New or Used minivan

We are a family of 5 and will need a car when we move out of New York city. We are looking at minivans (either a Honda or Toyota), and plan to keep the car for many years. We don’t know whether to buy new or used, however. We’ve never bought a car and are new to the whole process! Help!

Thank you!

I would look at 3 years used for a likely best deal on a Honda or Toyota.

For example my sis in law recently purchased a 2008 Honda Odyessey EX-L w/20k miles with sticker new(2010) at $37k for $26k used with extended Honda warranty 8yrs/100k bumper to bumper. I believe they were asking $30k used but she stated she was paying $25k for van or leaving. They offered that extended Honda warranty for $3k and she said it was only worth a $1000 to her and they sold it.

My wife has 2006 Sienna LE purchased new. She is very happy with it. The only warranty issues were a bad radio display and rattling side door. Both were fixed in the first month of ownership. The Sienna is not part of the unexpected acceleration recall.

The Sienna has a timing belt, the change interval is 90k/7 years whichever comes first. This may be a factor in buying used.

You may want to consider a 2006 or newer Kia Sedona. It is similar in appearance and features to the Sienna. Not long after we bought the Sienna, Kia had a 5k rebate on the Sedona. The Sedona would have been under 20k new with the rebate. is a good site for research. Just a couple of thoughts on the car buying process… Don’t fall in love with a vehicle and always be ready to walk out of a dealer. There will always be another car or a better deal. Don’t make a snap decision to buy a vehicle, sleep on it first. What may seem like a good deal at the time, may not be so good after a few hours reflection.

Ed B.

One frequently unanticipated cost associated with minivans is the added labor for working under the hood. For example, the cost of cleaning the throttle is more expensive on a minivan than it is on a car, pick-up, or SUV. The same goes for the timing belt. Try to avoid models with run-flat tires and no spare tire. The run-flat tires don’t last very long and replacement run-flat tires are expensive.

If you can afford to pay a little more for maintenance, go ahead and look at Odysseys and Siennas. If not, you might consider a car-based SUV or crossover vehicle, like the current generation of CR-Vs and Rav-4s.

On new or used - like andrew_j mentioned I’d be more inclined to look for low mileage used. If you buy a new car you immediately lose a good 20% or so of value just by driving it off the lot. I’d rather someone else eat that cost.

Its true that the Hondas and Toyotas do carry a certain mystique. Not everyone is sure that it is warranted, and I am among them. The Honda/Toyota edge was probably fairly real though the 80s. By the 90s it was mostly legend. The worst POS vehicle I ever owned was a Toyota pickup truck. The most reliable and trouble free vehicle I ever owned was a Dodge Grand Caravan. Not everyone will agree with me, of course. But if you look beyond Honda/Toyota there is another percentage of money to be saved there without any real loss.

And I’d echo a couple of Whitey’s notes - avoid vans with timing belts and run flat tires.

If you have the money and plan to keep it for a long while, buy a new one. You never have to wonder about how it was maintained by the last owner. You should be able to buy a new Odyssey EX for under $27,000. If you don’t want to pay that much, a 2009 from a dealer will be $24,000; a 2008 will be about $22,000.

The truth is the only thing to “wonder” about the first 40k miles is oil changes. There is little else that effects the balance of the life of a vehicle. Vast majority of car owners change oil in a timely fashion. The rest of the maintenance is a much smaller group but irrelevant with low mileage vehicles.

Your sister in law is a real negotiator.

I’ve purchased minivans both new and used. I have owned 4 of them. My first minivan was a Ford Aerostar that fortunately had the remaining factory warranty. It had to have a new engine before the warranty was out. The next minivan was a new Ford Windstar. It was quite satisfactory. I sold it to my son who is still using it as a second vehicle. The next vehicle was a Chevrolet Uplander that had been a GM program car. It had 15,000 miles when I purchased it and my son just bought it from me a couple of months ago. I replaced the Chevrolet with a new 2011 Toyota Sienna. I was shopping for a used minivan, but many of them had come from rental fleets. Our Toyota dealer was ready to deal back in March with the accelerator pedal scandal, so I decided puchasing new was the way to go.
Minivans don’t change styles, so often the former owner traded to avoid repairs. The minivans I did find while looking at used minivans had come from rental fleets. I figured that they were probably rented by families, each with 6 or more kids who had probably half of them upchucked at least once in the minivan.
If you buy new, you are starting with new tires, a fresh battery, etc. As I said, I think this is the way to go.

Let me add one more thing. I frequently see minivans used as taxicabs. This isn’t the easiest type of service for a vehicle. Much like taxicab service, soccer moms do about the same kind of driving, but don’t receive tips from their passengers. If you do buy a used minivan, be certain that you inow the history of the vehicle.

As far as the make of the minivan is concerned, I’ve been satisfied with the Fords, the GM minivans I’ve owned. I’ve owned the Toyota since March and have driven about 3000 miles. So far, it is outstanding.

You should consider a Kia Sedona, probably the most underrated minivan in the market. We bought an EX in Dec’06 and it’s been great. Yes, we looked at the Sienna and Odyssey. After comparing we’d have to pay almost 6 thousand dollars more for either one with the same equipment as the Sedona (DVD player, power doors,etc.). So, when you think about it you’d have to have 6 thousand dollars worth of breakdowns or reliability issues in order to break even. After 3 1/2 yrs. and 40K miles we only had to replace some corroded subframe bushings b/c of winter salt here in Chicago. Good luck to ya.

Amazingly, some people thrash their minivans, too. And why are they selling a one, two, or even 3 year old minivan? Is the one of the less reliable ones that occasionally show up?

a Mazda 5 is also worth a look

I would just like to thank each of you for your advice and suggestions. You have given us much to consider and have made many important points. My husband would LOVE the Mazda 5 but don’t think we could fit the kids AND other stuff (like groceries) in the car at the same time. But we’ll check it out. Thanks again!

I can see your point, especially since it only has 2 seats in the 2nd row. But you should be able to fold the other 3rd row seat down while keeping a kid in there.
looks like 21/27 for the automatic and 22/28 for the stickshift