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Fuel efficient family car with occasional need for 3rd row seating.

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

proav

We currently own a Toyota Sienna and it has been awesome! It has 215,000 miles on it now and we are looking to purchase something newer. My wife drives almost 30,000 miles a year so fuel efficiency is very important. We considered a Prius V but feel that it won't provide enough space for all of our needs. We previously owned a standard Prius and was happy with it but the Sienna was always available if we needed the room. Now we want one vehicle that will do both jobs. We have looked at a Mitsubishi Outlander, Ford CMax, Kia Sorento, Toyota Highlander, Toyota RAV4, and a few others. For our price range, vehicle size, and comfort I liked the Kia Sorento but I don't know much about their reliability for the long term. We tend to drive cars until they die and Toyota has been really good for us. I like the Highlander Hybrid but trying to find an used one in our price range that doesn't already have close to 150-200k miles is difficult. We don't need the 3rd row seating all the time so being able to stow it and utilize the cargo space is nice.
Any input on the vehicles I have listed above would be nice. Specifically, how reliable the cars are once the have a 100k miles on them, how comfortable are they for long trips, safety features,real world fuel mileage, etc.

Priorities: Fuel economy / Rear seat room & comfort / Reliability & durability

Need minimum of 7 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 75000
Maximum age: 5 years

Maximum price: US $ 20000

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Response from LectroFuel

9:23 pm October 6, 2017

Except if you get a small SUV, minivans get the same or better gas mileage as the midsized SUVs like Highlander, Pilot, and Sorento. Buying another Sienna or a Honda Odyssey might be a good idea. You won't find many (or any) active safety features in your price point. Just ESC, which is still helpful.

From the cars on your list I suggest the Toyota Highlander and RAV4. The Mitsubishi is a tinny car and no one knows how much longer they will be around, no one buys them. Mitsubishi isn't well recieved in America right now, but they do have a good warranty. The Ford CMax is unreliable (and isn't it smaller than a Prius interior wise?). The previous gen 2011-2015 Kia Sorento was also unreliable. Hyundai/Kia had a class action lawsuit about their 2.4L engines failing. They recalled it but engines are still failing after the fix. The V6 also has problems of its own with no recall. The most occuring problems are the driver's door not opening and the sunroof randomly exploding and shattering glass over the people inside. Also, transmission failure was common. Doesn't sound too good. The new Sorento is really good though.

The 2008 Highlander had problems with the electronic speed control (which is very dangerous) but 2009 and newer fixed the issue completely. Other than that it has been one of the most reliable cars on the road. It was a nice SUV that drove like a Lexus. Fuel efficiency is not a strong point though, except with the hybrid. This would be my top suggestion.

My mother in law drives a 2014 RAV4. She likes it a lot. Gets pretty good MPGs. Comfortable, relatively quiet and has a nice list of standard features with a modern interior. I like the 2013-2017 RAV4 more than the 2012-2016 CR-V.

I own a 2005 Prius I put 247k miles on and it still runs perfectly. I also bought a new 2016 Prius early last year. Such an improvement from the previous generations. I have always thought the Prius V was a practical car, but when I drove it, it was slower than my 2005. That's saying something. It was also as tinny feeling as my 2005. Cheaper interior and louder cabin. I was impressed with the feature list though and the MPGs for such a big car. Aside from the engine noise it rode comfortably, but it is still a night and day difference compared to the 2016-2017 Prius liftback. I thought the trunk was pretty big and think of the gas you'll save. $

The 2013 Honda CR-V was a reliable, efficient, and comfortable CUV. Only problem is it has lots of road noise.

A key to getting past 200k miles is not buying a turbocharged car. Those things are expensive to replace. Of course researching helps too. Good luck and respond to tell us what you buy!

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Toyota Highlander
Toyota RAV4
Honda CR-V

Response from NormT

10:04 am October 9, 2017

I'd you are looking at a hybrid at 100,000 miles that will need a replacement battery for $2,000 in 3-years you should factor that into your budget.

Personally, I'd pony up to $26,000 for a 2018 Traverse as Car & Driver recorded 27 mpg at 75 mph, which is better than any mini van. It has 3-rows and can option FWD or AWD like the 27 mpg example above. It is a new model so expect song bugs and teething issues but you have 3/36 bumper to bumper warranty with the latest crash worthiness as it is a redesigned model

The previous generation Traverse was top rated by Consumer Reports and higher rated than the Toyota Highlander in the segment.

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Chevrolet Traverse

Response from LectroFuel

12:34 am October 10, 2017

Toyota has a 10 year/150k mile warranty for the battery. The battery is not heavily affected with cold weather and is a small price to pay for. MPG only drops by 4-5 when in freezing temps. Where the Prius struggles in the snow is traction, so I've read. Never taken my Prius in the snow, just based off many owners. Overactive TCS and ESC.

The 2018 Honda Odyssey minivan with the 10-speed gets 30 mpg on their 75mph test with a 6.6 sec 0-60 time. The 2017 Toyota Sienna minivan with a 6.9 0-60 got 29 mpg on the same test and the Pacifica minivan got 31 mpg. At least the 2018 Traverse is better at efficiency than one minivan, the 9-year-old Grand Caravan at 22 mpg. I don't understand how 27 is better than 31 mpg. Traverse is 6.5 0-60. As long as you don't need to tow or off-road and you can live with the minivan stigma, a minivan is for you. Sienna is available with AWD.

Also, the previous Traverse does not compete with the Highlander and is not even in the same segment on Consumer Reports. The Highlander has a higher overal score than the Traverse. 84 vs 76. It's the one car made by Chevy that competes closest to the midsized SUVs. The Acadia is closer in size. The quality control on GM SUVs are shockingly bad. Interior fit and finish and squeaks and rattles have been emphasized in many reviews. At least it can only get better with time.

The Traverse does not have the latest safety features on the volume selling trims. You have to pay for the Premier or High Country to get the autobrake, adaptive cruise, lane keep assist, and auto high beams. The Highlander (and Prius and RAV4) has all this stuff standard on every trim.

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Response from NormT

7:42 am October 11, 2017

Those minivans are not design to tow 5,000 lbs or accommodate AWD except for the Sienna AWD. The CUVS and crossovers are just that when separating light duty, part time people hauling from the big SUVs. They have heavy duty engine cooling, extra transmission cooling, bigger brakes for better stopping with a load, an extra drive shaft, differential and axles along with stronger wheel hubs all designed to handle more weight and stress. So with all the extras they will not get the economy of a van with it's front wheels pulling it around. With a van you are paying allot, sometimes more than a better engineered crossover as the van is limited to different tasks.

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Response from NormT

8:02 am October 11, 2017

It was the Sequoia that is only mid-pack ranking of 65.. Not all Toyota's are as great as you say they are this proves it.

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Response from LectroFuel

12:13 am October 13, 2017

The minivan is only limited with off-road capability, looks, and towing. Most people rarely do those things. proav didn't sound like he wanted to off-road. A van does everything else better than an SUV.

I don't think all Toyotas are good. In fact, the ones they haven't redesigned in 6+ years are old and behind everyone else. Most of them are boring, but reliable and comfortable, and that's fine for many people, especially for those that don't care about driving dynamics. Almost all of their body on frame products are way behind the Americans in everything but reliability. And for most people it matters if the engine starts when you turn the key.

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Response from NormT

11:23 am October 13, 2017

Even Toyota says the Sienna AWD is designed for light Offroad duty. But neither Sienna or RAV4 AWD send more than 50% of the power to the rear wheels.

http://toyotanews.pressroom.toyota.com/releases/toyota+sienna+rav+4+awd+cures+winter+blues.htm

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Response from LectroFuel

1:05 pm October 14, 2017

Isn't 50:50 the best torque distribution you can get? Having a more even torque distribution gives better traction. The 4Runner, a well-respected off-road SUV, has 53:47 under lowest traction conditions. 47% to the rear. Body on frame trucks are usually RWD if not 4WD, so that's why no more than 50% goes to the rear. RWD fairs the worst in snow.

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Response from proav

7:45 pm October 14, 2017

Thanks for the input. I finally made up my mind and made a purchase. Instead of trying to find something that was in between the Sienna and a Prius and ending up with a compromise, I just purchased a used 2011 Sienna. I got a good enough deal on it that I can buy an older Prius or maybe a older VW Bug diesel for the fuel mileage. That was the setup we had previously and it worked well for us. I know having an extra car negates the fuel savings to a point but it also has its advantages for my family. We didn't need anything that can go off road (I have an F250 if I need to get dirty) so the Sienna fits the bill for us.
Again, thanks for all the comments.

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