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Lilypie Kids birthday Ticker
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
To Minivan or Not, That is the Question
3rd UPDATE: Thanks for the feedback. I'm unstickying the post. We'll continue to research, and I'll let you know what we end up buying.

2nd UPDATE: I'm going to sticky this, so I can get the most feedback possible.

UPDATE: I'm bumping this up in case it got lost in my flurry of posts. HaHa
Seriously though, I've gotten some good feedback in comments and email, but would still like to hear from more of you. We're not in a hurry because we're in the research stage. But, see, you are my research, so I really need your help.

Time for all lurkers to step up!

No, seriously, we need some help.

We have two more car payments to make on our car. Yippee!!! It's been fine, but it's now way too small. It will make an excellent 2nd car as our current 2nd car is a '92 Geo Tracker that Jim bought 10 years ago. It had over 100,000 miles then. It's actually a great car. We've never had any trouble with it at all, but time is not on its side. We're going to use it as a trade-in and buy another car. Our current main car will then become the back up car aka Jim's car.

I'd like to hold off a few months on the new car because life without a car payment sounds good for a few months. I don't know how long we'll be able to make it though. We've always carpooled to work. Our schools are five minutes apart, but that isn't going to work this year. Jim will be running an afterschool homework program. Things like that weren't a problem in the past. I always had plenty to do at school and would just wait until he came to get me. I don't think Sera will be as willing to wait. This means she and I will have to drive separately on days he runs the program, which will be Monday - Thursday for the most part.

Anyway, enough babbling, on to the dilemma. We are a family of three, but we take long car trips once or twice a year. Plus, we'd like to be able to have other people in the car if we want to road trip to Chicago or Detroit, or just load up at the IKEA in either city.

I'm a big wimp in the winter time. The only time I felt really safe driving on ice was the couple of years we had a Chevy Blazer. Now that Blazer was a huge lemon. We bought it used and are lucky it lasted as long as it did. It wasn't old, but it just fell apart.

I like the idea of a minivan. I like the three rows of seating. I like the electric sliding doors. I want a rear entertainment system (remember long car trips). And I like the gas mileage.

Jim would prefer an SUV. It's more manly, you know. I like how SUVs drive in ice and snow. I'm not thrilled with the gas mileage on them though. I also don't think it would give us more seating than a regular car: two in front and three in back. Unless we bought a Suburban or Yukon, but those are awfully big for our everyday use, and they're more than we can really spend on a car. The storage part is good. He would also like XM radio though we do currently use a car kit.

To sum it up, we need a vehicle that will hold a minimum of two large adults and one car seat with the ability to add additional passengers. We would like decent gas mileage, rear seat entertainment, and the ability to hold all our stuff when we travel without requiring a trailer.

Oh, and we'd like it to be cheap, please. Which leads to another question, new or used? I'd always bought new cars and had good luck with them until our current car, which has had some issues. Jim had always bought used cars and had good luck until the previously mentioned Blazer. I'm leaning towards used, just a year or two, due to the fact that we're looking at an expensive car and that way someone else gets the depreciation hit. Jim is leaning towards new because he doesn't want a car with hidden problems.

Oy! What to do? What do you drive? Do you love it? What do you recommend?



I want the Nissan Armada.. which is an SUV.. Then my husband showed me the Honda Odyssey Minivan.. I said I would never drive a Van..
Well we thought smart because of the gas prices and got the minivan.. It has all the bells and whistles... AND I LOVE IT..
It is great.. We went on a trip to Illiois..and we live in AZ. and took all three dogs and all of us. which is 3 teenagers and two adults.. and we had a blast.. and plenty of room..
Take care.. can't wait to see what you pick out..

Anonymous Sandra said...

I drove an SUV for years, but after coming home with Tahlia, we broke down and got what I always said I would never get: a minivan. We got the Honda Oddessey and I love it. It is so easy to get the girls in and out, we love the DVD in the back, especially on long car trips, I like the space and it still has 4 wheel drive for our snowy winters. I vote for a minivan!

Blogger MommyKnows said...

I have a Ford Freestar, I really love my van! My dh has a 2nd hand Suburban, which guzzles gas. Good thing it was old and cheap. It is handy to have for pulling our camping trailer etc.

Go for the van, you'll like it!

Blogger Kathleen Marie said...

I have had three SUV's now and wouldn't trade them for the world. We have a Jimmy now but our friends have the larger Yukon and it is a lot like our Jimmy but larger/longer. I wouldn't trade mine in for anything else. We have had little trouble at all. For long trips they are great, especially the Yukon.

I had a Ford Van once -- NEVER AGAIN -- Super LEMON.

But, my sister had a chevy van that she just loved.

I like the idea of a 4-wheel drive in winter but then I live in the mountains.

I don't really think you can go wrong either way. Both are roomy, and if you get an all-wheel or at least a front wheel drive you should be able to get around easily in the winter.

Our SUV gets 18 town, 22 hway --


Blogger JJ Daddy-O said...

Market research tells the auto companies that minivan drivers care more about what's on the inside of their vehicles (features like cupholders and DVD players), where SUV drivers are more interested in the outside (does this truck make me look fat? Or tough?).
The major deciding factor in your search, as I see it, is: you say you want carry 2 adults + 1 kid + "additional passengers". That covers a lot of ground. 1 additional kid? 2 additional adults? A baseball team?
If you want to carry an occasional friend, then a Subaru Outback (built in Indiana!) or Honda CRV/Toyota RAV4 may be the answer- good gas mileage, reliable, safe if you make sure the RAV4 and CRV have stability control and front and rear side airbags, and enough traction in 4wd models to take you anywhere you're likely to go.
If you're regularly going to be hauling more people than that, you're in minivan/truck territory.
I could go into a long discourse on SUV vs. Minivan (and I have three kids, including twins, so I know something about hauling crap around) but I will just say this: if you go to Edmunds.com and look up "True Cost To Own" for a Chevy Tahoe vs. a Honda Odyssey, you will see that a Tahoe costs $0.19 a mile more than an Odyssey. Every mile. For as long as you drive it.
So if you drive 15000 miles a year, that's $2850 more you will spend each year. Every year. For as long as you drive it. It's not just gas mileage, it's maintenance, depreciation and insurance that cost more with SUVs.
It's your call, but think about $2500 per year in the college fund.
On whether to buy new or used, the first two years of depreciation on a vehicle is huge (especially on SUVs) compared to the next five years, so if you're the kind of person who does not HAVE to drive a new car (and some people just can't stand a used car) then by all means get a 1-2 year old car.
That's my 19 cents.. :)

We have a Toyota Sienna and LOVE it. Before that, we had a Ford Windstar - HATED it. Lots of service problems with the Ford, including 2 transmissions. LOVE the Toyota Sienna. Our other vehicle is a Ford Explorer (to tow a camper), but there is SO MUCH more room in a minivan. In all fairness to Ford, the Explorer hasn't had many service issues, thank goodness.

Blogger JJ Daddy-O said...

And BTW, we have a Toyota Sienna and love it. Three magic words: "dual power doors".
My wife had an existensial crisis at the thought of buying one, but with the crankin' stereo she drowns out the sounds of her "coolness" dying (and the kids).
Cool is the power doors and low floor of the van allowing the twins to climb in and get themselves into their seats with no help. Try THAT with an SUV.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi guys... We rented a Toyota Sienna for our trip to Tenn and loved it. It has soooo much room and the dual power doors were great for getting the kids in and out. Not to mention we went to Tenn on one tank of gas...now that is good gas milelage. I also love the Uplander. It is a cross between a minivan and SUV...It's the best of both worlds. 4-wheel drive with the SUV look but total minivan comfort inside...not to mention the gas milelage is pretty good. Doug's Mom and Dad had one that we borrowed several times to go on vacation. Laura :)

Blogger Kiy said...

Hi Magi,

My dream “car” is actually a Hyundai Tucson. What I am actually driving … a Ford Focus. The reason, gas prices. Really, that’s the * only * reason. Our other car is a motorcycle (dh) for exactly the same reason. Someday, when (ha!) prices go down I really hope to get my Tucson, but for now, it’s the Focus. However, you asked minivan vs. SUV. If I were to choose, I would go with what fits your family better, gets the best mileage in-town and how you will use it. What we do do to compromise on this a bit is that we rent a vehicle for long drives. Our trip to the Grand Canyon and mine (with my mom) to OK are perfect examples. We added a bit more to our vacation budget for this, but it saves all year long at the gas pump. Maybe, if you have your heart set on the minivan you could compromise with Jim and rent something for the longer trips? Just a thought. Good luck on your search!


P.S. I forgot, do I love what I drive: Sorta. It's not the awfully purty Tucson, but it is very comfy. I am not a small gal, and it fits me wonderfully. Also, it has pretty deep leg areas so I don't feel all scrunched up. I drove it from New Mexico to Florida to DC to Memphis then back to NM. For 80% of the trip I was alone (well, me and the doglet), and it was perfect. A very comfortable ride. But, it wasn't the Tucson. :)

Blogger Marcia said...

I say go for the minivan (odyssey or sienna) over an SUV. Better gas mileage, more drink holders (remember how few I had!!), and the awesome electric doors. I think they are easier to move around inn (remember my climbing?)I understand Jim's SUV preference...it is a guy thing. However, if you do get an SUV, there are plenty that have 3 rows of seats other than the Yukon XL/Suburban... they just don't have as much cargo room (usually seats will fold down). You may want to look into that. good luck!

Blogger Tammie said...

I drive a Toyota Matrix & while I'm happy, I won't be going there again. I have finally decided that I need more than a point A to point B car. David is thrilled.

David drives a Dodge Durango, & we both love it! Large, roomy, 3rd row is easily up or down depending upon need. We got a great deal because no car salesman wants to try & outdo me & ended up not paying for either the entertainment system or the sunroof. The con is that it drinks gas like an alcoholic drinks alcohol. On the other hand, David is a big & tall at 6'3" & 290 pounds. I'm not too smaill either. (Note that I don't list my stats.)

While I won't drive one due to a fear of large vehicles, I would highly recommend a Honda Odyssey. My niece is on her 2nd, & my brother & SIL love theirs too.

Blogger septemberfirst said...

hi magi-
i drive a vw jetta and i'm never going to buy another brand of car if i can help it! my jetta is surpirsingly roomy, and a passat is even roomier. or there's a toureg suv, but i've never been in one. my jetta is diesel and gets 45 mpg.
my parents also have a suburban which is actually big enough for 5 kids and 2 adults :).
i think you can get dvd players built into your car if you want to spend the $. in retrospect to buying our suburban and buying the dvd player seperate, it would have been worth it.
we haven't had any major issues with either vehicle; although diesel cars can act wierd when it gets really cold.
good luck!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't stand driving my mini-van. It was terrible on the interstate on windy days and got around horrible in the snow. I have a Honda Pilot now with the 3rd row seat and I love it.

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Blogger Colleen said...

I swore never a mini van. Thats just me, but many people love them. I just went into an SUV in February. This after driving a 2 door sports car....big switch.

Anonymous trish said...

I fought so hard against minivans for years. Then reality (kids) hit hard. I went from driving a fast, sporty X5 to a minivan. We bought it used - 2 years old. Love it.
Best part? The potty seat I placed in the rear well where the 3rd row can recess. It takes away the stress of finding a bathroom when we are out and about doing errands or on longer road trips. My girls, now 4 years old, can get out of their carseats and get to the back then I check them back in the seats. Yes, life has changed and that is just fine with me!
If Toyota comes out with a hybrid Sienna I would be thrilled.
BTW, I live in a very icy, snowy, hilly area - the AWD does great.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Magi! Therese here. Minivans are awesome, and frankly I can't understand people's aversion to them. The are perfect when you have kids.

We have always bought used, for financial reasons. We would have loved to get an Odyssey or Sienna, but again, a bit out of our price range. Actually, there was nary a 2 yr old Odyssey to be found because they go so fast and no one gets rid of them! We ended up with a Town and Country and it has served us very well. One perk of getting used and not the ultra popular Odyssey or Sienna was that the T and C happened to have leather seats. With all the spills and wet bathing suits we've had in that car, the leather seats have been great. We'd never have afforded them otherwise.

I think the best thing about minivans is the ease of getting kids in and out. Ours doesn't even have the auto sliding doors, but it is so nice not to lean in to buckle a car seat. I love that I can stay upright!

Good luck with your decision!

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