Want to downgrade size, upgrade MPG, AND buy American

We have a '91 Chevy Venture. Our mechanic says it’s a great time to get rid of it before it starts needing serious work (engine starting to have issues). We’d like a smaller vehicle with better MPG, but are dependent on the size (2 kids, 2 dogs, recycling, etc.), & like to option of carrying at LEAST 5 people if not 6. We need to buy American (albeit at least in name!), used is best, and reliability is essential. Advice?

P.S. I’m an “okay” driver (had a few accidents over the years, mostly very minor); live in Baltimore; drive an average of 45-50 miles per weekday. Hope that helps.

I would agree with the Chevy Venture having limited reliable life left.

For what you want, many of your needs are contradictory. The best vehicle I can think of that meets your stated needs is a Chrylser minivan built in Graz, Austria (for the European market) which has a 4 cylinder diesel engine and a 5 speed manual transmission. Very roomy and economical. Unfortunately, you can’t buy one here.

To shift your emphasis you will need to go to a 2WD vehicle with the smallest engine (4 cyl), and if you really want to carry 6 people (without the dogs) you will need a 3 seat minivan or a large sedan with a bench seat in front. The latter is now unavailable.

To sum up, it’s hard to get 6 people in a SMALLER AMERICAN vehicle than your Venture; and some compromises are in order. There are plenty of vehicles to meet your needs built overseas; in Nigeria we had a Toyota HiAce minivan that could hold 8 people, and had a small 4 cylinder engine. Unfortunately, you can’t buy these in the US.

Your best bet is a Dodge minivan with 3 seats and the smallest engine. It will likely use less gas than your Venture, and is about equal in reliability. Careful maintenance is necessary and don’t even think of pulling a trailer with one of these.

If you want to buy a built-in-the-US “foreign” vehicle, the choice is greater. Let us know if you want to go that way.

Ford Flex or Chevy Traverse - your large volume needs make anything smaller hard to recommend. At least both of these are great vehicles!

What’s your definition of “American”? Even US nameplates built here have a lot of non-US content (parts). Some US nameplates are built in Canada or Mexico, or are “captive imports” from farther away. Some “foreign” names are built in this country and have a lot of domestic content and employ US workers, but the profits go overseas.

Agree the Flex is a large roomy box on wheels but its fuel economy is not the greatest. A Flex with a 4 cylinder diesel would be perfect for OP.

I know, neither is great on mpg (both about the same), but what else can carry 6?

El Grove gives a definition: name. GM, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler LLC are the order of the day.

Too bad Ford just sold the majority its Mazda stock back to Mazda, which means Ford no longer controls the company. Mazda5 fits all the criteria. The next one down on the list is the made in Turkey Ford Transit Connect.

Chrysler still sells a re-badged Mercedes diesel van used for airport shuttle and hotel service. It holds a good crowd (8+) and has a frugal diesel. But the selling price is rather steep; it is really a commercial vehicle.

Yes, the Dodge Sprinter and the Ford Transit Connect come to mind. But for one more suited for passengers, I’d think of the Ford Escape Hybrid.

I imagine that just about any 18 year old vehicle would be on it’s last legs with out a major overhaul.

But a used Sprinter could be just the truck! It has just about the worst resale value of any vehicle in the USA. Just don’t expect to park it in a garage.

But back to resale value - That’s bad news if you want to resell the truck, but good new for Baltimorons like you (and me). It’s quite large, so you might want to consider something smaller. Consistent passenger loads of 5 or 6 make me think minivan. The dogs will be perfectly happy to sit on someone’s lap.

Check here for fuel economy info: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/byclass.htm

Find the class vehicle you want (minivan, remember?) and see what gets the mileage you desire and then check into features elsewhere.

Just remember, you gotta fit the whole gang in when you go Downy Eaushun!

Chevrolet Impala Or Chevrolet Malibu, Baseball, Apple Pie, etcetera, etcetera

No Ventures in 1991,what is this mini-van?

Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, '91 was when my dog was born (she just died this past weekend, so I guess that was on my mind) … our van is a 2001.

He said it was a 2001 on a later post (the poor dog was a '91). Now tell us whats wrong with the Venture, it should still run for a while. The most economical way right now would be to keep your 2001 car running.

Into a area we see alot,a 2001 Domestic vehicle that the owner doesn’t know if its worth fixing or junking. Is this saying more about The manufacture or more about how the car was taken care of? We have had similar posts about 2001 Odyssey’s?

I remember when the Venture first came out 98 or so. Major interior trim quality issues ,power sliding door issues and soon to be realized 3.4 intake issues.

If the mini-van lived 8yrs with rampaging children and neglect coupled with inital quality issues it just may be ready for the junk pile.

With respect to “buy American” does your employer (government?) require you to buy and drive such a vehicle, or is this a personal belief?

As others point out, because of globalization, it’s very hard to tell where things are made. A Chevy Aveo is entirely made in Korea, even the Chevrolet badge. Your Pioneer flat screen TV is entirely made in Asia, even the box which is made from imported scrap cardboad (from the US or Canada). The Ford Edge (corrected) is only made in Canada from parts made in the US and Canada. And so on!

For a guilt-free explanation of globalization read “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times.

I’m typing this post on Dell computer made in Penang, Malaysia from components from China, Taiwan, Korea, and the US.

Why not a used Grand Marquis or Crown Vic or Town Car? They formerly had front bench seats, not long ago. They seat 6. They were very reliable up thru about 2000.
There are many low mileage used ones. The trunk is huge. They are very American.
Gas mileage is mediocre, but better than an SUV. I usually got 21 hwy going pretty fast.