Author Topic: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5? (Read 46481 times)

gingrichdk

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« on: September 07, 2012, 03:39:25 PM »
Im in the market for a used minivan, since our 3rd child is almost here and I pretty often haul substantial luggage.

Some particulars:

* I have a modest budget. I originally was hoping to spend no more than about $7000, but Im open to spending more if it pays off long-term.

* I plan to pay the total up front.

* I plan to run the van until it isnt safe to do so-pretty much into the ground. We currently drive a battered Chevy Lumina with almost 195,000 miles.

* Ive been looking at minivans from 2005 or newer (better seating/luggage options than older models) with about 100,000 miles. It shouldnt be hard to get a Dodge Caravan for about $6000, a Toyota Sienna for about $8000, or a Honda Odyssey for about $9000. Gas mileage on each appears similar, or at least unpredictable as to which will be better (Ive scoured multiple websites with conflicting claims).

* Im also considering the Mazda5. I could probably get a 2008 with about 80,000 miles for about $9500, or an older one for a little less. Id probably save over $400/year on gas with this little van (about 23.5 mpg vs. about 19.5). As for reliability, the Lemon-Aid book likes it a lot. But it hasnt been around as long as the other minivans (there are few for sale with over 100,000 miles), so might it be more of a gamble as far as longevity?

Questions:
* Any general advice about narrowing my field?
* Should I consider paying more for a Dodge/Toyota/Honda with fewer miles?
* Does the Mazda5 sound like a wiser choice in the long run?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

westerndog

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2012, 06:26:51 PM »
I have a 2001 Acura MDX essentially an Odyssey with 150,xxx ; in almost 12 years, the car has never been in the shop except for maintenance, brakes x 2, belts x1, battery x 2, and tires. So I would go for the Honda.

grantmeaname

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4299
  • This night has silence and very little fear
    • The MMM Blogger Community
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2012, 08:11:12 PM »
I drive an 03 Town and Country, the Grand Caravan's sister car. The automatic transmission on them is problematic; ours went at 90,000 miles, and it seems like most cars will need major work on theirs at some point. The engine and frame are bulletproof though (figuratively, so don't use it for bank robbery getaway driving). Overall, I'm happy enough with it, and I get 19 city and 27 highway if I hypermile right.

Are you totally sure you couldn't make do with a Vibe or Matrix-sized car? You'd be paying a lot for the convenience of a van in maintenance, insurance, and especially gas.

ShavinItForLater

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2012, 11:10:37 AM »
We are a Honda family, so I cannot help but be biased. We bought an Accord new in '97, sold it this year, 15 years later, replaced with a new CR-V. We bought an Odyssey new in '00, and I'm still driving it, it has about 97K miles on it--was driven only about 6-7K miles/year for most of that time. No major repairs at all with any of our cars, just normal maintenance, I think the only problem with the Accord was some A/C clogs a couple of times.

The downside especially when buying used is that Hondas generally keep their value pretty well relative to other brands, so the used prices can be higher. I think Honda has been losing market share and some brand prestige recently though, and American cars have gotten a lot better with reliability, so it could be changing now.

So, if I were in your shoes, I'd look at the Odyssey, assuming the extra cash doesn't hurt too much in other areas. I'd stress that this is a biased opinion though--we have not looked at or test driven any other brand of car in the last 12 years.

[email protected]

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 25
    • Live the New Economy
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2012, 11:25:53 AM »
Our 2005 Odyssey has 110,000 miles and still runs great. We have had so few problems with it that when the wheels eventually fall off, we'll certainly buy another one.
My financial journey: http://livetheneweconomy.com

gingrichdk

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2012, 06:46:18 PM »
Thanks to all for your advice and shared experiences!

It sounds like Honda has won some trusting customers. Peace of mind and less time spent on repairs and vehicle purchases are worth a little extra money up front sometimes. I've had several Sienna owners recommend their vans for the same reasons over the past several days, too.

As for the Vibe/Matrix, I wish we could make do with that size of a car! The gas mileage is very attractive, but three car seats + luggage make it look like a poor option for us.

Does anyone have any comments about the Mazda5?

CB

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 112
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2012, 08:38:47 PM »
We have an '08 Mazda 5 Sport and it is just right for our family of four. It drives like a small car rather than like a minivan. Off the top of my head the main drawbacks are that the OEM tires suck (and replacements are a bit pricey) and the "sand" colored interior we have shows a lot of dirt/stains. With the automatic transmission we get 23~25mpg in town, right about 30mpg on the highway. Mostly gets used for long road trips and when we need to haul kids' friends. No repairs since we bought it new (sacrilege!), just regular dealer servicing which averages about $50-75 per 5,000 miles.

If you can swing a 2008 or newer they come with a few nice extras, like a 5-speed automatic transmission, rear A/C (not a separate system, just an extra A/C distribution vent/fan unit), electroluminescent gauges, and real armrests.

Do be aware that if you use the entire third row for seating you have almost no cargo space available. I.e. you can seat four and have tons of cargo space, seat give and have space for a suitcase and a half, or seat six and have none.

jp

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 129
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2012, 10:10:29 AM »
We have a 2006 mazda5 and a 2002 ford windstar limited minivan.

The mazda5 is really not a van. It like a car with sliding doors. We have a family of 4 and it has plenty of room. My wife loves it and it has been totally reliable. It is much more spartan than the minivan which is very luxurious in comparison, but the mazda5 is a great vehicle... but it really isn't a van. In a van (like my windstar), you can fit refrigerators and huge loads of lumber.

Again it is a great family vehicle, but it serves and entirely different purpose that a van IMO. We have a family of 4 and the Mazda5 is our transportation, and can haul a lot of strollers and groceries. But its overall capacity is more like a hatchback than a minivan.

That said, unless you need to haul refrigerators or lumber on a regular basis, I vote for the Mazda5.

velocistar237

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1417
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2012, 07:34:29 AM »
I have a 2006 Mazda 5 with a 5-speed manual. I bought it this year for $8000, in a pretty expensive area. We mostly use it as a large stroller, since there aren't any good 3-seat strollers out there, and it's tight to fit 3 carseats across the back of a Toyota Matrix. Trips are usually around 2 miles, over hills, with lots of stoplights. In that setup, we get 21-22 mpg. We haven't taken many freeway trips.

As others have noted, it's not quite a minivan, not quite a hatchback. The term I've heard for this type of car is "space wagon." The car is only 10 inches longer than a Toyota Matrix. If you use all three rows of seats, there's very little leg room. It's also pretty cramped with rear-facing carseats. If you use only two rows, then the leg room isn't bad, and there's a ton of storage in the back. With just me driving and all the back seats down, I've hauled a digital piano with no problem.

I'm glad we found one with a manual transmission. They seem to be pretty rare.

gingrichdk

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2012, 10:03:10 PM »
Thanks again for your comments. We tested a Mazda5 yesterday and decided it is too small for our growing family. At the moment I'm comparing prices on the Sienna. I love the room in the 2nd row seating, on the models with a middle seat.

Again, thanks for helping me process this decision.

Tradies wife

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 89
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2012, 10:11:10 PM »
I thought you might like to read this blog post from a while back.
http://adm-karpinsk.ru/2011/12/08/turning-a-little-car-into-a-big-one/

When we brought our current car, I made sure that it could fit 3 car seats along the back. Simple. Minivans simply didn't enter the equation. In honesty, no matter how much elbow room kids have they will still be siblings with their associated squabbles. When it comes to placing the smallest into the center of the seat, often it is easier to do in a smaller car because you don't have to reach so far. It's always going to be an issue no matter how big or small the car is. If you were having N#4 bub, I probably wouldn't blink at a mini van because they come into play at that stage.

My boot space is huge. Well big enough that I don't generally make us of it every day. We have been camping, with all the associated camping equipment and wood and water on board. But what was the big point for us to not get the larger Mazda model was that the fuel economy on the SUV was very poor in comparison.

Ours looks like- http://carsales.com.au/dealer/details/mazda-6-2008-13145040?base=1216&vertical=Car&cr=9&eapi=2&__N=1246+1247+1252+1282+1216+4294680278&num=15&silo=Stock&Range=Price:Min,25000~0.5&items=[Make:MAZDA,Model:6,BaseEnabledBadge:CLASSIC]&sort=default


gingrichdk

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2012, 09:22:20 AM »
Interesting article! :-)

alandjackson

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2012, 01:36:35 PM »
2 things that made us lean towards the Sienna:
1. the new models started in 2004 so you can get it slightly cheaper than the Odyssey which started its new model in 2005
2. 8 seat option (3 in the 2nd row)

If the Mazda5 is enough room then you should definitely consider it (with the idea that you get the smallest/best mpg/most reliable car that has enough room for you).

In my head I consider the Odyseey/Sienna roughly equivalent with the Caravan/Town&Country too unreliable to consider.

Saving mom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 44
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2012, 07:22:24 PM »
I would go for odyssey over sienna. I had a sienna briefly but I hated driving it and still found that I could not fit three boosters across the second row. I think there should be a skinny booster designed for that middle seat. Traded it for a used station wagon with a rear facing third row.

velocistar237

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1417
Re: Best Used Minivan Choice: Dodge, Sienna, Odyssey, or Mazda5?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2012, 08:46:20 AM »
Stats from fueleconomy.gov. Not a huge difference.

Model2006 mpg2012 mpg
Mazda 519/2521/28
Honda Odyssey17/2619/28
Toyota Sienna17/2419/24