The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-19-2011, 01:38 PM
BMalion BMalion is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 9,602
Best Used Minivan?

I am going to be looking for a "new car" this year and I love minvans (go figure), so I'm curious what the consesis is on the boards.

I'll have about 10K saved up.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 01-19-2011, 02:05 PM
DCnDC DCnDC is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Edmunds and Consumer Reports both say it's the Honda Odyssey. I've got 2 friends with these and they love them.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-19-2011, 02:17 PM
Susanann Susanann is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Chevy Astro/Pontiac Safari. Ive owned a dozen of them, and I still own 2 of them.

They dont make em anymore,so youd have to buy it used anyways.

highest road clearance, largest cargo area, real steel bumpers

The AWD is good if go off the road
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-19-2011, 02:24 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Irvine, California, USA
Posts: 14,822
We just got a new Mazda 5, which is halfway between a car and a minivan. My wife loves it. I don't like minvans so this was a good compromise. I'm not sure how long this model has been available in the US, so finding a used one might not be as easy as for other models. The gas mileage is not bad, EPA estimates are 21/27 for the automatic transmission.

2010 Mazda 5 (mazdausa.com)
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-19-2011, 02:34 PM
steronz steronz is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
We just got a new Mazda 5, which is halfway between a car and a minivan. My wife loves it. I don't like minvans so this was a good compromise. I'm not sure how long this model has been available in the US, so finding a used one might not be as easy as for other models. The gas mileage is not bad, EPA estimates are 21/27 for the automatic transmission.

2010 Mazda 5 (mazdausa.com)
+1. I just bought one with a manual transmission, if that's your cup of tea. They came out in 2006 IIRC.

I also have a Kia Sedona. They have no resale value, so you can snap them up for dirt cheap. It's not as good as the Odyssey by any stretch, but it's "good enough," if you know what I mean.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-19-2011, 02:41 PM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 12,509
Urgh. A minivan is the worst possible car to buy used.

The choices aren't as good - too many of even the best models have trashed interiors from toddlers or dogs. Too many of them have been driven by people too preoccupied to keep track of the maintenance schedule.

We own one - I speak from experience here.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-19-2011, 02:56 PM
BMalion BMalion is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 9,602
Interesting, I've had my Dodge Caravan for almost 7 years now and I could not be happier. But as it's getting long in the tooth I'm looking to replace it.

Keep the advuice coming!
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 01-19-2011, 03:03 PM
Philster Philster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
You have got to love anecdotal evidence. Hey, my dad had a '49 Ford with a bad transmission, so he went Fordless for life after that. If Joe Public got a good used Caravan, then go get one! That there is all the evidence you need!

If there is a Certified Pre-Owned market for used minivans, you might want to go that route to minimize risk and maximize return.

Opinions are as valuable as anecdotal evidence, IMHO. YMMV.



.

Last edited by Philster; 01-19-2011 at 03:05 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 01-19-2011, 03:19 PM
GreasyJack GreasyJack is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
The Achilles' heel of all minivans is the transmission. It's basically a transaxle out of a normal car that has to drag around what is basically a light truck type vehicle. They just don't have the tolerance for abuse and poor maintenance that modern transmissions installed in cars do.

The Toyota Previa and Honda Odyssey are better than the domestics initially in according to the various used car indexes, but they still have transmission problems. They also hold their value better, so it might be moot if you have to buy an older Japanese van instead of a newer domestic. I don't really know much about the Sedona, but KIA's quality in general has gotten much better so it might be a good bet for the same reason as the domestics. Any van that comes with all service records should be a huge plus for you.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-19-2011, 04:22 PM
smithsb smithsb is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: mid-Pacific
Posts: 1,486
Very old Odysseys should be avoided due to transmission problems (greasyjack covers this). Chrysler/Dodge vans that have had a past problem (had transmission replaced/repaired) seem to have repeat problems. Old Ford Aerostars were pretty good except for the AC systems which were money pits.

Get the van checked out independently by a mechanic/transmission shop. ACs tend to age poorly as well.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 01-19-2011, 05:34 PM
Gary Robson Gary Robson is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,447
[moderating]
Moved from GQ to IMHO.
[/moderating]
__________________
---
Yes, I have joined the ranks of former moderators. Being a mod was eating my life. Now I'm a member just like you. Except smarter and better looking.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 01-19-2011, 07:20 PM
sisu sisu is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2009
I have had the Kia and also a Ssangyong in Australia. These cars have crap resale so you could pick them up cheap. The Honda is a great car but the back seats are small. If you can get leather, go for it.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 01-19-2011, 08:02 PM
Bag of Mostly Water Bag of Mostly Water is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: In a canyon, in a cavern
Posts: 496
For what it's worth, the 2005-2007 Saturn Relay/the Buick Terraza/Chevrolet Uplander/Pontiac Montana SV6 (all basically the same minivan) were built with a truck engine and truck transmission. These models never sold well, so it may be hard to find them used. Also, Saturn, Buick, and Pontiac no longer exist.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 01-19-2011, 08:40 PM
Throatwarbler Mangrove Throatwarbler Mangrove is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex_Chemist View Post
For what it's worth, the 2005-2007 Saturn Relay/the Buick Terraza/Chevrolet Uplander/Pontiac Montana SV6 (all basically the same minivan) were built with a truck engine and truck transmission. These models never sold well, so it may be hard to find them used. Also, Saturn, Buick, and Pontiac no longer exist.
This is utter nonsense. The GM U-body vans were all front wheel drive with transverse engine/transmissions, the same units used in GM cars of the era. No truck (other than the Honda Ridgeline which is actually a minivan with the roof cut off) has such a drivetrain. In any case, these vans had rather poor side impact crash ratings so you may not want these if you want your children to live, but mechanically they are not bad as long as we are talking about the the last generation (2005-9). Older versions of the Montana were notorious for a manufacturing defect in the engine's intake manifold that allowed coolant into the engine oil. Owners eventually won a class action lawsuit against GM but GM was nationalized before they paid anything.

To the original question, your best bet would be a Dodge Caravan or Chrysler Town&Country. They are cheap and plentiful on the used market so you will have a wide selection. however READ THIS VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT TRANSMISSIONS.

http://www.allpar.com/fix/trans.html

Basically, very early (1990s) versions of the Chrysler A604 transaxle had very high failure rates because Chrysler somehow told people that they could use the wrong kind of fluid. As long as the correct type of fluid is used in them they are as reliable as any other van. What you should do is find one with A)service records showing correct fluid changes at the dealer B) without a trailer hitch, or any evidence that the van has been used to tow anything. Another common source of transmission failures in minivans (applies to all makes) is that their owners very frequently use them to tow stuff like boats and campers, which do a terrible number on the transmission. Avoid any vans that look like they've been used to tow stuff.

Toyota/Honda vans are OK except for certain model years (early 2000s IIRC) of Honda Odyssey that had a manufacturing defect in the transmission that caused them to fail. Unlike the Chrysler transmission there was no reason for this other than shoddy design and workmanship and there is no solution other than complete replacement. They are in any case waaay more expensive than the Chrysler vans (both new and used) while offering no advantage other than some subjectively better cabin materials, something that minivan buyers should place a very low priority on anyway - your child won't taste the difference, so don't worry about it.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 01-20-2011, 06:59 AM
BMalion BMalion is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 9,602
Thank you Mr. Yatch.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 01-21-2011, 07:33 AM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: 'burbs of Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 13,360
My 2004 Toyota Sienna is holding up so well that I can't justify selling it because the amount it'll fetch won't come close to buying a cute used SUV with the same life expectancy and performance. It only has 67k miles on it, and it has never given me a day's worry. I can tell that it's going to be just like my first HP B&W laser printer that just wouldn't die, even though I was itching to replace it with one of the new color printers.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 01-21-2011, 08:17 AM
BMalion BMalion is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 9,602
Quote:
Originally Posted by PunditLisa View Post
My 2004 Toyota Sienna is holding up so well that I can't justify selling it because the amount it'll fetch won't come close to buying a cute used SUV with the same life expectancy and performance. It only has 67k miles on it, and it has never given me a day's worry. I can tell that it's going to be just like my first HP B&W laser printer that just wouldn't die, even though I was itching to replace it with one of the new color printers.
What if I make you an offer?
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 01-21-2011, 09:43 AM
It's Not Rocket Surgery! It's Not Rocket Surgery! is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
The Kia Sedona's reliability is rated "much worse than average" by Consumer Reports.

I'd second the poster who recommended the Mazda5, and also suggest you look at the Kia Rondo. These two are "mini-minivans" - smaller than the typical minivan, but still a nice, practical size. The Rondo also has a good reliability record, but can be had for just above your 10k price point (for a 2008 or 2009) and will still have some of its 5 year/60k warranty left over.

Last edited by It's Not Rocket Surgery!; 01-21-2011 at 09:43 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 02-07-2011, 06:52 AM
BMalion BMalion is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 9,602
Thank you all for your advice.

On Saturday I bought a 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan with 31,000 miles.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 02-07-2011, 08:00 PM
samclem samclem is offline
graphite is a great moderator
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Akron, Ohio
Posts: 21,794
Quote:
Originally Posted by BMalion View Post
Thank you all for your advice.

On Saturday I bought a 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan with 31,000 miles.
Dinner in a few weeks. You drive!
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 02-08-2011, 06:36 AM
BMalion BMalion is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 9,602
Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
Dinner in a few weeks. You drive!
I'm there!
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 02-08-2011, 08:35 AM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Irvine, California, USA
Posts: 14,822
Did you buy it from an individual or a dealer? How much checking into the vehicle did you do? I'm always wary of buying a used car.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 02-08-2011, 10:03 AM
BMalion BMalion is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 9,602
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
Did you buy it from an individual or a dealer? How much checking into the vehicle did you do? I'm always wary of buying a used car.
Dealer Ganley Volkswagon of Bedford.

Extensive internet searching led me to 3 or 4 prospects. Then I researched the vehicle ID#'s through CarFax and finally a test drive. I've had great luck with pre-owned, except for the one that burst into fire and burned up before my very eyes, but that only happened once out of nine cars I've owned, so the odds would seem to favor me.

I hate car payments, so pre-owned I can just write a check for and be on my way!
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 02-08-2011, 10:17 AM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,860
Quote:
Originally Posted by BMalion View Post
Interesting, I've had my Dodge Caravan for almost 7 years now and I could not be happier. But as it's getting long in the tooth I'm looking to replace it.

Keep the advuice coming!
Dodges have in the past had significant quality control issues. Ours (a 1996 regular vs the longer Grand) was not one of the models that had transmission problems; the Grand for that year did (I think). Earlier years, both versions had transmission problems. Mine also had to have the entire A/C system replaced - part after 3 years, part after 6. Apparently that was a known problem with Dodges in general during that time period, but Chrysler's "hidden warranty" to help with such repairs explicitly *excluded* the Caravan. And at 10 years old, the car developed starter / electrical problems that could never be pinpointed. We finally sold it after 2 months of being in the shop every 2 weeks.

Newer ones (as yours is, obviously) might be a lot better but I was burned badly enough that I'd be leery of the Caravan.

As to what models *are* good, not sure - I'll let others weigh in on that.

Added on reading more of the thread: OBE now, but please tell me you had the car inspected thoroughly by a third party. 31,000 miles is very low for a 5 model year old car and dealers (or their upstream providers) have been known to tamper with odometers. A friend of ours was looking at a used car with relatively low mileage and they had it checked out - and the mechanic commented on several things and said "no way this car has only xx miles".

Last edited by Mama Zappa; 02-08-2011 at 10:19 AM.. Reason: Didn't read whole thread
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 02-08-2011, 12:08 PM
BMalion BMalion is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 9,602
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
...I'd be leery of the Caravan.
Too late.


Quote:
...
Added on reading more of the thread: OBE now, but please tell me you had the car inspected thoroughly by a third party. 31,000 miles is very low for a 5 model year old car and dealers (or their upstream providers) have been known to tamper with odometers. A friend of ours was looking at a used car with relatively low mileage and they had it checked out - and the mechanic commented on several things and said "no way this car has only xx miles".
It was a corporate lease vehicle with one owner. I trust the dealer not to do the odometer thing. He's the largest dealer in Ohio I believe.

Of course I had it checked out.

And no matter what car you pick, Ford, Dodge, Ferrari, whatever, you'll find someone online with a horror story. Par for the course.

You pays your money, you takes your chances. I can't obsess about it.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:43 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.