a regular car or minivan. We popped the back lift gate, and were like.. "what?" There is almost NO storage compared to our "same sized" minivan at home. So at least the rear seats folded down, because had they not, we would have never gotten our suitcases in.

Now, you can get into a base model Explorer for about $30,000, but it is fairly "base model" in feel too. We ended up (very long story involving a middle of the night flat tire and a jerk rental car guy that I won't get into) having to give up our top end Explorer and got put into a base model. Not only were all of the fun bells and whistles gone, but the base model got a LOT worse gas mileage. We were getting almost 30MPG on the highway with the top end one (not sure if it is one of the models that shuts down cylinders when on the highway, or what) and about 18MPG on the highway with the other. So yes, you can get into a $30,000 version, but you won't have the space, features, easy access, etc as with most minivans.

Now, if she MUST have an SUV, you could look into the Ford Flex (no, I am not a Ford nut, just basing things off of rental cars I've had). I think that they are kind of ugly, but wow, do they feel big on the inside, and getting in and out of the front is at about the height of a car (you don't have to "climb" in or out due to height. In actuality, the cargo space if you have 3 or more people in it is a little less than the Explorer, but it feels more open and isn't as high up.

Now, for comparison reasons, again just on cargo space, you get the same amount of "trunk" space in a Ford Taurus as you do the Flex behind the back seat, and .9cuft less than the Ford Explorer, but you get better gas mileage, etc. I only picked the Taurus because I was already on Ford's site looking up cargo capacities. Now, just for comparisons. At 21CuFt total cargo space behind the 3rd row of seats in a larger SUV like the Ford Explorer, you get 33CuFt of cargo behind the rear seats in say, a Dodge Grand Caravan (we have owned two of these in the last 10 years and that is what my experience is with).

Now, keep in mind that you can get an upper end Grand Caravan for several add-on options for less money than the starting price of the base model Ford Explorer.

Good luck.
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#399935 - 01/11/14 03:06 PM Re: Once again..7-8 passenger vehicle recommendations? [Re: Socketman]
a401classic Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 11/29/06
Posts: 1189
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
We've had 2 Suburbans (1996 and now a 2008) and love them. My wife's sister used to have a Caravan but switched to a Suburban and says she'll never go back. Besides, how many vehicles that can hold 8 or 9 people be quickly converted to transporting full sheets of plywood or drywall - not that it's an every day occurrence but we've done it several times.
ymmv
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My HT

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#399940 - 01/11/14 05:31 PM Re: Once again..7-8 passenger vehicle recommendations? [Re: Ken.C]
1sweetspot Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 173
Loc: Edmonton, Alberta
+1 on the Flex. My wife wouldn't even put her head inside a minivan to look in it, but wanted room for 7. She loves our Flex and I'm pretty impressed with it so far too. We got a 2013 SEL AWD with less than 13000km nicely equipment for under $30000 CAN. Lots of room, nice ride, plenty of features for the price.

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#399945 - 01/11/14 07:29 PM Re: Once again..7-8 passenger vehicle recommendations? [Re: Ken.C]
Lampshade Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 11/08/05
Posts: 1163
Loc: Holbrook, MA
I worked at a Chrysler Jeep dealership for many years and I am a huge fan of minivans. I've seen people cry when trading in the first generation caravans/voyagers. They had never had anything like it and the vehicles felt like part of the family.

It boils down to a simple choice. Do you want to ride around in something that drives more like a truck or a car?

I always suggest the minivan. The driving experience, the fuel economy, the safety, the visibility, the functionality, the comfort.

Having a vehicle with sliding doors on both sides instead of doors that open is a top feature when you have children.

Many of my friends have children that are getting older and they are migrating away from vans just for the sake of something new. For example, the Odyssey drivers are switching to Pilots.
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#399953 - 01/11/14 08:31 PM Re: Once again..7-8 passenger vehicle recommendations? [Re: Ken.C]
Ken.C Online   content
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17782
Loc: NoVA
Yeah, we hadn't really looked at the Flex. Now that we've configured one, it looks pretty appealing, although of course the prices the dealers list are SIGNIFICANTLY higher than the configured price on the Ford site.

Gonna have to check one out.
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I am the Doctor, and THIS... is my SPOON!

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#399964 - 01/11/14 09:35 PM Re: Once again..7-8 passenger vehicle recommendations? [Re: Ken.C]
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10395
Ken, you probably should re-set on the Odyssey. In the November issue of Consumer Reports the 2014 was tested and scored by a wide margin over the other minivans.

The report began "Sorry, image-conscious parents[Jen?]. Despite the popularity of SUVs, none of them can match a minivan for overall versatility and practical family transportation. And the Odyssey is the best at that."
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#399966 - 01/11/14 09:41 PM Re: Once again..7-8 passenger vehicle recommendations? [Re: JohnK]
CV Offline
Founder, Axiom Upgrade Club
shareholder in the making

Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 11208
Loc: Richland, WA, USA
I personally don't understand the wholesale distaste some people have for minivan aesthetics. I'd get a minivan again, and I don't even have a family. They still look better than PT Cruisers.

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