Which Car? Stumped!

I have outgrown my beloved Forester. I show dogs and can no longer get all the crates in. As it is I am riding around with a stuffed car and only 3 of the 5.

My husband is pushing for an Element (he has one and loves it)…but honestly, I want a wee bit more luxury. A minivan is possible…but feels a little like overkill: the Odyssey seems enormous.

I tried the Routan and I liked it but it’s not getting good reviews for reliability. My nightmare is getting stranded on the road with all the dogs.

And I don’t want to spend more than 28-30,000.

It want it to be bullet proof reliable, safe as houses and somewhat of a pleasure to drive…Decent gas mileage would be nice. I need to be able to get one LARGE crate, 2 Medium size crates and 2 small crates in.

I don’t like that beefy bloated look on the new models…

Is there something out there for me to check out? I am entertaining a look at the American cars .Traverse?..thought about the Flex…but it seems so looooooong.

I know I’m fussy…sigh…

all ears.


The Mazda 5 and Kia Rondo are bigger than the Forester and Element but smaller than an Odyssey. The 5 is available with a manual transmission and the sporty 2.3 liter engine. I’m not sure if you can fit five dogs in there though.

wow! I didn;t know the Mazda was bigger than the Element…I’ll have to check it out…the Element is plenty big for the dogs…and maybe get over my snottiness and look at the Kia too.

Bit bigger than a Mazda 5 would be a fwd Honda Pilot.

I second the Pilot, but it does have a footprint like a minivan. If dogs are crated, then finish is not an issue and IMO and element not needed. The CRV has the same platform as the element and may suffice. The new RAV4s have neat flip down flat rear seats with excellent room too and are very passenger friendly. I would still not discount the minivan choices as, like a lot of things when it comes to children and dogs, you can’t have too much room. That they handle and ride like cars is a bonus.

We have had a number of “dog” questions on this forum. You really need to (1) fit all the cages in the Element and see if you have enough room. The Element is not that huge inside with those seats folding up sideways. Secondly, forget about luxury or size, find the best vehicle that fits the cages.

The best value for the maximum space is a basic Dodge minivan, which is quieter than a Honda Odessey and costs less than almost anything else you are looking at. I would also consider a Kia minivan; lots of room, nice “luxury” touches and a very good price

If I was in your shoes I would get a basic minivan; with the rear seats folded flat there’s all kinds of room.

Good points. Let me add that regardless of the actual room consideration, few vehicles offer the ease of loading as a minivan with sliding side doors and lower sills.

OK…as I am imagining all these smaller vehicles I can already feel cramped in my imagination…:wink: I will take a look at the Mazda…I’m intrigued.
I DO know we’ll fit in the Element…we have gotten 7 dogs and 4 people in for a trip to the beach actually…but the 60 lb collie had to be out of her crate on the floor between the seats… But it’s an uninspiring roll down the freeway…

SO…minivans. I use ConsumerReports as my baseline and they have only dismal things to say about all the minis except for the Sienna and the Odyssey. (They like the Mazda) Kia apparently has reliability issues…as do the Caravan and T&C…and if one is a little miffed at Toyota for their recent “call and response” then that leaves Honda. ANd only Honda??? Not the worst choice…just a bit $$$


If you want more style and luxury consider the Toyota Venza. It is a crossover with many shared parts with the Toyota Camry. I believe the seats all fold down and there maybe enough room for all your stuff and dog crates behind the driver. Leaving the driver with a fairly luxurious ride to the show(s). You can get the FWD, basic model with a 4 cyl. engine in your budget range. The basic model is well equipped so I don’t think you need many options to have a nice car.

There’s only a couple MPG difference between the 4 and 6 cyl engines. The 6 cyl will be better for highway cruising as it’ll give more get up and go for passing or heading up that on ramp. Without knowing how much all those dogs and crates weigh, it’s nice to have that little extra power if/when you need it

thanks for the Venza tips…I think it’s going to be too small though…

Edmunds says to expect that the Odyssey will cost about 85% of a T&C for maintenance and repairs over the next 5 years base on 2008 results. Using 2008 shows results for the new model of T&C and is after the warranty expires. But that is still less than $1000 more for the T&C over 5 years. Can you afford an extra $180 or so per year if the T&C better meets your needs than an Odyssey? CR provides a very useful service. But I think that they make too much of the small differences in M&R costs in an effort to sell magazines. MSN Autos doesn’t rank 2008 and later cars; they are too new for their rating service. Toyota and Honda have succeeded in getting consumers interested in reliability, and most manufacturers are close to them, and in some cases better. Take your kennels to your Chrysler dealer and try them out; don’t forget the Odyssey, either.

I wondered about that…what I am unclear about is the “severity” of the M & R…to me reliable means you get in, turn the key and proceed to your destination in a safe and timely manner…as opposed to getting hlafway there and then sitting on the side of the road crying…:wink:

Can anyone speak to that?

Nearly all vehicles for sale these days are “reliable”. That is they are much more reliable than any car you father owned when you were growing up.

A friend of my wife has a handicapped husband who can only get into a minivan. She has a Dodge and it is quite reliable, and is maintained by the book. A Dodge maintained by the book is moe reliable than a Honda or Toyota not maintaned properly.

The problem frequency for Hondas might be 1 breakdown per hundred cars per year for the first 4 years of driving while it could be 3 per 100 cars for a Dodge. Most of us don’t worry about that small probability difference. What we do worry about is the life expectancy of the car, such as 15 vs 20 years and the average annual upkeep.

Where I live you can buy a fullly equiped Dodge minivan for $9000 LESS than a Honda. That buys an awful lot of repairs. Since you don’t plan to keep the vehicle for its full life of some 15 years, you are driving less expensive in a Dodge than a Honda, excluding what depreciation difference there is.

To put your mind at ease, for the first 5 years of driving your vehicle’s reliability is mostly a function of how well you maintain it. After that it’s a fiuntion of how thoroughly it was designed, and what the built-in life expecxtancy is.

In all cases, your vehicle, regardless of make, has TIRES which can puncture. If you carry a cell phone and have a car club membership you can drive 'RELIABLY" in almost any vehicle today.

The least relaible cars now are low volume sports cars, complex European luxury cars, ands soon Italian imports.

Hope this sheds some light on the reliability picture.

Happy shopping!