Sedan or Minivan?

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Sedan or Minivan?

Postby thomasbayarea » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:05 pm

I've been reading a recent minivan thread with some interest. We may have to replace a vehicle in the next few months, so I'm soliciting opinions on whether a minivan is really worth it.

We have 2 kids (ages 1 and 5) and a large dog. We make lots of trips to dance class, swim class, the park, library, etc. The grandparents visit for 2-3 weeks a year and that's about the only time we need more than 5 seats. Things seems to be working fine with a sedan for now. So is it worth paying about $10k extra for a minivan?

We keep vehicles for 10+ years. We like Hondas, so it's most likely a choice between an Accord and an Odyssey.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby NorCalDad » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:36 pm

I was wondering the same thing reading that other thread, but I didn't feel qualified to opine given that we're just starting our journey through parenthood. It seemed a foregone conclusion there that a minivan or SUV was necessary with kids, but when I was growing up almost every family had sedans or wagons before minivans became standard family equipment in the late '80s.

Our plan had been to stick with sedans/wagons until they become unreasonable, but maybe we're just deluding ourselves. We also won't have more than two kids.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby interplanetjanet » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:57 pm

NorCalDad wrote:I was wondering the same thing reading that other thread, but I didn't feel qualified to opine given that we're just starting our journey through parenthood. It seemed a foregone conclusion there that a minivan or SUV was necessary with kids, but when I was growing up almost every family had sedans or wagons before minivans became standard family equipment in the late '80s.

When my children were small (and I only had two of them) in the '90s, sedans and coupes worked fine, though I definitely preferred station wagons for cargo room. Once child #3 showed up, minivans made a lot more sense. With three children in either car seats or booster seats, a van made life significantly easier (we also had three adults going on most trips instead of two).

With two children and two adults I think that you'll be fine for as long as you want to be with sedans and wagons. It's the third one that changed things. The other thing that bears repeating is that vans are fairly good "utility" vehicles for when you need to haul bulky objects, how important this is to you depends on how often that comes up.

-janet [though I think convertibles are the great unsung cargo haulers, I could cram so much stuff in when I needed to]
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby tyrion » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:33 pm

We are coming up on a vehicle replacement as well. 2 kids ages 5 and 7. Grandparents visit occasionally and one stays one month per year. Otherwise no daily need for more than a sedan.

But my wife really wants something with 6+ seats to be able to transport kids and their friends. I can see the utility of this. Something like the mazda5 (6 seat minivan) would be ideal, and is also pretty close to a sedan in cost. I just wish it was slightly better in the fuel economy department - currently rated 21/28. If they give it the Skyactiv treatment with one of the new super-efficient engines, it will definitely be near the top of our list.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby SpringMan » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:46 pm

Minivans get my vote, they are easier to get in and out of than low riding sedans. Sedans sometimes feel like getting in and out of a bathtub. also, the drivers view from a minivan is better in that you sit up higher than in a sedan. Personally I think Chrysler makes the best minivan for the money. We currently own an 07 Chrysler Town & Country which has been trouble free. I have a son that has leased two of the newer model Chrysler minivans (he works for Chrysler), both have been very nice vehicles.
Best Wishes, SpringMan
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby Whatyear? » Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:06 pm

I'd go with the minivan for sure. Even with two kids, once they get older and are out of carseats you will be glad to be able to put some space between them :happy, especially for long rides. And as someone who occasionally sits in the back seat of the minivan and sometimes my own sedan, the minivan is MUCH more comfortable. My kids won't even ride in my car because it's so uncomfortable for them. Their feet can't reach the floor, but the leather seats are angled back and are slippery so they keep sliding down.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby MathWizard » Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:32 pm

We used our minivan for group kid activities, sharing the driving duties.
Age 1 and 5 and already dance and swim class? It sounds like your kids might be
doing lots of activities.

The other two nice uses are:
1) Vacations: The greater room sure helps. The seats even fold nearly all
the way back for sleeping, though you are not supposed to do that while moving.
The first year we had it, we went to 7 national parks. Strike this if you plan to fly
on vacations.

2) hauling (with the seats out, or with seats folded into compartnets in new vans)
I can haul 4x8 sheets of plywood. This comes in useful when I do work.
I also did lots of hauling for the robotics team my son was on. The robot fit easily
or I could take 6 kids to competitions.

We bought ours used in 2005, and got a good deal because minivans were going out of style
with SUVs and now crossovers taking their place,
I picked a van which would fit the plywood. I have a 2001 Grand Caravan, and it has worked great.
The only problem it has had was a transmission that went at 60K.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby epilnk » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:50 pm

NorCalDad wrote:I was wondering the same thing reading that other thread, but I didn't feel qualified to opine given that we're just starting our journey through parenthood. It seemed a foregone conclusion there that a minivan or SUV was necessary with kids, but when I was growing up almost every family had sedans or wagons before minivans became standard family equipment in the late '80s.

Yes, of course. When I was growing up it was no big deal to have more kids in the family than seatbelts in the car, as we did. And we could haul a bunch of extra kids in the trunk of the station wagon. Times change.

You may only have two kids in your family, but once you hit mid grade school your kids will want to bring friends along to various things. Even if you don't carpool (I don't). I drive a tiny VW myself, but the single biggest inconvenience is that only recently have I been able to put my elder son in the front seat and bring two friends - when I had to keep them all in the back seat I was limited to only one extra kid. When they were little the small car was more than adequate and the double stroller was no problem.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby buckstar » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:34 pm

I think every family with kids needs one "big" vehicle. In addition to the kids' friends and classmates, you will inevitably be hauling around supplies for school projects, sports equipment, food/drinks and stuff that you could never imagine and will appreciate the extra space.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby lws6772 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:55 pm

Even though our son is grown, many times when transporting stuff, family or both, our sedan is just not big enough. I'd like to try a Sienna.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby Dave76 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:18 pm

Volvo V60
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby bungalow10 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:25 pm

I hate to admit it, but our next vehicle will be a minivan. We have three kids, 5, 3, and newborn, and our Highlander is getting cramped.

However, we aren't rushing it. I want to buy exactly one minivan in my life and have it last all of our minivan years. So if we can get by a few more years without and then buy something new and drive it into the ground (12 years or more) I will be happy.
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby Dave76 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:35 pm

bungalow10 wrote:I hate to admit it, but our next vehicle will be a minivan. We have three kids, 5, 3, and newborn, and our Highlander is getting cramped.


Just get an old Chevrolet Caprice Estate or Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser Estate. Why punish yourself by buying a $30k+ vehicle you don't even want?
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby yosef » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:40 pm

This is much harder question to answer than minivan vs SUV IMO, which is a slam dunk for the minivan. Frankly, I don't know how you get by with 2 kids and large dog in a sedan, if you ever need to haul all of them at once, let alone with luggage. But if you do it without issue, I guess you might be better off sticking with a sedan, if only for purposes of price and fuel economy. Infants and toddlers take the most space in my experience because you have bulky car seats that aren't easily moved as well as strollers, pack and plays, etc. But even if my youngest was older, I'm not sure how we could get by on say a weekend trip with a sedan. But to each their own of course.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby TRC » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:29 pm

Go test drive one.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby fundseeker » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:33 pm

When you (or your spouse) strap the children in the child seats, do you just stand outside in the rain with your back turned to strangers in your sedan? Wouldn't it be nice if you could be inside the safety of the locked van to do that? It was a no brainer to me three mini vans ago. And if we had stayed with a sedan, how would I have hauled all of that sheetrock, my motorcycle, the many Christmas trees, etcetera, home? Once you experience the convenience and safety of the power sliding doors and the hauling capacity (not even counting hauling the friends and extra family), you'll wonder how you ever did without a van (and I highly vote for the Odyssey). Just my two cents.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby thomasbayarea » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:47 pm

fundseeker wrote:When you (or your spouse) strap the children in the child seats, do you just stand outside in the rain with your back turned to strangers in your sedan? Wouldn't it be nice if you could be inside the safety of the locked van to do that? It was a no brainer to me three mini vans ago. And if we had stayed with a sedan, how would I have hauled all of that sheetrock, my motorcycle, the many Christmas trees, etcetera, home? Once you experience the convenience and safety of the power sliding doors and the hauling capacity (not even counting hauling the friends and extra family), you'll wonder how you ever did without a van (and I highly vote for the Odyssey). Just my two cents.


I get the convenience part.

But rain? I'd just wait for the rain to subside, or use an umbrella. It's only water.
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Re: Sedan or Minivan?

Postby thomasbayarea » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:49 pm

Dave76 wrote:Just get an old Chevrolet Caprice Estate or Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser Estate. Why punish yourself by buying a $30k+ vehicle you don't even want?


I'm not sure if those vehicles are still available anywhere. I got zero hits for both on eBay.
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