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Old 11-03-2011, 05:13 PM   #1
The PacRat OP
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Small truck? Maybe a Minivan would be better?

It's like I have never paid attention to Minivans in all my life. Like they didn't exist.

I am considering getting rid of my old Dodge truck and getting a small truck, since I don't really need to haul GIGANTIC loads much anymore. Naturally thought of another small truck. I had a Ranger 4cyl std, and it was a gutless but fun truck that averaged 22mpg. Crap - I almost got 20mpg in my Cummins - what the hell good is a small truck that hauls little, and sputters up hills?

Then, like a light going off, I thought "what about a minivan"? I'm old, married, and don't care what anyone thinks!

I have zero experience with or knowledge of them. A few quick searches and I found the Mazda MPV, and a few others.

What's good? Reliable? good MPGs? How much crap can you jam into one of them? Full size sheet of plywood? I don't really want one of the full size vans. I'd also like carpeting and seating (preferable removable). Saw some pretty damn nice looking MPVs and Town and Countrys. My price range will be about 6-7k - should be able to get something pretty nice for that.

Tell me about minivans.
(please)
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:32 PM   #2
ragtoplvr
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The toughest minivan if well maintained is a Chevy Astro. Had 2, last one was at 187K when the Joplin Tornado ate it. 21 MPG, rear wheel drive so no struts, get the death cool out of it as soon as you get it before it eats the intake gaskets and you will have no issues. I have replaced the gaskets, took about 10 hours if you have done one then it is a 4 hours job or so.

Change all fluids, all of them, anti freeze, power steering, tranny, rear end, brake fluid, and actuall grease all those 14? grease fitting on the front end on some sort of schedule and it will run forever.

Pulled my buddies dead Windstar back 2X with mine, once over 1000 miles. In about the same number of miles he did head gaskets, 2 transmissions and one alternator while I did a starter, radiator fan clutch and fuel pressure regulator. He kept saying but mine is 5 star rated. BUT there is a government web site that lists actual crash results and the Astro/Safari was always in the top 10 safest. I hauled my boat, firewood, rock, etc and never a problem.

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Old 11-03-2011, 06:09 PM   #3
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A minivan gets low 20's (maybe even high teens) in the real world. At least any more than a couple years old.

I got a Windstar I would trade even up for your Dodge (don't get a Windstar). None of the front wheel drive minivans have strong transmissions.
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Old 11-03-2011, 07:22 PM   #4
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They're very popular in most of Canada where most of the US consumers would own trucks. I have an 01 Montana that's been trouble free for the 190k I have on it (knock on wood).

We've used ours every summer pulling a tent trailer, max tow rating is 3500lbs. 4x8 sheets of plywood/drywall will fit with the doors closed, and I've put 12ft long pieces of baseboard in it as well. I camped/slept in it many times with all but the front seats taken out. The Chyrs models have the stow away seats which is a great feature.
I took the front wheel off my DRZ400 and had that in the back as well, along with a rolled up 14ft zodiac and a 10hp outboard.

I'm not a huge fan of the thing but the practically of it is awesome. I see it as a great tool or appliance, if that makes sense. Can easily carry 7 adults, or a couple kids, camping gear and bicycles.

You should be able to get a 3-4 yr old in your price range and you'll get better mileage than any full sized truck.

If you don't need the high towing capacity of a PU this is a good alternative.
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Old 11-04-2011, 09:55 AM   #5
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So far I am looking at the Grand Caravan, the MPV and the Honda Odyssey. I like the idea of easy to stow seating of the Grand Caravan. Sure looks like it will hold a lot of crap!
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:10 AM   #6
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If you don't need lots of room, look into the Mazda5. It's built on the Mazda3 platform and is just a little bigger. It seats six, four adults and two kids, and is even available in a stick (like mine). They're cheap new (~$20,000) and are about as sporty as minivans go. I got my 2006 with 85,000 miles for $11,000 earlier this year.

Mine gets a solid 22-24mpg around town and averaged 28mpg from Boise to Vegas last weekend.

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Old 11-05-2011, 01:26 AM   #7
Jimmy the Heater
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A word on the stow and go seating on the Mopar vans. Don't put anyone you like in those seats. One of the most uncomfortable seats ever put in a vehicle. To make them fit in the floor I'm pretty sure they removed all padding. Also very flimsy feeling, I get the impression that the seat back would fail in even a small rear end collision.
That being said we have one without the stow and go and it has 214k on it and the engine has been fantastic. Ate one tranny, had that rebuilt with the updates and its been great ever since. 22-24 mpg and a huge ammt of space. Ninja 250 and 500 have been in there with just the mirrors removed. Drywall fits no problem. Even overnighted in it a couple of times.
If you don't care about the stigma they are a wonderful transportation appliance.
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Old 11-05-2011, 05:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Owyhee View Post
If you don't need lots of room, look into the Mazda5. It's built on the Mazda3 platform and is just a little bigger. It seats six, four adults and two kids, and is even available in a stick (like mine). They're cheap new (~$20,000) and are about as sporty as minivans go. I got my 2006 with 85,000 miles for $11,000 earlier this year.

Mine gets a solid 22-24mpg around town and averaged 28mpg from Boise to Vegas last weekend.

-Owyhee
That Mazda5 has always been a sleeper in my opinion. Not stupid big but big enough to use for weekend chores and looks like it would be fun to drive (for a minivan). I really like the idea of having sliding doors on it too. Cool car...or truck...or whatever it is.
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Old 11-05-2011, 06:01 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maggot12 View Post
They're very popular in most of Canada where most of the US consumers would own trucks. I have an 01 Montana that's been trouble free for the 190k I have on it (knock on wood).

We've used ours every summer pulling a tent trailer, max tow rating is 3500lbs. 4x8 sheets of plywood/drywall will fit with the doors closed, and I've put 12ft long pieces of baseboard in it as well. I camped/slept in it many times with all but the front seats taken out. The Chyrs models have the stow away seats which is a great feature.
I took the front wheel off my DRZ400 and had that in the back as well, along with a rolled up 14ft zodiac and a 10hp outboard.

I'm not a huge fan of the thing but the practically of it is awesome. I see it as a great tool or appliance, if that makes sense. Can easily carry 7 adults, or a couple kids, camping gear and bicycles.

You should be able to get a 3-4 yr old in your price range and you'll get better mileage than any full sized truck.

If you don't need the high towing capacity of a PU this is a good alternative.
Man this speaks volumes about two countries, side by side. One with the ability to make rational choices and the other that needs to follow the herd of stupid, anyplace their handlers tell them to go. Here, in the states, I have been to hundreds of public school events, soccer games, baseball games etc. over a fifteen year period. I constantly was amazed at how many folks "needed" a double cab pickup or a Suburban to hall a kid or two around. Now it seems that the same idiots "downsized" to Grand Cherokees with Hemis and other dumb choices with 40% less space and the same shitty mileage. Meanwhile minivans are treated like they are something you have to driver if you can't afford $35K for an suv or giant truck?

OTOH, We took a summer long trip a decade ago and spent a few weeks in western Canada. I began to notice that there was a huge difference in sensibility there. You apparently don't "need" a macho 4x4 family car if you live in snow country, 1000K north of our home, a minivan is just fine. Farmers and loggers drive macho trucks, families drive practical vehicles and don't give a shit what the neighbor thinks. In the last ten years the trend hasn't changed. This summer it was a trip to NB and NS. Not unusual to see a grocery store parking lot where the majority of the vehicles are minivans. The 90s and early 2000s fwd GM vans were very popular. Now it appears the Dodge has that market with a solid number of Toyota and Honda products out there. The OP is on the right track. A minivan is probably the most practical vehicle on the market today. I drive a full sized Chevy express Van as a work truck, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy another minivan for personal use.
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Old 11-05-2011, 06:07 AM   #10
Tman66
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I've have had 2 Dodge Caravans. A 97 and 99. Both were very versatile vehicles.

Only problems were the AC compressors.

I hauled everything in those vans and pulled trailers with them as well.

Never one hiccup engine/tranny wise.
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Old 11-05-2011, 06:19 AM   #11
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Had an '02 Caravan to haul the dogs around in and it was about the most comfortable vehicle for travel I've ever owned. Hauled a ton of crap in it, and it did just fine in most snowy crappy weather.
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Old 11-05-2011, 06:28 AM   #12
McB
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Had an '03 MPV that we bought new. Nice enough vehicle, but there was a nagging transmission software problem they never got fixed right. It would slam into 2nd or 3rd. When they finally got the 'correct' codes for the fix, it shifted like it was full of oatmeal. I assume that was a limited issue. Also had a '98 Odyssey with the 4 cyl. Sold it in '03 with almost 100k, and it's still being driven daily 8 years later. I'd buy it back today.

Used minivans are underrated and undervalued. Everyone wanted SUVs, even if they were compacts or crossovers with essentially the same running gear as the minivans. Or they buy a compact pickup and load it up with bigger engines and crap so they get the same mileage as a full-size. There are some good deals out there in minivans compared to SUVs and trucks with similar age and miles.
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Old 11-05-2011, 06:28 PM   #13
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I guess the Caravan is shorter than the Grand Caravan? And both 2nd and 3rd row seats stow into the floor?
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Old 11-05-2011, 06:53 PM   #14
jackd
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I've got a 2007 Caravan - the last year they built the shortie. No they don't come with stow-n-go seating. That seating only comes on the Grand Caravans. I really like my shortie Caravan -carries lots and drives quite nice. I actually prefer to drive it over my wife's 2010 Toyota RAV4. Nice wide track, good power, decent handling. I'm not so sure how well the follow on Dodge Journey stacks up against its earlier sibling. To date I have only had to put front brakes into it.
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Old 11-06-2011, 11:55 AM   #15
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Toughest Mini-Van I've ever experienced was the Mazda MPV, my buddies mom traded in her Astro-Van that was falling apart for one back in like 1997, the AWD was incredible in that thing also. It did blow the tranny around 125K, but his dad had a junkyard one swapped in for a few hundred and used it up until a year or 2 ago on a Sales route no less!
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