Minivans- which to buy?

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Posted 11/17/2012 by Eleezybeth in NSBR Board
 

Eleezybeth
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Posted: 11/17/2012 10:09:17 AM
After a futile search of an SUV with an actual usable 3rd row seat with easy entrance with child seats in the second row, I've come to the conclusion I'm getting a mini-van. But which one...

What do you love about yours in a way that I might not think about? Or hate?

We had one dealer tell us that to use the 3rd row seat I should just put one side down and have the kid crawl in the back. Over the stroller. We left. But it did make me chuckle at his disconnect.

megmc
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Posted: 11/17/2012 10:15:16 AM
I want the minivan that has the recliner seats, home theater, the mini kitchen, and the laundrymat in the back.

throw in a chauffeur and I would be set.

other than that I have a traverse, not practical if you want to use the third row and have car seats in the middle.

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Posted: 11/17/2012 10:17:02 AM
Not a mini can driver, but my neighbor drives a Dodge one. It's a 2012 and she said she's "gonna drive it til' it dies", because she really likes it. She has 3 kids and a step daughter that come to visit from time to time and they all fit in there just fine. She has plenty of room in the back, and I believe storage under the floor/seats.


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Posted: 11/17/2012 10:18:21 AM
I've had an Odyssey and a Sienna. Both have good and bad points. Can't go wrong with either. My last Sienna was totaled and we walked away from it. replaced with another sienna.

I think the Sienna is more passenger friendly (front seat passenger). If I want to close the doors in the back, I can easily reach the buttons to do so. In the Odyssey, you have to ask the driver to do it. (Odyssey buttons are to the left of the driver. Sienna's are in the middle of the roof.) I think the new Odyssey interior is a little nicer, but I couldn't stand the exterior.


Odyssey's steering is "tighter" (the newest model isn't as good as the older though). The Sienna drives smoother and feels more luxurious. Again a personal preference thing.


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Posted: 11/17/2012 10:19:27 AM
We have a 2006 Honday Odyssey and LOVE it. It is the Cadillac of minivans. Cannot begin to say enough good things about it!

I suggest you look at Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. We had picked Odyssey over Sienna at that time, but I don't know how each is now. Peas have reviewed both very favorably (and some others). Do a search and you will find MANY opinions on minivans.



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Posted: 11/17/2012 10:26:22 AM
We have a 7 seat Toyota Sienna and love it.
The middle row is 2 bucket seats so it is easy to get into the back row either by flipping one seat forward or walking down the aisle.
The middle seats can be moved so you have 2 seats side by side and a door side aisle or separate the seats and a centre aisle.
The middle row seats also can be removed fairly easily.
My friend has 3 children in car seats. They put the youngest in a car seat behind the driver and the older two are both in the back row. They then removed the one middle row seat to make it easier access to the back row.



Kathy





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Posted: 11/17/2012 10:27:40 AM
We bought a dodge Chrysler town and country years ago ... The top of the line at the time. Almost eight years later it is still awesome! Would buy that brand/ model again.


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Posted: 11/17/2012 10:31:13 AM
We have had 2 Chrysler Town and Country vans. We have been very happy with our choice.


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Eleezybeth
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Posted: 11/17/2012 11:23:05 AM
Thanks for the input ladies. I appreciate the input on the front drivers comfort. I hadn't really even thought of that which is fairly short sighted. I've read enough reviews on-line (and on here...) to know they are all fairly common in features. But nothing is better than what you love about it!!

I think I want stowable seats- which the Toyota got beaten up over on the car and driver review. Our Dodge dealer just seemed sketchy as heck so we'd have to drive to get one of those. Our Kia dealer has none on the lot and I'm thinking instant gratification. Or I could spend $600 on new car seats to fit in my second row and pray the children don't fight and forget a new car.

Decisions decisions.

MonicaB
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Posted: 11/17/2012 11:37:43 AM
I drive a 2012 Chrysler Town and Country with all the bells and whistles and I love it. I thought I heard that many of the bells and whistles that I paid for are now standard on the 2013 models. I could be wrong.

I drove a Dodge Durango for many years because I didn't want a minivan. Not sure why, but I didn't want to go the minivan route. So, for many years, I had children jumping over the seats to get into the third row - impatient kiddos, not that I wouldn't let them out, lol! When it came time to buy a new car last year, my husband did a lot of research and thought the Town and Country was a good van for the money. I absolutely love my T&C and my husband does too, so much so that when it comes time to buy a new car for him, he wants a T&C, too.

We love the stowable seats. There is also a lot of passenger room. We have done 2 vacations with this van and we have had plenty of room for luggage in the trunk. the sales guy who sold us the van did not really know how to work the stowable seats and we didn't push him on it. I didn't want him to break the seat or something since he was kind of clueless on that. My husband figured it all out himself and it is a great feature.




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Posted: 11/17/2012 12:59:21 PM
I love my Toyota Sienna.

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Posted: 11/17/2012 1:56:36 PM
We have a Chrysler T&C. Truth be told, I think we got a bit of a lemon as we've had a few problems with it. But our lease is up and we likely still get another.

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Posted: 11/17/2012 2:09:48 PM
We love our Honda Odyssey. We have 3 kids, 2 in carseats and even when we had three it was great. Now our oldest climbs in the back and buckles herself in.



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Idahopea
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Posted: 11/17/2012 5:19:04 PM
We rented a van with the stowable seats and on a long trip they were not comfortable to sit in as your butt is kind of down in a hole compared to the captains chairs in other brands. My teen son was complaining that his back hurt so I traded seats with him and could see why his back was hurting after just an hour or so and he had been riding back there for hours.

I have a 2005 odyssey and like how the seats can be configured in lots of different ways. I think I read on here though that in the latest models you cannot move the right captain chair over to be right next to the left captain chair in the second row. We often take the little middle seat out and put the other captain chair over so I wouldn't like that in the newer versions. Love the back seats that fold down into the floor! They are still comfortable to ride in and it is so nice to be able to flip a seat up if you need to take an extra person or have extra cargo space if you have a bunch of groceries. Those seat flip up and down very easily!

The last time I looked at the Sienna there was a plastic thingy that could not be removed in the middle if you take out the right captain chair and I did not like that. Not sure if it is still like that with the current ones.

We got ours without a dvd player built in. I didn't like how they hang down when open and block the view out the rear window. Our kids were older and had their own dvd players/laptops anyway. Might be worth it if your kids are little though.

If you have the option to buy the rubber floor mats that are made special for your car, I would get them. Mine allow the compartment in the floor to be accessed in the middle row and don't move around at all. Much easier to clean than the carpet. I bought a straight one from an autoparts store for the 3rd row and it has worked fine back there.

One thing to watch for are the posts on the front corners of the windshield that hold the roof up. There is a pretty good blind spot there so you have to really be looking for cars/people in that spot.

Shan I am
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Posted: 11/17/2012 5:37:04 PM
Just have to say I am on my 2nd dodge caravan and they keep on trucking. Been driving this one for ten years and it will not die! Haven't had to have any major work done on it either.


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Luvnlifelady
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Posted: 11/17/2012 5:38:58 PM
Do you research if you get a Honda Odyssey. It's had known tranmission issues in recent years. There is tons on the internet about it. It was (I thought) isolated to early 2000 but recently saw that an '07 was having similar issues. Love the space of my Odyssey but not the issues.



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Posted: 11/17/2012 6:13:28 PM
I've had both the Sienna and the Odyssey and I have to say that my newest Odyssey is my favorite! I have the 2012 with navigation and couldn't be happier. It's super comfy yet looks really nice on the exterior as well. My husband jokes with me that I have the sleekest of the mini vans! It truly has a luxury feel to it, even though its a van.


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gale w
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Posted: 11/17/2012 6:19:57 PM
The new odysseys and siennas do not have easy access to the third row, from what I understand. On ours, we can slide one center row seat toward the other, making a space at the end for someone to get to the 3rd row easily. The current models aren't made like that-you can't slide the seat over-so you have to have people go between the center row seats (if you don't have the optional center seat) or flip the back of the seat up like you would in a 2 door car (and they never go back to the original position-at least not in our van-and it wouldn't be an option with a carseat in place). This is one thing that's making me want to wait longer to get a new minivan. Ours is a 2009 odyssey.


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Posted: 11/17/2012 6:20:13 PM
Honda!

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Posted: 11/17/2012 6:24:39 PM
I have a 2012 Sienna with all the bells and whistles. I love it. I will never own another minivan or SUV that doesn't have a back up camera or hands free talking on your cellphone. Luxuries I know but I love it!

I traded in my 2006 Odyssey for Sienna. I liked the Odyssey but it was having steering pump issues when it was cold. I had it to the dealer several times and they kept saying there was nothing wrong with it. Two months after I traded it in I got a recall notice on the steering pump. I finally felt vindicated.


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Susie Pea
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Posted: 11/17/2012 7:16:05 PM

Do you research if you get a Honda Odyssey. It's had known tranmission issues in recent years. There is tons on the internet about it. It was (I thought) isolated to early 2000 but recently saw that an '07 was having similar issues. Love the space of my Odyssey but not the issues.


This! I had 2 transmission guys tell me about problems with the Honda Odyssey. Also, the guys that had the car talk show said the same thing about them. I guess they have known problems all the way up to 2009.


Eleezybeth
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Posted: 11/17/2012 11:16:58 PM
Lots to think about, thank you for the input.

Good to know about the transmission issues too. I had a lemon Accord once and swore I'd never own another Honda. Which seems silly but every dealer kept saying the issue was my fault, until it left me stranded... I hated that car and hated Honda service. Maybe I should follow my instincts.


gale w
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Posted: 11/18/2012 3:18:34 AM

Here's our Sienna with the car seat and both boosters. They actually have a lot of room and are not in one another's "space" this way. But we do tend to use the third row in the back and either DD or DS1 sits in back.
Do you have to flip the seat forward for your DC to get in the back? That's one thing I don't want to do. I hate that in our car, after you flip the seat forward when you push it back, it doesn't stop in the original position. It has to be readjusted every time. But if we get a new van (or really any 3 row vehicle) I don't think we'll have a whole lot of other options.


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Posted: 11/18/2012 6:47:50 AM
Ironically I watched Jimmy Fallon's show last night (Friday's show) and Carson Daly was a guest. He went on and on about how he and his wife love their new Sienna. Jimmy teased him for driving a minivan, but he defended the swagger wagon.

Here's the Jimmy Fallon clip. It starts around the 2 minute mark??


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Posted: 11/18/2012 7:34:08 AM

Just have to say I am on my 2nd dodge caravan and they keep on trucking. Been driving this one for ten years and it will not die! Haven't had to have any major work done on it either.


Not my experience. Ours was very well maintained and the engine blew at 68K. However my neighbor has a 12 yr old one with 120K on it so maybe we just got unlucky. Or they got lucky? I seem to know people with only either or experiences with Dodge die young or go forever. No in between. However the brand does consistently rate low on reliability.

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Posted: 11/18/2012 7:41:12 AM
I have a 2009 Oddyessy and LOVE it! You can't go wrong with the Oddyessy or the Toyota Sienna. My only complaint and they might have changed it (or if you get the Touring model I know they have it) It does not tell me how many miles to empty. Where your hands go on the steering wheel covers the gas light that comes on. So many times I have no clue when the light comes on and then have no clue how much gas I have left. I have run out of gas twice which I had not done for years. I cam from a BMW SUV and loved my van just as much (except for rain sensing wipers and the gas thing) Both the Honda and Toyota are easy to sell and are really great vans. I would not look at any others.

Jane71
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Posted: 11/18/2012 7:50:27 AM

Ours is a 2009 odyssey.


So in this one you can scoot the right seat over next to the left seat?? I didn't know that. We took out our middle seat and have the isle down the middle to get to the back. However, if I can scoot the right seat next to the left that would be great!

What are the transmission issues? I have not heard that. I was all set to go with the Sienna, but the people at Toyota were not helpful so I went with the HOnda. They are both really nice.

On another issue, when do you take the back off your kids booster and let them just sit in the booster part? I am so confused on car seats. My daughter is 45 inches tall, weighs 43 pounds and will turn 6 soon. I am going to ask her Doctor at her well check. I have her in a high back booster, but most of her friends are just in the chair booster.

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Posted: 11/18/2012 8:52:41 AM
Jane-check out Odysseytransmission.com. It's lit up like a Christmas tree with Odyssey owner transmission issues.

I have an '02 and had major tranmission just as it hit 100,000 miles a couple years ago. We were on a family trip to the mountains and were barely able to limp home.



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Posted: 11/18/2012 8:54:10 AM
We have a 2011 Sienna, and it's the smoothest driving, nicest family vehicle we've had. I feel so safe in it!









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Posted: 11/18/2012 9:38:52 AM
We have a 1999 Sienna. It has 231,000 miles on it and has been a wonderful vehicle! We are starting to look around about replacing it because it is getting to the point where it is just old. I love this van!

gale w
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Posted: 11/18/2012 12:09:25 PM


Ours is a 2009 odyssey.




So in this one you can scoot the right seat over next to the left seat?? I didn't know that. We took out our middle seat and have the isle down the middle to get to the back. However, if I can scoot the right seat next to the left that would be great!

Yes, the seat on the passenger side is on a slide=y track thing and you can slide it over next to the other seat. We don't have a center row middle seat. Only the two captain's chair type seats.




No. Even with the third seat in the center row, the side seat moves forward with plenty of room for a child to get into the back.
Do you mean using the bar underneath and it stays permanently forward with the seat back upright? If so can someone still sit on that seat with enough legroom? Ours doesn't slide forward that much unless we fold the seat back down and then it does, but then the seat back is down and when you push it back up, it's not in the original position.


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Posted: 11/18/2012 2:58:38 PM
Love my Odyssey. Hated my Chrysler Town and Country!


Susan



gale w
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Posted: 11/18/2012 3:47:17 PM
thank you. The center row legroom is important for us too, as my 15 yo would be sitting in that seat (the one that would be slid forward for third row access). We have some thinking to do. DH was considering SUVs too but they have the same issue as far as getting into the 3rd row.


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Posted: 11/18/2012 3:51:28 PM
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Eleezybeth
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Posted: 11/18/2012 4:26:08 PM

I cam from a BMW SUV and loved my van just as much (except for rain sensing wipers and the gas thing)
This is my situation. I'm fairly spoiled with the luxuries in my current car. Thanks for your input.


On another issue, when do you take the back off your kids booster and let them just sit in the booster part? I am so confused on car seats. My daughter is 45 inches tall, weighs 43 pounds and will turn 6 soon. I am going to ask her Doctor at her well check. I have her in a high back booster, but most of her friends are just in the chair booster.


My child is 6 and is a tall for her age. I still have her in her 5 point seat. I will be keeping her in that until she heights out. We have two different 5 point seats and each have a different height requirements. I'm keeping her out of the booster as long as I can. I watched that video on-line about 5 point seats vs. boosters and have just sucked it up- it scared me! I'd say we have about another 9mo to a year before we have to go to the booster.

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Posted: 11/18/2012 5:46:04 PM
Did you look at the Infiniti? Because that is one SUV/Crossover that you can have child seats in and get in the back very easily. There are others, too.

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Posted: 11/18/2012 6:52:06 PM
Drove two Dodge Caravans. Loved them both.

GRAND only. Do not fall for the smaller version. You WILL want the extra storage space in the longer version of any van. Don't let anyone tell you different.

Second row captain's chairs are a must for me. Passengers can move easily to the third row.




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Posted: 11/18/2012 7:08:05 PM
Had a Windstar that I frankly loved a lot. But someone totalled it and it is no longer made. We ended up getting a 2005 Grand Caravan SXT. It has stow and go seats and I have to say for the most part I love this one almost as much. It has 110,000 miles on it. We have had two major issues but totalling less than $2000 in the 5 years we have owned it. We have no idea what the maintenance was like prior to our owning it so the issue could have been due to lack of maintenance.

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Posted: 11/18/2012 8:20:42 PM
I just made this decision earlier this year and asked the Peas their opinion between the Sienna and the Odyssey. The Odyssey won almost 2:1.

I did choose the Odyssey and I love the fold down seats in the back - so easy. I like the way it handles - more like a car than my old Windstar. I have the base model so I don't have a lot of fancy features but almost everything I wanted was standard. It really irritated me that you had to go up two models to get the back up camera. Now they do that standard, I think.

The only thing I really don't like are the front seats. They just aren't comfortable. I've tried every position and every kind of cushion and nothing helps. They have these high 'wings' on the side. I may actually take the van to have new seats put in that is how much I don't like them.

I have had vans for years because of my business but we love them. You can haul so much stuff and still get good gas mileage. My insurance only went up about $50 per year when I bought a new van versus my 12 year old one.


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Posted: 11/19/2012 9:55:55 AM
After many years and four Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge minivans later, we switched to a Toyota Sienna and are convinced we made the right decision. We got a great deal, awesome warranty, and got a lot more bang for our buck. And yes, I looked at the Chrysler minivan, too.

Our first minivans lasted to 180,000 miles. The last two have only gotten to 150,000. The last one is still drivable, so it might make it longer, but I just put 1100 bucks into it only two months ago, and a week ago the engine malfunction light came on. I will find out today or tomorrow what kind of repair bill we are looking at. DS drives that car, and I'm really hoping we can fix it so that he can keep driving it rather than share my car. It's paid off, and I like that, but when repairs start costing as much as a new car payment, it will be junked. It might have reached that point, and I'm not happy about it.

Toyota not only makes a nicer minivan with better warranty, but it should last longer, too. We drive our cars till they die.

DS has been driving my car since his needs repair. Besides, I was out of town and my car was sitting in the driveway, so DH told him to drive mine. DS LOVES my Sienna! My car has a much smoother, quieter ride. Of course, the Chrysler is 7 years older, but the Sienna is so much nicer, it's not even funny. DS will probably be a little disappointed if we fix his car, LOL.


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