I mentioned in passing in the last post that Noah and I are debating right now whether to get an SUV or a Minivan for our next vehicle to fit our expanding tribe.
I have since received not only comments, but also phone calls and emails from people offering their opinion (some of whom have never owned either one, which cracks me up 🙂 )
I thought that I would take this opportunity to elaborate on the situation and ask for more explicit feedback, because while some people might LOVE their brand new Honda Odyssey, in order to fit our budget and pay cash we’re looking more at vehicles from 15 years ago – when the Odyssey was more of a glorified station wagon and didn’t even have sliding doors.
I said before that I was firmly in the minivan camp, but I have to admit that I’m wavering. Noah has some pretty good points in favor of a three-row SUV. Plus, he listed his categorically in bullet-point form, which is always impressive.
Here are our two perspectives:
Sarah – Team Minivan
With four (!) kids there is going to be a lot of getting in and out and buckling of carseats (at least for the younger two). Minivans are lower to the ground (which make a difference because I’m only five feet tall and the children are even shorter) and the interior designs typically offer more maneuverability and accessibility.
They’re also a bit better on gas and are typically designed specifically for hauling around kids and groceries (like the ones with the hooks in the back storage area for hanging bags – I swoon).
It might not be sexy or rugged and it might wind up being a ridiculous color (apparently minivan manufacturers were excited to finally find something to do with their excess purple paint. Add some wood trim and you’re into a whole new definition of classy!), but minivans are typically designed with family needs in mind. We’re a family with needs – specifically the need to transport a family of six with minimal fuss and bother.
MInivan for the win!
Noah – Team SUV
Ease of repairs: It is a lot easier to work on something higher off the ground and typically there is more working room in the engine compartment of an SUV. Minivans tend to have things in sideways or backwards to fit it all under that tiny front hood.
Parts: The Expedition is built on the frame of an F150 – the best selling truck since before I was born. Ford makes millions of F150 variants – they are all over in the service industry. They’re built to last and parts are all over the place, whereas a specific model and year of minivan is probably more of a rarity.
Dependability: Minivans are notorious for transmission problems. Even the top of the line Odysseys have had issues. The testing and R&D that go into a minivan will never compare to a flagship model like an SUV on a truck frame. The sales numbers are generally higher for SUVs, so the manufacturer is going to spend more on something that makes them more money.
Cost: From what I have seen you can get more for your money with an older SUV in our price range. Minivans in our local market tend to be pretty worn out, both interior and exterior – lots of parking lot dings and stains and broken… everything. For the same price we can get an SUV with leather interior and some extra bells and whistles. Yes, the MPG is 13 vs 17 and that stinks, but I think parts and the ability to repair at home help with that.
Style: I’m not trying to impress the world or anything, and I fully embrace being the parent of a small tribe, but I don’t want to be perceived as a schlub who can’t provide for his family. I mean, we already live in a bus – I don’t need my wife rolling around in the “jolly jalopy wagon” on top of it all.
Summation: If we were looking at a $30k stable family vehicle I would be all over the Odyssey or Sienna minivans. They are more suited to our needs and their function as a family hauler cannot be disputed. However, we are talking an old, super high mile vehicle that is likely on its 4th family, so my focus is more on potential problems.
So, basically, I’m going to be the one driving it most often and Noah’s going to be the one working on it
What are YOUR thoughts?
UPDATE: And the winner is…