Taking the Mini-Van plunge...

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TRC
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Taking the Mini-Van plunge...

Post by TRC » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:12 pm

I swore I would never get a mini-van, now I'm out test-driving them and I hate to admit this, but I like them. Baby #2 is on the way, so our trusty Toyota 4-runner will be sold this weekend ( :cry: ), as it's just not big enough for our weekend trips / vacations / baby & kid paraphernalia

I'm leaning towards the AWD Toyota Sienna as we live in New England and get nasty winters. My wife is a nurse, so she NEEDS to be at work regarless of how much snow we get, so AWD is a must. I like Honda's, but they don't appear to come in AWD. Not a fan of American cars, so I'm really not considering them as options.

The Sienna reviews look great, the test drive was really nice, and we've had nothing but good luck with Toyotas. Just curious if any other Bogleheads have any feedback on these vehicles, or would have suggestions on other vehicles to consider.

Thanks,

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Sunny Sarkar
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Post by Sunny Sarkar » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:18 pm

That it, man. Your life is over! :-)

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Kenster1
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Post by Kenster1 » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:37 pm

Oh -- the Minivan!!! Here comes the Soccer-Mommy & Soccer-Daddy! :lol:

Can't drive that around with your buddies to hit happy hour at the bar after work. :wink:
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surveyor
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Post by surveyor » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:42 pm

We made the begrudged plunge a few months ago. While the AWD is nice, we discounted it from the beginning. We didn't believe it added enough value for the cost and we have another suv available if necessary. Fortunately our midwest suburb is very good at keeping the streets plowed.

We looked at honda and toyota. As you stated, you're pretty much stuck with Toyota if the AWD is important, though I think the new VW minivan might have an awd option.

For reference, my kids are both under 2. After driving both vehicles there were a few things we noticed. First, it seemed like the honda allowed the driver to control all aspects of the vehicle. Specifically, the rear entertainment can be controlled via the front when the kids are young and then the rear when the kids are older. Second, the table between the driver/passenger seat in the honda can be swiveled down to allow front seat access to the rear area. The toyota had a removable console but it would be a pita to remove on the road. Finally, for our price point, the honda had the RES and leather that we wanted.

I'm not saying that the honda is better than the toyota. Frankly, I would happily have bought the toyota (I actually threatened to). If I had to do it again I'd email the half-dozen dealers in our area to obtain the best firm quote for exactly what I want. Several friends have had good luck doing it.

No matter which way you go the ride is nice but it's not a nice ride.

pochax
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Post by pochax » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:52 pm

just bought a mazda CX-9 crossover SUV (7-passenger seating) and have 2 small ones myself. not as much room as a minivan but WAY more fun to drive. AWD versions available. got 2008 Motor Trend SUV of the year and beat out Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot in comparison test on Edmunds. lots of people call it a poor man's Acura MDX. price will be comparable to Honda Odyssey (didn't check Sienna). Have fun!

TRC
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Post by TRC » Tue Jul 21, 2009 3:10 pm

surveyor wrote:If I had to do it again I'd email the half-dozen dealers in our area to obtain the best firm quote for exactly what I want. Several friends have had good luck doing it.
That's my plan. I'm going to send a "Request for Quote" to half a dozen dealers in my area telling them the model & color I want, that I will be buying within 7 days, and to please respond with their Best & Final Offer (including all "fees"). I had good luck with this several years back and had 1 dealer go 2% below invoice.

Regarding the AWD, my wife is set on this, so as much as I like Honda, I think we'll be going to Toyota route. We were initially leaning towards a pre-owned Sequoia, but after taking it for a test drive, it's just not a good layout for small kids. Not to mention it's gigantic and has a V8 - overkill for what we need.

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modal
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Post by modal » Tue Jul 21, 2009 3:24 pm

Some manufacturer needs to make a SUV with sliding doors.

8)

GMC Yukon XL with sliding doors :o

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stratton
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Post by stratton » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:02 pm

Kiss the last vestiges of bachelorhood goodbye! :P

Paul

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MR_Rossi
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Post by MR_Rossi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:06 pm

stratton wrote:Kiss the last vestiges of bachelorhood goodbye! :P

Paul
It could be good for the marriage in a "if this van is rockin'..." kind of way.

LOL. Good luck with your purchase.


MR

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FrugalInvestor
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Post by FrugalInvestor » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:43 pm

You may want to consider the new Toyota Venza. It's not a van but something between an SUV and a wagon. It does not have a sliding door.

http://www.toyota.com/venza/

tjwolf
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Post by tjwolf » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:55 pm

Now have a Town and Country AWD and love the traction. Get between 18-22 mpg. Unfortunately it now has 122K and AWD vans are no longer made by Chrysler. Stow and go put the kibosh on that option.

Mini-vans fit our profile as a trip-mobile, except for their low towing capacity. Looked at the Odyssey and Sienna AWD. Had selected the Sienna for our next vehicle, until we drove the Sequoia with the 5.7 V-8.

With the Sequoia, we get 9100# towing capacity, tremendous power, AWD, 7 passenger seating (8 is available), rear seats fold into the floor electrically, middle seats fold up to create a large cargo hold. WE get a great ride, 39' turning circle, mileage between 16-21 mpg, and a "ton of goodies" with the limited + package.

We live in a rural area, therefore the higher mileage figures. A minimum of 5 passenger seating, 3/4 mi up-hill driveway, MN winters, the need to tow a trailerized 7,500# farm tractor, all factored into our decision.
Tom

norm
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Post by norm » Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:09 pm

I have been driving a mini-van since Chrysler first came out with them. Right now I have a '98 Windstar. My next one is going to be the Kia Sedona. Check out the Kelley Blue Book review of the Sedona:

http://www.kbb.com/kbb/NewCars/Review/2 ... eview.aspx

Slapshot
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Post by Slapshot » Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:14 pm

We have a 2005 Sienna bought new with AWD. We opted for the AWD since we live in New England and do a lot of skiing. We've had minivans since the original Dodge Caravan came out. You can't beat the versatility. We had two kids and have gone cross country camping in them, slept in them, used them as a ski lodge, hauled lumber and plywood and other construction materials, loaded loam and stone dust in them, transported bikes, etc. ... you get the picture. Our kids are long gone, but we still have one. One thing you should do before you choose the AWD Sienna, though, is to educate yourself about the run flat tires. There have been some issues with them. We had our first set recalled and replaced. Plus I've always been a little uncomfortable without a spare since not everywhere carries those tires.
This time, like all times, is the best of times if we but know what to do with it.

medgar
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Post by medgar » Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:14 pm

We made the plunge last year and haven't looked back. Has the Honda commercial says "Restpect the Van"

You can't go wrong with either the Honda or Toyota. We ended up with the Honda due to the better deal.

Skip the AWD and pay extra for the DVD and sound system. This is a life saver. The kids can watch the dvd while you listen to the quiet or the radio/cd player on the trips.

Medgar

JasonR
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Post by JasonR » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:56 pm

Don't know if this will help, but last year my neighbor replaced her well-worn Sienna with a new Odessey and was dissapointed with the gas mileage of the Honda. Her other car is a Prius, so she's very sensitive about that. Something to consider/research?

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johnoutk
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Post by johnoutk » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:05 pm

You can't go wrong with either a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna. If you want the AWD then go with the Toyota. We have the Odyssesy and are very pleased. I'd skip the DVD though and save the $1,800 or more. Just buy a cheap DVD player or two at Wal-Mart and enjoy the $1,500 you just saved...

cheapskate
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Re: Taking the Mini-Van plunge...

Post by cheapskate » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:18 pm

TRC wrote: I'm leaning towards the AWD Toyota Sienna as we live in New England and get nasty winters. My wife is a nurse, so she NEEDS to be at work regarless of how much snow we get, so AWD is a must. I like Honda's, but they don't appear to come in AWD. Not a fan of American cars, so I'm really not considering them as options.
We bought an Odyssey (EX) in June 2005, which is turning out to be a great decision ! Our decision was between the Ody and the Sienna, and we settled on the Ody (I like the way Honda's drive, and my wife was stuck on the Ody). But I had decided that we could not go wrong with a Siena either.

2 things I'd throw out. We had a (new) Mazda MPV we hated. I traded that in for the Ody (3 years new). So avoid that even if you get a really good deal on it. By chance, we ended up at the dealership (after internet searching etc, of course) on June 30. The salesman gave us a really good deal on the Ody EX (and went the extra mile of driving one with the Blue Color my wife wanted from 100 miles away). If you go to the dealer on the last day of the quarter, chances are that they will be more willing to make deals. I got an EX for just $500 more than an LX if memory serves - and this was a very competitive price. I've decided I will only go buy a new car on the last day of the quarter from now on.

grok87
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Odyssey

Post by grok87 » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:49 pm

We are very happy with our Honday Odyssey. We have the version with DVD player, moon roof, leather seats, etc. It's a very well designed car- we also love the 60/40 (70/30?) 3rd seat- very flexible. And the dual power sliding doors are a must for us.
cheers,
Keep calm and Boglehead on. KCBO.

MnD
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Post by MnD » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:07 pm

Made it 16 years with two kids without a van with a 1997 and then a 2002 Subaru Outback AWD being the family cars.

Even went camping in them with the four us us, although that required a Thule box on the roof rack - easy to install on a Subaru as they have heavy duty roof-rack mounts.

We just did a 4000 mile trip with the four of us with kids age 14 and 16 - we could have taken my big Toyota double-cab pickup but the kids said the back seat of the subaru was more comfortable so we took that.

The pickup is used for camping since we got it in 2005 in addition to being my regular work vehicle, (so we sold the Thule box) but the Subaru remains the primary family car for everything else.

mhalley
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Post by mhalley » Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:26 am

You might try http://www.zag.com/
Clark Howard mentioned it on his TV show today with some favorable comments.
Mike

TRC
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Post by TRC » Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:14 am

tjwolf wrote:Had selected the Sienna for our next vehicle, until we drove the Sequoia with the 5.7 V-8.

With the Sequoia, we get 9100# towing capacity, tremendous power, AWD, 7 passenger seating (8 is available), rear seats fold into the floor electrically, middle seats fold up to create a large cargo hold. WE get a great ride, 39' turning circle, mileage between 16-21 mpg, and a "ton of goodies" with the limited + package.
I would love to get a Sequoia, but the $60,000+ price is a bit steep for our budget. We looked at pre-owned, but for the price of a 3 year old pre-owned with 40K miles, we can buy a new 2010 minivan with zero miles.

learningLady
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Post by learningLady » Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:23 am

have u considered Honda pilot.

We wanted to buy Toyota sienna for AWD. But then we got Honda pilot at a very good deal last year.

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Post by mortal » Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:36 am

Regarding the need for awd, have you tried snow tires? Most folks wouldn't actually need awd if they didn't stick with allseason tires year round.

If you really need awd, if you're certain, have you considered just getting a subaru? You indicated that you had two kids, if you didn't actually need seating for seven, you could get something much more economical.

Then again, I know a lady that bought a tahoe when she had one kid, just to fit in with the soccer mom set.

pochax
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Post by pochax » Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:04 am

keep in mind that AWD will likely drop your estimated fuel efficiency by 1-2 mpg. having said that, the safety/traction benefit is worth it to me to pay for the extra gas...but it does add up over a long period of time.

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White Coat Investor
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Re: Taking the Mini-Van plunge...

Post by White Coat Investor » Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:19 am

TRC wrote:I swore I would never get a mini-van, now I'm out test-driving them and I hate to admit this, but I like them. Baby #2 is on the way, so our trusty Toyota 4-runner will be sold this weekend ( :cry: ), as it's just not big enough for our weekend trips / vacations / baby & kid paraphernalia

I'm leaning towards the AWD Toyota Sienna as we live in New England and get nasty winters. My wife is a nurse, so she NEEDS to be at work regarless of how much snow we get, so AWD is a must. I like Honda's, but they don't appear to come in AWD. Not a fan of American cars, so I'm really not considering them as options.

The Sienna reviews look great, the test drive was really nice, and we've had nothing but good luck with Toyotas. Just curious if any other Bogleheads have any feedback on these vehicles, or would have suggestions on other vehicles to consider.

Thanks,
I thought the mini-van decision came up with kid #3 or #4, not #2. We did two kids with a sedan + a roof-top carrier. Have you considered a rocketbox on your 4-runner?

If you do get a new van, splurge for a DVD player. It's worth every penny.
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TRC
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Post by TRC » Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:33 am

mortal wrote:Regarding the need for awd, have you tried snow tires? Most folks wouldn't actually need awd if they didn't stick with allseason tires year round.

If you really need awd, if you're certain, have you considered just getting a subaru? You indicated that you had two kids, if you didn't actually need seating for seven, you could get something much more economical.

Then again, I know a lady that bought a tahoe when she had one kid, just to fit in with the soccer mom set.
I've tried telling my wife that snow tires on a FWD would be sufficient, but she's always had an SUV and seems set on having AWD if we are going to make the sacrafice on getting a minivan. Subaru's are nice, but with amount of gear we travel with on weekend trips & vacations, we'd be no better of than we are with our 4runner. Not to get into too much detail, but I'm an avid Kiteboarder and the gear I take is big - usually 2 boards, 3 kites, life jacket, wet suit, beach chairs, etc. With our 4 runner and 1 kid, it is PACKED when we travel - even with a Thule Roof Box on top.

We have considered bigger SUVs with 3rd row seating, but we really didn't like the layout of them.

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yesosaka
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Post by yesosaka » Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:07 pm

Get the Old Lady a sport ute, and go buy yourself a motorcycle.

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Post by arthurdawg » Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:29 pm

amen to emergdoc's suggestion... the DVD is a must with kids!
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Materials Guy
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Post by Materials Guy » Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:44 pm

Another vote for the Odyssey. However, as johnoutk mentioned, skip the factory installed DVD player and buy an inexpensive portable one, unless you are going to use it almost on a daily basis. Our other car is a 4WD CR-V. Both are excellent.

I would seriously consider the Pilot for a combination of size and AWD. For slightly older kids I will say that the sliding doors are very useful.

Going back to TRC's original question, since it appears that AWD is a must given where he lives, I guess an AWD Sienna is the way to go. You will lose a bit of your bargaining power since there are fewer of them. Also, there was some discussion regarding the AWD Sienna tires a couple of years back, and you might want to check that out.

Do all your haggling via email, as you mention.

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NateH
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Post by NateH » Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:02 pm

surveyor wrote: though I think the new VW minivan might have an awd option.
A Detroit friend told me that the VW minivan is just a Chrysler with a couple different body panels and a "VW" on the hood. All the guts are Chrysler. FWIW.

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greg24
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Post by greg24 » Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:28 pm

We have a 2005 Sienna, and our only regret is we only bought one power sliding door. We kinda wish we had two.

grok87
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Post by grok87 » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:13 pm

greg24 wrote:We have a 2005 Sienna, and our only regret is we only bought one power sliding door. We kinda wish we had two.
That's one of the annoying thing about Toyota's in general. Things like dual sliding power doors are optional (or were in 2005).
For the Honda Odyssey dual power sliding doors have been standard for a long time...
I used to like Toyota's but then I saw the light and became a Honda convert. Honda is not out to rip people off on "option packages" the way Toyota is.
They make things that you want standard and have a sensible number of variations that they sell (LX/EX) etc. that are nicely configured.
cheers,
Keep calm and Boglehead on. KCBO.

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Materials Guy
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Post by Materials Guy » Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:25 am

grok87,

This was one reason for going with the Odyssey rather than the Sienna. Toyota just had too many options and configurations whereas the Honda had three clear trims.

The dual sliding doors are fantastic for kids, as my wife repeatedly mentions.

Gopal

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Unormal
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Post by Unormal » Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:10 pm

Materials Guy wrote:Another vote for the Odyssey. However, as johnoutk mentioned, skip the factory installed DVD player and buy an inexpensive portable one, unless you are going to use it almost on a daily basis. Our other car is a 4WD CR-V. Both are excellent.

I would seriously consider the Pilot for a combination of size and AWD. For slightly older kids I will say that the sliding doors are very useful.

Going back to TRC's original question, since it appears that AWD is a must given where he lives, I guess an AWD Sienna is the way to go. You will lose a bit of your bargaining power since there are fewer of them. Also, there was some discussion regarding the AWD Sienna tires a couple of years back, and you might want to check that out.

Do all your haggling via email, as you mention.
The Oddessy Touring (highest trim model /w DVD etc) is a great van. I'd highly recommend it.

grok87
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Post by grok87 » Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:01 pm

Materials Guy wrote:grok87,

This was one reason for going with the Odyssey rather than the Sienna. Toyota just had too many options and configurations whereas the Honda had three clear trims.

The dual sliding doors are fantastic for kids, as my wife repeatedly mentions.

Gopal
Agree- i think simplicity of options/versions is a hallmark of fair and transparent pricing. Like for example when you go to by a mattress and they have like 40 gazillion brands/makes/models that you have no hope of comparing/telling apart, you just know you're getting set up to get ripped off...
cheers,
Keep calm and Boglehead on. KCBO.

IL Int Med
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Post by IL Int Med » Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:36 pm

We are really happy with our Odyssey. We tested almost all makes and it came down to the Sienna or Odyssey. We finally picked the Odyssey as iIt actually drives more like a car than a van.

Having said that, let your wife do all the test driving and picking. This is going to be HER vehicle. You do, however, get to make the payments.

TRC
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Post by TRC » Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:32 pm

Update: We're leaning towards the Odyssey. I read a bunch reviews on edmunds.com on their forum and most of the readers said that a good set of 4 snow tires makes it just fine in the snow. I just can't seem to stomach the exterior styling of the Sienna. Not to mention it has run flats which are super expensive to replace and they have no spare tire. So if we get a flat in an area where they have no run flats to replace it (and we do lots of long road trips), we're essentially screwed. My car is AWD so we agreed that if it's snowing during the 2 days a week that she works, that she can take my vehicle to work. Leaning towards the EX-L without navigation or DVD. We can buy those gadgets after the fact if we really need them. I have built in navigation on my car and we virtually never use it.

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Post by johnoutk » Fri Jul 24, 2009 5:58 pm

TRC wrote:Update: We're leaning towards the Odyssey. I read a bunch reviews on edmunds.com on their forum and most of the readers said that a good set of 4 snow tires makes it just fine in the snow. I just can't seem to stomach the exterior styling of the Sienna. Not to mention it has run flats which are super expensive to replace and they have no spare tire. So if we get a flat in an area where they have no run flats to replace it (and we do lots of long road trips), we're essentially screwed. My car is AWD so we agreed that if it's snowing during the 2 days a week that she works, that she can take my vehicle to work. Leaning towards the EX-L without navigation or DVD. We can buy those gadgets after the fact if we really need them. I have built in navigation on my car and we virtually never use it.
Good choice. When our Odyssey EX falls apart we'll probably get the EX-L without the Nav or DVD.

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norookie
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Post by norookie » Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:40 am

:wink:
Last edited by norookie on Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

clemsongrad
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Re: Taking the Mini-Van plunge...

Post by clemsongrad » Sat Jul 25, 2009 10:49 am

TRC wrote:I swore I would never get a mini-van, now I'm out test-driving them and I hate to admit this, but I like them. Baby #2 is on the way, so our trusty Toyota 4-runner will be sold this weekend ( :cry: ), as it's just not big enough for our weekend trips / vacations / baby & kid paraphernalia

I'm leaning towards the AWD Toyota Sienna as we live in New England and get nasty winters. My wife is a nurse, so she NEEDS to be at work regarless of how much snow we get, so AWD is a must. I like Honda's, but they don't appear to come in AWD. Not a fan of American cars, so I'm really not considering them as options.

The Sienna reviews look great, the test drive was really nice, and we've had nothing but good luck with Toyotas. Just curious if any other Bogleheads have any feedback on these vehicles, or would have suggestions on other vehicles to consider.

Thanks,
We bought a Toyota Sienna, and have been very happy with it. Being a boglehead and a bit frugal, we only bought options that came with one power door. Now i regret not buying second power door option as well. Other than that, we have been extremely pleased. I wish Toyota packages are a bit simpler like the Hondas.

If your financial situation permits, i would recommend both power doors.

TRC
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Post by TRC » Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:11 pm

norookie wrote:
Sunny wrote:That it, man. Your life is over! :-)
:lol: Don't be silly, a 4runner is fine. It has two seats in the front and 2 seats in the back. There are 4 of you right? Plus a large rear cargo storage area and roof racks!. I've had a few. I wish I still had the last one too. Your being a domesticated DAD! But I like your choices........... :wink:
I wish that were the case. When we travel for weekend trips, literally you can not fit any more gear in the vehicle. Our Thule Roof Box is full, the back is completely filled up, we lower one seat which gets filled up, and we put gear below my son's feet. A lot of this is due to my kiteboarding hobby (which mostly stays on the roof). Anyhow, with another baby on the way we either buy a trailer or take 2 cars on vacation...not ideal.

So today's I test drove a "demo" Touring Odyssey that was a 2009 with 2,000 miles on it. It stickered above our price range, but I figured that since the 2010's are out and since it was a "demo" car that I would get a good deal on it. Nope, they were barely going to work with me. They were going to take off 3K, which is what I could get taken off if I bought a 2010 Touring with zero miles on it. He tried to rationalize with me that it "isn't a pre-owned car" because it hasn't been registered yet. Ya right...

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