Author Topic: Lose the van....or not?  (Read 2736 times)

Dersgold

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Lose the van....or not?
« on: March 15, 2014, 09:39:38 AM »
OK -- so I have a 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan (Crew, 67k miles), paid off.  I also have 3 children (5, 4, and 2).  My three main concerns for our family vehicle right now are mpg, cargo/seat space, reliability (want to get 200,000+ miles).

The only time we really need the space is on longer trips which only happen once or twice a year.  Other than that, this thing lugs around town getting around 20 mpg (average). 

Thinking of seeing what I can get for it on craigslist and put that $$ into a wagon (Outback, Mazda 5, Jetta Sportwagon...?).  An Outback wouldn't do that much better on fuel unless it was a newer model -- but it ranks higher in the reliability and longevity category.

Any thoughts?  Am I better off just keeping the van and driving it into the ground or selling while it is still worth something so I can get something more efficient.  Any other vehicle suggestions that I haven't thought of?

I know everyone has their own perception of how much space is needed with kids (vehicles, homes, etc) but we are fine with less space resulting in less cost for fuel, upkeep, and tires.

Thanks for your time!

Ziggurat

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Re: Lose the van....or not?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2014, 10:20:19 AM »
I don't know the Caravan's well, but my impression was that the long life wasn't there without a lot of expense along the way. But these things can (and should) be looked up in Consumer Reports, for example.

You've said high mpg is important, but just how important? Often when you do the math, unless you drive a lot, it is usually not worth switching costs and possibly paying a premium for high mpg vehicles.

That said, there was a discussion about high mpg wagons that might have some good info for you.

Myself, I'd prefer the option of a smaller reliable vehicle  coupled with adding cargo space when necessary.

Dersgold

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Re: Lose the van....or not?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2014, 10:31:19 AM »
Your impression of Caravan's is mostly correct, from what I've read and heard.  Thanks for the comment and the links!

daverobev

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Re: Lose the van....or not?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2014, 06:40:12 PM »
How far do you go in it at 20mpg? Calculate that vs the cost of getting a different vehicle - sometimes, worse fuel efficiency is cheaper...

I can't remember when the change came in, but if it's the new 3.6/6 speed auto, they are supposed to be MUCH better than the old 3.3/4-speed.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Lose the van....or not?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2014, 06:59:25 PM »
If you can get a vehicle for less or the same price as the van, great. If you "need" a new enough vehicle that it will cost more, run the numbers on the mileage payback.

I'd avoid the VW. Subarus are great in snow and the back country. No personal experience with the Mazda 5 but they seem well regarded.

Dersgold

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Re: Lose the van....or not?
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2014, 07:05:12 PM »
We've already put 30,000 miles on in 14 months, so something with higher mpg would definitely help.  Although I'm more concerned with the reliability and maintenance cost than I am with the fuel mileage though.  If I can sell privately for $13,000-$14,000 and get something Japanese (and smaller) with similar mileage in that same price range, it may be money better spent than it is being right now.  At the time I got it, we had another adult living with us and we need the extra seating.  However, kids are at an age where we can pack them in almost anywhere.  Less baby gear, single stroller, little bodies, etc.  As long as we can safely fit their 3 car seats in the back seat and have some cargo space we are golden!

Milspecstache

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Re: Lose the van....or not?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2014, 07:06:39 PM »
If it were me I would want my money parked in a something more reliable.  But if you have taken care of it, you may not be able to get out of it what it is worth to replace.

Dersgold

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Re: Lose the van....or not?
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2014, 07:08:07 PM »
If you can get a vehicle for less or the same price as the van, great. If you "need" a new enough vehicle that it will cost more, run the numbers on the mileage payback.

I'd avoid the VW. Subarus are great in snow and the back country. No personal experience with the Mazda 5 but they seem well regarded.

I don't need anything newer than 3-4 years old.  I'm trying to stay in the 50,000-85,000 mileage range and yeah -- just buy what I can with the proceeds from the van.