Picking the right vehicle for an outdoor family

We are a family of 5, with 2 teens and one ten-year-old. We spend a lot of time camping and make several 1200 mile trips each year. We are trying to pick a good low cost vehicle that is:
Seats at least 6
Decent on gas
Affordable to repair
My first thought was a Eurovan: lots of space and utility, plus it’s super comfortable… But they cost for their age and are hard to keep up.
We had a Mitsubishi Montero with third row, it was almost perfect accept the third row was getting to small for our kids and it limited the cargo area.
We thought o a Suburban or Tahoe: good seats, 4x4, towing capability and huge cargo area. But…the third row is too small and the fuel economy is… nonexistent.
The only vehicle we haven’t ruled out is the Toyota Previa. It has lots of room, the middle seats turn backwards to face the third row, the back seats fold against the wall, it has plenty of glass- especially with the two sunroofs, gets 22mpg highway, comes in rearwheel and all-wheel drive, it’s bullet proof and sells for $1500 to $4000. But there are so few of them.

I am wondering what suggestions people might have.

The third row seats on a Suburban are too small? For what? Last I checked there was plenty of space back there. You definitely don’t want the VW. They’re slow, unpleasant to drive, aren’t very safe, and cost a lot to keep running. The Previa was an interesting design (I’ve always loved the styling), but the engine is in an incredibly awkward place that makes working on it difficult. Difficult = expensive. And they’re all really old by now, likely with very high mileage.

If you’re going to be going on long vacation trips, you need something reliable. No vacation is improved by a towing bill and an unexpected couple of days in a small town waiting for your car to be repaired. Sure, the really old vehicles you’re talking about are slightly cheaper, but only slightly. Once a car has 10 years and/or 100,000+ miles on the odometer it has already dropped pretty far (cheap economy cars slightly less so, as they’re more popular with used car buyers). Anyhow, if I were you, I’d be looking at ten yo cars, more or less. That also gets you more choices in biggish three-row SUVs and minivans, though only you can decide if the third row is adequate. It should be on any minivan, and the largest class of SUV. Such as the Suburban you dismissed, or a Ford Expedition (or the rare, even larger, Excursion). These are straightforward and based on Ford pickups, the best-selling vehicles in the country, so parts are readily available and cheap and lots of people know how to work on them. They aren’t exactly stingy with gas, but nothing that can handle six biggish folks and their luggage will be. A minivan would be a bit better, but likely a little less reliable and more expensive to maintain and repair.

Find the minivan in your price range that is in the best condition. If you are looking at a Previa, you must want something under $5,000. Check all brands between 2000 and 2005 model years.


This guy is in dreamland with his price, but these can be found in good condition…

Honda Pilot, Ford Flex, Chevy Traverse.

I think the guy accidentally added an extra 0 to the end of his price

The price of that Buick wagon is as realistic as the, “wood paneling”.
Is the seller so delusional that he can’t tell the difference between wood and contact paper?