To minivan or Not to minivan?

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drewmo
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To minivan or Not to minivan?

Post by drewmo » Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:25 pm

My wife and I have two kids, one is 3yo, the other is 9 months. There will not be a third kid. We're moving back to the States in a couple of months and will need to buy a family car, preferably used and in the $7,500 range. Cheaper would be better.

Our perfect family car will:
1. Be great in the snow - Maine winters are brutal.
2. Have a fair amount of space with an occasional need for seating 6 or 7.
3. Not be too big or have lousy gas mileage.

We've heard great things about the Odyssey and Sienna, but they seem to be quite expensive and hard to find used. And our overall impression of minivans is that they're not so good in the snow, have limited space in the rear and some can be difficult to get kids in and out.

We're not opposed to minivans, we just want to explore all the family car options out there and find something that will suit us.

Do SUVs make good family cars? What about a Volvo wagon with 3rd seat?

Would like to hear what you drive, minivan or not, for your primary family car. Thanks.

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Scott S
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Post by Scott S » Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:32 pm

I've never driven one, but I'd think a Subaru Tribeca might fit the bill. I have some friends who love theirs.

- Scott
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Post by livesoft » Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:49 pm

We have two kids and we've never had a mini-van. We have had Toyota and Ford station wagons with 3rd-row seats. That last row is used for seating about twice a year.

Our corporate vehicles are minivans which we use to pick up clients at the airport and go to restaurants. We've used Toyotas and Chryslers.

I drive a small SUV.

With that background, I'll punt on your question. They are all good vehicles (if I decide to be generous to the Ford) and would fit your stated purpose. Since you are moving back, I suggest that you try out the 3 different kinds of vehicles by renting them, then decide which one fits your personalities and whims.

In Maine, there have got to be lots of Subaru Outback wagons driven only a little bit by little ol' ladies for sale.
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Jake46
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Post by Jake46 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:01 pm

Family car is a Honda Odyssey. Haven't had any problems getting around in the snow here in Northern Colorado.

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White Coat Investor
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Post by White Coat Investor » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:07 pm

We live in the snow and have a durango and a sequoia. They're far better in real snow than minivans IMHO (I live at the top of a hill that MANDATES 4WD about 10 days a year), and seat 8 each. The mileage is an issue though.

Both a 3 row SUV and a minivan seem like overkill for 2 kids though. We drove sedans until kid # 3 came along. Sure you need the seating for 7?
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Post by HomerJ » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:13 pm

Minivans are wonderful if you go on long trips (make sure you have bucket seats in the 2nd row, not a bench... bench for third row is normal)

2 kids, probably be fine with just a SUV...

But again, minivan is great for long trips... Each with their own bucket seat means each has their own space... No "he's touching me!"... plus they can recline... leave early and let the kids sleep for the first 3-4 hours... :)

Plus, plenty of room for a cooler and snacks in a minivan... and the Sienna we used to own had like 18 cup-holders.

We're down to one kid now (the other two are grown) and we use a SUV now, but we loved our minivan when we had lots of kids, and traveled 4 hours to grandparents every month or two.

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cyclysm
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Post by cyclysm » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:13 pm

If $7,500 is your limit, you can pretty much write off the minivan idea, unless you don't care that it is REALLY used.

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Post by Anon1234 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:20 pm

Scott S wrote:I've never driven one, but I'd think a Subaru Tribeca might fit the bill. I have some friends who love theirs.

- Scott
Tribeca is expensive and kinda thirsty. But a 200X Subaru Forester should be in your price range. Our neighbor bought his '02 while living in Anchorage AK and loves it. We bought a 2010 Legacy based on his recommendation of Subaru AWD. Performed beautifully in Chicago Blizzard of 2011. In fact, I took it out a couple times just to play.

EDIT: From car-seats.com "There are 3 top tether anchors in the 2000 and newer Foresters, located in the rear ceiling above the cargo area according to the LATCH manual. No lower LATCH anchors until the '03 model year for the Forester." You will want LATCH. Nice catch Alex. Given that I bought a legacy, I agree. At least for model year '10 :) End EDIT.

General advice: Spend $20 on consumer reports web subscription and check out the reliability of anything you're considering. Older models have good data backing the numbers and, in my experience, are dead on. E.g. Audi's are nice (especially w/quattro) but you'll be good friends with the dealer service guy.
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Re: To minivan or Not to minivan?

Post by Alex Frakt » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:20 pm

drewmo wrote:My wife and I have two kids, one is 3yo, the other is 9 months. There will not be a third kid. We're moving back to the States in a couple of months and will need to buy a family car, preferably used and in the $7,500 range. Cheaper would be better.

Our perfect family car will:
1. Be great in the snow - Maine winters are brutal.
2. Have a fair amount of space with an occasional need for seating 6 or 7.
3. Not be too big or have lousy gas mileage.
Only a minivan will fit your requirements. Full size SUVs are huge on the outside and have lousy gas mileage. The few mid-size crossover SUVs (SUV looks, but have unibody construction rather than a separate frame like a real truck) that seat 7 are too new to be in your price range. They also have less interior space than a minivan.

The Volvo third row has very limited utility. You can't realistically put adults back there and with most states (including Maine) now requiring car seats or boosters (most of which are not compatible with rear-facing seats) for kids until they are 8, you won't be able to use them for your kids either.

Regarding driving in snow, any front wheel drive vehicle with dedicated snow tires will do perfectly well. You can get AWD versions of the minivans, but it will push up the price. Speaking of price, you are probably being unrealistic in expecting to get what you need for $7500.

BTW, you should find this recent thread useful: http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=66361

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Post by dm200 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:30 pm

We are big fans of minivans. We have had two - since 1984, both Chysler brands. Today, they are a bargain to purchase.

With children, an advantage is that you can separate squabbling kids, or kids squabbling with a parent over the three separate seating areas. :D

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Post by Alex Frakt » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:31 pm

Anon1234 wrote:Tribeca is expensive and kinda thirsty. But a 200X Subaru Forester should be in your price range. Our neighbor bought his '02 while living in Anchorage AK and loves it.
I've been researching car seats for my brother-in-law who has a Forester. It turns out they are one of the most difficult vehicles to fit with multiple car seats. After reading over the Forester posts at car-seat.org, I would not recommend this vehicle. A related issue is that rear-seat leg room is really tight.

A Legacy or Outback wagon is a much better bet. More room and better compatibility with car seats. My parents live in western Wyoming and they are pretty much the standard vehicle for those who don't want to drive SUVs or trucks. This would be my rec to the OP, if they can live with seating no more than 5 (legally).

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Post by luv2sled » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:31 pm

Our family is a bit larger than yours, so our options were a bit more limited.
At my wife's insistence, we have a Dodge Caravan (FWD) that we picked up a few years ago for $5,300. At the time, it only had 75K miles on it. Clearly the Sienna and Odyssey were better vehicles but the price differences vehicle just weren't worth it.

We had to put a few thousand into repairs over the last few years, but even with that, not having the large payment made that not a big deal.

Regarding bad weather, we live at 7,000 feet and get some horrendous storms. While the van can't go through 4 foot drifts like my truck will, it's rock solid slick roads.

The best part of the van is how easy it is to get kids in and out, especially when they're young and still in car seats.

On the downside, it's not a car, so handling isn't as nimble, nor is acceleration as good. It also doesn't have the fuel mileage of a car. While it's better than an SUV, your fuel costs for a sedan would be less.

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Post by campy2010 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:54 pm

I'm going to jump in here as someone who has been looking at the used car market recently in the New England area. Honestly, the used car market was a little bit of a shock to me. There are not that many cars in reasonable condition in the $7500 price range and you will be at the mercy of what is available. New England state use a lot of corrosive road salt, and 8-10 year old cars really show their age. Plus, as I am sure you are aware, the US was in a recession until recently and one of the consequences of this is that people have not been getting rid of their older cars and to add insult to injury the government crushed a bunch of cars in your target range with the 'Cash for Clunkers' program. With a limited budget and gas headed for $4+ per gallon, I would consider a 4 door sedan or station wagon. Perhaps, a camry, accord, or a subaru if you can find one. But, honestly, I would look for any 4 door car that has been well taken care of and doesn't have mechanical issues. The 'type' of car is really secondary.

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Post by White Coat Investor » Sat Mar 19, 2011 2:11 pm

I disagree with those who say $7500 isn't enough to get a decent minivan. The last SUV I bought cost half that and works fine.

Per Kelly Blue Book Private Party Values (best estimate IMHO), for $7500 you can get:

2002 Sienna with 100K miles in good condition ($5940)

2002 Honda Odyssey with 100K miles in good condition ($7000)

2004 Chrysler Town and Country with 80K miles in good condition ($7565)

Each of those is probably only halfway through its useable life.

Supply might be a little limited (try finding a 2 year old Honda anything and you'll see what I mean), and if you have to drive to get what you want I suggest you head South, the further you go the better the bodies will look. Cars I've bought in Phoenix and from California look lots better than ones I've bought in Utah and Alaska.
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Post by Alex Frakt » Sat Mar 19, 2011 2:33 pm

campy2010 wrote:I'm going to jump in here as someone who has been looking at the used car market recently in the New England area. Honestly, the used car market was a little bit of a shock to me. There are not that many cars in reasonable condition in the $7500 price range and you will be at the mercy of what is available. New England state use a lot of corrosive road salt, and 8-10 year old cars really show their age.
If you really need to stick to $7500, a Dodge Caravan is pretty much the only choice. Maybe look further afield? Carmax makes this simple, although it looks like their closest dealer is in Connecticut. Or you could fly south of the salt belt. The price difference should more than cover the trip and you'd have a salt-free vehicle. If you take this route, make sure to connect with a local mechanic first so you can get any potential purchases thoroughly checked out - and then consider an extended warranty or at least a roadside assistance plan.

Since you have kids, I suggest considering buying something new that's reasonably priced (I'll put in another plug for the Mazda5 from the twins thread here). You'll get peace of mind, stability control - which is a really useful safety innovation - and if you take care of it, it'll cost maybe $200-$300 a month more than the price of a couple of beaters over its useful life.

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Post by Sekar » Sat Mar 19, 2011 2:44 pm

My brother has a similar situation. Minivans are best for hauling lots of kids as they have lots of seating and drink holders. Four wheel SUV's are better for lots of snow, hills or off-road driving or hauling trailers and stuff.

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Post by norm » Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:06 pm

I've owned mini-vans since the first Dodge Caravan came out. There are no more kids in my house but there are 5 dogs and 6 cats and nothing beats a mini-van for hauling bodies (2 or 4 legged). Last year I bought a 2008 Sienna
and I am very happy with it.

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Post by Alex Frakt » Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:07 pm

EmergDoc wrote:I disagree with those who say $7500 isn't enough to get a decent minivan. The last SUV I bought cost half that and works fine.

Per Kelly Blue Book Private Party Values (best estimate IMHO), for $7500 you can get:

2002 Sienna with 100K miles in good condition ($5940)
2002 Honda Odyssey with 100K miles in good condition ($7000)
2004 Chrysler Town and Country with 80K miles in good condition ($7565)
I suspect these only exist in algorithm-land where they subtract a fixed price per mile driven. I just searched CarMax's database for model year 2000+ minivans anywhere in the US for less than 10k. Here are all 6(!) of the results:

2006 Ford Freestar SE - 4D Pass Van, 2WD, 6 cylinders, Automatic, Green, 18/24 MPG - 81K - $9,998

2001 Toyota Sienna LE - 4D Pass Van, 2WD, 6 cylinders, Automatic, Blue, 18/24 MPG - 81K - $10,097

2005 Dodge Grand Caravan SE - 4D Pass Ext Van, 2WD, 6 cylinders, Automatic, Blue, 19/26 MPG - 71K - $9,698

2002 Mercury Villager Sport - 4D Pass Van, 2WD, 6 cylinders, Automatic, Silver, 17/23 MPG - 87K - $7,948

2004 Dodge Caravan SE - 4D Pass Van, 2WD, 4 cylinders, Automatic, Silver, 20/26 MPG - 67K - $10,097

2002 Chrysler Town and Country LXi - 4D Pass Ext Van, 2WD, 6 cylinders, Automatic, Blue, 18/24 MPG - 75K - $10,097

I know private party is cheaper than dealer prices, but even after taking that into account based on Blue Book deltas, we are still looking at the prices you found being around 15% low.

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Post by drewmo » Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:37 pm

livesoft wrote:In Maine, there have got to be lots of Subaru Outback wagons driven only a little bit by little ol' ladies for sale.
This appears to be true, at least on Craigslist. We currently have a beat up, circa 1995 Subaru Legacy that we use when we visit for a couple weeks during the summer. Love the car, but the clutch has gone. Not sure it's worth fixing at this point. And a passenger-side door has rusted through. Engine is good and I love the AWD, though.

Jake46 wrote:Family car is a Honda Odyssey. Haven't had any problems getting around in the snow here in Northern Colorado.
Jake, I met my wife (she's a Poudre High, CU Boulder and DU graduate) in Denver about 8 years ago. If family weren't bringing us back to Maine, we'd find an excuse to get back to Colorado in a heartbeat. Are you hiring? However, comparing Colorado snow to Maine snow is like apples to oranges. Dry fluffy powder that melts in a day or two under strong Colorado sun is nothing like the wet, instant-ice stuff you find in Maine. Your worst day of skiing in Colorado probably ranks as one of your best days skiing in the Northeast.
EmergDoc wrote:Sure you need the seating for 7?
Rarely, but I'm sure it will happen. Sister has 3 kids and I'm sure there will be times we'll need to transport them around.
campy2010 wrote:With a limited budget and gas headed for $4+ per gallon, I would consider a 4 door sedan or station wagon ... The 'type' of car is really secondary.
Campy, great advice. We currently live in France, where gas is $9.25/gal give or take depending on exchange rates. It cost me just shy of $100 to fill up my teeny, tiny 1995 Peugeot 306 last weekend. We're very conscious of the cost of gas and is one of the reasons we're considering something other than a minivan. On the flip side, we recently bought a minivan of sorts (an Opel Zaphira) before we knew we were moving and absolutely love the fact that inside there is room to move in every direction.
Alex Frakt wrote:Or you could fly south of the salt belt. The price difference should more than cover the trip and you'd have a salt-free vehicle.
I've considered this and with friends, now including Jake, in Colorado, this could be a viable option.

As for our budget, we're hoping to stay low and with some patience should be able to find something spacious, safe and reliable for $7,500. We'll need to buy two cars, the second a daily commuter, once back in the States, nevermind everything else we can't fit into our four suitcases.

Thanks for all the replies. Keep them coming.

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Post by snyder66 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:45 pm

You do not need a minvan with 2 kids. How often will you need to seat 8? That is the big question.

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Post by Alex Frakt » Sat Mar 19, 2011 4:53 pm

drewmo wrote:As for our budget, we're hoping to stay low and with some patience should be able to find something spacious, safe and reliable for $7,500. We'll need to buy two cars, the second a daily commuter, once back in the States
Since you need two cars, I'd get a couple of 5-door hatchbacks (small wagons) like the Mazda 3. Or one hatchback and a small sedan. On those rare occasions when you need to seat more than 4, bring both vehicles.

Edit: if you really want space and safety, make it one small wagon for commuting and an early 2000s Crown Vic or Grand Marquis (which can be easily found for $7500) for the kiddy car, which presumably won't be driven a ton of miles per year. Just don't try to get by with 4-season tires in the winter, you will need dedicated snow tires.

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Post by White Coat Investor » Sat Mar 19, 2011 5:29 pm

Alex Frakt wrote: I suspect these only exist in algorithm-land where they subtract a fixed price per mile driven.
I dunno Alex, Portland's classified ads have this one:

http://www.mainewheels.com/index.cfm?pa ... g&noSkin=0

Seems exactly like what I said for about the same price.

2003 Sienna with 100K miles for $7588

That's even for sale at a dealer rather than a private party. I can't get onto craigslist out here right now, but I bet you'd see a few.
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Post by medicevans » Sat Mar 19, 2011 5:52 pm

I'll chime in here. My opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it! 8)

My wife and I recently had to upgrade vehicles due to an unplanned pregnancy; a 5 person vehicle won't work with a 6th person. Haha. We looked at several different vehicles. We settled on a Suburban. It really is a nice truck. Upside is that it is long and heavy and has 4wd. The downside is that it gets about 15.5-16 mpg on the highway; she doesn't drive highway miles very much. Thus, it only gets about 13.2 mpg normally. She only drives 9,000-11,000 miles a year, so it doesn't make much difference. Just for comparison, a 20 mpg increase in fuel efficiency (sp) takes about 20,000 miles to pay off.

I say that to say this. I am echoing an above poster when I say: If you don't need a 7 passenger vehicle, don't buy one. How often do you really haul 8 people? Unless you have 20 feet of snow, most of the time you can get anywhere you need to with a decently heavy front wheel drive sedan. I would agree with another person above and say that due to the economy and C4C, $7500 is going to be an interesting price point. Minivans should be able to be found all day for that price, but SUVs are going to be difficult.

In snow, unless it's a lot or the rode is steep, wheelbase and weight are going to matter more than a 4wd SUV with street tires and normal ride height. With street tires, 4wd is just going to get you stuck faster.

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Post by Alex Frakt » Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:01 pm

EmergDoc wrote:
Alex Frakt wrote: I suspect these only exist in algorithm-land where they subtract a fixed price per mile driven.
I dunno Alex, Portland's classified ads have this one:

http://www.mainewheels.com/index.cfm?pa ... g&noSkin=0

Seems exactly like what I said for about the same price.

2003 Sienna with 100K miles for $7588

That's even for sale at a dealer rather than a private party. I can't get onto craigslist out here right now, but I bet you'd see a few.
Marked down from $8388. Wanna' bet there's something you can't see in the tiny pics that is keeping buyers away :-) Anyway, I doubt that any minivans have a 200k expected life in Maine. Conditions are tough up there.

Good site though. The OP can do his own browsing. Here's all minivans from $0 to $10k: http://www.mainewheels.com/index.cfm?no ... mit+Search

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Post by Cosmo » Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:37 pm

dm200 wrote:We are big fans of minivans. We have had two - since 1984, both Chysler brands. Today, they are a bargain to purchase.

With children, an advantage is that you can separate squabbling kids, or kids squabbling with a parent over the three separate seating areas. :D
Minivans! Hands Down! By far, the biggest reason is the automatic remote sliding doors. Makes it far easier to get in and out, especially in a parking lot with other cars parked next door. Believe me, once you get used to the sliding doors, whenever you go back to a SUV, it's such an inconvenience. We have a brand new Mazda CX9 -love the vehicle but not crazy about doors that swing in and out, which can be a pain, especially with young kids.

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Post by TRC » Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:55 pm

We LOVE our Honda odyssey! We mounted bridgestone blizzaks on it for winter, and it handles great in snow. We live in MA and make regular grips to Maine all winter. Get one, you will not be disappointed.

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Post by Mister Whale » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:42 pm

Another vote for minivans here.

Personally I'm not a fan of SUVs -- compared to minivans, they have poor handling, less cargo/people capacity, increased likelihood of rollover, more difficult access, and significantly reduced fuel economy. As others have mentioned, when you factor in the need for off-road capacity with a genuine need for ground clearance, and/or more than moderate towing capacity, they do have their place.

Good luck with your search. I also agree with the Dodge choice being the most economical, though I'm a bigger fan of the Honda and Toyota offerings.
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Post by blevine » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:50 pm

I find the minivan useful even more now for my older kids.
They need those captains chairs.

I have a Subaru outback also, great in snow but not comfortable
for my 200 lb teen sitting in the back seat.
When they were in elementary school, the Outback was great.

For 2 kids I'd go with an AWD Outback now, upgrade to a minivan
later when the kids grow.

If you had more than 2 kids regularly in the car, Mazda5 is a good
short term solution but you'll have to upgrade when the kids are older.
It's tiny compared t Sienna or Oddysey.

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Post by SDBoggled » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:59 pm

We had 3 kids and used a minivan as our only car for about 5 years... wonderful utility - excursions w other families; driver for kid and 5 friends; school field trips; if you remove the seats you can carry bunk beds, dining tables, ranges, lawnmowers...

But was also glad to say goodbye and get a small SUV and coupe when they all reached driving age :-)

Mainly posted to warn: Don't even think about buying a high mileage Ford Windstar... though they are v.cheap. Friends love their Odyssey... but that is CA snow.

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Post by LH » Sun Mar 20, 2011 1:15 am

minivan.

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Post by fundseeker » Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:01 am

I'd have to vote for the minivan, but I am not objective since we recently bought our third one. And, I'd go with the Toyota or Honda for the reliability. If you want the Odyssey, in your price range you'll have to get one in the 2001 to 2004 year range, and you should probably try to at least get a 2003 or 2004 because of improvements to the transmissions over prior years. The 2004 was the last year of that generation, so they were very well put together. They changed body styles in 2005. We drove a 2004 for seven years and it was a great van. Good luck with your search, but be dilligent (e.g., review maintenance records, use Carfax, talk to prior owner if you buy from a dealer, etc.) in your research of the vehicle before you make an offer.

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Post by verbose » Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:10 am

We've had a minivan for years. Currently, we're driving a 2004 Ford Freestar. It's resale value is under $7500. I think you just need to be looking for used minivans and snap one up the minute it shows up on Craigslist or another listing site. We recently sold a 2000 Honda Accord in one day (about 10 callers, first person who showed up with cash got it).

We have two kids, so why a minivan? Well, if we drive a sedan to visit family, we can't fit anything more than people and luggage. No family dog, no big Christmas gifts, no furniture from family, no side trips to IKEA... The extra seating comes in useful every time we visit family or they visit us (all family is remote). With four of us and two grandparents, everyone can load into the minivan for all the outings in the visit.

When this van dies, we may consider an SUV with 3rd-row seating because our kids are now old enough to scramble into a 3rd row and put on their own seat belts. In the past, we had at least one toddler car seat, and grandparents had to sit in the third row. That works in a minivan, but not in most SUVs.

I can't speak much to winter weather because I live in the Midwest. But I've seen this much. Minivans are front-wheel drive, but so large that the FWD advantage is lost. Small FWD cars have so much of their weight on the front wheels that they get traction in snow easily. Minivans don't have that because too much weight is on the rear wheels.

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Post by epilnk » Sun Mar 20, 2011 2:32 pm

blevine wrote:If you had more than 2 kids regularly in the car, Mazda5 is a good
short term solution but you'll have to upgrade when the kids are older.
It's tiny compared t Sienna or Oddysey.
Depends on why you have other kids regularly in the car. Short distances should be fine; I'm of the theory that "extra" kids need to be transported safely, but not necessarily comfortably. Of course I'm of the generation that piled into the trunks of station wagons, or stacked onto each others laps in the back seat. You know, back before safety was important. Kids are mostly just focused on getting where they need to go.

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Post by stratton » Sun Mar 20, 2011 2:48 pm

...and then Buffy staked Edward. The end.

drewmo
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Post by drewmo » Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:00 pm

Thanks again to everyone for your honest and candid replies. This give us lots to chew on over the next couple of months. I look at Craigslist everyday and have my folks on alert if I need them to look at a vehicle. I'm sure we can live without a minivan, but there are some convincing points here to owning one.

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HomerJ
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Post by HomerJ » Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:00 am

epilnk wrote:
blevine wrote:If you had more than 2 kids regularly in the car, Mazda5 is a good
short term solution but you'll have to upgrade when the kids are older.
It's tiny compared t Sienna or Oddysey.
Depends on why you have other kids regularly in the car. Short distances should be fine; I'm of the theory that "extra" kids need to be transported safely, but not necessarily comfortably. Of course I'm of the generation that piled into the trunks of station wagons, or stacked onto each others laps in the back seat. You know, back before safety was important. Kids are mostly just focused on getting where they need to go.
I always felt bad when my toddlers fell asleep in the car... Head hanging down on their chest, as they're strapped into those children car seats. They looked so uncomfortable.

When I was a kid, I used to stretch out on the back-seat with a pillow. no seat belt... Sure, it was unsafe, but man that was nice.

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HomerJ
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Post by HomerJ » Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:01 am

drewmo wrote:I'm sure we can live without a minivan, but there are some convincing points here to owning one.
Let me say it one more time...

EIGHTEEN cup holders... :)

snyder66
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Post by snyder66 » Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:54 am

When I was a kid, I used to stretch out on the back-seat with a pillow. no seat belt... Sure, it was unsafe, but man that was nice.


I hear ya. My dad converted his pickup truck to a camper like thing. It was great hanging out back there!

epilnk
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Post by epilnk » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:40 pm

rrosenkoetter wrote:When I was a kid, I used to stretch out on the back-seat with a pillow. no seat belt... Sure, it was unsafe, but man that was nice.
We had 4 kids in a station wagon with one bench seat in the back. When we were little we all fit on the bench equipped with 3 unused seatbelts. But when we grew too large for this we threw the youngest into the trunk where he rode until he was 12, when I left for college. And nobody thought anything of it.

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Scott S
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Post by Scott S » Mon Mar 21, 2011 4:51 pm

Alex Frakt wrote:
Anon1234 wrote:Tribeca is expensive and kinda thirsty. But a 200X Subaru Forester should be in your price range. Our neighbor bought his '02 while living in Anchorage AK and loves it.
I've been researching car seats for my brother-in-law who has a Forester. It turns out they are one of the most difficult vehicles to fit with multiple car seats. After reading over the Forester posts at car-seat.org, I would not recommend this vehicle. A related issue is that rear-seat leg room is really tight.

A Legacy or Outback wagon is a much better bet. More room and better compatibility with car seats. My parents live in western Wyoming and they are pretty much the standard vehicle for those who don't want to drive SUVs or trucks. This would be my rec to the OP, if they can live with seating no more than 5 (legally).
Yeah, after posting, I'm not sure why I didn't suggest a used Legacy or Outback from the start. Plenty of room for 5 (non-obese) people and their stuff, and used ones can be pretty affordable.

Heck, when I was growing up, we sometimes took family trips in a Chevy Celebrity -- and that was with three kids! :shock: A little cramped, but we got by.

- Scott
My Plan: (Age-10)% in bonds until I reach age 60, 50/50 thereafter. Equity split: 50/50 US/Int'l, Bond split: 50/50 TBM/TIPS.

mainiac
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Post by mainiac » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:12 pm

We have a Sienna and with snow tires (not all seasons), it did very well this winter. Maine got tons of snow this winter - even another two inches yesterday.

The Sienna handles better than the Camry.

We never know when we'll have another kid or two or three to haul around and with the minivan, it's not a big deal.

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White Coat Investor
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Post by White Coat Investor » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:48 pm

Scott S wrote: Yeah, after posting, I'm not sure why I didn't suggest a used Legacy or Outback from the start. Plenty of room for 5 (non-obese) people and their stuff, and used ones can be pretty affordable.

Heck, when I was growing up, we sometimes took family trips in a Chevy Celebrity -- and that was with three kids! :shock: A little cramped, but we got by.

- Scott
Yea well I once drove from Alaska to the lower 48 with 6 other people in a Chevy Citation (5 seats.) We got by too, but it certainly isn't a good idea. A legacy is a fine car, but the difference in cargo space and sitting space between a legacy and a mini-van is huge. So much so that I wouldn't say a legacy has "plenty of room for 5 people," not to mention their stuff. Try putting 5 suitcases and 5 carry-ons in the back of that legacy. Or 5 sets of skis. Or 5 backpacks. I guess if your idea of stuff is a purse you're probably right. :)
1) Invest you must 2) Time is your friend 3) Impulse is your enemy | 4) Basic arithmetic works 5) Stick to simplicity 6) Stay the course

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tractorguy
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Post by tractorguy » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:51 am

We survived with 2 children and a 4 door mid size sedan (Toyota Camry size) for 5 years (5 and 2 years old at the end). I started shopping for a minivan in the middle of our first trip to grandma with the 3rd child in the car seat in the back. (20 hours of "she's touching me" is a strong motivator).

We had Chrysler minivans for 15 years and loved the body style but hated the reliability of the last one of three. Would still go for a minivan at that stage of life but probably not a Chrysler product.

We're back to sedans now but still miss the minivan every 6 weeks or so when I want to haul something. I haven't been able to persuade my DW to have 3 cars for 2 drivers and neither one of us wants to be in the minivan all of the time so we're putting up with it.

They are available in 4WD. I personally don't think 4WD is needed. My daughter lives in New Hampshire and commuted 1 hr to work all last winter on back roads in a Chevy Malibu (front wheel drive). No problems. My experience with 4WD is it just give you more opportunity to do something stupid. The bigger issue in snow is maintaining stopping and directional control. 4WD doesn't help with that.

I suggest going on line at cars.com or autotrader.com to look at prices. You may be able to negotiate down from the internet price but probably not more than 10%. Edmunds also offers a used car pricing system but I don't know how accurate it is. It seems to be lower than Kelly black book but slightly higher than the lowest internet price I've seen.

Carmax probably won't have anything for your price point. They specialize in "newer" cars.
Lorne

haban01
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Post by haban01 » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:25 pm

I would recommend a mini-van. I'm on my 3rd mini-van since I started driving at 16. I love the room and space. In addition the fuel mileage is good compared to SUV's, lower cost of maintenance as well. The stow and go options in the Dodge mini-vans are even better!!

I get 20 city/25-27 hwy with my 2005 mini-van. With the price you want to spend you will probably end up with a dodge vs. say a honda. I know a person who has a Kia mini-van and they've had good luck in AZ with it!

Good Luck!
Eric Haban | | "Stay the Course" | "Press on Regardless" | | Wisconsin Bogleheads Chapter Coordinator

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Scott S
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Post by Scott S » Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:30 pm

EmergDoc wrote:
Scott S wrote: Yeah, after posting, I'm not sure why I didn't suggest a used Legacy or Outback from the start. Plenty of room for 5 (non-obese) people and their stuff, and used ones can be pretty affordable.

Heck, when I was growing up, we sometimes took family trips in a Chevy Celebrity -- and that was with three kids! :shock: A little cramped, but we got by.

- Scott
Yea well I once drove from Alaska to the lower 48 with 6 other people in a Chevy Citation (5 seats.) We got by too, but it certainly isn't a good idea. A legacy is a fine car, but the difference in cargo space and sitting space between a legacy and a mini-van is huge. So much so that I wouldn't say a legacy has "plenty of room for 5 people," not to mention their stuff. Try putting 5 suitcases and 5 carry-ons in the back of that legacy. Or 5 sets of skis. Or 5 backpacks. I guess if your idea of stuff is a purse you're probably right. :)
It's a satchel! :lol:

- Scott
My Plan: (Age-10)% in bonds until I reach age 60, 50/50 thereafter. Equity split: 50/50 US/Int'l, Bond split: 50/50 TBM/TIPS.

jmbkb4
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Post by jmbkb4 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 5:08 pm

(to minivan?)


.................not

tibbitts
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Post by tibbitts » Thu Mar 24, 2011 5:46 pm

If a minivan has "limited space in the rear", you are pretty much narrowing down your choices to full-sized vans. You can carry 7 - times two.

Paul

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