Looking for big, safe, reliable, affordable


Here’s the deal: We need something that will seat at least five, is reliable (my wife hates mechanics) and safe for our two children. We’re looking at anything built in the last 10 years that we might pick up for under $8,000. I’ve looked at a few possibilities: Volvo V70 or 960 wagon, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. I’m open to other ideas or opinions/experiences with the above models. Thanks!


A used Odyssey will do you quite well. Personally, I would look at later-model Caravans and Wind/Freestars, as well, but I just have a thing for the American vans (seem to have more of a soul than their Eurasian counterparts.)


I would certainly look at an Odyssey or Sienna. Also, I’d suggest looking at a newer Dodge Grand Caravan. For something not a minivan, look at the Ford Freestyle/Taurus X. As well, a Ford Crown Victoria/Mercury Grand Marquis would be a good choice, as would any Buick.


Ford Crown Victoria/Mercury Grand Marquis.

Big, safe, reliable, and affordable.

The Toyota and Honda are great, but might not fit your price range. The Volvos will bankrupt you with maintenance costs.


You can get a very nice used Chevy Impala for eight Grand. Preferably a LS with a 3800 engine. Seats five comfortably, and the trunk is huge,


“(my wife hates mechanics)”. Doesn’t that mean, “(My wife loves mechanics; but, hates paying large repair bills.”)? Er, don’t look now; but, most, if not all, of your responders are you-know-whats.


Your wife no doubt hates mechanics because like most people she has an extreme aversion to spending any money at all on a car; a tool that is used every day.

My first thought with the big, safe, reliable, affordable comment was a Crown Vic, but the Impala that was mentioned is also a good one. Three or four neighbors of mine have late model Impalas and one of them just last week was talking abpit pleased they were with that car. No problems at all and getting 32 verified MPG at a 75 MPH cruise on a recent road trip out of state. Not too shabby.


Look at a 2002 0r 2003 Ford Explorer. You can get one for about $10,000. A comparable Toyota Sequoia would be over $15,000. Edmund’s estimates repairs for the next 5 years at $3300 for the Explorer and $2580 for the Sequoia. You’d have to exceed the average estimate on the Explorer by a lot to equal the premium for the Sequoia. Or consider a 2001 Sequoia (1st year), still at a premium to the newer Fords.


Skip the Odyssey in your budget range. It is known to blow up auto transmissions to the tune of $3000. Honda play nice with first owners but as a 2nd owner you may not find Honda paying for this.

Toyota Sienna is the most comfortable choice. Dodge Caravan’s are quite cheap but tranny’s are delicate. However they have a huge depreciation making them excellent buys used.

I agree on the Crown Vic/Mercury Marquis however budget for four winter tires if you live where it snows. Its rear wheel drive and not great in the snow.


“I agree on the Crown Vic/Mercury Marquis however budget for four winter tires if you live where it snows. Its rear wheel drive and not great in the snow.”

And steel wheels to mount them on. Neither will be a big expense assuming that you have room to store them. They are big, dumb, relaiable and inexpensive vehicles. No rocket science involved.


Many good choices mentioned. I would also add a Pontiac Montana/Chevy Venture. Good vans, lots of space, not too hard on gas and with the seats down can carry a 52"'widescreen TV home. My secretary has a Montana and lives in the country, commutes into the city. She finds it extremely reliable.


True, but you can buy Crown Vics for half that, they seat SIX, and the trunk is equally huge.

The older, RWD Impala/Caprice is another good choice for cheap, reliable transportation.

Cheap to buy, not necessarily cheap to feed. All of my suggestions are V8-powered cars, so take that into consideration. Fuel, however, is only ONE part of the cost of vehicle ownership.


The Olds Silhouette is much more comfortable than the Venture or Montana.


Hear, hear. (smirk) Not made anymore, but parts are available for another 8 to 10 years.


“Hear, hear. (smirk) Not made anymore…”

I used that to my advantage in 2003 when I bought a new Silhouette Premium for $22,500; the list price was $34,395. No, it was not a demo. And I’m still insufferably pleased with myself. :^)

BTW, it’s “here”, not “hear”.


Try to get one without the run-flat tires. They are expensive and can be a nuisance to replace when they go flat.


From personal experience I would stay away from GM products installed with Dexcool becuase if not flushed on a regular basis it can cause intake manifold leaks, gelling of the coolant and potential head gasket issues. Of course if you do decide to buy a GM then I would reccomend changing over the coolant to the new yellow universal coolant that’s not as corosive as dexcool. Good luck with your new purchase, Steve