By on July 23, 2012

 

JCP writes:

So here’s the least sexy question of the year. For those of us with the need for six seats (and climbing over the middle row of an SUV is unacceptable) what is your take on the reasonable lifespan of the current minivan lineup? I’m curious what you can expect to be a reasonable number of miles on a Caravan, Oddessy or Sienna if you were to be traveling 900 miles on Christmas Eve or New Years Day? Breakdowns with a family of six in this situation can get very expensive fast, so replacing the vehicle before it breaks can make financial sense. How far would you recommend pushing it?

Assumptions; minivans are purchased new and all regular maintenance is done. Do you have any thoughts on the various models and do any of them have timebombs under the hood?

Sajeev answers:

I hate answering questions like this. And not because they aren’t sexy, I think that damn near anyone can make a minivan look sexy. It’s all about being comfortable with yourself and a positive attitude conveyed to others. Our founder’s wife penned an article on this subject many, many years ago.

Where were we?  Oh yeah, trying to make a decision based on all we know: automotive durability stats and the shaky foundations they are based on…

Well then! Many reliability studies don’t go beyond a vehicle’s warranty period, and damn near all of them use formulas of dubious utility. One of the few (the only?) avoiding that pitfall is our own Mr. Karesh’s TrueDelta.com website.  Poking around there leads me to believe that the most reliable van so far in modern history (5-10 years) is the Toyota Sienna.  It seems marginally better than the repair data collected for the Honda Odyssey. Perhaps the Chrysler vans are just fine now–with their all new powertrains–but their past reliability has been spotty at best. Do you mind being the next spot?

My answer? I don’t really give a crap. Even worse, I have modest-at-best faith in past performance being a bellwether of future durability.  There are too many little things that can go wrong, too many moving parts that can have a running manufacturing defect that we won’t know for months/years and we can never plan for.

Just buy any minivan you like, cut the required transmission servicing schedule in half, add a transmission cooler and you’ll be pretty much okay.  I call this Taking an Active Role in Consumer Reporting!  And that’s how you bring the sexy back.

How’s that for avoiding your unsexy question?

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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51 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Least Sexy Question of The Year?...”


  • avatar
    Volt 230

    You do see a lot of Chrysler and Dodge minivans from all generations because they sold so many of them, avoid VW and opt for Sienna or Odyssey instead, I meet a lot of owners of older ones and they’re very pleased with them

  • avatar
    Gannet

    Good advice from Sajeev.

    Instead of looking just at ultimate durability, perhaps also consider this: look at depreciation and retained value. If those are good, then it gives you more of an ‘out’ if the vehicle becomes problematic.

    Darn near any modern vehicle will go 200k+ if properly maintained – unless you happen to get a lemon. The ability to trade off a lemon should the need arise is good insurance if you’re really concerned about this.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      My wife’s Kia Sedona hit 100K and that was it. Which appears to be common for the pre 2010 models. We just replaced it with a 2011 Grand Caravan because we let the first buyer take the big depreciation hit. The Hondas and Toyotas cost so damn much too. I have trouble with the concept of a 45 grand minivan, but they both sell them.

  • avatar
    theonlydt

    My mother-in-law’s Odessey has not been impressive on the reliability front. Auto problems, brake problems, power steering problems. I’d take the Sienna. I’d also echo the tranny cooler; by the time there’s 6 people, all their stuff, a roof-rack and a tent trailer possibly that transmission’s getting fried quick.

    • 0 avatar

      Ditto my MDX. I bought a “honda” because I’d heard it was less trouble. Power steering pump, bad coils, third gear solenoid, and torque converter replaced (just within warranty by a hair). My BMW was far less trouble, and my dad’s Caddy is a rock by comparison. I think we may be at a point where the individual car is more important than brand name…

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Google “Pentastar Problems” for your answer.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      @Crabspirits

      Does doing so give us results pertaining to the brand new engine and brand new interior make-up, and how these brand new items have fared in regards to durability?!?

      Looking at a Chrysler/Dodge product, you’d be a fool to compare ANY model from today with ANY model prior to 2011 (and in some cases, 2012), if there’s an exception to this rule I can’t think of it.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        So buyers are supposed to ignore Chrysler’s abysmal dependability as recently as last year to rationalize buying one of their cars now? Not ignoring Chrysler’s track record is foolish in your opinion? There were people saying Chrysler had their act together last year too, and the year before that. They were wrong then, and one would be optimistic beyond all reason to think that those still saying it today won’t be eating their words too.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        @CJinSD

        Basically, yeah.

        If I looked at anything related to the 2011 Focus when I bought my 2012, I wouldn’t have bought it.

        Reliability data, as the article suggests, is largely a crock of crap. The only true reliability data is going to be heresay, and even then it’s not really available given how new the car is – and sorry, but your mechanic who’s loyalty is unknown, saying “he’s seen a lot of them there Chryslers brokeded” IS considered heresay IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      You can google any company/model/engine and problems and get pages of results.

  • avatar
    tuffjuff

    I think durability aside (since every minivan on the market is, within a couple of years, brand new) you have to look at features and looks. Exterior appearance clearly isn’t a factor for people buying minivans, but it probably SHOULD be. The new Nissan Quest…. yeah. About that. And it’s almost a travesty how the Sienna went from being neutral looking but in a good way to turning into a really long looking Prius.

    The Chrysler/Dodge twins are the least offensive outside, but then you’d probably also want to compare the insides, too. A friend’s mom had a 2009 or 2010 Toyota Sienna and that was one nice vehicle on the inside (loaded), easily stepping into entry level lux territory.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Once again, the Kia Sedona is left out, yet it comes with a 10/100 warranty that the others don’t hsve, and for less money.

    Our 09 has been great, much better than the 98 Caravan, 05 Odyssey, or 96 Voyager we had before it.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      That’s because it’s now out of production, while its replacement is still waiting in the wings.

      And it needed replacement — the current van is just not competitive with the latest generations of the competition on either refinement or features.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      I have to ask – what good is a warranty that you have to use? I’d prefer one you NEVER have to use.

      My 2010 Kia Forte EX had it’s ESC/TSC die half a dozen times in so many months starting about 3 months into ownership. Every time it broke, I’d drive the car to one of several places 1-2 HOURS away to be looked at for 3-5 days (pretty much always a full work week) after having to beg for a rental or loaner car – something not required, but I’d add any other make of car I’ve had has offered this without me even needing to ask – only for me to get my car home and have the check engine light pop up within a day or two of getting the car back. After exhausting over I want to say a total of 7 or 8 trips to the only two dealerships within 2 hours of me (Green Bay, WI area) along with having to replace tires at 12,000 miles (to quote a C&D review of the newly refreshed Optima – Nexen *WHO???*) I called Kia, asking if they could help fix my car. I got nothing but lip. Two days later, I bought my 2012 Ford Focus. Luckily I only lost $1,700 (plus a year’s worth of payments, which I don’t count against it, I guess) on the Forte, because it was still somewhat new/rare at the time.

      I’ve only had to use my Focus warranty once, to replace a “possibly, some day, maybe” problematic passenger side windshield wiper because of it maybe some year having a bad motor. A voluntary recall done during an oil change, adding ten minutes to the duration.

      I’ll take a good car with a 5/60 over a badly built car, with a company who tells me to “deal with it myself, we didn’t sell you the car” (despite them having BUILT the d*mn thing) with a 10/100 any day of the week.

      I’m hoping the Forte is a lemon – everything else Kia puts out, that isn’t over-stylized, looks great. But heck if I’m buying Korean any time soon.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    One has gotta love the utility of the modern “mini” van. My brother has driven plenty as company cars and he’s had abysmal luck with the Chrysler minivans of both current and previous generations. They stack ‘em deep and sell them cheap but don’t expect much else on the Dodge lot. He misses the Ford offerings of the mid ’00s as they were more durable, all be it nothing flashy.

    My employer has two minivans for local delivery vehicles. One Sienna and one Odyssey. Botha are driven 100% city driving and have almost 200k miles on each. I’m told they have both been quite reliable. Personally the Honda is more fun to drive, but lets not kid ourselves, it drives like a van.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Minivans suffer the fate of owners that neglect them simply because they are appliance vehicles. What ails most minivans is automatic transmissions that have not been flushed or serviced properly, as is the case of many Honda minivans.

    Take a heavy van, slap in a powerful V6 and a light duty transmission that doesn’t rid itself of heat very well and you’ve got a recipe for expensive repairs and or replacements.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    Minivan = castration. Pony up and buy an MDX instead.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      If the minivan is castration, does that make luxotrucks penile pumps?

    • 0 avatar
      Nostrathomas

      MDX = No need for castration, because you weren’t born with any balls to begin with.

      Minivans are for people who man up and realize that it’s the most practical and spacious solution for their large family. Crossovers are for people who are too concerned about what others think, and would rather buy based on image than need. And the ironic thing is that today’s crossovers are exactly the mommy mobiles that people make fun of minivans for.

    • 0 avatar
      kuman

      save up an buy this version of Honda Odyssey… right hand drive only!

      http://www.autobildindonesia.com/read/2012/03/22/5510/33/11/Honda-New-Odyssey-2012-Semakin-Baik-Dan-Murah

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      So “manning up” is paying more money for less space and comfort, and a useless third row?

      • 0 avatar
        GoesLikeStink

        Yes, manning up means giving in to peer pressure and your own insecurities.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        Ah, peer pressure like you mean having to get married by 28 and having 2.3 kids? Buying a minivan might make sense. I hear they hold their value quite well, so when you get divorced because you wife’s ass got too fat you can sell it to the younger couple starting out who ‘think’ they want 2.3 kids. You now have the cash to pay for those future therapy sessions for your messed up kid who shouldn’t have been born to begin with. So the moral of the story is instead of saving up for a minivan, save your cash, invest in some prophylactics and buy the much nicer to drive MDX. Remember, the “greenest” method out there starts with birth control.

      • 0 avatar
        theonlydt

        Speed Spaniel plainly has issues… peer pressure certainly won’t be the reason my wife and I have kids, nor the reason why I have a minivan even before we do. My Mazda 5 is a awesome station wagon that also sits 6 if we need, is low enough for my wife to put a kayak on the roof rack (no other minivan can do that) and can turn itself into a moving van with a flat floor in 30 seconds.

        Find me someone who divorced their wife for being too fat.

        My money would still be on a Sienna.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        http://suite101.com/article/being-fat-ended-my-marriage-says-a-too-fat-wife-a116522

        Wow, dude you are naive.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Speed Spaniel – http://suite101.com/article/being-fat-ended-my-marriage-says-a-too-fat-wife-a116522.

        Yeah, that’s definitive. One story however vetted equals everyone in America. Said the pot to the kettle over being naive.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        I said **all** divorces occur because of a fat ass? Do you always take everything so literal? Great, more averagely dumb kids from the sounds of it.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Speed you’ve earned your dunce hat. You’re welcome to it.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    If you’re buying a minivan:
    * Get a base model, or as near base you can. The power accessories—especially power sliders and hatch—will break.
    * The doors will be tricky, even in base, unpowered form. Nature of the beast.
    * Get a transmission cooler, even if you don’t intend to tow. This is less of a standout than it used to be now that full-size unibody sedans weigh almost as much as a minivan and crossovers weigh more.
    * Fully expect that trim pieces will break if you have kids.
    * A backup camera or sonar is not a bad idea. Nor are door- and hood edge-guards
    * When it comes to the ~100K major maintenance, it **will** cost a fortune because the engine is tricky to get at.

    That said, the Sienna is probably the best bet. You can save a little money on the I4 model (a bit up-front, and a fair bit more come maintenance time as that engine is a lot easier to get at than the big six). Honda addressed it’s transaxle issues more than a half-decade ago, and is probably okay, too. Chrysler, well, err, spotty is a good description. Nissan is similarly dicey.

    There’s also the Mazda5, if you can stand to lose all that space. It’s a thousand pounds lighter, and that pays dividends in fuel and maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      theonlydt

      My mother-in-law has a 2008 Odessey that had auto problems; I don’t think Honda have fixed all the problems. It was a well maintained van and only at 80k when it started hard shifting, shift flaring etc. They tried a new software flash, but it ended up needing a new gearbox. The power steering is inoperable at low speeds, unless the engine is given revs, makes parking lots VERY hard going and the brakes had the problem with air getting in the system. They’re still soft and squidgy.

      That said, the power EVERYTHING on that car haven’t gone wrong, despite living in Canada.

      I have a Mazda 5 and love it, but am concerned about replacing rear shocks every couple of services once out of warranty and the lack of space isn’t for everyone. Works well for myself, wife, golden retriever and the one or two planned little ones.

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy B

      I agree w/ everything except the paying of dividends in fuel. The Mazda5 only seems to get about 3 extra mpg combined (per edmunds). That’s about $312/year (figure $3.5/gal and 15K annually). Absolutely nothing to sneeze at, but IMO, not enough of a savings to go along with the smaller size. I’ve been trying VERY hard to convince myself to get a Mazda5 Sport 5MT, but the it’s just a no-go. Yes, cheaper to buy by a lot, but the smaller size without a more significant gain in mpg is giving me pause. If they would just make a SkyActive 5, we’d be in business! The 5 sells too slowly in the States to justify that I think. Pity

      Also something to be said for going “mainstream” with the van purchase. Little bugs and oddities of the 5 are left to be discovered by a MUCH smaller customer base. You’re the guinea pig whereas chances are with the other makes (Nissan excluded), there’s hundreds of others with that same problem to help troubleshoot, bring it to the attention of the manufacturer, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        The 5’s fuel savings are a wash if you have to rent a full-size minivan for a week to take a road trip vacation.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        The 5 has a few known issues, at least up to the 2010 MY. They all have issues with suspension bushings and suspension noises in general, the early 06-07 vans being the worst. They have an appetite for tires, since it wears 215/55/16 or 205/50/17 tires on a tall, 3500 lb vehicle. Our 08 only has 25k on it and is on its second set of tires ( and I have dedicated snow tires/wheels for winter).

        Our hills and roads in western PA aren’t friendly to tires and brakes, but very few people in the Mazda forums get more than 15k out of their tires.

        There are some other small issues, mostly affecting the early vans. Our 08 has been good to us so far. The Skyactiv engine would help in the MPG war, but you’re right about the space vs MPG battle. Plus,with the success of the CX-5, I don’t think the 5 has too long left to live in the US. Which is a shame.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Gotta weigh in on the defense of the Mazda 5. Please let me compare my ’10 Mazda 5 GT to my ’08 Grand Caravan SXT with 4.0L, ‘sport’ suspension and every option minus the map finder.

        Drivability: Mazda 5. The Grand Caravan is porky, sitting heavy on its suspension that even with the ‘sport’ upgrade still made me feel like Captain Bleigh during a Hurricane at 79 mph or going down a curvy road. The Mazda 5 is the only true MINIvan as per the original definition of the genre, easily weighing 1000 lbs less than the beefcake pictured above.

        MPGs: Mazda 5, 25-28. Grand Caravan, 16-20.

        Maintenance: Mazda 5, so far, a new set of tires provided by the dealer at purchase. Grand Caravan, where do I start? The power sliding doors sensors failed twice and the rear power door failed about every three months and ALWAYS when you hand heavy bags or grocery sacks. The tranny leaked, a fuel line leaked, the molding on the rear bumper bubbled up and fell off AT HIGHWAY SPEED. So far, nothing has fallen off the Mazda.

        Price: Mazda 5 GT fully loaded at new $23K. Grand Caravan SXT 4.0L fully loaded $37K.

        Seating: Mazda 5 can only sit 6, thats it. And if you do, you need the roof rack to encompass the Thule luggage bin. Not much room behind the third row. This is the one area the Grand Caravan was better. However, I did fit the entire BILLY line furniture from IKEA inside with me, the spouse, one kid, and our bags and drove it 1K miles. Did great.

        All said and done, I love the size of the Mazda 5. It’s true that with three kids and a dog, space can be limited at times, but the rare times I need to take all on a long journey I use the roof rack and luggage bin. The Mazda is way easier to park, feed, and actually fun to drive in the twisties. The rest of the “mini”vans have none of that which makes the Mazda perfect for us.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Gotta weigh in on the defense of the Mazda 5. Please let me compare my ’10 Mazda 5 GT to my ’08 Grand Caravan SXT with 4.0L, ‘sport’ suspension and every option minus the map finder.

        Drivability: Mazda 5. The Grand Caravan is porky, sitting heavy on its suspension that even with the ‘sport’ upgrade still made me feel like Captain Bleigh during a Hurricane at 79 mph or going down a curvy road. The Mazda 5 is the only true MINIvan as per the original definition of the genre, easily weighing 1000 lbs less than the beefcake pictured above.

        MPGs: Mazda 5, 25-28. Grand Caravan, 16-20.

        Maintenance: Mazda 5, so far, a new set of tires provided by the dealer at purchase. Grand Caravan, where do I start? The power sliding doors sensors failed twice and the rear power door failed about every three months and ALWAYS when you hand heavy bags or grocery sacks. The tranny leaked, a fuel line leaked, the molding on the rear bumper bubbled up and fell off AT HIGHWAY SPEED. So far, nothing has fallen off the Mazda.

        Price: Mazda 5 GT fully loaded at new $23K. Grand Caravan SXT 4.0L fully loaded $37K.

        Seating: Mazda 5 can only sit 6, thats it. And if you do, you need the roof rack to encompass the Thule luggage bin. Not much room behind the third row. This is the one area the Grand Caravan was better. However, I did fit the entire BILLY line furniture from IKEA inside with me, the spouse, one kid, and our bags and drove it 1K miles. Did great.

        All said and done, I love the size of the Mazda 5. It’s true that with three kids and a dog, space can be limited at times, but the rare times I need to take all on a long journey I use the roof rack and luggage bin. The Mazda is way easier to park, feed, take care of and actually fun to drive in the twisties. The rest of the “mini”vans have none of that which makes the Mazda perfect for us.

  • avatar
    Broo

    True, nothing beats the practical side of a minivan for a family with more than 2 kids. The Mazda 5 and siblings are good if your kids are a bit older and don’t require the diaper/change clothes bag, baby stroller and such.

    We were shopping for a used minivan about a year ago. We were shopping for a Caravan due to budget. However, a slightly older Sienna popped up within our budget limit, low mileage ,wife-required features and features I really wanted to avoid were thankfully not there (electric doors and other known troublesome gadgets).

    We thought we had an engine problem, but after the injectors were cleaned up it ran like new. Wife has travelled with a friend in their 2010 Caravan and she prefers our 2004 Sienna.

  • avatar
    catt102

    While the Sienna/Odyssey might be “better” vehicles, the depreciation hit on a 1/2 year-old, under 20k-mile Chrysler/Dodge minivan is so big that it’s definitely should be one of the OP’s options.

    For someone people the cost savings in a Grand Caravan is worth it, for others no amount of money can get them out of a Sienna. OP should drive them all and decide.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    There is only one real solution to this problem. Chevy Suburban, with 51/21 mpg, it is pretty close to most minivans.

    It is also superior in most ways like having a V8, actual 4WD with 4Low, useable cargo space, seating for 9, ground clearance, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Most new minivans do much better than 15 city/21 highway. Yes, the 4wd and ground clearance is better in the Suburban, but who really needs all that and seating for 9? I’m sure there are people out there that do and that’s fine for them.

      But for us,and I suppose most people in the family hauler market,the commute that my wife makes alone after dropping off the kids at daycare, with no rivers to ford or things to tow that I know of, who needs all that extra vehicle?

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I suspect minivan transmission issues are more prevalent in the much hotter southern U.S. where Sajeev and Steven operate than Canada. Transmission repair people here say recent Chrysler transmissions, since about 2005, are at least as reliable as Toyota transmissions and much more reliable than Honda units.

    Honda’s weight reduction efforts reportedly significantly decreased durability resulting in premature four and five-speed automatic failures.

    Some six speed automatic transmissions utilize softer metals for reduced machining costs and thinner lighter gearsets shoehorned into four-speed housings to avoid re-engineering platforms.

  • avatar
    George B

    My sister and brother-in-law have owned 2 Toyota Siennas. They traded in the 1st one after several problems that appeared to coolant related. Minivans have features and challenges that are alien to car guys like heating and cooling for the rear of the vehicle and it’s difficult to get at stuff under the hood. I suspect that busy families don’t keep up with some of the maintenance, so I’d buy a new Sienna and replace all the fluids frequently.

    Regarding the Odyssey, Honda automatic transmissions are weak, but their design is relatively simple and a good transmission shop can rebuild them. In contrast, near as I can tell a worn CVT requires full new replacement. The problem is removing, rebuilding, and reinstalling an automatic transmission is a labor intensive job that will cost you low thousands in shop time plus rental car fees.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    I bought a 2011 Dodge Caravan with eyes wide open after comparing the Odyssey, Sienna, and taking a long and very hard look at a Mazda 5. Cost wise, the Mazda 5 was within spitting distance – under $1000 – of a decently equipped Grand Caravan, and the difference in combined fuel economy is 4 mpg (about $400 a year where we live), though YMMV. While the 5 might be ‘right-size’ for most purposes, the Caravan offers loads more space and usability than the 5 and is much quieter and more powerful on the road than the 5. Also, with a family aboard, size matters in crashes (god forbid). I’d rather be in a bigger than smaller vehicle any day.

    We average about 20mpg with the Caravan in 60% city / 40% freeway driving. I’m not overly concerned with the Caravan’s potential reliability issues. All pentastar models come with a transmission cooler as standard (even without the tow package), and it has a 100k powertrain warranty (despite it being advertised as ‘included’ on the tow package vans). The way we saw it was buy a vastly improved high-volume domestic with full warranty coverage and maintain it well or take a gamble on a used Toyota or Honda with an unknown past life and no warranty. So far, we’ve been happy, but time will tell. The other upshot of going domestic is there simply are many more Chryco vans on the road than the competitors, which hopefully will make future servicing less expensive than Honda/Toyota vans.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    If I had to, a Chrysler Town and Country minivan. I like the ones I’ve driven.

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    Look on the usual used car sites for a 2004-2006 Taurus wagon with the Duratec “S” engine. It seats seven with the 3rd rear seat and it is NOT a minivan, so it’s verrrrry sexy, indeed.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    We have an 08 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, with leather, moonroof,HID lights and heated seats. It’s amusing to drive for a tall,boxy vehicle, although it is just adequately powered, which gets worse with a full load. We bought it new in 09 as a leftover and got a good deal, so much so we bought one way plane tickets and drove it home. We didn’t want a big van and the only other vehicle close to it at the time was the Kia Rondo. The sliding doors and the general Zoom Zoom sold us on the Mazda.

    With 95% city, hills and running A/C, only about 18-19 mpg city, usually about 27 highway, though we have seen 30 mpg a few times and 32 is the high. Not stellar economy and the comparisons to the big vans is lacking now, but not in 09 when we bought it.

    It is just adequate for us with twin 18 month boys. I have an Altima lease and the Mazda will be paid for a few months ahead of the Altima lease ending, so the plan is to keep the Mazda for a long time. At only 25k miles, it has a lot of life left in it and except for its appetite for tires and noisy suspension, has been a good vehicle. If that continues, it will continue to live with us for a long time.

    But, the Mazda is just adequate. Sorry to live up to the American stereotype, but we’d like more space. Odyssey has our top spot, probably used EX-L. Just all around a good vehicle, nothing great but no big surprises either. We had an 06 Accord that was a fine vehicle. The transmission issues of the Honda V6 vehicles bugs me and the road noise in Hondas. But an Odyssey is tomb silent compared to the Mazda! More than likely, we will have an Odyssey in the garage at some point but..

    Haven’t ruled out the Chrysler T&C. Have had a few Caravans as rentals and the Pentastar/6 spd combo is great. Nope, not as smooth as a Honda, especially up high, but much better than anything before it in Mopar vans. That and the vast improvements in the interiors in Chryslers brings it up a notch (though a bit too “blingy” for my mostly EuroAsian car history). The fact you can get a very well equipped year old Chrysler for the cost of a 3 y/o Honda with 35-45k on it definitely keeps it up there.

    Yes, I know. There’s a reason the Chrysler is cheap. Resale is miserable because they build a billion of them and the quality has always been spotty. Having experienced a new 300 with a Pentastar, I think Chrysler has turn a corner (again). Have a few years to decide. Even considering Routan for the same reason.

    Toyota- Not a fan of the styling and wife is certainly no fan of the styling. SE is the only version that appeals to me. I find Toyotas no fun to drive at all, too soft and boring. Maybe a good deal on an SE will change my tune, but right now, no.

    Nissan- I actually like the boxy styling, however it will not fit in the garage due to that extra height. My experience with the Altima and it’s CVT does not impress me. I’m sure the VQ works better with it, but still not a fan, except on the highway, where passing is super simple and quick and the revs are low (75mph is about 2300 rpm)

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Personal experience: Any Chrysler minivan with a 3.3 or a 3.8 engine – the engine will last longer than about anything else on the road. They are durable (and as advanced) as anvils. Trannys on those are a bit brittle, but with good maintenance/driving habits can go 200K. The engines are good for 300K with very little drama.

    I cannot speak to the newer 3.6.

    I also have a 2012 Sedona. No problems so far at about 7500 miles. It has been a very nice van.

  • avatar
    don1967

    One option for the contrarian handyperson is a used 2004-2009 Nissan Quest. The quality issues are well-documented, but most are minor and well within the grasp of shadetree mechanics. The 3.5 VQ is fairly robust, the transmissions solid by minivan standards, and clean specimens are occasionally available for near-Chrysler prices.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    If you’re buying new and keeping it till it dies, Chryslers available lifetime unlimited mileage warranty would seem to make them the best option. It was a big reason my parents got their Fiat 500 (it was $3k on that car).


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  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States