Opinions on buying a new minivan


Old 03-26-02, 06:23 AM
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Opinions on buying a new minivan

Not a repair question, but I was wondering what opinions anyone had on the "best" new minivan to buy currently?

We've sort of narrowed our selection to the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, or Dodge Caravan; but we're not locked in to these. None of them seem to be ideal: either they're relatively expensive or have some other performance drawbacks.

We have 2 kids and 2 dogs and are interested in reliability, safety, roominess, and engine performance. We're expecting to have to pay 25-30K.
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Old 03-26-02, 06:26 AM
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Check Consumer Reports, any online opinions poll and crash data from the government.

Chrysler minivans eventually fall apart in my belief but are good with the features.

The Honda is a good van, versatile, but will soak you for repairs when it gets old and up there in mileage.

The Toyota Sienna is fairly new. Looks ok. Has a common 3.0 V6 engine of the Toyota line. Reliable, but probably a bit daunting to service.
Old 03-26-02, 07:02 AM
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You can go to http://www.msnbc.com/news/726512.asp and skip down to KIA SEDONA section. At end of story cover previous crash test. Top pick for saftey is Toyota Sienna and then Honda Odyssey and Ford Windstar. For some reason the Chrysler minivans where not tested. I've only own 1 chrysler product its 97 LHS...1 big pain in my....well you know. I like GM cars and Ford trucks. So this past weekend we brought a 2000 Winstar with 27560 miles for $12338 out the door. Seems like a nice van, I just hope ford fix their mid 90's engine\trans problems. Do searches on the internet for mini van reviews and you find a lot of reading to do. Forums are good place also for information, just remember that everyone has opinions some are good are not.

Good luck in your search
Old 04-03-02, 12:18 AM
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We did EXTENSIVE research. We just bought a 1998 pontiac trans port van ext 4 door, cheaper than the honda odyessy. So far I've found inferior heat and a back break grinding that pontiac can't seem to fix and now it is surging. The honda odyessy is the best van in the market. Caravans seem to have tranny problems . Windstars have head gasket problems, we used to own one, long story and major headaches. Toyota sienna is experiencing engine sludge problems. I asked a toyota mechanic about the sludge problem and he did confirm it but he did say it is more frequet in areas with high humidity and also along with combination of infrequent oil changes. Yet if you search the net you'll find most prople stated they did get their oil changes as recomended by toyota. really, i think that the honda O is the best bet. Youe best tool is to search the net and check out consumerreports.com. it's worth it to pay $5.00 for a monthly on line subscription. this way you can find out the nitty gritty and see comparisons by year. good luck
Old 04-03-02, 06:26 AM
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That's another angle too. I say take it all in stride. Here's what I would do:

1) Talk to a mechanic.
2) Go online to the different review boards.
3) Solicit the opinion of other owners, potential owners and friends and neighbors.
4) Test drive all the vehicles in your target category.

If all of these then lead you to the same vehicle, you've made the right choice for you.

That's how I would proceed. Don't use any one thing as a guide, you'll be easily swayed. I take Consumer Reports with a grain of salt as they are not always on the mark. I use CR among other things when buying something or comparing.

My .02
Old 04-03-02, 12:10 PM
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Thanks much for the advice. I've been checking some of the opinion sites and Consumer Reports. I agree with you, Joe, about CR not always being right.

We're still debating but have narrowed down to the Odyssey or the Mazda MPV (discovered this one through CR). The Caravan seems to have a bad reliability rap, and we drove the Sienna and were less than impressed. The MPV seems like a miniature Odyssey.
Old 04-03-02, 02:27 PM
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Sure. The trick is to look at it from all angles. In this regard you are answering all the questions you might have.

It's also a sure fire way to make sure it is the right vehicle for YOU. What is right for you is not right for me.

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