Prius, convertable or minivan?

Let’s face it, I have “MPG Envy.” My current ride gets between 19-20 miles to the gallon over the life of the tank.

I am currently driving a 2002 Ford Ranger with 130K miles on her, Jenny has been a beautiful ride. But, with having 130K miles I am starting to get concerned. High miles coupled with low mpg has me looking around… so here are my thoughts:

I could go to the other extreme: The Toyota Prius. I’d say 80% of my driving is at or under 35 mph… not bad when driving the Prius!

But, If I’m going to drop the money on a Prius why not look at a convertable, like a used Volvo C70? It would be fun to drive, has a hard top keeping me warm in the winter, plus it would be safe for my son to be driving around with me.

Or a minivan like the Honda Odyssey. The Odyssey would be safe for my son. I can empty the seats and haul stuff similar to with Jenny. Plus I’d be able to use it with extended family when they visit or with friends.

Regardless of the vehicle I would plan on doing long trips of over 10 hours to the destination. I like to do outdoor activities like biking, backpacking and canoing. I do live in a climate that has winters with snow, but not enough snow to have good snow clearing infrastructure thus need to be able to drive in/on snow and ice.

I was honestly not even thinking of a minivan up until recently when 5 friends and I strapped 2 canoes on top of a friends work van, threw our gear in the back and all of us piled in with the driver. We showed up at the destination, portaged canoes and gear to the water and the driver took the van back to town. So if I were to get a minivan I’d be looking at putting a rack on it and probably a towing package.

I feel like I am talking myself into the minivan, even though out of the 3 options it has the worst mpg. I am not sold on a make or model of car, the Prius, C70 and Odyssey are what have come to the top of the list… So what are your thoughts?

You seem to want a little of everything. There are some small wagons from Mazda along with the Matrix that can haul a little and are efficient. You may also want to consider a compact SUV for light towing. Throw in a sunroof in whatever you get, and you have the open air experience too. I don’t think I’d spring for a Prius if you want the added utility of other types of vehicles.

You are all over the map on a vehicle. In my younger days, I wanted an Austin Healy Sprite (or an MG Midget). Well, family obligations ruled out the Sprite. When our son was on his own, I thought I would be able to buy my Austin Healy Sprite. A family owned used car dealer where I had purchased an Oldsmobile sedan early had a used MG Midget for $700 that was advertised as “needing work”. It needed extensive rust repair and a clutch, but did run. The sons were tied up with customers, so the matriarch of the family helped me. I asked her if I could look at the MG. She said that if I could get in the car, they might just give it to me. Once I got myself in the car, she came out and said, “I hope you can get out of the car, because if you can’t, you will have to buy it”. I almost had to buy the car. I realized that being well over 60 and 6’2" tall that an MG Midget is not the car for me.

My wife got the idea after our son was on his own that we should have a minivan. I didn’t like the idea, but I did go along with her idea and bought a Ford Aerostar. I liked it so much that we have had three more minivans. It is great when my son and his family come to visit. We like the comfort of the seating height when travelling on the road. I manage a small chamber orchestra and am frequently taking passengers and their instruments to rehearsals and performances. My present minivan is a 2011 Toyota Sienna, but I am certain that the Honda Odyssey is very similar. The mileage is obviously not that of a Prius–I get 16-18 around town and 23-25 on the road–but I like the versatility.

I would stay away from Volvos. They aren’t reliable enough for me, and they are expensive to maintain and fix. Finding a good Volvo mechanic is difficult. In terms in intimacy and frequency of visits, a good Volvo mechanic is like an oncologist, and just about as expensive. (Yes, I just compared Volvo reliability to cancer.)

I don’t think you should make your vehicle purchase decisions on a single trip you took with your friends. You might never need it for that kind of use, and if you do, it will be so infrequent, it would be wiser to rent a minivan for those trips, or take a minivan or SUV that belongs to someone else who is going with you on that trip.

That leaves the Prius. Take one for a long test drive. If you like it, and can afford it, buy one, but keep in mind your Ranger probably has a lot of life left in it, and trading in a vehicle for one with better fuel economy is almost never a sound financial decision. You will never recover the cost of the new car in fuel savings.

You want a vehicle that’s perfect for all occassions, but that’s not possible. The Odyssey won’t give much better mpg than what you get now. Test drive the new, larger Prius if it’s available yet and see what that does for you.

The Odyssey is great for hauling a lot of people or stuff, I own one. Ideally, you and I would own an Odyssey for these occassions, then a very high mpg car for other occassions.

volvo convertible sounds like an old people car. A truly fun convertible would be a Miata. The closest thing to said car would be a Mazda 5 with a 6 speed stick

I agree that you’re all over the map here. On one hand, you’re taking a roomy car like a minivan and adding a roof rack and the towing package. On the other hand, you’re looking at a convertible.

It’s not 1970 any more, so a Volvo is no safer than anything else. They’re also terribly expensive to maintain as they age, on average.

My wild guess is that a Toyota RAV4 or a Honda CR-V is the best compromise of the things you’ve listed. If you can afford it, an Acura RDX would bump up the fun factor.

Here you go: A 33 MPG minivan

Unfortunately you will have to move to Ireland.

Prius v is 2 of the 3 vehicles you mentioned.

I just noticed that bscar’s link is the same as mine. Both of us think you should look at it.

All, thanks for the input. I agree I am all over the map, and that’s exactly why I came here.

I’ll check out the RAV4 and Honda CR-V options. As said earlier, I am not sold on any one vehicle, I’m still very early in the purchasing process.

Whitey, your comment about making a decision based off a trip with friends is one of my major arguments against getting a minivan… similarly trading for mpg…

MTraveler, Ireland is a pretty good time, as long as I can adjust to traveling on the other side of the road I should be alright!

And honestly, I do want a little of everything! Why can’t I have my cake and eat it too? Research, research, research. Any recommendations are accepted here!

Does anyone have experience with Kia or Hyundai?

My BIL has a Kia Rondo and they like it. It has been reliable, though the gas mileage is not great for the class of car. The Rondo is ot available new anymore. I mentioned it because I know happy Kia owners. Kia is a division of Hyundai.

How about Mazda speed 3. It is fun to drive, reliable with good gas mileage, power and plenty of space.