Seeking Gently Used Vehicles, To UBER/LYFT Toyota Sienna/Prius vs. Honda. Whats Too Many Miles?

I am seeking to purchase (cash) a gently used vehicle to operate as a contractor for UBER & maybe Lyft. I have 10-12k to spend. The vehicle must be 2003 or newer (to uber in Indiana) or 2005 or new (to lyft), and in good cosmetic condition inside&out.

I have been researching Toyota Sienna’s primarily, as the passenger maximum is grater than that of a Prius. I’ve not been looking into Honda minivans yet, (but if you have knowledge on their minivans please share with me :-).
Please refrain from stating: “TOYOTA’s WILL GO FOREVER” I know this, everyone knows this. But at what cost?

What is too many miles on a Toyota Sienna? Whats too many miles on a Prius? What is too many miles on a Honda Odyssey?
Any specific “trim” or inside package to stay away from? ie leather seats and heaters for seats yadda yadda?

I look forward to hearing from folks.
Thank you for your time.

Please fire away any and all questions. I’m looking for anything that will help. If you think these vehicles are no go for my planned task, shoot me some productive counter thoughts.


Hmmm. Actually I don’t think Toyotas are any better than any other car. People just think they are. Good luck finding a car and don’t forget to pay your taxes.

…and don’t forget to demand maintenance records for any vehicle that you are considering.
The old “Toyotas and Hondas run forever” mantra is quickly trumped by lax maintenance.
The best car–in theory–will be far inferior to other cars if it has not been maintained properly.

Look at the web sites for used cars in your area in your price and buy something you can stand to be in for hours at a time. What works for one person might not for you. Also if the 10 to 12 thousand is all you have what will you do for insurance, registration and expenses until you receive payment?

When living in Malaysia the driver we often used to go to the airport had a Citroen Van made in France. Although comfortable, it gradually fell apart in his capable hands, The electronic dashboard failed after 2 years and cost $2000 to fix.

He gave up in disgust and bought a Toyota 4 cylinder minivan with automatic. To this day he is probably still singing its praises. This vehicle was everything he wanted and very reliable.

The Citroen was the best France could produce by the way.

Hondas are good but have weaker transmissions and liquid filled engine mounts that will need replacing before the engine and transmission wear out.

Any of the ones you are talking about would be good choices. Look into what Kia offers too, they’ve had some pretty good reliability ratings recently. You might could save some purchase $$ on a Kia. When you come to decide whether to purchase a particular make/model/year, then look up what Consumer Reports says about it, from their owner history. You’ll be able to tell what the strong points are, and what the weak points are straight away.

One thing the experts here suggest which I think is a good idea, make your offer contingent on a professional pre-purchase inspection by your shop. That costs about $100, and is probably the best $100 you’ll ever spend.

Hmmm. Actually I don’t think Toyotas are any better than any other car. People just think they are.

That can be true of many things in life. I recently competed in a pistol shoot at my local range. Most people used UBER expensive Colts and Smith and Wesson’s (fine guns) but I walked away with the top prize with my little .40 caliber Hi-Point pistol. It will never have the resale value of either of those other pistols but it still performed better in the competition.

Years ago when I bought used vehicles, I used imaginary masking tape that I placed over the odometer and nameplate. I think that this technique is pretty much valid today. I have a 2011 Toyota Sienna that has over 70,000 miles and has been quite satisfactory. Our previous vehicle was a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander which we sold to our son when he needed a better vehicle. The Uplander now has 160,000 miles and has had no major repairs. In fact, I would have purchased another GM minivan, but GM no longer makes a minivan and this ia, the type of vehicle l need.


I Know. I currently have several GM cars and a Dodge Caravan that have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles without any serious repairs required, actually only the basic maintenance items… tires, brakes, oil changes…

The only thing wrong with them is that they seem to run forever.

I agree about using imaginary tape over the brand. You will pass by some really good bargains if you don’t. There is very little difference in reliability amongst brands of cars manufactured in the past decade or so.

A leading consumer review magazine has to go to great lengths (read their fine print) to make it seem there’s a significant difference in order to enhance readership.


Strange at it may seem, the 2003 Toyota 4Runner was initially listed by Consumer Reports as being troublesome. We own one and have had no problems after the warranty period. Apparently, the problem was the fuel injection system that Toyota corrected under the warranty. Ours was a late 2003. However, we had so much trouble with our 4Runner initially that I almost had the dealer buy it back under the lemon law. The serpentine belt kept chirping. Toyota replaced the belt three times. The second time the belt was replaced, it was not installed correctly and the crankshaft oil seal was damaged and the car leaked oil. After the threat of having to buy back the car, the dealer found that the belt tensioner was defective. The car has been fine since that time. I sometimes think that a car that has a worse than average repair record its first couple of years might be a good buy because the problems have been fixed. We presently own 2 Toyota products and outside of the initial problem with the 4Runner, have been troublefree. However, I’ll buy whatever fits our needs on our next purchase and it may or may not be a Toyota product.

but it still performed better in the competition.

In this case, the relative quality of the tool did not impede the skill of the operator…

I learned this lesson about 30 years ago when a guy repeatedly trounced me at 8-ball pool using a broken cue stick (8" of the business end was at about a 40 degree angle to the rest of the stick). The tool did not perform better than mine. The guy was able to overcome the limitations of the lesser tool due to his superior skills :wink:

I know that for at least some of the vehicle tiers, Uber has specific requirements as to what kind of vehicle you are allowed to use. So be sure you know what they are before you buy anything.

I would also strongly urge you to do a lot of research before going through with this. A lot of Uber drivers have come forward to say that they end up with a net financial loss once expenses/etc are calculated. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before you put your money up on it.

My rule of thumb is that if a company wants me to work for them and does not provide me with the equipment necessary to do my job, they either rent it from me at market rates in addition to my usual compensation or I do not work for them.

Lets see, picking up strangers at all hours of the night and going places I would not go in daylight in my personal vehicle and carrying extra insurance with no benefits. Nope not a job I want.

Actually I don’t think Toyotas are any better than any other car. People just think they are

I started on this board, I think, in 1997, though that is by memory, the year I retired.

Over those years, other men have said similar things. I struggled with this. Are they saying we are stupid or liars when we tell how good our Toyota/Honda/ Mazda/etc really is? I finally realized they are saying both things. We are lying when we say how good they are, trying to justify paying too much for a car which isn’t any better than any other car, and we are stupid for not realizing the truth.

Consumer’s Report: see the comment on this thread. Consumer’s Report is also wrong, “everyone is wrong but MEEE!”

My next question was, have they ever owned a Toyota/Honda/ Mazda/etc? Answer, either no, or they bought an old beater to keep the price down and it was pure junk. And, they took that as proof that we are all wrong about Toyotas.

The reason several major car companies went bankrupt and had to be bailed out was because Toyota/Honda/Mazda/etc were indeed that much better than other cars. And, several CEO’s actually said that it was merely the aura of a foreign car that prompted people to buy Toyota/Honda/Mazda/etc, and their pieces of junk were just as good. This snarky attitude almost cost them their businesses.

Over that 18 years, other brands and other models of other brands have become competitive on reliability, due to total desperation, not because they love their customers.

I recall a GM senior executive saying that in one day out of ten they would build a car up to Toyota’s assembly quality. They learned from their joint venture with Toyota building Chevy Novas side by side with Corollas and Matrixes on the same line as Pontiac Vibes.

Of course there is more to it than build quality; you have to DESIGN it right and make sure the parts suppliers give you quality parts.

The tremendous gains made by the likes of Hyundai and Kia in the quality area when VW seems to have remained stagnant or regressed is nothing short of amazing.

We still get carping about some Toyota quality problems but survey after survey of long term reliability puts most Japanese makers at or near the top. I do regret seeing Nissan slip so much, but the French parent Renault is hardly a leader in quality design and build.

You’re talking about a used car. There is no one in the universe who can state that a certain used car will be good for the intended purpose.

One could sort through a 100 late model used cars with 30k miles on them and may, or may not, find a dozen decent ones in the lot. It all depends upon how it was driven and maintained.
The badge on the rear may mean little or nothing.

You really need to consider a number of things before wading into something like this. There are going to be maintenance and wear/tear expenses (assuming the car is not going to be flogged into the pavement) along with car payments, insurance, etc.

I am not sure if the minivan is the best idea. Usually the Uber crowd are only 1-2 passengers. I know a few Uber drivers and they all have a Prius due to low cost of operation. In your case, your budget is probably not high enough for a newer Prius, so I would get something along the lines of a CPO Sonata. We got one last year with 20K miles for less than $15K in CA where everything is more expensive.

If you have not worked as a subcontractor before, there are some things you should realize. You will need to file quarterly income payments for income taxes as you go along.Federal and State, depending on state ). You will also have to pay self employment tax which is basically both the employers half and employees half. If you guess too low on your future income you will have to pay the taxes plus interest AND penalties. If you ignore the taxes you could wind up in jail.

Also you will have no disability, unemployment, or workman’s comp. insurance. Some companies will not give you car insurance, the ones that will will charge you more. and if you don’t tell your insurance company they can deny you claim because of fraud.

There was a local tanker truck operation near me that was hiring guys straight out of driving school and leasing them the trucks for a dollar a day so they could classify them as independent contractors. These young men all thought they were making a lot of money until tax time came around in April. The operation shut down right after that, I don’t know if the government shut them down because they were classifying employees as contractor or because their drivers all quit when the found out what it cost them to work for that company.