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  1. #1
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    Looking for a used minivan

    So, we just got our Jeep towed to the mechanic for the 4th time in 3 months. It has been at the mechanic for more time than it has been with us in that time span. They still don't know what is wrong with it. We are done.

    So. we are looking for a reasonably priced minivan to replace it with. We only have two kids, but hope to have more. I watch another child fairly frequently. I'd like to be able to seat six easily (I know sometimes that means a 7 seater will only seat six with carseats).

    Some vans we've found near us online are a 2008 Chevy Uplander and 2010 VW Routan.

    Any suggestions on what we should be looking for? What are the best minivans for safety and fitting car seats? Right now one kid is FF in a Nautilus (3) and the other is in a high back turbo booster or Harmony Defender, harnessed (6). I know the Sienna is a popular minivan but I've read it can be not great for car seats. We're looking to keep it in the $10,000-$13,000 range. This is not the best time for us to be taking on a new payment.

    We currently have the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee (piece of junk!!) and a 2004 Ford Taurus. Willing to trade in the Jeep, possibly the car, although we'd really like to keep it. Sorry so wordy! Any help is appreciated!

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  3. #2
    Senior Community Member T4K's Avatar
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    A Jeep GC may get quite a bit more as a private sale in your area because people love to tinker on those vehicles.

    Does you budget include any income or trade in value from your Jeep?
    Mama to Baby Girl N - two years old
    Loving Stepmother of wonderful girls, H-9 and S-5

  4. #3
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    This Jeep is a piece of junk. I don't know how anyone would buy it! We have put far more into it than it is worth and it still won't run. I don't really understand how all that stuff works, though. We were hoping for some trade in value, yes, but I don't really know how much is reasonable to expect. My hubby is a bit more up on that sort of thing. I wish someone would tinker with it and fix it! I mean, our Jeep blue booked at something ridiculous like $500 or something.

  5. #4
    Carseat Crazy
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    I would look for a 2006 and newer Kia Sedona or Hyundai Entourage, Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna. Good safety ratings on all.

    Avoid the Dodge Caravan and it's clones Volkswagen Routan and Chrysler Town & Country . The 3rd row is terrible and almost useless. The seat belts are mounted forward of the seat and produce a unacceptable belt fit for booster riders and older kids. You can search threads on here that have pictures of this.

  6. #5
    CPS Technician tl01's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    Quote Originally Posted by sunnydayz View Post
    I would look for a 2006 and newer Kia Sedona or Hyundai Entourage, Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna. Good safety ratings on all.

    Avoid the Dodge Caravan and it's clones Volkswagen Routan and Chrysler Town & Country . The 3rd row is terrible and almost useless. The seat belts are mounted forward of the seat and produce a unacceptable belt fit for booster riders and older kids. You can search threads on here that have pictures of this.
    I agree with this. Also skip the Uplander. Those vans don't have great safety ratings.
    DS 7.5 years 71 lbs FFing in:
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    Foonf, Frontier 85, SureRide

  7. #6
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    Thumbs up Re: Looking for a used minivan

    Quote Originally Posted by sunnydayz View Post
    I would look for a 2006 and newer Kia Sedona or Hyundai Entourage, Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna. Good safety ratings on all.

    Avoid the Dodge Caravan and it's clones Volkswagen Routan and Chrysler Town & Country . The 3rd row is terrible and almost useless. The seat belts are mounted forward of the seat and produce a unacceptable belt fit for booster riders and older kids. You can search threads on here that have pictures of this.
    Quote Originally Posted by tl01 View Post
    I agree with this. Also skip the Uplander. Those vans don't have great safety ratings.
    Thanks for this! Hubby was looking at a Routan and a Town and Country today. I just didn't even know where to start. This is helpful. Thank you!

  8. #7
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    Also, wondering about the head rests in the Kia Sedona. They look strange. I assume they come up from the seat?

  9. #8
    Carseat Crazy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grali View Post
    Also, wondering about the head rests in the Kia Sedona. They look strange. I assume they come up from the seat?
    Yes, they should pull up (unless they're missing?). Do you have a photo you're looking at you could post here?

    Does it look like this? It so, yes they pull up quite high.
    Last edited by sunnydayz; 09-08-2014 at 11:08 AM.

  10. #9
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    Quote Originally Posted by sunnydayz View Post
    Yes, they should pull up (unless they're missing?). Do you have a photo you're looking at you could post here?

    Does it look like this? It so, yes they pull up quite high.
    Yes, basically like that. I'd not seen them recessed into the seat like that. Of course, I've not seen many newer than ten years cars, either.

  11. #10
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    We went to look at minivans today. We liked a 2010 Kia Sedona and looked at two different Dodge Caravans (a 2010 and a 2007 with only 40,000 miles on it). Hubby said we can go up to 15 thousand.

    My question now is, every single van we looked at today, the middle seat had those seat belts that are on the ceiling that buckle into a separate buckle and then you buckle it normally? Are you allowed to install car seats in those seats? I wondered because the only tether point was in the middle seat (I think the Sedona had a tether point in the middle and on the passenger side). I assume maybe you can borrow if you aren't allowed to install a seat in the middle. And the Caravans seemed to have much more room and the 3rd row seat was much deeper than the Kias.

    We're hoping to go back out Wednesday in hopes of buying. Any thoughts/input?

    Thanks!

  12. #11
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    You can install a car seat on that kind of seat. Sometimes you can borrow the top tether and sometimes you can't - I'm pretty sure you can't on the Kia. I'm not 100% sure about the Caravan.

    One thing to be careful of with Caravans is that they don't do well with booster seats. Since you have a 6 and a 3 year old, you're going to be using boosters in the vehicle in the very near future, and probably as long as you own the vehicle. Based on that I would not recommend a Caravan.

    We have a 2008 Sedona (same generation as the 2010) and have been very happy with it.
    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

  13. #12
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    I personally would avoid Dodge/Chrysler. We had a Caravan and had constant mechanical issues starting around 70,000 miles. It got very expensive, and we could not afford to fix it and pay the car payment. We traded it for a loss, for a Toyota Sienna that we love and has 107,000 now.

    We also experience the seatbelt issue on a trip, and I did not feel comfortable having my boys in their backless boosters in the back. The belts fit too far in front of their bodies. Very poor design.

  14. #13
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    You can install a car seat on that kind of seat. Sometimes you can borrow the top tether and sometimes you can't - I'm pretty sure you can't on the Kia. I'm not 100% sure about the Caravan.

    One thing to be careful of with Caravans is that they don't do well with booster seats. Since you have a 6 and a 3 year old, you're going to be using boosters in the vehicle in the very near future, and probably as long as you own the vehicle. Based on that I would not recommend a Caravan.

    We have a 2008 Sedona (same generation as the 2010) and have been very happy with it.
    Hmmm... I've heard such good things about the Sedona, but it looked like the 3rd row was really super shallow. That's one thing I liked about the Caravan was that it seemed the seat was deeper. Maybe that's why it's tougher for boosters? My 6 year old is in a turbo booster unless we're on a longer trip or I think he'll fall asleep. Or is it the seat belt location that is the problem with the Caravan? The Caravans are significantly cheaper than the Sedona so I'm trying to figure out all the details. Especially if we get offered a good deal on the 2007 Caravan. You're right, though, that we will need to be able to use boosters. Right now it's not a big deal, but it might be in the future or when we have another baby.

  15. #14
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    The problem with the Caravan and boosters is the placement of the seatbelts (shoulder belt mount is forward of the seat back), not the depth of the seat. I guess the third row of the Sedona is sort of shallow, but I haven't ever had a problem installing car seats back there, and I can sit there comfortably (I'm 5'3"). So unless you expect to regularly have non-short adults back there, I can't see it being a problem.
    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

  16. #15
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    The problem with the Caravan and boosters is the placement of the seatbelts (shoulder belt mount is forward of the seat back), not the depth of the seat. I guess the third row of the Sedona is sort of shallow, but I haven't ever had a problem installing car seats back there, and I can sit there comfortably (I'm 5'3"). So unless you expect to regularly have non-short adults back there, I can't see it being a problem.
    Cool. It felt pretty squishy to me, but I'm not frequently in minivans (haven't been in one for years). But, for kids it shouldn't be a problem. I read somewhere today that the Nauti doesn't fit on the 3rd row of a Sedona. I think it was old, but my understanding was that I can have up to 20 % overhang with the Nautilus as long as I'm using it harnessed. Do you know if that is the case? The Turbo booster just barely fit there, but it did.

    So, if we can get a crazy awesome deal on the 2007 Caravan, we'll probably consider it and just plan to only use harnessed seats in the back (does it fit adults well, or is the fit bad for them, too?). I mean, we should be able to do that for five years or so even with another kid or two. Just put booster riders in the 2nd row. Right?

    Thank you so much for talking this through with me!

  17. #16
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    I'm not sure how the Caravan is with boosters in the second row. Keep in mind that if you plan to only use harnessed seats back there, then you are limited to one forward facing seat because there is only one top tether. IF the seat using the tether is required to be in the center, then you might not be able to fit any other seats back there. So you might want to find out about that before you buy.

    I have not tried the Nautilus in the 3rd row of the Sedona, but my Prosport fits without any overhang that I recall. According to this thread, overhang is not allowed if the nautilus is being used in booster mode, and the manual does not mention overhang in harnessed mode (in which case the default assumption is that up to 20% is okay).
    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

  18. #17
    CPS Technician littleangelfire's Avatar
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    We just got a minivan this weekend so I'm no expert, however, I've been on this forum for 8 years and a tech for 3 and I can tell you I would not get a dodge/Chrysler or Ford minivan. Too many problems both mechanical and car seat wise. I personally would (and did! ) choose an older Toyota or Honda rather than a newer domestic van. Top two minivans in the country are sienna and Odyssey for a reason. Safety, ease of use, reliability, chock full of useful features. You can definitely find something less than ten years old in your price range, our price point was less :-) . I'm not knowledgeable about the newest model, but ours is an 06 sienna, so 04-10 generation, and it's has five top tether and LATCH positions. I looked up uplander before buying, and caravan and decided it wasn't worth the risk. And a forward seatbelt like that will not fit many adults great either.

  19. #18
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    Thanks. I will check into the caravan middle seat thing. I figured since we only have two kids, even if we have a third, we could put our harnessed kid FFer in the 3rd row and our RFer in the third row, and then our booster rider in the second row and still have another seat. I told my husband that if it was half the price of the Sedona, it would probably be fine for at least five years and would be worth our money, maybe. Then we could reevaluate based on our needs.

    There are no Siennas or Odysseys in our area that are not super new. Several of my friends and family members have either of those and they are nice. But they aren't around here used within our price range. My husband is kind of burned out on vehicle problems and repairs. We've sunk several thousand dollars in our Jeep in the last year or two and it's just a money pit. He's hoping to get something within the last five years.

    We're going back to look again tomorrow. Hoping we can talk the Kia guy down a bit and we'll see what happens. Thanks!

  20. #19
    Carseat Crazy DawgDad's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    What's "your area?" I am surprised to hear that there aren't any Toyota or Honda vans in your area in your price range. Just as an FYI, the age of a Toyota or Honda are not the same as one of a Dodge/Chrysler. You will have the same if not more problems in a newer (2-5 year old) Dodge/Chrysler as you would in a 8-10 year old Honda/Toyota. Just look at the resale value...it says everything you need to know.

    If you have a frustrated husband already with repair costs, then don't burden him by getting another vehicle that has a higher chance of being in the shop. You could get a good one...but the chances aren't great that you won't have some headache with it. Momma Chrysler has had a slew of issues in all their cars for years...it's a widely known problem. Just be cautious and do your due diligence. I can help find you a van to look at that it's either Toyota or Honda in your price range. Just let me know where, what your range is, and what basic features you need.

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  22. #20
    CPS Technician littleangelfire's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for a used minivan

    Quote Originally Posted by DawgDad View Post
    What's "your area?" I am surprised to hear that there aren't any Toyota or Honda vans in your area in your price range. Just as an FYI, the age of a Toyota or Honda are not the same as one of a Dodge/Chrysler. You will have the same if not more problems in a newer (2-5 year old) Dodge/Chrysler as you would in a 8-10 year old Honda/Toyota. Just look at the resale value...it says everything you need to know.

    If you have a frustrated husband already with repair costs, then don't burden him by getting another vehicle that has a higher chance of being in the shop. You could get a good one...but the chances aren't great that you won't have some headache with it. Momma Chrysler has had a slew of issues in all their cars for years...it's a widely known problem. Just be cautious and do your due diligence. I can help find you a van to look at that it's either Toyota or Honda in your price range. Just let me know where, what your range is, and what basic features you need.
    I didnt want to hammer home too hard but these were my exact thoughts. If your husband is sick of repairs do not get a domestic van.

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