Author Topic: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?  (Read 1289 times)

onemorebike

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We've been down this road before and are ready to consider yet again. We currently are a one van family with two kiddos (6 and 9), I bike most places (and so do the kids), my wife drives the van to work and we use the van for hauling kids to events, family vacations, trips to the mountain bike trailhead, camping, canoeing, etc.

For years I've expounded on the virtues of our 02 Honda Odyssey, but as our kids have gotten older and we aren't hauling as much baby gear the terrible gas mileage has been gnawing away at me. My wife and I have started looking for a car that doesn't cost us as much in gasoline and will be as reliable, still carry a decent amount of gear for camping/biking/etc, and can be outfitted for racks or whatever is necessary for the bigger trips. Ideally it would feel a little more manueverable.

My current list, complete with the KBB on the "Good" version of this vehicle is below. Right now the prius is a clear leader (unless we just stick with the van) mostly because of the annual savings on gasoline. A quick search of the forums shows many have agonized over this decision, anyone done something similar recently and have input on my list below (upfront cost is estimated price minus sale of odyssey)? Is it missing a car? Is there a clear feature I'm forgetting? Is it not worth the pain and we should stick with the odyssey? Punch my face.

Vehicle           Used KBB           "Upfront Cost"      Annual gas
Odyssey 2002   $2,127.00                              $1,718.75
Forester 2009   $6,206.00            $4,079.00   $1,375.00
Honda Fit 2009   $4,972.00            $2,845.00   $982.14
Prius 2009           $5,970.00            $3,843.00   $572.92
Pontic Vibe 09   $4,821.00            $2,694.00   $1,057.69
Toyota Matrix09   $4,556.00            $2,429.00   $1,057.69

fuzzy math

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2018, 08:58:22 PM »
Subarus are not comfortable rides in the 2nd row. I wouldn't call them roomy either. Depending on your kiddos sizes (and your sizes as adults) you may find that vehicles like the Fit have something lacking (my head hits the top in the back seat and I'm female). If you purchase a newer vehicle your kids may be riding in it well into their teen years.
Part of the cost you've put into things includes the fact that you'd be getting a 7 yrs newer vehicle, which is honestly a purchase you're going to have to make at some point.

lhamo

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2018, 09:01:49 PM »
We love our 2015 Ford Cmax hybrid.  We get 41mpg -- less than the Prius, but it was about 5k cheaper new. We only drive about 5-7k/year, so the difference isn't huge.


Ecky

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2018, 05:04:36 AM »
There are very few differences between a 2004 Prius and 2009 Prius, other than the age of the battery and potential number of miles. Those NiMH battery packs aren't too expensive to replace, and it's probably a better overall package than a Fit for a small family, but the battery will need replacement at some point. I'd say the Fit's virtue is its mechanical simplicity - it's east to work on, and parts are cheap.

I ended up going with a 2007 Fit instead, and a manual, because I have little trust for most automatic transmissions. Toyota's hybrid transmission is absolutely bulletproof though.

nereo

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2018, 06:24:30 AM »
Based on your numbers, it will take 3 years to recoup the difference in upfront cost between buying a Prius and a Fit.  That's a pretty quick ROI and seems to favor the Prius, but as Ecky suggested you might need to replace the battery in the first couple of years, which as I recall costs something like $1k.  So the ROI is probably closer to 5 years (which is still decent).

There's no sensible reason to keep the Odyssey.  The difference in fuel costs every year between the Odyssey and a fit is almost $1,200. Again, you can buy a much newer Prius in about three years over the Odyssey.

I personally find the interior dimensions of the Fit a bit more comfortable than the older Prius (I'm 6'5"). Both are good cars.  Close friend drives a Matrix in Canada and loves it, but she's much smaller than I am.  I don't put much stock in the 'comfort' of your young children; children are adaptable and they'll accept whatever car you choose.  The older one probably isn't in a carseat anymore and I imagine  your second won't be in a year or so.

Parting thought; you can turn a small, fuel efficient car into a fuel efficient gear hauler by getting any of a variety of external boxes.  I personally like the ones that attach to the back via a trailer hitch. MMM made his own many years ago and wrote about it here.

BeanCounter

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2018, 06:45:41 AM »
I wouldn't give up the Odyssey yet. My kids are the same age and I wish we had bought a van when they were little and kept it. I thought "oh, we'll never have more than two children so we don't need a van". But now that they are older we are trying to car pool with other families for sports and we can't because we can only take one more child in the back. I figure the more car pooling I could do with other families the more I can save on time and gas. But since most of our other school families have two or three kids, I can't offer to exchange a carpool because I can't fit their kids in my car. Also as my boys keep growing, we find that we want to do more road trips and the boys and their stuff takes up more space.
You don't know how good you've got it with the van, until you don't have one anymore!

singpolyma

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2018, 07:05:47 AM »
For only 4 people, van seems like massive overkill -- good on you for pursuing this!

If you get something huge, like a standard Prius, you really should have no problem. On top of the good gas usage, Prius also gets great reliability reports. We're probably getting one for our next car.

nereo

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2018, 07:35:20 AM »
space is easily solvable for a smaller vehicle; roof box, hitch-mounted cargo box or mini-trailer.  Pretty easy add 20+ cubic feet of cargo space when necessary, which is a ton.

The frequency with which you'll want >4 people in your vehicle is something only the individual can answer.  You can put four kids in a Fit or Prius and take them to soccer practice no problem.

Finally don't let the potential future years down the road determine what you get now.  The great thing about cars is you can buy and sell them as your needs change.

RWD

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2018, 07:59:38 AM »
Out of those options I'll cast my vote for the Prius.

Dr.Jeckyl

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2018, 12:21:23 PM »
Is the van reliable? I personally keep vehicles that I know the history on versus buying a used vehicle that I don't. The exception would be low mileage vehicles that the first owner took the depreciation hit on. It sounds to me like you get a lot of utility out of the van. Be frugal, don't be cheap. If you use the van for vacations and outings and need the room then keep the van. I have a van and use it as a truck hauling things from the hardware store and it is invaluable.

onemorebike

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2018, 05:55:28 AM »
Thanks for the input everyone. We test drove a Pontiac Vibe last weekend and I walked away feeling a little uninspired. We decided to hang on to the van for the time being (A Honda with 190,000 miles) and pay the extra $$ in gas in exchange for the advantages of a larger vehicle for the time being. We decided we valued having a car we already knew was reliable, being able to haul friends and family to events, and easily throw in mountain bikes, canoes, camping gear, etc for the frequent trips to the woods that we take.

We'll re-evaluate when this thing dies. :)

Jon Bon

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2018, 01:30:02 PM »
Thanks for the input everyone. We test drove a Pontiac Vibe last weekend and I walked away feeling a little uninspired. We decided to hang on to the van for the time being (A Honda with 190,000 miles) and pay the extra $$ in gas in exchange for the advantages of a larger vehicle for the time being. We decided we valued having a car we already knew was reliable, being able to haul friends and family to events, and easily throw in mountain bikes, canoes, camping gear, etc for the frequent trips to the woods that we take.

We'll re-evaluate when this thing dies. :)

This is the correct answer. Rusty and Trusty is the way to go! #vansforever


mm1970

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2018, 04:34:11 PM »
my kids are 12 and 6, and I'd trade you my 06 Matrix for an Odyssey in a hot minute.

JoJo

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2018, 07:05:07 PM »
I think those upfront costs are understated - don't you have to pay taxes on purchase of used car?  Additional license fee?  Pay for a mechanic to have a looksy?    Also, there might be insurance cost differences.

RWD

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2018, 08:26:49 PM »
I think those upfront costs are understated - don't you have to pay taxes on purchase of used car?  Additional license fee?  Pay for a mechanic to have a looksy?    Also, there might be insurance cost differences.

Sales tax on a used car depends on the state you are in and sometimes whether you purchase from a dealer or private party. But in any case there are definitely some transactions costs that are often overlooked.

MayDay

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2018, 05:11:37 AM »
I think people are downplaying the kid thing a little. Kids that age get big, fast.

We have a 8 and 11 year old are are likely trading in our 03 sienna soon. We'll need a full size back seat, a fit is just not an option anymore (although I'd rather drive one than a Camry sized car).

nereo

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2018, 05:32:00 AM »
I think people are downplaying the kid thing a little. Kids that age get big, fast.

We have a 8 and 11 year old are are likely trading in our 03 sienna soon. We'll need a full size back seat, a fit is just not an option anymore (although I'd rather drive one than a Camry sized car).
Have you been in the back of a Fit?  Because I carpool with 3 other fully-grown adults and one of us drives a Fit.  It works just fine.
I think people overplay how much 'space' is actually needed, particularly for kids.

MayDay

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2018, 06:57:36 AM »
I think people are downplaying the kid thing a little. Kids that age get big, fast.

We have a 8 and 11 year old are are likely trading in our 03 sienna soon. We'll need a full size back seat, a fit is just not an option anymore (although I'd rather drive one than a Camry sized car).
Have you been in the back of a Fit?  Because I carpool with 3 other fully-grown adults and one of us drives a Fit.  It works just fine.
I think people overplay how much 'space' is actually needed, particularly for kids.

Yes, and it would be fine with 1 adult-sized- person in the back, but not two for long trips.

It obviously depends how you use it. If you only ever take 4 people on short trips around town it's fine, but the OP described trips that, IMO, it would not be comfortable to do in a fit with 4 adults.

BeanCounter

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2018, 09:28:28 AM »
I think people are downplaying the kid thing a little. Kids that age get big, fast.

We have a 8 and 11 year old are are likely trading in our 03 sienna soon. We'll need a full size back seat, a fit is just not an option anymore (although I'd rather drive one than a Camry sized car).
Have you been in the back of a Fit?  Because I carpool with 3 other fully-grown adults and one of us drives a Fit.  It works just fine.
I think people overplay how much 'space' is actually needed, particularly for kids.

Yes, and it would be fine with 1 adult-sized- person in the back, but not two for long trips.

It obviously depends how you use it. If you only ever take 4 people on short trips around town it's fine, but the OP described trips that, IMO, it would not be comfortable to do in a fit with 4 adults.
Im with you MayDay. We struggle with pickup which involves two boys, with two backpacks and two musical instrument cases plus basketball/Taekwondo gear. And as I said before carpooling is impossible. So itís not just an occasional travel problem, every day after school can be a challenge to fit into a small car.

Jon Bon

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2018, 11:49:16 AM »
I think people are downplaying the kid thing a little. Kids that age get big, fast.

We have a 8 and 11 year old are are likely trading in our 03 sienna soon. We'll need a full size back seat, a fit is just not an option anymore (although I'd rather drive one than a Camry sized car).
Have you been in the back of a Fit?  Because I carpool with 3 other fully-grown adults and one of us drives a Fit.  It works just fine.
I think people overplay how much 'space' is actually needed, particularly for kids.

Yes, and it would be fine with 1 adult-sized- person in the back, but not two for long trips.

It obviously depends how you use it. If you only ever take 4 people on short trips around town it's fine, but the OP described trips that, IMO, it would not be comfortable to do in a fit with 4 adults.
Im with you MayDay. We struggle with pickup which involves two boys, with two backpacks and two musical instrument cases plus basketball/Taekwondo gear. And as I said before carpooling is impossible. So itís not just an occasional travel problem, every day after school can be a challenge to fit into a small car.

Minivan (and Miata) is always the answer!

teen persuasion

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Re: Help Us Decide if We Should Replace Our Van with A Mustachemobile?
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2018, 09:55:24 AM »
I think people are downplaying the kid thing a little. Kids that age get big, fast.

We have a 8 and 11 year old are are likely trading in our 03 sienna soon. We'll need a full size back seat, a fit is just not an option anymore (although I'd rather drive one than a Camry sized car).
Have you been in the back of a Fit?  Because I carpool with 3 other fully-grown adults and one of us drives a Fit.  It works just fine.
I think people overplay how much 'space' is actually needed, particularly for kids.

Yes, and it would be fine with 1 adult-sized- person in the back, but not two for long trips.

It obviously depends how you use it. If you only ever take 4 people on short trips around town it's fine, but the OP described trips that, IMO, it would not be comfortable to do in a fit with 4 adults.
Im with you MayDay. We struggle with pickup which involves two boys, with two backpacks and two musical instrument cases plus basketball/Taekwondo gear. And as I said before carpooling is impossible. So itís not just an occasional travel problem, every day after school can be a challenge to fit into a small car.
Musical instruments!

Over the years we've had to transport kids plus: tubas, cello, upright bass, electric bass and amp, trombone, and smaller instruments that in theory can fit easier like violas, violins and trumpets.  The bass was the biggest space hog - one year we were having trouble fitting it in the usual spot (along the slider door).  It occurred to us finally that DS2 had moved up to a 3/4 size bass AND we'd changed minivans since the last time we had a concert and needed to transport everybody plus the bass (normally it lived at home and he used a different one at school).

When we needed to replace my minivan, and the 3 oldest were out of the nest, I wanted a car, and we took DS4's cello along to test fit trunk space - many did not fit.  There have been many times we've missed the space of a minivan, even with only the 2 youngest at home, like camping trips.

Minivans are the best for moving kids into the dorms, too.