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Station Wagon replacement needed for 3 kids - help

I HAVE to get rid of our VW Passat wagon (V6 4motion) which has been in the shop 9 times this year. LEaks, electrical problems, catalytic converter breaking - it’s a lemon.

I have 3 kids, age 1-7, so I guess we might be ready for a minivan. I also live in maine, would love to have all wheel drive. but is it an absolute must with a heavy van? I would love to take advantage of the amazing deals you can get right now on Town and Country or Grand Caravan - one local dealer is offering a loaded T&C for 22K - 10k under MSRP. But then again, no all wheel drive option, plus I know that people always recommend Sienna or Odyssey.

My budget is 20K.

Any comments / suggestions?

I loved my VW, but the car is not sustainable.

We purchased a '02 T&C Limited AWD van new and currently now have about 51k miles on it. We also had a '98 model and traded it in on this one. To me, these vans are great to own and drive and are very comforable to ride in. They feel like a luxury car. There was some problems with both of them at first but the issues were covered under warranty and has been fine since. You may be able to find a good used AWD van on the market by using the used car search here. I don’t think the AWD option is still available after the sto-and-go option came about. You will get better mileage without AWD and I’m not sure how much snow you get. Having good tires will help a lot. I recommend you get the 3.8 liter engine if you get it. If you can get a loaded van for 10k under MSRP I recommend you go for it even if you have borrow the extra 2 grand from someone. We paid almost twice that much for our van but it has about every option that was available at the time. I like to keep my vehicles for a long time so getting the extra options makes nice to keep over time. By purchasing a new van you will have a good warranty to back you up if something does need to be fixed.

It’s a good time to buy a new car, dealers are crying for customers to walk in the doors. Hopefully you can take advantage of the great financing deals also. It looks like there is at least a 3 yr free financing deal going on now if you have the proper credit.

The Honda and Toyota vans are great also but you most likely won’t get the same value discount on them. I wouldn’t worry, the enginners did a very good job on the Chrysler van. There are a hugh amount of them on the road.

Most FWD vehicles will do just fine, unless you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and your area doesn’t know what a snow plow is. If you’re really concerned, get an extra set of rims and mount snow tires to them and swap them out when it gets snow season

Purchase four winter tires (tirerack.com) and you’ll never worry snow and especially ice driving for any FWD.

thanks. so all those aws and 4wd cars and suvs out there (it does get v snowy here from january to april) … just suckers …?

Very happy with our Kia Sedona, 2003. Neighbors have a new model, 2008, and it is even better. Has much of the features (fold flat seats, etc) with more warranty coverage, and a pretty small price tag. Worth looking at. I’d get another - and probably will.

most of them. at least 80% of people with 4wd will never need/use it. AWD is a little better, but with a good set of tires and traction control and ABS you’ll be fine (see my post on the Kia, which has these)

AWD/4wd is only better in really deep snow and starting on hills. Equip it with winter biased ones and its incredible. My family tends to live on tertiary roads including the family ski house so we have lots of AWDs. I only have to state that AWD really differs from vehicle to vehicle. Some AWD (Sienna, Highlander, Honda) is really just reactive and works so so. Others like Audi/VW, Subaru, GM is true full time and use a tad more fuel but is night and day difference.

That being all said I never got stuck going up the Sunday River, SugarLoaf, Jay Peak(400"/year average snowfall) in blazing storms in my prior low slung Civic coupe equipped with pure winter tires. I found myself in the unplowed passing lane of the interstate with 6"+ deep snow without even a worry of being able to stop nor sliding.

If you can find a used Honda Pilot within your budget you might be happy. I’m not a fan of SUVs, but the Pilot is a very impressive vehicle. I would take a used Pilot over a new T&C or GC in a heartbeat. There’s a reason they’re taking $10K off the MSRP on the Chrysler products.

“There’s a reason they’re taking $10K off the MSRP on the Chrysler products.”

That’s ominous. Do you any suggestions why? MY BIL had a T&C for about 175,000 miles. If the OPs get a new one and treat it well, why can’t they get 10 years out of it?

BTW, it is probably because they have way too many. But all dealers have way too many cars and trucks of all types. I think that johandkoh could get a great deal because times are so tough for anyone selling big ticket items.

Basically, Yes…People survived in Maine for 50 years with only RWD cars…Global warming, bring it on! AWD vehicles spend much more time in the shop than FWD, and the repair bills are MUCH greater… You can live with FWD. There are 365 days in a year. How many of those days are your roads “snow packed and icy”??

Chrysler is about to be folded into General Motors. Getting warranty coverage during the ensuing turmoil might be difficult. MANY dealerships will close…

i like the pilot, but for my budget it’ll have quite a few miles on it. friends who own one tell me they never average better than 17 mpg … that’s pretty unaccetable nowadays, i think.
i thought chrysler was much improved in terms of reliability … at least judging from people’s comments on consumer report / edmunds.

i’ll look into this thanks. so in the 5 years you have owned it - pretty reliable? any major repairs? – i got so urned with this lemon of a vw passat that reliability really is my top priority

i agree. i’m worried about chrysler going under. yet, the deals are almost too good to pass up…

I’m sure if you go with the Chrysler you will be a happy camper for a long time. Especially considering the price. I wouldn’t trade mine in for a Honda or a Toyota.

The Caravan is fully developed, What you see is what you get. They have VERY versatile interiors with some amazing features. And like you said, the price is RIGHT.

I’d definitely say that minivans are a class of vehicle where Honda and Toyota do not have the clear edge they have in some other ones. Both the Honda and Toyota minivans have higher-than-usual instances of transmission failures and other chronic mechanical issues, at least by Toyota and Honda standards. Not that they’re bad vehicles by any stretch of the imagination, but unlike their sedans the premium they command is definitely not worth it, especially when the quality of the domestic minivans has gone up so much in the last few years. Plus they’re smaller than the domestic minivans, but get worse gas mileage!

Caddyman not sure where your experience on AWD comes from. My family(in laws, mother, estate car) has 9 Subaru’s (albiet all manual transmission) with mileage ranging from 50k/3yrs old - 250k/18 years and NOT a single AWD repair on any of them. My parents also had an AMC Eagle for 250k and never had mechanical problem with AWD. Lastly my brother’s early 90’s Audi S4 is approaching 300k miles without a single AWD repair. That old S4 is an incredible automobile.

Chrysler will be around. The warranty (bumper to bumper) will be there. It may be purchased and the Caravan is a star product that any intelligent purchaser will not drop.

Also the Sienna AWD is not worth it stick to FWD. Its a crappy reactive system that does get stuck in really difficult conditions/ Basically think of FWD plus. My family’s estate house(deceased grandmother) in white mountains on ME border is 3 miles up hill off a dirt road and has a 1/4 mile driveway across an open field. The driveway always drifts in. It is always an interesting display of what AWD works(Subaru/Audi/VW/GM) and doesn’t Honda Crv and Toyota (except new RAV4). Thankfully there is an old Kubota 4wd tractor to clear or pull the vehicle until the plow guy shows up after a day or so.