What are the best minivans or SUVs for a family expecting triplets? No price condition…only do we get all the available options!
Only SO we get all available options! Sorry!
I have a 2011 Toyota Sienna that I bought in March of 2010 when the 2011 models came out. It is much more versatile than my previous minivans–a 1990 Ford Aerostar, a 2000 Ford WIndstar and a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander. The rear seat folds flat into the floor and the middle seats are easy to remove. The ride is very quiet. I bought mine off the lot and it has some features that at the time I didn’t think were very important. However, I’ve found that the power sliding doors are very useful when I take a passenger with me who has had a stroke. The hands free telephone system is useful. When we visit my son and his family, my grand daughter always calls about halfway into the 350 mile trip asking us when we will arrive. I have had no problems in the 15000 miles I driven the minivan thus far.
I thought that the Honda van was also fine. However, the Toyota seemed quieter on the road which is important to my wife.
The choice won’t be difficult since there are only 6 loaded minivans available these days, Well, actually 4. The VW Routan is built by Chrysler. The Dodge Caravan is an inexpensive Chrysler T&C. That leaves the Sienna, Odyssey and Quest. FWIW, the Odyssey gets the best gas mileage at 18 city and 27 highway. The Nissan and Toyota get 19 city but only 24 highway. The 3 Chrysler products get 17/25. Test drive all of them and see which ones you like. Chrysler has been building minivans longer than anyone and does a good job. Its price is highr to start than the Odyssey or Sienna, but it is already the luxury version. The Sienna and Odyssey cost more than the T&C when fully equipped. The Honda costs up to $45,000.
Mazda 5, nicely loaded for under $30k
Re: the Mazda - but its also the “mini-est” of the minivans. Triplets will require a lot of space.
If you don’t have your car seats already get them. Whenever you go to test drive a van, bring the seats. Ask that you be allowed to see how easily they will install & how well they fit.
Consumer Reports magazine recommends the Toyota Sienna. They say its reliability has been better, over time, than that of the Honda Odyssey.
Stay away from the Dodge and Chrysler vans. Their reliability is not so good.
If you can live with the smaller size, the Mazda5 might work for you.
Have fun shopping, and take the baby seats with you when you test drive anything. You need to see how they fit.
True, it may be the smallest of the bunch, but it’s probably the easiest to park or maneuver around the lot.
I’ll also echo the taking the seats with you when you’re testing vans out.
IMO, spending extra for a Sienna or Odyssey over the less reliable Chrysler vans is well worth it. The chances or breaking down or having problems over time with kids involved should be minimized with the these two choices.
Buying a van is like buying a woodstove. Do your home work, calculate your cubic foot needs; then just “double it” on principle where hauling (warming) people is involved. That eliminates the Mazda.
"IMO, spending extra for a Sienna or Odyssey over the less reliable Chrysler vans is well worth it. "
For many people, I’m not so sure about that advice. An extra $5000 will probably never be made up in the 100,000 miles they own it. And some folks, like CSA, think that Chrysler products are very reliable. To me, that speaks well of how someone cares for their car. Since 1998, I’ve always bought the least expensive on the short list and never been disappointed. 1998 Regal instead of a 1998 Accord, 2003 Silhouette instead of an Odyssey or Sienna, 2005 Accord instead of a LaCrosse, and a new 2009 Cobalt that was so cheap that even 2 year old used cars didn’t even come close. All substandard, unreliable choices? Not for me. I change the fluids and filters regularly and they have all served me well.
The Hyundai Entourage/Kia Sedona can be had pretty loaded, too, and are shorter on money while being longer on warranty.
“an extra $5000 will probably never be made up…”
From an economic point of view when purchasing, I agree. For the same reason a Ranger is a better buy economically than a Tacoma. But I see things differently. I’m not willing to live or recommend a demonstratively less reliable vehicle where kids are involved . Breaking done at the wrong time, if there ever was a right one, is safety consideration for me.
The other consideration is that even if there were that much difference in initial cost, the trade in value given the same use makes that difference much, much less, making your argument less convincing for me and only becomes valid when you run them into the ground. That in all probability, will be much sooner with a less reliable vehicle.
Our Silhouette broke down once - on the beltway. The chain gang was working nearby and came over to help. My wife (with kids) said they were very nice. Of course, there were guards nearby, too. We have roadside insurance and only had to use it on that one occasion. I could have spent $11,000 more for an equivalent Odyssey, but the value wasn’t there in any sense of the word.
Till trade in or selling time.
It’s all about maintenance. My parents have always had Chrysler vehicles (3 at the moment), and they normally run them into the ground. Consequently, they’re not worth much at the end, but when trading in on another Chrysler (used, of course), they’re worth something, anyway.
Most vehicles today are going to perform just fine for you…but you have to perform for them, too. Keep up with the services, ensure things like transmissions, oil and other fluids are changed per the schedule (in the case of automatic transmissions, the schedule may not be enough), and how tough you are on them. If you’re hard on vehicles (as I am), you may need to follow a more stringent schedule than what’s recommended. You’re going to have to decide that one.
If options is your only consideration, start hitting dealers and see what’s available. You can have everything from individual DVD systems on the back seats to separate sound systems for passengers to navigation systems to On-Star to built in Bluetooth and far, far more. Get option lists from the various sellers around you, check them out, and see what you like the most.
Good luck with the triplets! Sounds like you’ve got many long, sleepless nights ahead of you. Wish I could have been so lucky. I would say, though, that for the next year or two, all those options won’t be truly appreciated. You might want to get a slightly older van, save what money you can, and trade that in on a new one in a couple years…options available will change quickly. They’re now preparing to put wireless access points in vehicles. As kids are growing now, they’re more hand-in-hand with technology than I ever was. I don’t expect to see that in the showroom for another year or two. I’m sure there are more things on the horizon.
About reliability, actual breakdowns are extremely rare. Typically a vehicle is deemed more “reliable” (hate that word it is completely misapplied) due to a slightly lower incident rate, usually for minor repairs that do not affect road-worthiness.
As for CR rating, haven;t seen a recent one, but I believe the current Sienna is made-over, essentially a new model, and CR was withholding recommendation, could be wrong.
Test drive the vehicles, buy the one you like best. the price difference doesn’t justify buying the more expensive vehicle simply because you mistakenly believe you’ll be left by the side of the road.
You want a full size minivan, not the Mazda 5. I have an Odyssey with 112,000 miles and no troubles. I’d look at the 4 cylinder Sienna though. I’d trade off better MPGs for the power of the V6 which I don’t need.
According to Consumer Reports, the mileage isn’t any better with the 4 cylinder Sienna than the V6. I like the quietness of the V6 on the highway.
The triplets will grow up and over time you will require more room, anyway. Purchase a Sienna, Sedona/Entourage or Odyssey, maintain it well, and keep it for a long time. I have 150K miles on my Mazda MPV and it really hasn’t cost me much to maintain. A Mazda 5 will not grow as your family grows. I continue to read about people with too many issues with Chrysler mini-vans, especially the high ended ones with automatic everything. While my two brother in laws and sister have been happy with their Chrysler/Dodge choices, they are also spending twice what I have done on repairs, compared to my older MPV.
… of course you are buying a new vehicle. Compare maintenance costs on current models not on the models of 10 years ago. Things change-- US mfgs are a lot better than they used to be, and Toyota is nowhere near the quality they once were. You might also compare warranty periods, Mazda and Toyota are on the short end.