A minivan bigot implores for advice

My wife and I own a Pontiac Vibe, which is great for the kids and cargo. But I think I will soon be replacing my 98 Dodge Stratus, possibly with a minivan of some kind. The wife (and myself, to some extent) abhor the stereotype of the minivan driver and the many ugly varieties (think late 80’s Caravan).

What kind of minivan would you recommend? Important characteristics (in no particular order) are:

* fuel economy

* cargo space

* accommodate family of 4 (or 5?)

* import vs. domestic NOT important

* doesn’t look like Just Another Minivan

* a chance of finding the vehicle used wouldn’t hurt, either.

Well, folks, got any suggestions on what to look for?

Take a look at the Mazda 5. It is considerably smaller than most minivans, yet it will accomodate 4 or 5 people very well, while giving better gas mileage than many other minivans.

How much do you want to spend? How much cargo do you really want to carry.

It sounds like you are looking for some kind of cross-over or a third row wagon. Trust me on this; if your wife does not want a mini-van do not buy one and expect her to drive it, you will never hear the end of it. I know my wife would not set foot in a mini-van, she would probably walk instead (actually, she would just go out and buy herself another car).

Look at Toyota Highlander, Sienna etc…excellent reliability and lots of space…

We really like our Chrysler Town&Country Limited van. It is a '02 so it was made before the sto and go models. It has the AWD though. The engineers at Chrysler did a good design job on these.

My wife has just told me that she would really prefer a domestic. So any domestic alternatives are also appreciated. No, we wouldn’t be hauling LOTS of cargo, except that if we carry two pack-and-play cribs plus clothes for toddlers when traveling out of town, the vibe gets very full. And we don’t really want to be extremely spendy, either. I suppose I’m asking for a lot on a small budget, but everybody is feeling the pinch these days.

I personally have a much nastier stereotype of the soccer-mom SUV-driver, if that helps at all. Keep in mind in the 1980’s people bought minivans partly because they didn’t want to be that station-wagon stereotype. Now station wagons are cool again! I think a similar process is happening with the minivan.

I would defintiely look at a domestic minivan. The domestic minivans have recieved much higher quality ratings and have been very reliable compared to domestic cars, whereas the import minivans, though still very good vehicles, are not quite up to the standards of their cars. Plus you pay a hefty premium for the import van, especially on the used market. Pretty much any of the domestic minivans would meet all of your criteria, except for your aestetic one, which is probably a matter of your own personal taste.

One other suggestion would be that, given that you say you won’t need to haul a lot of cargo, would be a large sedan such as a Crown Victoria or an Impala. Either of these cars will seat 6 pretty comfortably and have cavernous trunks-- especially the Crown Vic.

Now station wagons are cool again! I think a similar process is happening with the minivan.

Not in my lifetime, maybe the kids of the kids who grew up with their parents mini-vans during the 80’s will rediscover a less dorky version in 20-30 years, that’s about how long it took the station wagon to make a comeback (those of us over about 40 still haven’t forgotten being force to ride in their parents POS domestic station wagons with fake wood trim… shiver).

I’d take that minivan any day :stuck_out_tongue:

I wonder how it corners?

Like an old van? :stuck_out_tongue:

Domestic makes are not junk compared to imports, EXCEPT MINIVANS. Domestic minivans are junk. I would go with a Honda Odessey or Toyota Sienna.

You know, there were some really sporty versions of the Nissan Quest / Mercury Villager, you might check out those.

I agree! Look at the domestics! I helped my aunt look at minivans a couple of years ago, we found a '95 Windstar with high mileage, but it was immaculate inside and ran great. I have heard not-so-great things about the first Windstars, but when I drove that thing, I was amazed! I came home and thought if I didn’t have my Thunderbird, I’d be buying a Windstar. And 3 years and many miles later, it’s still going strong.

Agree…but the best minivans still look just like another minivan…the Mazda being the exception. With smaller size comes scacrifice. Try them out for an afternoon and try to mimic the activities that you will perform. That’s the only way to get a feeling for the one that serves you best.


Check out a Kia Rondo. My BIL and SIL like theirs. Many of the new minivans don’t look much like a 20-year old minivan. Look at cars.com, vehix.com, and edmunds.com for pictures and videos of minivans, crossovers, and station wagons. After you narrow the list down, go for some test drives.

If I was going to drive a minivan, I would want a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna. Both minivans are very refined and come with engines that have a lot of power. I have driven Chrysler’s minivans, and althouth they are nice, they don’t compare. Fuel economy between the three models is comparable.

Start with a copy of Consumer Reports New Car Buyer’s Guide from the local bookstore. That will show you all the options available. As well as reliability info for each.

Personally, I think Infinity has some of the best looking crossover vehicles ever. But you have to choose for yourself.

If used is a factor buying a Honda or Toyota makes little sense. The depreciation is very high on domestics making them bargains used while Toyota/Honda require a premium price used and not sure if they really are worth that.

Fuel economy across all minivans is about 20MPG.