I know everyone wants good gas mileage these days. I need 8 seats and yet not a huge vehicle. No full size vans or monstrous SUV’s. I’m looking for something 2-5 yrs old, new but not brand new. Any suggestions?
The 2004 and later Toyota Sienna is available with 8 passenger seating. My wife has a 2006 Sienna (7 passenger) that gets about 20 - 21 mpg in local driving.
You really don’t have a lot of choices. The Dodge/Mercedes Sprinter is a full size van, but is a diesel so it gets decent mileage and is available in a short wheelbase version that puts into the same size as most mini-vans. You might find a mini-van with 8 seats, though most are 7. I would never suggest an SUV. If you really need to seat 8, you really need a full size van or maybe a stretch limo.
I think a stretch limo would be cool, but not likely. I have a family of 7 and need the extra seat for carpooling and such, or to insanely have another child.
The Sprinter gets about the same mileage as extended wheelbase minivans (e.g., Odyssey, Sienna). Test drive one and see if you like it. You’ve seen them everywhere. If you are not familiar with them, the parcel companies use them extensively; tradesfolk have started using them, too. Just don’t expect to put it in the garage. It’s a bit tall.
What do you consider to be “good” gas mileage? Do you need to seat 8 adults? Or are some of the children? How important is safety to you? Are you buying new, or used?
“Good” gas mileage is in the 20’s. Most of the passengers are children. I would like to buy used, 2-5 years old.
I recently bought a '97 used Ford Taurus wagon for $900.00. I can get 8 of the members of my family into it if I need to (three in front, three in middle, two in back). It gets 25 mpg.
You could always get a used mini-school bus. They are based on full-size vans, though, but they are cheap, very reliable, decent mileage, and can easily seat 8 plus cargo. I used to have an 88 Dodge Ram bus, bought in 98 for $900. I had it until about 2003, after spending almost nothing on repairs. It also got around 20mpg, although a newer one would probably get better mileage. It was also very easy to drive - large side mirrors made for tiny blind spots, and it was surprisingly maneuverable. It would suit your position perfectly, I think. They are well-maintained, and a bus is a lot more readily available than an 8-passenger minivan. I would suggest calling local school bus lines or operators and see if they might have a decent vehicle coming up for sale soon.
These are getting a little out of your age range, but your ideal vehicle would be one of these things they used to call “station wagons”. The last full-size station wagons you could buy were the Chevy Caprice/Buick Roadmasters. They’ll seat 8 easily, get into the mid-20’s gas mileage and are extremely reliable. I think the last year they sold them was 94’ or 96’… thanks to the first version of CAFE, which made it more attractive for automakers to sell SUV’s instead of station wagons.
Thanks for all the replies. We did consider a station wagon, but most have the 3rd seat facing backwards. Not a good idea on sensitive tummies. We ended up with a '04 Toyota Sienna. The gas mileage is good, the safety rating are excellent, and it’s roomy with a few extras like power sliding doors. We took it on a 3 hour trip to vacation the day we got it. We love it!