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  1. #1
    CPS Fanatic
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    Dec 2012
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    Help me narrow down minivan options for grandparents

    My mom and step-dad have a bunch of older in-town grandkids (my kids are out of town) that they sometimes need to haul around. A couple have ditched car seats (I have no idea if they actually 5 step, but it is what it is) and the rest are in boosters, mostly backless, I think.

    They want a minivan so they can take however many of them they want on outings. They're retired and on a budget, so the 2014 Odyssey is way out of their price range, and so are older Odys and Siennas. They're thinking of getting an older T&C or Caravan. What years if any have decent seat belts in the 3rd row? Anything else they should look for/avoid?

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  3. #2
    Senior Community Member Dillipop's Avatar
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    Re: Help me narrow down minivan options for grandparents

    2006 and new kia sedonas are nice, reliable, less expensive than honda and toyota, have good crash ratings, and seem to seat kids well.


    CCO 4/15

  4. #3
    Guest
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    Re: Help me narrow down minivan options for grandparents

    We'd really need to know their budget to give good recommendations. For example, the 2006+ Sedona is a great choice from a safety perspective, but they cost at least 6k, which might disqualify them, depending on their budget.

  5. #4
    Carseat Crazy
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    The Caravan and it's other names have a terrible 3rd row. The seat belts don't fit booster riders or 5 steppers. It really only works to install harnessed seats. If you search threads here you will find all kinds of 3rd row issues.

    I would go older Sedona, Odyssey or Sienna. Or a Mazda 5.

  6. #5
    CPS Fanatic
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    Mazda 5 won't have enough seating. They definitely want to be able to fit at least 2 adults plus 5 kids.

    They won't tell me exact budget, which complicates things.

  7. #6
    CPS Fanatic
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    What about other models no longer in production?

  8. #7
    Moderator - CPS Technician
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    upstate NY
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    Re: Help me narrow down minivan options for grandparents

    I think the main thing to be careful about when you're looking at inexpensive options is that older vehicles don't always have lap/shoulder belts and head rests in every position.

    Honestly, without a price range, it is hard to make recommendations. Did they ask you for help, or did they just ask what you thought about a T&C/Caravan? Did they tell you any of the specifics of what they were looking at that would help you to figure out a possible budget?
    Cutie #1 (13 years) 5-stepping
    Cutie #2 (10 years) riding in a Safety 1st Incognito

    Cutie #3 (7 years) riding in a Chicco KidFit
    Cutie #4 (6 years) riding in a Frontier
    Cutie #5 (3 years) riding in a Nuna Rava

  9. #8
    CPS Technician
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    SouthEast US
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    3,206

    Re: Help me narrow down minivan options for grandparents

    I would not buy a Ford minivan now (like the Windstar), but I had a 1995 Mercury Villager that I absolutely LOVED. They continued to make it for many years, but I don't know when they last produced them. I know some newer models had 2 sliding doors (mine was really old and only had one). But you could fit 2 booster seats side by side on the smaller second row bench seat and 2 booster seats in the third row (which technically seated 3, but only had a lap belt & no headrest for the center seat). After that van, I had a '97 Town & Country, which was very similar for seating. Again, the third row center only had a lap belt and no headrest. Technically, those center lap belt only / no head rest seats are only good for kids in harnessed car seats. At any rate, both were comfortable. But the Villager was (still is) probably my all time favorite. In both cars, booster seats were doable in all seating locations w/lap & shoulder belts. I didn't find it incompatible that way. But some seating locations might not have been great for a kid that is new to just the seat belt alone. I'd describe my sister in law's Ford Windstar about the same for seating as my old vans.

    In many of these older vans, even if they feel okay about one of the kids riding in the center third row seat (one who 5 steps/isn't using a booster), it's possible that a child may not fit there b/t two booster seats. (-;
    henrietta
    former CPST & Mom extraordinaire of 2 rowdy little boys & 1 spunky girl toddler, among hundreds of other skills!
    #1, age 9.5, Harmony Literider or Transit backless booster, occasional Safety First Incognito
    #2, age 6.5, Cybex Xfit booster/Harmony folding travel booster/Evenflo hbb
    #3 age 15 months, Britax Advocate CT/Combi Cocorro

  10. #9
    CPS Fanatic
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    Dec 2012
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    They just told me that the Ody/Sienna options they were looking at were too expensive, and that they were thinking they'd get a T&C. My mom has been drooling over our 2013 Ody, so it's come up a lot.

  11. #10
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    Re: Help me narrow down minivan options for grandparents

    The issue is that if they aren't more specific with you, then there's a good chance they're going to get a lesser quality vehicle. For example, there's a big difference between a 1998 Odyssey, a 2002 Odyssey, and a 2005 Odyssey (they're 3 different generations), but if they won't give you a budget, it's really hard to help them make the most of their money.

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