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Best *older* 6+ seater wagon (Volvo, Audi, BMW, etc.) AND best newer 6+ seater NONminivan?

I have a 2001 Lexus 300RX in good shape that I’m thinking of trading in for a 6+ seater, preferably not a minivan. The Lexus was a gift from my family about 2 years ago, and it runs great, but we just spent $1200+ replacing some sensors, and I’m wondering if this is going to be an expensive car to maintain over the next 5-10 years or if I should figure out a different car now to be our family car. Should I trade it in/sell it for a less luxury 6+ seater to be our family car? Thanks

If you’re worried about your very reliable, Camry based, and therefore fairly inexpensive to maintain RX300, any used Volvo, Audi, BMW, or any European brand would be a nightmare in comparison. As for a new 6+ seater, I’d look at the new Highlander, the Pilot, and the Mazda CX-9.

+1 to texases post.
With emphasis.
My recommendation for a new 6 seater is to start at the bookstore. Pick up an issue of Consumer Reports New Car Preview and you’ll see all the choices available, as well as get comparative information on all of them.

The 300RX will be about the least expensive luxury SUV to maintain, but it will be more expensive than the next step down. There is a lot more equipment on a base RX than a base Highlander, so more can go wrong. If you want a used SUV, also look and the previous generation Ford Explorer. It had an optional 3rd row and will be reliable if it was maintained by the previous owner(s). SUVs are today’s station wagon.

I agree completely with texases. Your RX should actually be a very cheap vehicle to keep running, but you need to find an independent mechanic who knows his Toyotas, which shouldn’t be hard. The dealer will likely be expensive in comparison. People who own Lexuses pay for the experience. The RX os one of many Toyota and Lexus vehicles derived from the Camry. As a group, they may be the most reliable set of related cars made. There isn’t a dud in the bunch.

The problem is that your Lexus is getting quite old, and at that age expensive repairs are not uncommon. Buying something newer and more reliable is a good idea if you need six seats. That means you need three rows of seats. If you have very young children and don’t expect to keep this vehicle until they are adults you can get by with a third row suitable only for kids, such as found in the Mazda5 and various compact SUVs that offer a third row. I am not much in favor of these because you can only use them when a couple of the kids are small enough to fit in the cramped third row. If you buy something like the Highlander/Pilot/CX9 you can keep the vehicle even when the kids grow up. Or keep the youngest kids in the second row where you can keep an eye on them while the ilder kids are in the third row. Of that group I like the Mazda CX9 best because it is the most attractive, with an interior as nice as a Lexus. The Pilot and Highlander look functional, but not elegant.

Of course, a minivan will give you even more room for the same money with the same or better gas mileage. I know the image bothers people, but minivans are super practical. The new Kia Sedona kooks quite nice (unlike the ancient model it replaces). And the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey are roomy and comfortable. In the past the Odyssey has had serious transmission problems. Whether they still do I don’t know.

Thanks all! I don’t need the luxury of the Lexus and the comment about it having more base equipment to maintain than a Highlander steers me to the Highlander (no pun intended). I was looking yesterday at a 2006 Highlander 4x4 w/a 3rd row that looked like a pretty good deal ($8995) with a trade in. My kids are out of car seats so the comments about the cars with the smaller 3rd row seating makes me want to avoid those too. Great help, thanks all!

That Highlander is probably about as small as you want to go if your kids are growing up fast. The reliability should be great if it has been properly maintained. Does the dealer have maintenance records? If not, be wary. There are others out there with full records available. Just have to find them. Be sure to try out the third row with the second row set in a reasonable position. Some are set too low and your knees stick up, even if there is enough space overall. Kids tend to be more tolerant of those kinds of flaws, but it’s still good to know about them.

If the kids are growing and there are at least 5 in the family, a minivan is definitely the way to go. We had two whole the children grew up and still have the last one. My wife wants to keep it as long as it still runs. It is great for trips to her brother’s house. We take her parents and one to three of our kids. With 6 adults we can actually be comfortable for a 4 hours ride. I don’t think that would be possible in a 7 passenger SUV unless it is a Suburban or Expedition. Much better gas mileage than those two and a lot more cargo room than the Highlander size class. I know the OP doesn’t want one, but I just wanted to make their strong points clear.

If you’re wanting to stay away from small 3rd row seating, then you’re looking at a Suburban sized vehicle, a full sized van, or a minivan.