New Vehicle Recs?

Currently we have the dreaded Grand Caravan (2008). Because of this, my 2 girls in the back are in HBBs, the middle row we can use LBBs. We're expecting in March, so we'll be adding a RF seat soon, which I want in the middle row for accessibility. So my question is - anyone have a recommendation for a vehicle that would fit 3 boosters, and probably soon a couple of 5-steppers AND a RF seat? Bonus if it's an 8-seater so they can invite friends. MUST have AWD or 4WD and handle well in snow (I've heard the newer Odesseys aren't great with snow.)

My first thought was a Sienna, but I don't have any experience with those. Are they good? Any model years to avoid? We've always had a minivan, so I don't know if there are other options that would be good.



CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
May I ask where you live? Most front wheel drive vehicles are fine for most areas, even with snow. I never had a problem with ours in the Chicago area. Of course, if you live in a rural or unplowed area or somewhere hilly, then you'd need something better. If the Odyssey works best, I think you'd find that it will do quite well with a set of dedicated snow tires for winter, giving it better braking and possibly better traction than an AWD minivan or crossover using all-season tires.

That said, the Sienna AWD is a very nice vehicle as well. If you don't mind the loss of some cargo space, I think one of the AWD crossovers like the Pilot or Highlander would be fine choices for 3 older kids and a RF carseat as well. If safety is a top consideration, also check out our recommendations here-

A full-size 4WD SUV like a Suburban is also a possibility, but of course more expensive to buy and maintain and much larger, too. Perhaps a bit overkill for your situation unless you also do serious off-roading or towing.


I agree with the snow tires recommendation. We live on a hill in western NY in a rural town whose plows only come a max of twice a day no matter the snow situation... all that to say, we often have very slushy roads trying to get home. A few times every winter there are cars at the bottom of our hill who have tried and failed to make it all the way up! BUT since we got snow tires on our minivan we have always been able to get home! So unless you have a truly extreme situation, a FWD minivan with snow tires is probably sufficient. Used Kias tend to be priced closer to used Dodge/Chrylser minivans but are more car seat friendly. And of course Odysseys get tons of love.

Personally with 4 kids I prefer a minivan to an SUV since it is a good mix of reasonable price, good gas mileage, and good cargo space. But if any one of those is not as important to you, then an SUV can work for a large family too.


Active member
We had an 8 passenger Sienna, and I always felt like it was the perfect vehicle for 4 kids especially when they were younger. Of course ours was a 2004, and I know they've redesigned them, but it was a great car for the almost 14 years we owned it. I would definitely think it's worth looking at.
No budget yet - just hoping so far. Hubby isn't interested in snow tires. We live on a hill and have had ticket getting back home several times. Most recently my husband had to park down the road and walk home. Thanks for the thoughts so far!

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