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Good Family Vehicle

My husband and I are going to buy a new (pre-owned) vehicle for our family. We have recently moved from a very rural area to the city and our SUV isn't what we want or need anymore. We have a growing 12year old boy and a dog. We figure that for the next five plus years we will be hauling kids most of the time, to practices, sporting events, etc... as well as making road trips to grandmas. We want something that is roomy but gets good gas mileage in town and on the highway. I had a minivan once and really liked it. We have been researching them and it is hard to choose. Any suggestions? If you love (or hate) your soccer van, let me know what it is and why. Or if you have any other ideas on a good family vehicle I would love to hear it. Thanks

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I sbsolutely love my Dodge Grand Caravan. It gets good mileage, it's roomy, it has front and rear heat and a/c controls, the seats are comfortable enough for long trips, and it's reasonably attactive and affordable.

Honda Odyssey - great gas mileage, comfortable, roomy, very user-friendly doors (esp when mom's hands are full!).

We have a Sienna, and love it. We needed AWD, because I take it up skiing a lot (and they restrict the roads often due to weather). If we didn't need the AWD, I would have seriously considered the Oddissey. I think you'd be safe with either though. The DVD player is a MUST for long trips (and short trips even).

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Hi K.. We were never going to own a minivan, but when #3 and #4 (twins) came along, we didn't have a choice. We bought a Honda Odyssey and we all love it! We have another nice sedan but even when we are out with out the kids, we'd rather drive the Honda.

You should check out the website, www.motherproof.com It's a great car review site. Local girls.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I have a Honda Pilot and love it, it's the 03 model and it has been great for us. It's nice because it seats 8 or you can fold the back seat down and have lots of cargo room. A minivan definitely has more room but this is more sporty for sure. The back seat when it is up is not that comfortable for adults, definitely fits children better. But it's nice to take a larger group if necessary too! Good luck!

Hello -
here are my thoughts, after having several vans. We've had a 1996 Mercury Villager, which has a Nissan engine in it. It's got over 228,000 miles on it, and gets good mileage for a van. It's been fantastic - we've had to do very little in its very long life. I don't know if these are still available, but this has been a good, reliable van for us. (The newer Nissan Quest vans have a strange center console we don't like.)

WE also now have a 2006 Toyota Sienna. It's pretty new so there haven't been problems (yet!). Based on our research, we concluded the toyotas would be more reliable and long-lasting than just about any of the other vans. IN our case budget was an issue and it was less expensive than other counterparts like the Odyssey or Dodge Caravan, which has many more repair issues. We chose this above some slightly less expensive vans, mainly because it has side air bags around the whole van. I think the MPG is a little less than the Villager, and it has a little less oomph to it - but it's still great.

We got the base model - no frills - so the cost was in line for us. Honda Odyssey would have been our next choice, but they are more expensive. (If you want bells and whistles though, they're the way to go and as reliable and long-lasting as Toyotas.)

If you're looking for a used van, cost is probably a factor. THere are Kias for under $10K. I probably wouldn't consider the others out there, although I've known a few friends with older Dodge Caravans and they've been ok. A newer, but used Dodge Caravan might be a good one to consider.

Good luck!!

I drove a 1995 Ford Windstar for 10 years and loved it. We had no problems with it, and the size was perfect. The 2nd set of seats popped out, and the 3rd row bench seat popped out, too. This was nice to be able to convert the room to suit our needs. Pretty good gas mileage too, probably 21-24 MPG on the highway. Good luck with deciding.

Don't get a Jeep Cherokee. We have two, and they're reliable and get *decent* gas mileage (not as good as a sedan, though), but they have no leg room in the back seat. We've had to scoot up the front seats to accommodate both my infant and rear-facing convertible seat. Not that you have that issue!

My sisters both have a Honda Oddesey. But they were disappointed in the 12 mpg gas mileage. They love the features, but they are getting to be a bit old (6 years or so), so things may have changed since then.

I love love love my Toyota Sienna! Decent mileage, lots of room. The seats are easy to configure and move around. Tons of space and storage. More cup holders than you could ever imagine and a great ride to boot!

Hello K.
I have 2 kids-5 and 1 year(s) old and a dog. We live where it snows 8-9 months out of the year and have Subaru's (Outback and Forester that we really like. Although I would LOVE to have a SUV Volvo. Our friends have one and we just love it, but since our cars are payed off we will wait for the Volvo. I hope this helps. T. Sigler

I was never wild about my mini-van. It was a Chevy Astro. Then I had an accident in it. Because it was on a truck chasis, it was a bit taller. It was a life saver. We finally sold it to buy a Suburban. But that Astro took a beating and kept on ticking.

I just purchased a minivan so I did a lot of research on them. What I found is if you want a reliable van you really need to go with Toyota or Honda; the others aren't nearly as reliable. Also, vans made after 2006 decreased in reliability, even the Hondas and Toyotas. I purchased a used Honda Odyssey 1 1/2 years ago and I absolutely love it. It's 7 years old but runs amazingly well. I haven't had any trouble with it.

Hi K.,

I have an SUV and I live in town. I love my vehicle, minus the gas mileage. The perk of it is the mornings here in Littleton when the roads are covered in snow and the people with front-wheel drives get stuck. I have an 8 year old and a dog. I just purchased my SUV in January and did a lot of research through Consumer Reports. You might want to consider a vehicle that is all-wheel drive. This way you can get around when it snows, go to the mountains when you need to and the gas mileage is better than an SUV. They have so many quality AWD vehicles now, I'm sure your family could find one that would fit your needs. Just a different thought than a mini-van. Try checking Consumer Reports as it will tell you quality and even what kind of vehicle will suit your family.

Hi K.,
I've only owned one minivan in my life; a Kia Sedona, and I absolutely HATE it!!!!!
It's a gas guzzler, and everything "electronic" has broken on it. And of course, we can't afford to fix any of it, since it's so expensive. (Everything is controlled by a computer... you get the idea!) Plus the customer service we've experience so far has been completely WORTHLESS.
I'm afraid I can't give you advise for what TO buy, but I implore you... do NOT buy a Kia. If I had it to do again, I'd get the Honda van, only because I've had GREAT experiences with Honda in the past.
But, I won't have it to do again for a very long time, 'cuz I'm THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of dollars upside down on the Kia, and it cannot be sold, because the odometer on it broke, and when we got it repaired, Kia gave us a certificate to show what the actual mileage on the vehicle is. However, when we went back to the SAME dealership (the one's who did the repair and issued the proof of mileage certification) they informed us they couldn't give us what it is worth in trade, because of the odometer being new... and that the certification THEY issued us wasn't worth the paper it was written on. Needless to say, there was quite an ugly scene at the Kia dealership in Ft. Collins on THAT day!
So, in a nutshell: a lousy product + crappy customer service = a very very bad experience. DO NOT BUY A KIA.

I wish you much luck in your search! :-)
M. W.

I drive a Honda Odyssey and it is wonderful! Definitely test drive one of these - you'll love it!

My sister LOVES her Toyota. She has had three mini vans in the past 8 years and the she calls her Toyota her Dream Car.

I have a Honda Odyssey and I LOVE IT! I swore I would never have a mini van, however when I got pregnant with my son, taking my daughter and her friends places I realized soon enough I needed a lot more room. I had a Grand Cherokee and I had to take the stroller out to get groceries or trips to Sams club, it was awful! I have had it since 05 and NOT ONE PROBLEM! Honda dealership is amazing with the warranty on it. Just last month my battery died, the guy I initally had change my oil said the warranty was up on it, so when it died I talked to the service manager, he was so full of apologies, they picked up my van from my house, at their expense, fixed it within two hours and delivered it back to me with a free oil change certificate!!! It was in fact under warranty still.
I love it!!!!!!!! Great mileage on it too.

Go with Toyota! If you keep up with your maintance you will have the vehicle for many years to come. My son is a toyota mechanic and he says that is the way to go.

I love my mini van because it gets good gas mileage, but I probably would buy a different model. I have a Dodge Grand Caravan and for the price they are good, but if I had it to do again I would get the Toyota Sienna. My friends have them and I LOVE it!

We love our Dodge Caravan. We like the remote keyless entry. WE push the button and the slider doors open on their own, which is nice when you have your hands full of kids and their things! All of the seats store down so that you can have the entire back of the van for hauling things, which is nice if you don't have a truck. It seats 6 comfortably, but you can sqeeze 7 if needed. We have the extended cab which I feel is what make this van better. With the extension you get the air for the entire back rather that just the front air trying to blow to the back. Check it out, it's a good buy,

I have 4 kids and have owned 3 minivans. First was a Ford...didn't last 7 years with many things wrong. Second was a 2001 Dodge Caravan...lasted only 5 years with many things breaking (some were covered under warranty, others broke after warranty!). Now we own a Honda Odessy (Sp?) and so far so good. We are new to CO and it would have been nice to have 4wd, but we take this to the mountains frequently and have done well with it. The traction control kicks in on the snow and ice and it gets me through. My Dodge got stuck all the time. The DVD entertainment sytem is a plus with the 4 kids. Plenty of cargo room in the back. Hope this helps.

LOVE our Toyota Sienna! Things for you to think about: putting the 3rd row up/down. I couldn't do it in the Honda Odyssey on the older models that don't have it split. Safety ratings...The american models may have 5 star goverment but most american models don't do very well in the Highway Safety Institute - For example in 2004 (the year we bought), the driver loses their lower legs/feet in an offset frontal impact. Also, don't rule out new. With hard bargaining, we got a new Toyota for the same price as a used Honda Odyssey.

We love our Toyota Sienna! One of our favorite things is the 8 seater option. We have taken other friends with us with up to four adults and four car seats and it is not cramped. Plus, we travel a lot, and the storage is unbelievable. For a family of 4 to be gone with everyting they need for two months and still have the back seat available is amazing! We love it! The chairs are very easy to configure. I'm pregnant with a lot of back pain, and I can move them with no problem, except taking them in and out, which we don't do much.

We have a Honda Odyssey and we love it! It gets great gas mileage, it's comfy, plus it has great storage space.

We just got the 2008 Toyota Highlander. We had a Honda Odessey but it doesn't come with AWD. We were sliding everywhere in the snow. We couldn't even make it up our driveway. Otherwise I loved the minivan. We had a 2001 Highlander and still have it. After going thru all the SUV's in that class...we decided on another Highlander. It has the 3rd row and is very roomy. Gets good gas mileage and can tow up to 5000 lbs if you decide you want that. If you want another minivan, I'd highly recommend getting one with AWD here in Utah! Good luck!

Honda Odyssey - great gas mileage, comfortable, roomy, very user-friendly doors (esp when mom's hands are full!).

It looks like you've gotten a ton of good advice, but I thought I'd put my two cents in. After a lot of trouble with a Dodge Grand Caravan, we asked around and any friends and family who'd had one said to steer clear. - We asked a little late. Most of them, and us, had transmission problems. So we researched, looked at reviews and consumer reports, and decided on a Toyota Sienna, which, on consumer reports was reported to be in the top two for safety and maintenance issues. The other was a Honda Odyssey. I love my Sienna! It's wonderful, and I've never had even a minor problem. If I hadn't chosen a Sienna I would have picked a Honda- though I can't personally vouch for them.

The Toyota Siennas are great vehicles and used ones are going for a great price right now. This is my first recommendation for best features, power, and more for the price. The Siennas have really come down in price, but are consistently rated as high as the Odysseys. Honda Odysseys are consistently good, good features, but hold their value and you will pay more, used or new. The Dodge Caravan is the best bang for the buck if you're looking for an inexpensive vehicle that doesn't cost a lot. The ride is rougher and the power isn't something to brag about. The new Caravan has some cool features though that others don't offer. The Chrysler minivan is the more luxury version of the Caravan. Then you have Saturn, the Mazda MPV, Nissan Quest, and even crossover vehicles with 3rd seats. It's up to you. Your best bet is to check out Consumer Reports, or Car and Driver. Narrow down your search, then hit the dealerships and narrow that list down even more. it's extremely individual on what you want and need.

We have a Sienna, and love it. We needed AWD, because I take it up skiing a lot (and they restrict the roads often due to weather). If we didn't need the AWD, I would have seriously considered the Oddissey. I think you'd be safe with either though. The DVD player is a MUST for long trips (and short trips even).

We have a Honda Pilot and we LOVE it! It has seats that can be put down or up in many different arrangements and the gas mileage is about 19-22 on hwys. We can fit 6 kids in the middle and back seats and 2 adults in the comfortable seats in front. If that's too pricy, try a Honda Odessey. My friend has one and she loves it too. There's one less seat and not as much room in the very back, but she stacks up quite a bit of groceries, etc. in the very back. Both are great vehicles with great crash ratings, very comfortable, reliable, etc.

We have the Honda Oddessy and love it. We have an 12,8 and baby girls. I can haul all of us and our friends too. We camped for 31/2 weeks out of it when we only had 2 kids. We also owned a tent trailer for a while and were able to haul it. My hubby also takes his trailer with quads all the time. We want to upgrade in a year or 2 and will probably get another one, we are looking at the new town and country too.

You might look into the Hyundai Entorage... they only started making them in the 2007 model year, so it might be hard to find a used one, but they get awesome reviews. I don't have an entorage, but i LOVE my Hyundai Elantra. Good luck!

The Toyota Sienna AWD is the way to go! :-)

Hi K.,

We bought our Pontiac Transport in 97. It has never had any mechanical problems, and still runs well. I have a 04 Honda Pilot but it can not compare to the Transport!
Happy hunting.


We love our Toyota Sienna. It is the most comfortable vehicle we have ever owned and it works well for around town and extended car trips. It has been rated well for years in Consumer Reports. The Honda Odessey has also been rated well for years--although I have had no personal experience with it.

K., my name is J. and I life in Utah, around here the best all-around vehicle is the Subaru Outback. Good gas milage and roomy. If not an Outback, Subaru puts out alot of nice vehicles.

We love our Chevrolet Venture!! It is VERY roomy and gets great gas mileage. My dad has a Toyota Sienna, and when we went on a trip with him we got the exact same gas mileage as he did! The biggest thing, though is how roomy it is inside I don't feel cramped in it like I do other vans and I can reach the back seat while I am standing on the street with the door open. (I hate having to climb in to get something or someone)

We have a Honda Odyssey that we just love. It seats 7 so with my 3 kids, I can haul a friend each which is great!! I especially love the deep well in the back where the 3rd seat folds down into. Don't have groceries and other items sliding around under the seats. I think a few other companies have this "stow and go" feature now, but Honda was the only one when we got ours in 2003.

We've absolutly loved our Sienna (Toyota) minivan. It fits the dogs, kids, and equipment beautifully. And those times when we needed to fit Grandma and Grandpa in as well, we popped the back seats in and fit them too. There's also an automatic sliding door opener, which has been a saver at times- especially with small babies and kids or just plain full hands! I recommend it highly.

I sbsolutely love my Dodge Grand Caravan. It gets good mileage, it's roomy, it has front and rear heat and a/c controls, the seats are comfortable enough for long trips, and it's reasonably attactive and affordable.

Our Toyota Sienna is the BEST!!!

K., I have to agree with the other Honda Odyssy lovers. My husband works at a Honda dealership so I'm lucky enough to get a new one every year...they just keep getting better and better! He once threatened me by saying he wanted to try out the Pilot and I almost cried!! DON'T TAKE AWAY MY MINI-VAN!!!!! The features are all about convenience and it is very roomy and comfortable! If you went with the Honda you would NOT regret it!


I have to say that I have a bittersweet opinion about the minivans! I drive a Mazda MPV minivan, and I do like it! I wanted a Honda or a Toyota, they seem to be a bit roomier, and have more functionality. We bought the Mazda out of necessity and price. The other 2 are a bit costlier, but I believe well worth the price. All my SAHM friends, drive these other 2 and are so so happy with their vehicles. I love SUV's but the money I spent on hauling my kids around was not worth it! Good Luck in your search!


We have a Toyota Sienna and love it. There is plenty of room for all your needs. My kids love to ride in it. I like that it drives like a car and not a van. We used to have an Ford and it drove like a truck. I love my Sienna.

Hi K. - After owning a Chrysler minivan for about 10 years we purchased a Toyota Sienna and have been absolutely thrilled with it. It's awesome in the snow (4-wheel drive) and as with all Toyotas I'm familiar with the attention to detail and engineering is superb. The Chrysler was terrible in snow and had may quirks from the beginning. I did NOT want another van, but with 3 kids and 2 big dogs it's simply the most practical option. I LOVE the Sienna and would highly recommend it! Good luck in your search... -- L.

Subaru Outback, hands down. We love ours. Everybody I know who has one loves it. It has the fuel economy, has the roominess, is very reliable and does great in the snow, esp. if you buy the automatic (though you'll sacrifice fuel economy a tich). Buy it a year or two used if you can find one with relatively low mileage, which is hard 'cause these babies get used!

We have owned a Honda Odyssey for the last four years and have absolutely loved it. Honda really seems to think of many things that just make travel easier and nicer. Our is the EX model with RES (rear entertainment system). One suggestion if you are thinking about an Odyssey... avoid the ones with the PAX tire system. I hear they are a nightmare to find tires to replace them and most people are paying around $2000 for one set. Our van does not have these tires and we have no complaints. We get 17-20 miles per gallon in city driving and 25 or more on the highway. We plan on upgrading to a newer one in a few months. I do not want anything but Honda after our experiences!

I have a 2005 HondaOdyssey...LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!!! There was another request a while back about this very issue. I think you can do a search to find it. It was mostly about which minivan to get and there were lots of responses (one was mine). I think they ended up getting an Odyssey after researching a few different minivans. I really think you can't go wrong with either an Odyssey or Toyota Sienna. And I'm really intrigued by the new Chrysler Town and Country: you can swivel the captains chairs around to face the back and a table pops up. I think that would be cool for when you have your son and his friends in the car. They'll be talking about their personal stuff and you'll be driving and quietly listening to everything they say. My mom says that's exactly why she drove a minivan when I was growing up: she knew everything about me and my friends without having to "sit me down" to talk. Just another sneaky parent trick to keeping tabs on teenagers!

We love our Honda Odessey!!
After we bought ours, both my sister-in-laws boght their own Odessey, and they both love theirs, too.

They rate very similar to the Toyota van, but Honda is cheaper to insure and keeps a better re-sell value than any other brand.

One thing to keep in mind - Honda vehicles REQUIRE Honda parts, only. No aftermarket cheepies will work on them.

When my son was born (he is now 3), the car that I had was not a baby-friendly car. My mother was ready for a new car, so she sold me her Dodge Intrepid (which works okay for us for now) and bought a Toyota Sienna mini-van. This seems to work really well for us. It has the back row of fold down seats and the three middle seats can pull forward and backward separately for more leg room if needed. It also has the button to open the side door which is really nice. I would recommend this to anyone!

I have a Honda Odyssey minivan and I cannot say enough wonderful things about it. It is fabulous. The maintenance is easy...it is super dependable, safe and it feels like you are driving a car. I have no complaints.

Hi K.,
I just purchased a used 2002 Pontiac Montana minivan and Oh I love it so much. I don't have kids at home anymore but when family come to visit or we go to visit family we like to do things and have them all in the vehicle with us. you can seat 7 including the driver in this van so it fits our needs very well. Also for a mini van I think it is getting great gas mileage. 24 mpg in town, we haven't taken it on a trip yet that is next month.

Good Luck

Honda Odyssey. YAY for them.

Honestly K., we are on our 3rd Honda Odyssey mini van (we had a 95, then a 97 and now a 2001 all bought used with over 100k miles on them when we got them) and each one of them has had 4 captains chairs and a hide-away bench seat (you can pop it up when you need it to haul those extra friends around). We have gotten at least 27+mpg on the freeway with our vans and the latest will seat 7 adults comfortably! When we drive from Jerome ID to Ontario OR to visit family we set the cruise at 68 and can pull 35 mpg out of it. Tell me which small compact car that has NO LEG ROOM for teenagers (and dogs) can do that for you! I'm sold on our Honda's - in town we can get 19 to 22 mpg which is still awesome for something that BIG! My mother in law has a Ford Contour and she only gets 25 on the Freeway! We transport kids for church, go places with our family (which on any given day is up to 8 with 2 teenage boys, our older married son, d-i-l and the grandbabies) and never have any problems with leg space.

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