Which minivan should I get?

I’ve decided to just go ahead and go full-cliche and get a minivan for me and my kids. Want to get it gently used…nothing over 20,000 miles, or possibly new if the price is right. Main use will be for hauling my grade-school kids and their friends and cousins around town, possible future road trips and (tame) camping expeditions. Would also love to be able to haul small pieces of furniture around, since I like to buy fixer-upper pieces on Craigslist.

I’ve done lots of reading and researching and have narrowed it down to two possibilities: the Honda Odyssey or the Toyota Sienna. These two are consistently ranked one and two respectively, but of course the Odyssey costs a bit more as a consequence. So mainly I’m just hoping people will chime in with their experiences with either or both? Are either of these brands more reliable in general? Any tips on how to get a good deal?

Another outside possibility is the new Chrysler Pacifica…honestly I think it looks great but I keep reading that Chrysler cars always have reliability issues after a while, but this model just came out so it’s hard to know. Anybody have the scoop on that?

The Odyssey is difficult to beat in absolute terms, and IMHO worth every bit of the extra cost. (I’ve owned two, still have the second.) The less expensive ones will catch up with you in maintenance, lower resale and inconvenience.

Look for a well-equipped, low-mileage one about 2-3 years old for the best value.

I’m not a minivan owner, but in my experience slightly used Hondas and Toyotas are sold at only a slight discount to the new ones, so it wasn’t worth it to buy used.

Odysseys have had *serious *transmission problems in the past (4-figure bill), I don’t know if that’s still the case, I guess not?

Depends on the model. For example Tacoma and 4Runner (not vans) are the #1 and #3 in keeping their value. But yes, generally they are good-value used cars.

Drive them both. How easy is it for you to get in and out; visibility to the rear/sides. Can you see/estimate where the front right bumper is? Check for the number of USB outlets for the phones (more the merrier). Check the rearmost seats for how easy it is for you to stow them and raise them again. Check access to the rearmost seats with the sliding doors open. The fewer options mean less to go wrong/break. But if it’s a must have - go for it.

Odyssey transmissions are much improved after the early disasters. tlh is correct about early versions pre-2007.

Look at certified (by the manufacturer) used ones for the warranty. CPO - Certified Pre-Owned. Don’t fall for dealers that “certify” with their own program. Second party warranties are seldom worth anything.

Don’t rule out the Kia Sedona. Much longer manufacturer’s warranty, competitive in performance and features, less expensive.

Yeah for not going for SUV barges. Minivans are less expensive to buy, maintain, insure, and have better access to the greater interior space.

Never had trouble with either one (2001 and 2007). But yes, there were some weak years.

Not cars - trucks. If you want a trucky thing that drives and rides like a truck, even a very nice truck, these are okay. Me, I hate that ride and feel; it does not make me feel all hairy and macho.

Odysseys drive like a big sport sedan. Really. A pleasure even for a fairly demanding driver.

Eh. CPO tends to add a lot of cost without necessarily a lot of value. If you’re buying a good car in the first place (e.g. Honda or Toyota, not Dodge or KIA) then you don’t really get much from all the formal light-bulb checking. A specialty mechanic’s checkout will tell you far more and for about $100 a throw.

I rented a new Chrysler for a week this spring and the fold-into-floor seats were a nightmare. One stuck down in the floor and one halfway up. Folded down, the floor was never level, flat, nor would have supported a heavy object.

Beware of too many gadgets and foldaway cutesy features.

I’d go for the Toyota. Toyotas are sorta designed like tractors, Hondas more like delicate F1 machines; I’d rather work on a tractor.

get the used car edition of consumer reports from your local bookstore or buy it online from CR. They have reliability ratings going back about 10 years for all models.

My 260,000 mile 06 Ridgeline says “More like Tractor”

Plus, unlike Toyota, Honda actually sells tractors. (Actually riding mowers, but close enough.)

I can’t really help with what to get, but I can tell you to not get the Dodge/Chrysler vans. They do start falling apart around 150k miles.

I want a Totota or Honda next time, I’d settle for a Nissan.

I love Chrysler Town and country. They have put a lot of effort to put in features that are helpful especially for parents.

Two questions to ask: where is the spare, and how to change the headlights. If there is no spare, or step one is remove the front of the car, run away.

I’ve owned a Toyota Sienna since 2007 {bought new}.
It is by far the best car I have ever owned and I have had ZERO problems with it. My wife and teenage Son have banged up the exterior somewhat, but it is still a champ.


Btw, the headlight can be changed in 90 seconds {I did it myself two days ago}

Thanks, everyone, for all the great replies! Some really good advice here…love the idea of checking where the spare is and how hard it is to fix the headlight…as a single woman who knows next to nothing about cars that stuff is important! (Although I do have a knowledgeable Dad who will be helping me with this, I like to do as much as I can on my own.)

Yeah, I think the Chrysler is out. Something about buying a brand-new model, no matter how well ranked and reviewed, was pinging my “don’t do it!” radar.

Sounds like either the Odyssey or Sienna are great…I’m just going to go with whatever I can get the best deal on, I guess. Next step is to get out and test drive and see what I can get as far as financing. I have time–going to try to actually make the purchase at the end of September since that’s the end of the quarter as well as month, with the end of year in site and 2017 models coming in. Hopefully I can get a good price with the dealers eager to move the “old” stuff out.

Is it awful that I keep discarding options that don’t come with heated seats? Lol! I know that’s a petty thing to base a purchase on but I really, really want them. :smiley: I don’t care about the sound system, fancy wheels, or navigation system. Give me good cup holders and a heated seats and I’m a happy camper. I’m still driving my old '02 Hyundai Santa Fe, so all this stuff just seems so luxurious to me.

I agree that heated seats are pretty much necessary for civilized life, but then, I’ve owned Volvos for a long time. :slight_smile:

Don’t knock some of the “luxury” stuff. I thought power side doors on my first Odyssey were a ridiculous waste of tech and weight… but you know what, they’ve convenienced themselves a thousand times in about ten years with two Ody’s. Nav is a luxury if you only travel in known areas; here in the Northeast with its roads laid out by Paul Revere and two drunk surveyors, you’ll never get There without it. (But under NO circumstances pay new prices for this or an entertainment system - $2-5,000 dealer, adds almost zero to used value.)

Owner of a 2008 Odyssey here. When we bought our minivan, it was a toss-up between the Odyssey and the Siena. If I recall correctly, the trim package matched up better for us with the Odyssey. I do love the way the Odyssey drives. It handles better than our Honda Accord (which is 14 years old. But still.).

I recommend using some google-fu and finding a car-buying message board. People post how much they paid for their Odyssey and where in the country they are, it was very helpful in trying to figure out what a fair price was. I think it also had info on discounts and dealer incentives.

The thing I love the most about our minivan are the power sliding doors that you can open and close using your key fob. Best. Thing. Ever. The heated seats are nice too.

The one thing I wish our Odyssey had was a power liftgate.

We have an Odyssey with heated seats. They are very nice. Helps my back feel better. I can’t comment on the Sienna since I haven’t had one but I wouldn’t mind getting another Odyssey in the future.

You mention camping and carrying some furniture. Thinking about getting a tow package installed so you can haul a trailer for the larger pieces of furniture? We have an after market towing bar and that hangs under the bumper instead of through and at times it bottoms out on sloping driveways. And depending on how many you’d camp with a roof rack cargo carrier could help. Just keep in mind weight limits on the vehicle is all.

To get a good deal? Why my wife did was email a set of dealers with the options we wanted and the price we were willing to pay for a complete out the door price. When she went in to buy it she just said no to all attempts to sell warranties, etc.

In addition to the test drive, try lowering the seats to see how easy it is to do so. You can even bring the stroller and whatever else you usually haul, just to test that. Put in the child seats, and see how easy or hard that is.