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Help me pick a family car

We currently own:

2004 VW GTI

2006 Jeep Wrangler

Both are two door, and we have 8 month old son and are planing on another baby next year. We are keeping the GTI, and would like to trade in the Jeep for a family vehicle. I am looking for a used vehicle (06-07) around 20k range.

Here are my ideas so far:

Honda Odyssey

Lexus RX330

Volvo XC90

Mazda 5

Honda Pilot

Acura MDX

Toyota Prius

What do you think? Any other suggestions? I would like 3rd row seat, leather seats, memory seats, AWD. (I know that the vehicles listed above do not have all of these.)

Thank you for all comments

I was in your situation 2 years ago. We had a 2 door ford focus and a MINI cooper. We kept the MINI and got a Toyota Highlander. It is a great car. We did not get the third row but have taken many road trips and it does well. If I had to pick from your list I would chose the RX330 since it is a fancy Highlander.

Pilot’s good, too, lots of room, good for later with kids+friends.

When I was in your situation, many years ago, I gritted my teeth, accepted the reality that I was a father of 2 kids and not a young dude any more, and bought a minivan. And it was clearly the right thing to do. All the SUVs in the world are not as easy to live with as a minivan, especially when your kids start to get a little older and they each seem to have a friend to ride along, so there are 4 kids to taxi around. 3 rows of seats means one of your kids in each row, with less poking and picking and fighting. Loading babies into minivans is definitely easier than into anything else, with big doors on both sides and room inside to climb in yourself and buckle things up. You can carry 2 kids in car seats, and a folding crib, and a bale of diapers and 6 boxes of who knows what from Costco, and you and your spouse, and the kids can watch a cartoon video.

Get the Odyssey. You won’t regret it.

Thank you for your comments. I am starting to think that the mini van is the way to go as well. The impression that I got is that all the modern SUV’s are just trying to be a mini van without looking like a mini van.

hmmmm… this is a tough choice

Did you have need for the Jeep’s 4wd?

Minivans offer so much in versatility for families, especially safety with infants and small children in loading and transporting. Everything else is a compromise in so many areas. Odyssey/Sienna best recommendations. They both have traction control, which in most conditions will serve you very well.

Yes. I used it a lot. Camping, fishing etc. We would take it on off road tips over the weekend. I had to be pulled on numerous occasions, so I needed even more of an off road vehicle. Also we lived by the beach, so we would often park in deep sand.

I actually considered Land Rover LR3 as it would fit the family style and the off road capability, but everyone has me so scared of the repair cost that I have given up on this truck. I was shocked to see that you can get them for under 20K used.

Other then the LR3, Land Cruiser or Wrangler I can not think of another vehicle which would accommodate my off road needs. So I just gave up on this hobby…

I think I will cry when I sell my Jeep :frowning:

You can get some minivans with AWD-Kevin

Used Volvo is very bad idea unless you are ok with spending a couple of thousand a year on repairs. A very expensive car to own.

I’d first pick up a Consumer Reports New Car Preview at the local bookstore. That’ll give you all the options as well as reliability data for all.

The other thing to realize is that since new car loans are lower interest rate and can run longer duration than used car loans, you might be able to pick up a new vehicle for not too much more than the 20K with a lower monthly payment, a longer usable lifespan (left), and a new car warranty to boot. Because of the schemes used by new car dealers to manipulate numbers, you may even get a better tradein for the Jeep and end up with a lower overall cost than if you went used. And you’d have the newest safety features.

Of your list, I would favor the Mazda 5 or Odyssey. My personal bias is against SUVs and pseudo-SUVs. Don’t like their looks and they seem take up more room outside while providing less room inside. I notice a Prius on your list. That, to me, opens up the whole range of 4-door sedans, in which case I like the Honda Accord or Subaru Legacy or Imprezza.

You don’t need a minivan unless you have 3 or more children. We got by just fine with a 4-door sedan before the 3rd arrived. I suggest that you consider one of the SUVs on the list. The Pilot would be my choice on this list, and I would add the Rav4. Both have seating for 7 with a 3rd row. You won’t carry much cargo, but you probably won’t need the 3rd row on long trips. I crossed the MDX and RX330 off the list because you have to get a 5 year old truck to get to $20,000. You can get a 2007 Pilot or 2008 Rav4 for that price. Repairs will be somewhat more expensive in the luxury SUVs, but maintenance will be about twice that of the Pilot or Rav4. Luxury cars cost more to maintain, even for similar systems. I learned that the hard way with a 914 Porsche. Despite sharing VW parts that were almost identical to similar VW parts, they were much more expensive. If you don’t mind going to the mid-$20k range, consider a 2009 Ford Flex or a new, loaded Rav4.

It all depends on what you expect that vehicle to do for you over the next ten years.

My family just grew in leaps and bounds after 10 years of empty nest. 2 grand nephews moved in last year then their older sister this year. ( ages 4, 6, 10 )
Had in the driveway;
79 chevy pickup
92 Ford explorer
06 Ford hybrid Escape

Now the Explorer is OUT and an 08 Expedition EL is IN.

No more scrimping on those Albuquerque shopping trips ( 140 miles one way ), we & it ALL fits.

Whether or not one needs a minivan with 2 children depends on how often one travels and how much one takes along. My son has one chlld. When they make the 350 mile trip to see us, their minivan is packed. Before they had the minivan, every cubic centimeter of the Oldsmobile Cutlass sedan they had was utilized. Other families may travel more lightly. On one trip up, the Oldsmobile wouldn’t run when they were ready to leave home, so the church where my son worked let him use a 15 passanger van that the church owned. He had that packed full.
I agree with an earlier post that a minivan is easy with its sliding doors is easy to use for putting young children in car seats. On the other hand, when I was little kid in the mid to late 1940’s, my parents owned a 2 door 1939 Chevrolet and as a family of 4 we made road trips. My dad’s family of 5 made road trips in the 1920’s in a Model T Ford from Rock Island, Illinois to southern Minnesota. I have a picture of the Model T loaded for the return trip with a crate of live chickens strapped to the running board.

Some people tend to use all the available space. It seems like your son’s family is among them. But the OP could still do a little off roading with the Rav4 or Pilot, but not with a minivan.

Most of the time my wife and I are the only occupants in our 2002 Sienna, which we drive around Mexico and the US. If my wife, um, well, passes away before I do, I will still drive a mini-van as long as I am personally and financially able to do so.

Our trips back to the States involves not just visiting our grandson, but also doing six months worth of shopping, so we leave the third row seats here in Mexico.

Here in Mexico, at times we have had 11 people crowded in there, coming back from church in the next village. In Mexico, most people do not have cars, and one helps out when one can. You just drive slowly when it is heavily laden.

Yet, in the highway, at a steady 70 we get at least 24 mpg when just the two of us are in it. Gas usually is not the biggest expense. I would still drive it at $5 a gallon.

I always put the club on my car, being from McAllen. My wife heckles me and says no one will steal a mini-van. I tell her there might be an unusually smart crook who understands just how many tons of pot he can move in this thing at 70 mph.

Of course, I joke, but only because the most I have ever moved was an estimated 3/4 ton of floor ceramic tile when we were building our house, plus two men of course. It does have the heavy duty suspension and showed no signs of being stressed.