Last post on Jan 26, 2012 at 8:39 AM
You are in the Vans & Minivans
What is this discussion about?
Dodge Caravan, Ford Explorer, GMC Envoy, Honda Odyssey, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Sienna, SUV, Van
#1 of 1874 A Civil Comparison
Jul 24, 2001 (5:36 pm)
I'd be very interested to get people's opinions about benefits/downsides to a mini van vs. SUV, particularly for families of different sizes. Probably should cross-reference this with the Minivan Board, but I don't know how to do that. Anyone able to link this to the Minivan Board?
Some ideas/questions: third rows in SUVs-- how tolerable is it, after a while, having kids have to jump over seats to get back there? Drivability: many say "Mini vans drive better than SUVs" -- given the new SUVs out there, how true is this still? etc...
#2 of 1874 SUV vs. Mini - Same Thought Process Now
Jul 26, 2001 (4:24 pm)
My spouse and I are going thru the same discussion. Live in TX and wanting luxury-type vehicle with room for 7 part-time with most being adult sized. Looked and driven everything on market over last 3 months. Complicating this is company move in next 6 months to either warm or cold climate due to business relocation. Yukon XL/Excursion too large for spouse to feel comfortable in. Sequoia seems to be best overall SUV choice but would rather have AWD vs 4WD. GM vehicles too tight in 3rd row. LX470/Land Cruiser are too costly and use jump seats too. MDX was too noisey and didn't have best room but we were willing to sacrifice. Minivans have room but except for T&C most are luxury and reliability on T&C is concern. Looks like T&C will win out with either FWD or AWD since spouse is most comfortable in it and the vehicle will be 98% driven by her. Wish RX300 had 7 seating as have GS300 which is phenominal on reliability and service with excellent luxury & style.
Jul 26, 2001 (5:16 pm)
I was in exactly the same boat six months ago. We needed room for five with a 3rd row for occasional extra passengers. We wanted AWD and a quiet, luxurious ride.
My wife and I looked at the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and Mazda MPV but ultimately decided we didn't want a minivan (looks and no AWD).
Then we looked at the Acura MDX, Mercedes ML320, Mercury Mountaineer, and Dodge Durango. All had their advantages and disadvantes and we liked each for different reasons. Well, to cut to the chase, we finally decided on the Buick Rendezvous.
The Buick is a quiet, comfortable vehicle that I hesitantly describe as 50% minivan / 50% SUV.
It does seat seven adults (the 3rd row seat is comfortable enough for people under 6'0" tall) but there is limited storage with the 3rd row seat up. With the 3rd row folded down (it folds flat), you can comfortably seat five adults and it has terrific cargo capacity.
It is available with AWD and can be equipped with every bell and whistle imaginable (leather, OnStar, rear sonar parking, head up display, memory seats/mirrors, heated seats, programmable door locks, etc.). By the way, build quality and fit and finish are also excellent.
It's not for everyone (some think it's a little lacking in horsepower) but, considering what you're looking for, I think it is worth strong consideration.
If you like, check out the Rendezvous forum or owner's club here at Edmunds.com for some more insights.
#4 of 1874 Aggie by fedlawman
Jul 27, 2001 (10:32 am)
How do you distribute your 5 people? That is, do you put 3 in the middle row or 2 in the middle and 1 in the third? How convenient is it?
#5 of 1874 Buick Rendezvous
Jul 27, 2001 (1:23 pm)
Based on your recommendation we glanced at the Buick yesterday. Not bad but having trouble with what appears to be cheaper build quality and snug in back seat with fit. Front end is too much like Pontiac Azteck (sp) for my liking. Has some unique features like the rear seat foot rests and AWD system. Anyone looked at 02' Merc Mountaineer yet, spouse saw one today and wondered how truck-like and interior room?
#6 of 1874 suv vs minivan
Jul 27, 2001 (7:32 pm)
If you don't tow or drive off-road a minivan is a wise choice. They drive better, ride better, and get decent gas milage with similar people hauling capabilities. I had four of the gotta-have SUV's before my current Sienna XLE and have to admit (since I never tow or drive off-road) the car does everything as well or better than the SUV's. It's very quiet, plenty quick, surprisingly smooth, and very user-friendly. It'll carry anything my SUV's would, gets 17mpg around town + 24mpg on the road, and drives just like a car. The question is....why don't I love it? I loved (and hated) something about each and every one of my SUV's. My Sienna is.....very well done, very dull, and I'm not sure why.
#7 of 1874 suv vs minivan by dardson1
Jul 27, 2001 (7:49 pm)
A very nice summary dardson1. If I can ask: what SUVs did you have? How many people do you typically cart around? How's the Sienna in the snow?
#8 of 1874 skimmel and aggie
Jul 27, 2001 (8:27 pm)
good points all.
skimmel - When traveling with five, we put 3 in the middle row and keep the 3rd row folded down. We have found that, even with 2 child seats in the middle row, there is ample room in between for a 3rd adult. Seating six with cargo is where you must be creative! It involves placing cargo on the floor and on an unoccupied seat (outboard 3rd row) and then seating 3 in the 2nd row and 1 in the 3rd row. You can carry everything comfortably, but it is not as convenient as a minivan.
This is where we made the trade-off. A little less convenience for more style, luxury, and All Wheel Drive.
aggie - I agree with your basic opinion. I do think the front is MUCH better looking than the Aztek, and also resembles the RAV4 a little. It is the weird headlights that give it that look. I guess it's personal...I like the looks just fine, though admittedly, not quite as well as the Mountaineer. As for the 3rd row, I found that it is the biggest and most comfortable of all the three row SUV's...but not as roomy as a minivan. I will say that my wife and I loved the Mountaineer and think it is easily as nice as the Buick, for different reasons. We gave the nod to Buick because it was several thousand dollars cheaper (with my discounts) and had a lot more luxury options for the money. If the two had been even-money, I may have gone with the Merc instead. I disagree with your impression of build quality (interior plastic). The Merc is no better than the Buick (although, the fake aluminum dash dresses up the Merc nicely). The Buick also has a much more sedan-like ride.
BTW, what was the interior color of the Buick you saw? If you saw a tan one, you owe it to yourself to see the grey interior. IMO, it looks much better...and comparable to the Merc.
Finally, the Buick is a minivan in SUV clothing. The Merc is a pick-up truck in SUV clothing.
Jul 27, 2001 (9:40 pm)
[A very nice summary dardson1. If I can ask: what SUVs did you have? How many people do you typically cart around? How's the Sienna in the snow?]
Had a 92 Explorer, 94 Jeep GC, 96 Tahoe, and a 98 Expedition. I was pretty much "why in the world didn't somebody think of this thing before" when I bought the Explorer. Never a problem, plenty big, well finished, but TERRIBLE ride. Jeep was very fun to drive, no problems, better ride although "jiggly", and too small made smaller by the spare in the back. Tahoe was big, beefy, quick, and an old GM design that showed it's age with the worst set of brakes I've ever experienced. Expedition I liked best of all....but it was a bit too tall and got horrible gas milage.
I rarely carry more than 4 passengers in the Sienna....mostly just me and my wife. We got a rare West Texas 8" snow last winter. It did great which is my experience with most FWD cars. I ought to love my Toyota. Aside from a few rattles I finally managed to fix, it has been flawless since I bought it in October; however, Toyota has a way of dumbing-down their cars 'til they have no personality. It does everything well, but nothing so well you fall in love.
#10 of 1874 fedlawman
Jul 28, 2001 (4:23 am)
It was the tan, maybe I need to make another, more in-depth visit of Buick. Another issue we are dealing with is step in height and rear jump-in height for elderly riders & elderly labrador's. That's where minivans really seem to excel due to clearances. Anyone with experience of AWD T&C vs. SUV's in Chicago-area winter weather?