Mini Van Shopping

Yes, it’s true. I’m in the market for a minivan.

I have learned that people usually fall into one of two categories – minivan lovers and minivan haters.

My friend Katie is a minivan hater. She has always been resolute that she will never own one…but I’m not convinced. I think it’s only a matter of time. 🙂

My friend Jenn is a minivan lover. She has twins just older than the Mini Athlete and has compared her minivan to an apartment on wheels.

I have driven my beloved 2003 Toyota Corolla for the past 10 years. Literally. My family bought it new for me while I was in college and I have since put almost 160,000 miles on it. The crazy thing? I still love that little car.


But with two babies in carseats, the Corolla is just too small. Add their diaper bags, stroller, etc and there is just no room.

So it’s time to start looking for something different. And I have to say that the convenience of automatic sliding doors is luring me in.

I don’t really have strong feelings about any particular type of minivan – everything is on the table at this point. My only non-negotiable feature would be those sliding doors. But then again, I haven’t been in the market for a car in ten years.

It’s a little overwhelming to say the least. I’m constantly browsing Craigslist, AutoTrader and the classifieds, hoping to find the perfect deal. But quite frankly, I’m still not sure what it is I’m looking for…and I’m hoping you can help.

Please share your advice!

If you have a minivan, which one do you have? What do you like or not like about it?

Don’t have a minivan? What are some features in your car you just can’t live without?

I’ll keep you posted as the minivan search continues!



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19 Responses to Mini Van Shopping

  1. Haha, everyone I know who has a minivan LOVES it. I’m still on the SUV bandwagon, do I have no advice, but good luck!

    and please tell me you’ve seen this:


  2. When we have a 3rd, we are totally trading in our Acadia (which I looove) for a minivan! My Acadia has all the same features but just not that extra space for a 3rd kid plus baggage since we travel a lot. The DVD player is awesome and totally worth the extra money and they even come standard on a lot of cars these days. I’ve heard the stow n go is pretty awesome in minis!

  3. Katie

    I drive a Honda odyssey and I love it! The sliding doors, huge amounts of storage, DVD player, and very smooth driving, plus it’s great on gas! You will not regret getting a mini van!

  4. Good for you for getting back out there! Sounds like you had a great run to me! 🙂

    The picture of your little guy and your husband on the step stools is absolutely precious. With my kids getting older I’m really enjoying looking back and seeing those sweet little moment. Keep capturing them on film and video. You’ll be so glad you did. 🙂

    Re: the minivan. We have a Dodge Grand Caravan; this is actually our second one. We drove the first one for 10 years and had no trouble. The second has been great too, other than some brake trouble we had, but once we figured out the problem and had that fixed it’s been a great minivan, too. The one we have now has the stow and go seating and we love that feature. If you need to, you can put all the seats in the middle and back down and it’s almost like having a truck bed for hauling things.

  5. Theresa

    I’m definitely a minivan hater! But if I ever did cave in and get one I would probably put the Toyota Sienna at the top of my list. I know a few people that drive them and they are seriously nice vans….and well, they’re Toyota’s. Right now though we fall into the crossover vehicle lover category. We leased a Murano a while back and absolutely loved it, so when it came time for us to upgrade a few months ago we kept looking in that category. This time we went with the Toyota Vezna. Our biggest ‘must have’ is leg room…LOTS of legroom. My husband is 6’5 and I’m 6’0 so we need lots of room up front but also a large enough back seat area for an adult to sit behind my husband without being too cramped. The feature I’ll never want to give up? Keyless entry…the kind where you just have to have your key/fob in your pocket or purse and the doors automatically unlock without you having to take your keys out. So convenient when you’ve got a lot of stuff in your hands!

  6. We have the Prius wagon and it has an extraordinary amount of cargo space and passenger space even in the back. I disliked my minivans because of the way they caught the wind.

    I switched from the minivan to a Subaru Forrester when my kids were 7/5/2 and wasn’t ever sorry. Bringing them closer in brought closeness to car trips…this proved to be some of the best times to talk to the children as they grew. (and yes, they fit with all the car seats and as teens too)

  7. I am a minivan hater!

    I have had a wagon though (Audi A6 Avant), and currently drive the VW Toureag…which actually has less room then my wagon did.

  8. Jenn S.

    We bought a 2004 Honda Odyssey last year with only 54k miles on it. Best purchase ever. I highly recommend the Odyssey or the Sienna. I read a ton on to help me in making my choice. Lots of knowledgeable folks on there. Good luck! You will love it.

  9. We have the Mazda 5 and we LOVE it! It’s a Mini Mini Van. It has three rows of seats, but the back folds down for lots of storage.

  10. Ok, no kiddos for me now or anytime soon so I can only come at this from the angle of “Daughter of a Car Repair Shop Owner.” I will NOT get into politics because this isn’t about that, but if you don’t have a preference one way or the other, buy Japanese. They know how to build cars (or minivans) and Japanese vehicles are notorious for having fewer issues than domestic cars (and most other manufacturers, as well).

  11. Kathy in Chicago

    Not a miniban owner… only wish I was when the in-laws come for a week during the summer & everyone will fit in 1 car. We have a Subaru Forester. 2 kids (now teenagers), 2 adults, 2 big dogs, bike rack, luggage carrier on the top. It has carried us thru every family vacation to the East Coast, Rocky Mountains, Canada, Florida & everywhere in between. Make sure you get a ball-pin thingy to pull things – I only use mine for the bike rack, but I won’t live without one again.

  12. No kiddos, but I’m the oldest of four kids LOL. In high school, my Mom bought a Honda Odyssey and never looked back. In fact, last year (11 years later), my Mom had to get a new car and even though all of her kids are grown now, she bought another Odyssey LOL!

  13. Amanda

    The Honda Odyssey is the greatest invention since the internal combustion engine. I was a previous mini-van hater, but 2 kids in 12 months changed my mind quickly. The Odyssey is easy to drive, super comfortable, and low maintenance. Rearranging the seats for storage or more passengers is simple. Gas mileage is good. I know I sound like a nerd, but I call it my “super cool mini-van” only half in jest.

  14. Elizabeth

    My mom had a Honda Odyssey and LOVED it. It went to car heaven a few years back (in an accident) but when it died I think it had close to 150K miles on it and it was still going strong. It was super useful when my sister and I were in high school and my mom’s life consisted of driving us places, picking us up from places, driving us more places. But actually as a 20-something I always thought it was useful because then you only need 1 DD ;). I drive a Honda Civic now and I’ve always had really good experiences with Honda services in general. The people that I babysit for have a Sienna; they seem to like it (they weren’t super excited about getting a minivan, but three little monkeys makes it hard to get anything else). The few times I’ve driven it it’s been great.

  15. Okay, so I HIGHLY recommend the Honda Odyssey. My mom has been a minivan mom for years and this is the best one she’s had. It drives smoothly and has a ton of nice features (they have a DVD player, built in GPS, leather seats, a variety of headphone locations, and xm radio so I don’t think it was the base model. And they have the sliding doors you want on both sides!!) The Odyssey works well with my middle school siblings who each get a “row” to themselves and their friends when their friends are in the car. It comfortably stores 5 and their stuff for a road trip. It gives my parents’ idiotic dog plenty of room to run around during her spastic trips to the groomer. It also comfortably fit 6 of my sister’s 20-something year old friends for her bachelorette party (party in a minivan–woop woop! But seriously, adults usually don’t like piling in a minivan and I heard “this is really comfortable!”) It drives very smoothly, has a great turning radius, and hasn’t needed a ton of maintenance. Whenever I drive it I kind of want to trade in my sedan for a minivan…and I only have one child 🙂

  16. monica

    I have been driving my Odyssey for 10 years trouble free. I got it when my twins were 3 and it has served me well for this phase of my life. Very comfortable. I call it the couch on wheels. When/if it dies, I will mostly likely not buy another van since my babies are getting older and I feel I’m in a different phase of my life. One note on the automatic sliding doors — I recall my husband did NOT want to get these so we got the LX version with the manual sliding doors. The engineer in him felt like this was one more thing that could break/need repair. Just something to think about. It hasn’t bothered me and it’s one less thing to worry about. I know some years’ vans had trouble with this feature.

  17. Katherine

    I loved my single girl sassy Acura Tsx.
    But then fast forward to having two kids, chocolate lab, living newr 4 grandparents (elderly) and we were in the market for something PRACTICAL.

    We decided on the Honda Odyssey 2010 touring (used). We saw the new models of the toyota sienna & the Honda Odyssey but didnt like the way the new dashboards or quality of the interior compared to the pre-redesigns.

    We have driven the toyota prius and couldnt stand the navigation feature compared to my acura/honda navigation set up/options. And the way the engine of the toyota vs Honda. Honda won hands down. So that’s what we zeored in on.

    I was never a huge minivan fan. But like you said, the automatic side doors, powered tailgate spoke to me (i swear if i had to squeeze into my car to load my kiddo/dog ONE MORE TIME- or have the car door whack my butt… So help me god…)

    Now we have the minivan used. It was a prior lease. We found a GREAT deal and it is in supremo condition w low miles! I figure it will get us everywhere we want to go with two young kids perfectly and when they are older and we arent schlepping strollers/dog/larger-than-life carseats then we can go back to our cool SUV/sedan stage.

    So my mini van has been affectionately called the party bus. And i know i used to be cool. But now at least we are all comfortable.

    I like my honda oddysey because it has flexible seating arrangements. It has latch on a bunch of seats so when my sister has kids we can add carseats and still be safe/comfortable. I like the touring because of the sensors in the front & back. (I always drove a compact car, this is the biggest vehicle i have ever driven!) i love how the middle row of the 2010 has floor compartment storage- the new model does not. Love the power train.

    Most of the minivans have these options as standard. But the features to me are new compared to my compact car.

    Drive the new models/the 2010 models & make a list of pros cons of the elite/touring top models compared to the standard and see what you like.

    I trust honda > than toyota though. Personal preference. From my acura tax to the honda the controls were the same since they are the same company so it wasnt hard a learning curve for me to acclimate to the honda odyssey.

  18. Katherine

    I meant to add.

    So we compared the new models.
    Then we drove toyota vs honda minivans.

    Then i looke at what each model package offered and what i liked and what was gimmicky/what incould personally do without (could i do without sensors? Do i want the too model for the interior window shades? How does the seating inside change for x amt of people?) is the storage vastly different between models?

    Once we determined we liked the 2010 honda odyssey for the interior quality etc. we looked for what we could afford/colors of interior or exterior. And some used minivans SUCKED werent well kept and some were awesome but sold before we could get to them! Ugh! Its a hot market for them used apparently! Especially if they r in good condition!

  19. amy

    definitely get one with automatic doors and trunk. I couldn’t live without my automatic trunk.
    good luck!

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