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minivan or suv?

I'm finally having my 3rd and my saab is no longer going to cut it. I always hear mixed reviews about the minivan and of course I think the SUV looks a lot better but I can't bring myself to buy something that's a gas guzzler. I can't decide. Any suggestions?

Fri. Sep 7, 11:11am

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Pros for SUV- looks cool.

Cons for SUV- lousy gas mileage, less storage space than a Mini-van. Usually quite large, can be a pain in the @$$ to park. Nightmareish to drive in the city.

Pros fo Mini-van- there's nothing better for hauling kids and stuff in the suburbs. Reasonable size. Ho-hum gas mileage.

Cons for Mini van- it's a mini van.

Other thoughts would be the new Mazda 5- it doesn't look quite like a min-van, it's not too big, frankly, it's probably what I'll replace my little subaru wagon with in a couple years.

Friday, September 07, 2007, 11:21 AM

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I've done a huge amount of research on both. The Honda Odyssey got fabulous reviews and it drives nicely. The gas milage is not awesome but it better then an SUV. I did think it had a great deal of road noise and the plastic inside was a bit cheap but overall not bad. I also really liked the Buick Enclave but not to hip on buying an American made car, and before you all jump on me, I was born and raised here in the USA and love my country but I have had a couple of american made cars and was not happy at all with them. But the Buick handled great, it was quite and its a crossover. Now I am a bit spoiled so I ended up going with a Mercedes R Class but the diesel, its quiet, handles nicely, has a smooth ride and is very comfy. Of course some states don't sell it because of emissions, but I live in the Seattle area. It had everything I wanted and good gas mileage and I can fit 7 people very comfortably in it. I would just recommend you do some research and take your picks for several test drives and see how easy it is to get in and out when full.

Friday, September 07, 2007, 11:23 AM

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Clearly the first post drives a mini van. Why exactly does driving an SUV cause nightmares in the city? I drive an RX 330 and I get 19/26 as far as gas goes. I looked at mini vans and decided it just wasn't as fun to drive, they didn't have much power, which to me is important. You just need to decide what is important to you and drive a few of each kind.

Friday, September 07, 2007, 11:27 AM

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SUVs, or Chelsea tractors as they are known around my way, are atrociously bad for the environment and they are entirely unnecessary in the city - I hardly think you're going to go off-roading there, are you?! Nor are you likely to need it to pull items out of ditches. If you can't bring yourself to buy a gas guzzler, then it's a no brainer - don't.

Friday, September 07, 2007, 11:42 AM

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isn't it amazing to think that many of our parents and grandparents had children (often more than three) and somehow made it w/out either a minivan OR an suv in their lives? Sometimes they even got away with having only one car!

I'd say scrap the new car idea and put the money away for someone's braces, college tuition, etc.

Your saab WILL cut it if you make it work. I guarentee.

Friday, September 07, 2007, 11:51 AM

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There are hybrid SUVs now, so if the reason you don't want an SUV is because it guzzles gas, look at the hybrid versions. Minivans aren't so great on gas mileage either!

Also, look at crossovers. Some have at least as much interior space as a minivan or an SUV, but may have more similar qualities to a car.

There is a Chrysler crossover car that, I was in the dealer b/c I was having my car serviced, and looked at it, and honestly, I could fold down the rear seats with about 2 fingers! A lot of cars are getting very user-friendly, so just go out and look around. You'll find something good!

Friday, September 07, 2007, 12:02 PM

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11:27- I don't drive a mini-van, but having had to pilot a Suburban through narrow city streets for work a couple times, I can tell you that the BIG suv's are a nightmare in traffic. YMMV :)

11:51- that was before the days of mandatory car seats for children under 70 pounds... It's hard enough to fit 2 carseats in a ford taurus, and that's a big car... Also,that was before the days of seatbelts, airbags, and decent gas mileage- the moster oldsmobile wagon (with the rear-facing third row of seats with no seatbelts) that my grandfather drove probably got like 16 mpg on the freeway and spewed the burnt remains of leaded gas into the air...

Friday, September 07, 2007, 12:21 PM

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Most people who get an SUV get one because they think a minivan isn't "cool". Get over it. You're a parent, your kids won't think you're cool no matter what you drive. Go with the minivan for its gas mileage, increased safety, and increased storage capacity (I know a guy who has an SUV and it can't carry as much stuff as his girlfriend's car!)

Friday, September 07, 2007, 12:38 PM

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check out and (kelley blue book). I use them both for research anytime I or someone in my family needs to buy a car. Lots of easy to understand info, comparison charts and real experiences!

Friday, September 07, 2007, 12:56 PM

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I have driven a minivn since my now 15-year-old was about 1. I would love to have a cool looking SUV, but continue with the minivans for the follwoing reasons:

1. Gas mileage and the environment. Even my Honda Odyseey, which isn;t the best, get about 22 mpg compares to 15-16 or less for some SUVs.

2. Three rows of seats plus storage. This didn;t matter with just one or even 2 when they were little, but now that they are older, the want to spread out. And more seats is a must for car pooling... another gas conservation measure. You can seat the same number of passnegers in some of the bigger SUVs but you give up the luggage space if you use three rows. Then we go on long trips, have two rows is critical for peace in the car.

Friday, September 07, 2007, 1:59 PM

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If you do research you will find most mini vans don't get that much better gas mileage then an SUV. There are several SUV's out there that get pretty comparable gas mileage. The thing you want to do is drive each and see what you think. What are the safety ratings, crash ratings, which handles the best and gives you what you want. Also check out consumer reports they test most every car and aren't paid to so you get good info there. There are also several diesel versions of SUV's out there now that get good mileage. I've driven both and personally I like an SUV better. It handles better, it has more pick up and power, and it is quieter and only got 2/5 miles less per gallon then the mini van I was looking at. I have 3 kids also, all in boosters or car seats.. And yes with the mandatory car seat thing it is very hard to fit 3 in any larger size sudan. I had a mazda 626 but when I was pregnant with my 3rd realized there was no way 3 would fit in my back seat. And that was a pretty good sized car.

Friday, September 07, 2007, 2:06 PM

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I drive an SUV (small one) and love it, but I have rented minivans before to haul my family (who have small children) when they come on visits and were I in your shoes -I would buy the mini-van. Here's why.

1. Mobility - you can get throughout the entire vehicle without opening a door and getting out of the vehicle. This rocks when a child is sick or seriously misbehaving.

2. Visibility - you sit up and can see great all the way around the car (many SUVs have blind spots that you won't find in a mini-van) and the kids can see so much better. My nieces and nephews seem to seriously dig this.

3. Capacity - kids, friends, cargo, you-name-it, a mini-van can haul more and it's easy to reconfigure and get things in and out of. Your kids will have friends, playdates, etc right? There may be visiting gradparents to haul around no? Sooo much easier to pack a few more in a mini-van. You have to get a seriously large SUV to rival the sheer space you can get in a mini-van.

4. Sliding doors - lots easier for kids to get in and out of, and you can even get ones that shut themselves with the touch of a button from the remote. I cannot describe how useful this is when you have your hands ful and a bunch of kids running around. I would have thought of this as a silly, luxury touch until I saw how freakin' useful it is.

5. The seats seem to fit kids better and they're more accessible to you for strapping them in (thanks to the wider openings and reach-in accesbility to anything). And it's easier to fasten a car seat into one.

6. The handling and power of a mini-van is just as good as any SUV I've driven and better than most. They're easy to park and can get into smaller spots (plus the back doors slid and don't swing open), the fuel economy for the space is unbeatable (the kind of SUV you'd have to buy to get 7 person capacity and that kind of storage is a hog). They also have a better ride than many SUV's.

7. Mini-vans are cheaper (again than an SUV with comparable passenger and cargo space).

So you look like a soccer mom and think the lack of 4-wheel drive is somehow less safe (although I contend most americans are better off with front-wheel or all-wheel becaue 4-wheel makes them think they're invincible and they don't know how to drive one). Really those are the only reasons I can think of why you wouldn't buy a much more practical vehicle.

* I honestly do not know which ones get better safety ratings

Take your kids and go test drive a few of each - that will probably give you best idea of what is right for you. Happy car buying and congratulations on your third!

Friday, September 07, 2007, 2:35 PM

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I've driven a mini-van since my kids were very small and they are now in high school (currently a Honda Odessy which I'm quite happy with.) Cars have always been about getting from point A to point B to me, so I could care less about style. Previous posters have made some very good points which I agree with, but the number one reason I like the mini-van is the cargo space. The third seat folds down and away and the second row seats are easily removed which leaves a huge cargo capacity. I can move more stuff than my husband's Ford Bronco and it's amazing how often we've needed that. And even with the second seats in, there's a ton of space.

Friday, September 07, 2007, 2:51 PM

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I have 3 children as well and drive a Honda Odyssey. I will never go back to a smaller car until my kids are either older or out of the house. Having more space is key, and the automatic doors on the Odyssey are a lifesaver when your arms are full of kids, diaper bags and groceries! good luck!

Friday, September 07, 2007, 3:00 PM

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Mini van drivers are the WORST drivers on the road!!!!!!!!!!

I am a woman and have never seen more idiot moves than from women driving mini vans.

SUV all the way

Friday, September 07, 2007, 3:08 PM

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Minivan all the way

I have gone from a sports car when I didn't have kids ( 5L mustang), to a mid size ( Mercury Sable), to smaller car ( Honda Civic) to a Ford Windstar and now to my Dodge Caravan. I love the Dodge Caravan! The van is incrediable to drive loads of power, handles extremely well, so comfortable for the kids and the adults ( quad seating makes it great, lots of leg room for all .. trust me I tested the chev uplander.. not so great in the leg room aspect). I recently took my kids on a trip we put 2831 miles on the van and used 104 gallons of fuel if you figure it out we were getting 27mpg thats driving between 70-75mph. I was more than thrilled with the fuel consumption ( much better than my windstar). I once said I'll never drive a van.. now I say I'll never drive anything else..
PS the third seat in the Caravan is a 50/50 split so you can still put 3 children in seperate seats. If you need extra room the other flips forward with lifting 2 levers and can be removed easliy but pulling the convienient strap and it weighs maybe 30 lbs..I can honestly say it is made for busy parents.

Friday, September 07, 2007, 3:12 PM

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in response to 11:51

...Our parents and grandparents also didn't have such strict laws and regulations about carseats. When we were brought home from the hospital they wrapped us in a blanket and put us on the seat next to them! Or held us in their arms.

Car seats are so big and bulky I don't even know if it would be possible to sit 3 of them in the back of a Saab.

I drive a Nissaan Murano which is nice but I only have 3 kids. I cannot get 3 booster seats in the back and still be able to buckle all seat belts without major hassle.

Friday, September 07, 2007, 3:50 PM

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i drive a Ford Escape, my SUV is not a gas hog and it's small but it's very roomy. with the seats folded down i've hauled a stove on several occasions, a deep freezer, a dresser and two night stands, as well as many large home depot purchases.

i think SUVs get a bad wrap due to mileage misconceptions... there's several hybrid versions, mine is not but i get just as good of gas mileage if not better than my husband's sedan.

Friday, September 07, 2007, 4:24 PM

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I am INVINCIBLE in my 4WD!

Friday, September 07, 2007, 4:27 PM

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Huh, 3:08?

"Mini van drivers are the WORST drivers on the road!!!!!!!!!!

I am a woman and have never seen more idiot moves than from women driving mini vans."

I've seen PLENTY of jerks (male and female) in their SUV's. Honestly, some of them think that because they own a (insert SUV make here), they own the entire road. Come to that, I've seen plenty of jerks in compact cars, mid-size cars and pickups. I don't think that minivan drivers have exclusive rights to poor driving habits.

In the interest of full disclosure, we own and drive three types of vehicles - one is a minivan (for most of the above reasons - space, carpooling, etc.), one a Kia Rio (for husband's commute), and the other a small pickup (for pulling a camper).

Friday, September 07, 2007, 5:39 PM

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As someone who commutes daily by bicycle or motorcycle, I can say that the worst drivers on the road drive volvo station wagons.

That said, SUV, Mini-van, VW beetle, when you're on 2 wheels, it doesn't matter what hit you, dead is dead.

Friday, September 07, 2007, 5:53 PM

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Maybe not exclusive but the majority of mini van drivers are terrible in my opinion. Not paying attention, changing lanes without checking first, driving about 20 under the speed limit, totally unaware of their surroundings, I could go on and on. Maybe it's because they have a mini van full of screaming children...

Friday, September 07, 2007, 5:55 PM

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Not fair to paint all minivan drivers with the same brush and sooo stereo typical. It all goes to personal opinion and driver ability! Most parents driving minivans aren't like the teenagers/young adults with thie little honda's or acura's ( aka sooped up sewing machine) who weave in and out of traffic at high rates of speed.. Or the typical male salesman in his midsize company sedan talking on his blue tooth enabled cell phone while staying in the passing lane. Don't give minvans a bad rep isn't the van it's the driver behind the wheel!

Saturday, September 08, 2007, 11:14 AM

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3:08 that is about the stupidest comment yet. How ignorant are you. Maybe you just notice mini van drivers more then others because you don't like mini vans. Where I live there are all kinds of idiot drivers on the road and it isn't about what car they are driving. SOme drive SUV's, some small cars, sports cars, etc. Anyone can be an inconsiderate driver and I bet at one time or another everyone has.

Saturday, September 08, 2007, 11:37 AM

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I am the OP. Thank you for the great feedback!

Monday, September 10, 2007, 10:25 AM

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I am in the same situation that the original poster is in.
I loathe the idea of getting a mini van and would rather have an SUV by far......but so many people are trying to get me to get a van instead.
And yes the reason that I do not want a mini van is because of the stereotype and honestly pride. I am young and the stereotype of a mini van owner is someone who is a little older.
I have three kids all of which are in carseats or boosters and currently try to stuff them(literally) into the Escort that I own. The escort is leaving, but now it is time to find a replacement. My parents have a mini van and have been letting me use it for a while to see if it is the move I want to make.
I will be honest, there are things that I like about it, but I still like the idea of an SUV better.
To me there are only a few things that make a van better than an SUV and of course that depends on the SUV....those two things are that there is more leg space(not that it matters to my kids whose feet barely reach other the edge of the seat) and that you can somewhat walk around inside if needed.
Honestly I am not overly fond of of the supposed storage space. Yes it is better than my escort, but honestly I think it is a joke. Basically to store A LOT of groceries (like I get) then you have to put them on the floor between the seats, which I think is annoying. The room in the very back is way over rated. I have more room in my escort trunk than in there!
There are a ton of cool features that vans have but nowadays SUVs are becoming the family car so they are getting those cool perks too.

Gas Mileage:
I do not think that the gas mileage is really as great as people try to say. My inlaws travel all the time(and I am not over exadgerating...that is their job) and they used to have a luxery car but found that they needed something bigger for hauling product and stil having room for their they bought a mini van because of that and because the sales person quoted a great mileage. Well to sum up the story he was not pleased with the supposed "great gas mileage" and this is coming from someone that was used to driving a "gas guzzling" luxery "boat"!!

Basically what I am saying is that the two things that people really push with vans are over rated. They do not have a lot of functionable storage area and they are not the greatest on gas mileage. I think people are comparing their gas mileage to that of a HUGE SUV such as a suburban or something. Lets compare apples to apples here.

So for my personal choice, I am leaning more towards the hybrid SUV that I really like.
It is good on gas mileage and has just about as much "functional" storage....meaning not on the floorboard in front of passengers.
Although I will say it is nice to have the option of storing stuff on the floor when needed....but I really do not like having to. It is just not very functional....but it is nice to have the option.

Thursday, September 13, 2007, 12:26 PM

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Minvan vs SUV

I think the SUV is a ton safer and also has an advantage because they are becoming more minivan-like without being a minivan.

Thursday, September 13, 2007, 12:28 PM

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I just got a Saturn Outlook - I was in the same boat as the OP. I had been driving a minivan since 2000 and was just tired of it. We did research and the Outlook's gas mileage was comparable to the mini van - better in many cases in fact. Mine is averaging 18 miles a gallon and it's all city driving.

The Outlook is marketed as cross over but then I've seen it put in the SUV category often also. It has a third row and tons of space. I LOVE it, LOVE it, LOVE it!

Friday, September 14, 2007, 7:19 AM

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