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I think you'd be best off with the 2004-2020 Sienna because of the superior reliability. The V6 has been around forever, so it is proven. If you want AWD, that is also available in the Sienna. The Odyssey seems like it either has engine or transmission problems for every generation.

But honestly, none of the minivans will really be hard to DIY. I think the Dodge GC and T&C with the Pentastar V6 are also pretty easy to fix, and the price of entry is cheaper than the Japanese options. They aren't as high quality though.

Thels car

Chrysler had an issue thru 2018 with their min-van hoods when the aluminum is beginning to galvanize under the paint. It was covered by the 3year / 36k mile warranty so you would have to have the hood fixed by a local body repair shop. If you like the van then get it as it's only a cometic issue.

Paint bubbling on hood of Grand Caravan

It baffles me that automakers don't add an LSD or AWD to these performance-oriented family sedans. Every review of the Kia K5 GT says the wheelspin ruins the driving experience. If I was buying a Camry I'd skip the TRD and go for the XSE Hybrid.

2021 Toyota Camry TRD Review

They are replacing them for free if it is within the age/mileage limit.


My wife's 2018 Model 3 has rebooted only a couple times. I count that as normal since all of our cars reboot their screens. Shortly after buying the car however, the screen froze on her and she pulled over with the car facing a steep uphill grade (at least she was in a safe place). The car wouldn't go into park or change gear and when pressing the "gas" pedal nothing would happen. The car would just roll backwards since it was on a hill. So, she held the two buttons on the steering wheel to do a hard reboot and that fixed everything. It hasn't happened since. If the car died while driving, that would be a big problem. But it died when she pulled over so it was fine.

The older the Tesla, the more glitchy the infotainment system will be. Just like a computer...

Center Screen

Congrats and thanks for letting us know of your choice!

Larger, Reliable, Fuel Efficient, Family Vehicle

I agree with Dan about the Outback vs. Forester. I'd buy an Outback over a Forester. It's just nicer and is a wagon, so it isn't like everything on the road.

The RAV4 Hybrid is another good choice. If you don't need an extremely capable AWD system, the RAV4 Hybrid's AWD system can do 80% of what the CR-V Hybrid can do, but gets a lot better gas mileage than the CR-V Hybrid. Especially on the highway. The RAV4 Hybrid should be the most reliable small SUV on the market. Toyota has over 20 years of hybrid experience and the basic powertrain concept has been the same.

The 2021 Santa Fe looks super nice. Basically looks like a smaller Palisade with the same amount of luxury. It is also available in a Hybrid this year, but reliability might not be top-notch because it is a newer powertrain. However, you get a 10 year/100k mile powertrain warranty so I wouldn't worry about that.

The 2021 Kia Sorento is the cousin of the Santa Fe, seems to drive very sportily, and has a nice interior. Same warranty as the Hyundai, and is also available in a hybrid.

I would get a hybrid no matter what. Unless you rarely drive, it almost always ends up being cheaper in the end. Also, the hybrids typically drive better than the gas counterparts. This is especially true with the CR-V and RAV4 hybrids.

Good luck and please let us know if you read our suggestions!

Newer Version Forester

With $40,000 to spend, you have lots of excellent options.
The top of the line, current Subaru Forester Limited meets all your requirements quite nicely for about $35K.
Same goes for the 2021 Outback - same drivetrain and many other parts as Forester, but more plush and comfortable. Getting a similarly equipped Outback Limited would cost ~ $2K more than the Forester.
Both Subies are relatively reliable, especially in the 1st 100,000 miles.

Another excellent option that meets your criteria would be the 2021 Hyundai Sante Fe. The Santa Fe is also relatively reliable and its warranty is twice as long as most other cars.

Last but not least, take a look at the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid. Still in your price range and reliable and it will use about 20% less gas than the others, even more in city driving! Overall the Honda would be the least expensive to own over 5-10 years.

Happy car shopping and please let us know what you choose.

Disclosure: I have owned one Forester (2004) and two Outbacks - a 2010 and a 2015 which I still have. Very few issues and all were covered by new car warranty.
I too am considering a new car and currently the new Outback, Sante Fe & Honda CR-V are all contenders!

Newer Version Forester

Ended up buying a 2013 fwd sienna. Great car! Thanks!

Larger, Reliable, Fuel Efficient, Family Vehicle

I own a 2012 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X with a 6 speed manual. Routine maintenance and avoiding severe modifications (lift kits, massive tires, etc) keep this vehicle a reliable daily driver. The only unexpected problems have been replacing a crankshaft position sensor and driver's rear axle seal. I currently have 238,000 miles and it still gets me to work 84 miles one way!

Member Vehicle Review

I guess we got one of the good ones (it seems the 2019+ model 3's have much improved reliability). Our 2019 SR+ had one issue a couple of months after purchase - it self reported a problem with the Power Conversion unit, automatically ordered the part, and I took it in for an overnight repair (Raleigh SC gave me a model S loaner). Since then, nada - not a single problem after nearly 2 years. The most reliable car I've ever owned. And a blast to drive! Also, insurance is very reasonable for this car in NC.

Terrible Experience, Tesla Doesn't Care

Excellent review!

Toyota has built another great Toyota Highlander.

LectroFuel is assuming you want a 7 passenger car even though you listed two 5 passenger models (Volvo & Subaru). Actually, w 3 kids, a 7 passenger rig makes a lot of sense, especially if you plan to keep it a long time. He knows his cars and is right on about the Toyotas for a 7 passenger model.
But back to to the 5 passenger models.
Volvo XC 90 is nice alright but will have a higher initial cost and higher maintenence cost than an Outback. If your OK with a 5 seater, a Subaru would be the way to go. You might also consider the Subie Forester. It isn't quite as cushy as the OB, but has a similar amount of room, equipment, and some prefer it -- may also be a couple thousand less for similarly equipped Outback. Many Subie owners put well over 100,000 miles on there without major repairs although about 10% (more if earlier than 2015) use oil, major engine failure is very rare.
Disclosure: I have owned 1 Forester and 2 Outbacks with very little problem (but never kept one beyond 75,000 miles).
Good luck and please let us know what you decide on.

Safe, inexpensive family car for 5

Beautifully written. You've sold me

2006 Lincoln Town Car Designer Series

The Toyota Highlander would be the best option on your list because it will run for a very long time if it is taken care of. However, the Toyota Sienna is just as reliable and has a lot more space. I would totally go for the Sienna over the Highlander if I had five kids. You don't want to put three kids in car seats in the second or third row of a Highlander. All cars will be similarly safe and efficient. The minivans and Volvo would be expected to fare better in a crash.

If you really want efficiency, the Highlander Hybrid is available, but don't get one too old because the batteries age with time, not mileage. I wouldn't recommend this option as this hybrid system was a little less efficient than the Prius at the time, even considering the large size of the Highlander.

Safe, inexpensive family car for 5

I have a 2013 X5 diesel. Put about 50,000 miles on it now, closing in on 100,000 on the odometer. Great car, strong engine. It needed a pump for the DEF tank, and later it needed a DEF tank fluid sensor. Each repair was $400 or so at the dealership. Recently, the oil return line from the turbo was replaced for $600. The gas mileage is incredible for a luxury SUV.
It's not the least expensive car to run, but the torque is amazing and I've found it to be a great tow vehicle.

BMW x5

How many MILLIONS of people had the same airbag recall. I'm luck to have a GREAT dealer in Edmonton.... no problems. My 2005 now has over 200,000 km on it and things like CV-joints and timing belt I consider to be "standard" wear & tear and I did the work myself. I say like Kriva... it's not the greatest gas mileage but with my Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 Studded tires, true AWD, electric heated windsheild and the lovely heated seats and toasty warm heat (too hot on Max) in our -20?C -35?C winters near Edmonton in Northern Canada... this is THE car to safely get around. I love it.

I swallowed the AWD / reliability / safety marketing pill and paid for it dearly...

2008 Escape Hybrid.

Differential to the rear drive wheels had to be replaced at 110K miles.

Front suspension parts are prone to falling apart and needed more that average frquency of rebuilds.

This info. concurs with similarcomments by other owners of 2006-2012 Escapes. The hybrid engine always ran well.

ABS, engine check, O2 Sensor lights on from 90K onward.

Car was rendered uninspectable unless we were willing to spend many hundreds of dollars to diagnose and make the repairs.

Ultimately the car was not worth the money to do so - Sold it for 1000.00.
Overall build quality of the car was cheap and not of high quality.

26-33 MPG consistently.

Member Vehicle Review

As a long time owner of the Chrysler Town & Country / Dodge Grand Caravan I have to recommend these for price, durability, and maintenance costs. They are not nearly as reliable as the Sienna or the Odyssey but they are known quantities, and they are way less expensive. They don't drive as smooth as the new Chrysler Pacificas but once they are on the open road they are great vehicles.

It is super easy to find a mechanic who knows these vehicles and the repair costs are reasonable. Yes they need brakes every 2 years, and have occasional (minor) engine issues, but you can get into a leather version for many thousands less than their Japanese counterparts. Replacement parts are cheap, and they can definitely go for 200K miles.

In my opinion you cant beat the stow-n-go seats for ease of reconfiguring the cabin. We would drop one of the seats for big roadtrips and could really stretch out in back.

Inexpensive Family Hauler for growing family

My dad has a 2014 Panamera and it has been relatively reliable. The water pump went out once while he was driving it and left him on the side of the road. Other than that it has been fine. His is the base model V6 3.7L and I believe it has over 50k miles. It is a heavy car, so if you don't need the space I would go for a 911. Still, for the size and weight of the car, it handles very well and hides the weight well on backroads since the tires are very wide if you get the upgraded wheels. The base V6 isn't terribly powerful enough to be very fun. It's still decent though. It is a great road trip car and feels planted and stable on the highway. In the city, the DCT takes a little bit to get used to, but it is worth it. It shifts very quickly. The infotainment system is not really good. The Porsche dealer charges way too much for basic service, so make sure you have a trusty mechanic that works on Porsches so you can get a better price.

Overall Quality

This would be last on my list if I was looking for a dependable car. It's easy to tell it won't be reliable or cheap to own because it is a Mercedes V8.

Dependable SUF

The Toyota Sienna will likely be a a lot more reliable and long-lasting than the Odyssey, but the Odyssey is a decent choice. If you could find a 2nd gen Sienna 2008-2010, that is the one I would get because they drive really smoothly and quietly. Basically drives like an old Lexus. The Odyssey usually is the van that has more steering feel and is a little more fun, if you can say that about a minivan. They have more road noise.

Inexpensive Family Hauler for growing family

If you haven't found a car yet, I would suggest a Sienna over an Odyssey for the added reliability and AWD availability. The Odyssey is also good and handles more like a big Accord instead of a boat like the Sienna. The Odyssey just isn't quite as reliable. I'd imagine the AWD option in the used Siennas are super expensive compared to the FWD, so make sure you're getting a good deal.

We've had a 2002 Odyssey since new and it has given itself a run for its money.

Yeah, the minivans are great because you can fit tall things comfortably and still have a lot of room leftover. The dogs could roam around in the trunk. If you don't ever have people in the back seat, you can take out the second row seats and expand the cargo area.

I'd avoid a used Chrysler/Dodge minivan because of reliability. The Sedona doesn't have as great of interior packaging and the old ones were pretty lackluster.

Larger, Reliable, Fuel Efficient, Family Vehicle

Thanks for the update tomsids.
I concure with LectoFuel - the Ody sounds like the best bet for you needs and wants. Perhaps get one with CPO if available to help reduce reliability concerns - that said, I'm not sure it a CPO would cover the described VCM issues --would want to clarify that.
Also, there is an after market VCM cancellation device (VCM Muzzler) that some Ody owners have used with apparently quite good results. Its available on Amazon for about $85 and install is pretty straight forward.
Keep us posted.

Best bang for your buck minivan

With GM cars you often have to pay for the highest trim to get safety features. That means I automatically cross them off my list to recommend for most people. If you can get the Buick with all those features in your budget, then I'd say it's a decent choice. I would recommend that over the Murano. The Murano doesn't have a very reliable transmission, so I would avoid it if possible.

I was thinking a Subaru Forester would be a good car because the visibility is so good and it is offered with all the safety features. It is a comfortable car, too. Check if road noise is too loud.

2017 used CR-V Touring is really a good choice as well. CPO cars give you a 7 year 100k mile powertrain warranty included with purchase for most brands.

SUV for 69 year old senior (even though I don\'t want to admit it)!

Sea-Dan has an excellent post above^^. He is THE expert on Subarus. Make sure Android Auto works well with your phone before buying. The dealership will likely blame your phone for being the issue I've heard.

The Outback is a good car, but it really prioritizes comfort over sportiness. Upgrading the tires will get you better grip handling, but still won't improve steering feel/feedback enough. I personally care more about feel and feedback from the road more than grip numbers. Other than handling the car is near perfect. Test drive one to make sure you like the handling. Chances are, if you didn't like the handling of the Legacy sedan, then you probably won't like the Outback's handling.

The Civic might be a little too small when your kids get taller. It is a great car aside from the infotainment system, which would actually be a deal-breaker for me because it feels so old. It does have Android Auto however.

I don't see a reason to get the Civic when you could get a new Honda Insight, which is a better-looking Civic with better gas mileage and a better interior.

The Accord fits the bill pretty well. It has the same engine as the Civic (1.5t), so they would both have the same problem unless you got the 2.0T. I haven't heard of any coolant problems, but the oil dilution is one I have heard of. If you don't make many small 1-mile trips repeatedly in extremely cold temperatures, then I wouldn't worry about it. That is when the problem sometimes arises. They also have a hybrid Accord, which I would probably buy over the 1.5t. Gets mid-40s mpgs to nearly 50 mpg.

The Camry is worth a look. They improved the handling a lot in the current generation. I would completely ignore the 2.5L base engine and get the hybrid. Look at the XSE hybrid to get mid-40 mpgs.

Lastly, I have to mention that the Kia and Mazda will likely be very reliable. I am pretty confident that the Mazda will be more reliable than any of the Hondas. They have been using the same three engines for many years and two of them are naturally aspirated. The reliability ratings have been above Honda for years. However, the Toyota can't really be beat for reilability.

So, I have to recommend the Mazda 6. I think it would be a tie between the Mazda 6, Accord, and Camry. The Mazda has fantastic steering feel and has a very nice interior. The only bad things are that the infotainment system is a little old at this point (does offer Android Auto), backseat might be a little tighter, and it isn't available in a hybrid.

The new Kia K5 (2021) and Hyundai Sonata are excellent cars that people are saying handle well. Their interiors are also really good, almost to the level of Mazda. Their tech features are the best in the segment by far. They will likely be the best in the segment. I would wait until you can test drive them before you make the purchase.

SO, the Mazda 6 and Honda Accord are my two top picks. If I were you, I'd probably get the Accord, likely the hybrid Touring trim. On the test drive of the Accord hybrid, be sure to chuck it into a corner quickly to test the grip. The eco tires might not be good enough for you. The tires are a major reason the car gets great mileage, so once you put on a set of non-eco tires on a hybrid car the mileage will drop a lot.

Reliable, fuel-efficient, good handling
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