I have resigned myself to the fact that its time for a mini van. I have never driven one and I don't know much about them. What are some of the 'must-have' features? Is there a particular one that stands out? Any other words of wisdom to share?

asked 09 Nov '09, 23:17

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edited 09 Nov '09, 23:21

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Great question... it's about time for us to replace Tammy's vehicle too.

(09 Nov '09, 23:21) Scott ♦♦

Think green! Replace both of your vehicles with new ones!

(10 Nov '09, 17:19) Mark

Consumer Reports has a list of features you might want to consider. They also rate both new and used minivans in a variety of categories. You can't see the actual ratings online unless you have a subscription. However, if you're in the US, your local library probably has copies of the magazine you can peruse. Also, many libraries subscribe to databases you can access from home that might include a access to Consumer Reports (though if you aren't familiar with the databases, call the library for help as the user interfaces are often evil).

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answered 10 Nov '09, 00:07

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You can get access to Consumer Reports online for about $5-6 per month (and can cancel at any time). We do this for a month or two whenever we need to make a large purchase - it is well worth the money!

(10 Nov '09, 06:08) Emily

Not only in the US, but in Canada as well. However, note that Consumer Reports' "Canada Extra" section isn't great, not all US models are available in Canada, and sometimes the vehicle specifications differ. That said, CR is worth a look, but if you're Canadian, don't expect it to contain all the info you'll want.

(02 Sep '10, 12:41) dave0

I loved the Toyota Sienna - I got the 2004 and at the time it was neck-and-neck with the Honda Odyssey for top-rated minivans on Consumer Reports, Edmunds.com and CanadianDriver.

I remember reading about how the engineer for the Toyota Sienna traveled around the U.S. in his older minivan, remarking "I wish there was a compartment here, and a hook there, and a glove box here, and a cupholder there..." and then designed the new Sienna to reflect exactly that.

It was perfect for my "minivan years" (which I'm happy to report are behind me now!)

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answered 10 Nov '09, 02:34

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We also went with a " New to Us" Mini Van. we got the Dodge Caravan. It is awesome it has built in car seat so as soon as kids go to the buster you can use them then they fold up Flush with the Car. The van has Duel climate control and middle seat and rear seat climate control. It is really a great Van.

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answered 10 Nov '09, 05:09

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Wow I like the built in booster seat.

(14 Nov '09, 10:58) Sabrina

+1 Lucky Mary! I read a report about the integrated car-seats being the safest way to carry your kids in the car. No chance of them being incorrectly installed, and with them being a part of the seat your child is actually bolted to the car frame. I think they should be standard in all vehicles, and if I ever decide to own a car again I wouldn't buy one without them. (I'll look for the link when I get home later today.)

(02 Sep '10, 14:27) Neen

We bought a used 2004 Toyota Sienna last year and I love it. Ours is the 8 seat version, which means we can put all three children in the middle and use the back for lots of gear when we go on trips. The seats are easy to put down (and up) and the back ones fold down completely flush with the floor.

When we were looking last year, this make, model, and year had ratings that were neck and neck with the 2005 Honda Odyssey. We chose the Sienna because of the 8 seat option and because the price was a little better.

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answered 10 Nov '09, 06:12

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I would love to use this one (from Azor bikes):

alt text

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answered 10 Nov '09, 16:39

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edited 02 Sep '10, 11:41

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LOL. Oh my, where are their helmets! If they fall, that's a lot of crying! hehe

(14 Nov '09, 10:57) Sabrina

@Sabrina: the website is Dutch, and helmets are not obliged in the Netherlands. Although they are strongly recommended.

(06 Sep '10, 09:18) Fisherman

We went with a used van right after our second was born. 1. It's cheaper. With two kids and only one income, we could not afford the payments on a brand new vehicle. 2. We don't have to worry as much about what the kids do to the interior. My parents always freaked out when my brother or I would make a mess in a new vehicle, but were more laidback about the older cars we had.

Specifically we have a 1998 Nissan Quest, but I don't know how it compares to other minivans.

My husband did update the stereo from a tape deck to a cd player, but otherwise it is pretty good fit for us.

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answered 09 Nov '09, 23:34

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The BBC's Top Gear programme has a website with a Car Chooser section, where by you enter your preferences regarding style and price. Then the fine tuning sections help narrow down the list, whilst displaying pictures of all possible care models which have the features you are looking for.

I think most major car manufacturers have a "series" that is specifically designed for large families. I would compare their features to have an idea. Here are a few to look at;

Renault Grand Scenic VW Routan Toyota Sinenna

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answered 10 Nov '09, 04:09

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The VW Routan is a Volkswagen in name only -- it's really a Chrysler with some minor changes by VW. (http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/minivans-vans/112_0811_2009_volkswagen_routan_first_drive/index.html) If you're considering it, I'd suggest comparing with the equivalent Chrysler model to save yourself a few bucks.

(02 Sep '10, 12:44) dave0

@dave0 Thank you for the comment and link...interesting :) we are not thinking of changing our reliable Scenic of a few years!

(03 Sep '10, 19:21) Emi

When Baby #2 was on the way, we upgraded to a 2008 Honda Odyssey and I must admit I LOVE it. It can carry 8 people, which with the fold away 3rd row, is plenty of room for us, both kids, the dog in his crate and all our stuff when we pack up to go visit family.

One thing I found very handy is the automatic slider doors (I think these are pretty standard on any van these days) - when you've got your hands full, they are a godsend.

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answered 10 Nov '09, 15:40

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We bought a Nissan quest after test driving every minivan we could afford (So no Honda, and no Chrysler)

For room, and storage the Quest won hands down. If we wanted to, we could fit 3 carseats, and 2 big kids (Or Adults), and 2 adults (Driver Passenger) and STILL have room for camping gear

And as a guy (dad) the fact that it moves when I hit the gas petal, is a huge win.

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answered 27 Sep '10, 23:27

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I bought a Citroën Berlingo XTR. The sliding sidedoors are really convenient, especially when parked between 2 other cars.

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answered 06 Sep '10, 09:20

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Asked: 09 Nov '09, 23:17

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Last updated: 27 Sep '10, 23:27