Suggestions for a good "mini" van

I’ve loved the vans I’ve had. But I never had one very long.

My question is: What would you suggest for a reliable, good (If that’s possible w/a van.) mileage van? Keeping in mind I would like to buy a used one, and one which when the seats are removed, or “put up” like the rear ones in the older Toyota Previa I camped in for a couple months, the floor was nice and flat - perfect for sleeping on.

If I understand you correctly, you want a minivan where the seats can be removed completely leaving a flat floor as oposed to seats that fold into the floor. I have a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander and the rear seats can be completely removed. I’ve remvoved them when I need to transport the tympani for the orchetra of which I am a member. I have about 55,000 miles on the minivan and have had no major problems. Mileage runs about 15-17 around town and 23-26 on the highway. I had owned a 2000 Ford Windstar that I sold to my son. It now has 130,000 miles and has had no major problems. The town mileage on the Windstar is about the same as the Uplander, but the highway mileage ran from 20-23 miles per gallon. Consumer Reports doesn’t give either the Windstar or the Uplander a very good rating nor does the reliability record compiled by Consumers look very good. However, I never had major problems with either vehicle.

In a used van, the condition is probably more important than the reliability record reported by Consumer Reports. The Ford and GM minivans are available at pretty low prices since neither company currently makes minvans.

I know our old Sienna could have both rows of rear seats removed. So could most minivans.

The Dodge sprinter might work for you. It gets up to 30 MPG on the highway with a turbocharged diesel engine. Here’s some photos. It’s a full size van, but gets better mileage than all minivans.

I’m pretty sure every minivan I’ve ever been in from 1st generation Caravans on have had removable and/or flat folding seats.

In the minivan category, the Sienna and Odessey are in a class above all else I feel. They offer more of the advantages you buy a minivan for with fewer of the disadvantages. People that I know tend to be happier with them then any other.

The Sienna and Odyssey are fine minivans. But they cost thousands (used) more than comparable minivans from anyone else. Reliability ratings don’t justify the additional expense. Taylor, if you like them enough to spend the extra, they buy one. But check other comparable priced models and see if the extra expense is worth it. Let us know if this is anew or used van you want.

The Sienna and Odyssey are fine minivans. But they cost thousands (used) more than comparable minivans from anyone else.

I believe that is because you get what you pay for. The market for used minivans doesn’t have government price controls. If the Sienna and the Odyssey cost more maybe it is because buyers don’t think other minivans are in the same class.

TaylorO, my advice is to get:

  1. a Honda Odyssey. This is the best of the minivans.

  2. a Toyota Sienna. It isn’t as good as the Odyssey, and has been known to have problems with the electric sliding doors, but it is still a good vehicle.

  3. in a distant third, the Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town and Country. They are cheaper, but you can expect more major repairs than the Odyssey and the Sienna. Those who have owned Caravans either loved them or hated them. With this vehicle, there appears to be very little middle ground.

Ford and GM make some fine crossover vehicles (minivans with front ends that look like SUVs). They are for people who need a minivan but think they are too cool to drive a minivan. Ford and GM got out of the minivan business because they realized it was useless to try to compete with the Odyssey and the Sienna.

I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. There is a reason that they do cost more. GM, Chrysler or Ford can’t directly compete. My advice has always been to check the satisfaction ratings on Consumer Report reviews. People not willing or unable to spend the money for these vans will have to rationalize their purchase on that basis alone. There is nothing out there, safer more reliable and convenient than these. They will many times end up spending more money when they trade earlier than they would otherwise.
Thousands more ? Maybe,what’s the price of having a more reliable van, less likely to leave your all too precious cargo stranded.

I got my Caravan used and paid half the price of a used Sienna or Odyssey of comparable age and mile. I know the weak points, mostly the transmission and some other quirks, but even if I had to buy two new transmissions and some more repairs, financially I would still come ahead. I also tend to drive my cars to the ground so resale value is not an issue.

How has the Kia Sedona held up in the mini-van wars? I worked briefly for Kia in 2003 and liked the interior layout They had some electrical system issues that I would not consider “minor”.

For a real early mini-van I really liked the power train on the Lumina APV and its cousins. Interior quality (paticularily window regulators) was always an issue.

I bought a new GM minivan in 2003 for many thousands less than a Sienna or Odyssey. I don’t regret it at all. We’ve always been comfortable on long trips and around town. If the cost was similar, I would have looked very seriously at the Sienna and Odyssey. But the price wasn’t even close.

Hey all - I’ll get a little clearer for you.
I want a mini van that, with seats removed (or put up like the rear row in an older Toyota Previa) has a flat smooth floor - to sleep on. I mention this because I’ve seen some with a “step” towards the rear.

I am looking for a used one, and am looking to spend less than $8,000.00.

I have an '88 Toyota Tercel wagon with close to 300K miles, and other than the transmission going out, has not had any major issues (Alternator, fuel pump, front end ball joint/part(s)? - have been the only problems, and I could take care of all but the front end stuff.)
I once bought a Chrystler mini van - @ 120+K miles… I was still making payments when the timing belt broke, the water pump went out, the electric windows got stuck…
I say all that to say this - I’ve been happy with the longevity of my Toyota. Reminds me of the old Volvo wagons I had.

I saw a Toyota Previa with all wheel drive and a super charger… sounds cool, but at what cost… when it come to trouble. I loved the Previa I rented for the summer once - It was not super charged, nor did it have all wheel drive.

Does this provide any clarity to what I’m looking for?

Thanks - Taylor