What van would you buy?


New member
Ok guys- fill me in on mini vans... overload me, please:D

We really need to get a mini van- we have four kiddos now, three are in car seats.
I would prefer a mini van over an SUV since I think the gas milage would be better... but correct me if I am wrong. Price is not a big issue- I want something that has enough tethers and LATCH for the car seats.... of course nice safety ratings and a smooth ride. We would prefer a new van like a 2010 or 2011 model.
I have never owned a van so I have no idea what to look for but I would love to have automatic doors... you know the ones where I just push the button and it opens all by itself:rolleyes:

The kids are as following... not sure if it matters but here they are:

DS1 16yrs seat belt
DS2 3 1/2 yrs 30 lbs Radian and RA50
DD1 19 month 18 lbs Radian and RA50
DS3 3 weeks 8ish lbs MyRide65 and SafeSeat

The three year old can either RF or FF right now he is RF in my car and FF in daddy's Truck



New member
2004-2010 8 seater Toyota Sienna LE. (The LE gets you the automatic door.) There are 5 tethers so you have a lot of flexibility for car seats, and with 4 kids, you'll really appreciate those two extra seating positions for grandparents and stuff. (We have the 7 seater and it's such a bummer that when the grandparents come to visit we still have to take two cars - we also have 4 kids.) The 2011 model changed the seats significantly and the 8 seater option isn't as nice. And there aren't as many tethers.

And my opinion is rare, but I don't like the automatic doors. I have a CE, the model without. I find that they open and close too slowly for my preference, and I don't like the doors to be opening and shutting if I'm not right there with them. The only time it's an issue is at carpool line at school. The teachers never remember that they have to close my door for me, so I end up calling out for help almost every day after they walk off with the door open. :)


CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
The 2011 Odyssey has a similar seating arrangement to the 2004-2010 8-passenger Sienna CE/LE. The crash test results are not yet available, though.

Minivan mileage is almost always better than an SUV of similar size. SUVs usually have poor aerodynamics, higher ground clearance and engines optimized for high torque for towing. Many have AWD. All these things sap your fuel economy. Plus, they simply don't have the convenience for ease of loading and seating flexibility of the better minivans.

I've had a van with power doors and one without. They power doors are very handy some times, but other times the kids just fight with them. I could take them or leave them overall and probably wouldn't base my decision on the model or trim level for that feature alone. Obviously, most parents seem to love them so it probably is personal preference. I will say that the 2011 Odyssey power doors are even easier for smaller kids to open and that is nice. They would have no chance with a manual door.


New member
I have an 04 Sienna and LOVE it! :love: Vans may not be the most trendy, but you can't deny that they are built with families in mind. It's just sooooo frickin convenient!!!

I have one power door and find it very very handy. It allows my almost 3 year old to climb in and hop up into her seat while I am loading DD2 into her seat. Then I just walk around and she's all ready to be buckled up. I also like that in a parking lot she isn't standing around waiting for me to get DD2 loaded, but rather she's waiting for me in the van and away from traffic. I alway seem to have my hands full these days, so it sure is nice to have one less thing to do manually!!! :)


New member
prior posts have your options nailed:

1) 2010 or older 8 passenger Sienna
2) 2011 Odyssey

I'm shopping with similar goals, and don't think there's anything else worth considering (but feel free to chime in if anybody disagrees). Here's the tradeoffs that I know of:

trim options: the 8 passenger Sienna was only offered in lower trims. The higher trims all had 7 passenger. The honda gives you a wider range of trims to choose from. Also, the new 2010 Siennas are all gone, so it may take a while to find a used one that has what you want.

price: Used Sienna ~ $20k w/ 40k miles
New Honda ~ 28k-43k, probably only going for sticker for a while

safety: probably close, but tough to compare. as noted above, the Honda crash results haven't been disclosed. I know the honda did a lot of work on the body to remove weight and used more high-strength steels to compensate. Plus, the test methods changed for 2011, so there may never be a fair way to compare.

convenience: more available convenience features on the Odyssey since higher trims are available.

fuel economy: Sienna is respectable, but the Odyssey is outstanding for a minivan (up to 28mpg highway)

In summary, the Toyota probably gives more bang for the buck, but the Odyssey will probably be "nicer" if you don't mind paying more.


New member
Thank you guys for all the feedback!

I guess we should try to look at a 8 passenger van... we are already 6 people in the family and my mom is fixing to come and visit plus it does happen that friends have asked me to watch their little ones and I always have to turn it down when we have plans for that day:eek:

I hope that in a couple of weeks we can make a decision:thumbsup: Does anyone have any experience with the VW Routan?


CPST Instructor
Does anyone have any experience with the VW Routan?

The Routan is basically a Dodge Grand Caravan... the interior is the same, body shape is a bit different... Poor car seat compatibility, hugely sloped seats, only 3 top tethers, 2 on captains chairs and 1 offset in the back row. Offset LATCH in back row, so if you use it, there is only room for 2 people back there... :thumbsdown:


New member
The Routan is basically a Dodge Grand Caravan... the interior is the same, body shape is a bit different... Poor car seat compatibility, hugely sloped seats, only 3 top tethers, 2 on captains chairs and 1 offset in the back row. Offset LATCH in back row, so if you use it, there is only room for 2 people back there... :thumbsdown:

thank you sooo much for the info!!! It helps a lot- the Routan is scratched off the list now:whistle:


New member
I would agree with either Sienna or Odyssey. I have actually owned both, my Toyota was a 2005 but had no sliding doors and I hated that!! I currently have a 2009 Honda which I love, most days. Really wish there were more sets of LATCH anchors (mine has 3)...don't know if they changed it on the 2011. Also, there is a shortage of aux power outlets! One in front and one in back...very minor thing but one we run into all the time! Especially with all the gadgets, Ipods, game systems, etc. we seem to travel with these days! But they were/are both very nice and I don't think you'd go wrong with either one... never thought I'd be a mini-van momma but I love it for this season on my life! If price truly isn't an option go for one of these!


New member
We love our '04 Sienna as well! It has been nothing but great. And its got nearly 140k miles on it.

Another one to help confuse you ;)..... Nissan has just completely redone the Quest, but I'm not sure exactly when it will be available. You can check it out online. I know absolutely nothing about it, but it might be worth checking out.


New member
Nissan released some pics of the new Quest, and I believe it's 7 passenger only.

That's enough to cross it off my list, and probably yours to if you've got 4 kids.


New member
thank you sooo much for the info!!! It helps a lot- the Routan is scratched off the list now:whistle:

Well, the Routan actually has a nicer quality interior (better materials, etc) but yeah, it's pretty much a Chrysler minivan with a VW badge slapped on it for the stuff parents really care about.


New member

New comparison test is up. Wish it were the 2011 Caravan cuz it's getting an upgraded interior and better engine which would really help it be more competitive.

It's really of limited use though. Only one tester has kids and it's not the author of the article. So, they really have no idea what consumers want in a minivan. Plus, they tested the SE Sienna. No one's gonna buy that thing. I've yet to see one on the road and I've been to the two biggest dealers in NorCal.

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