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  LectroFuel

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
  jhall729

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
  dchalifo

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...
  jhaible863

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
  Dan

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
  LectroFuel

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
  LectroFuel

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
  LectroFuel

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
  LectroFuel

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
  Sea-Dan

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
  LectroFuel

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)!
  LectroFuel

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
  LectroFuel

I think the 2016 Odyssey is a good choice and is the jack of all trades option in my opinion. I would worry about the transmission more than VCM, but the transmission still isn't that common of a problem. Forums usually highlight problems. They aren't a good way to see if cars are reliable or not, but they are good for finding out what goes wrong on cars and for finding solutions/fixes. The VCM was more of a problem with the 2011-2013 models. 2014+ don't seem to have the problems nearly as often.

Having a plastic interior in the Odyssey is kind of nice so that your 5 kids and dog don't trash the interior. Plastic is much more durable than leather dashboards. We are still original owners of a 2002 Odyssey and the plastic dashboard (leather seats/upholstery) has held up well after 190k miles. Leather seats are also great to have since they don't stain nearly as easily.

If you are really concerned about reliability, the Toyota is the only option that can easily go over 250k miles with normal maintenance based on the powertrain's history.

Best bang for your buck minivan
  tomsids

Thank you both for your suggestions. My wife and I spent four looking at 4 models this afternoon: 2016 Ex-L Odyssey, 2019 Pacifica, 2020 (used) Sedona and 2015 Sienna:

The Sedona would have been a top choice. It felt upscale, but the cargo space is not nearly as large as the other three - the Sienna in particular. The third row seat also seemed more cramped than the others. I also didn't realize the EX model doesn't have a power liftgate, though that's not a dealbreaker.

The Sienna had tons of space, but the 8th seat seems an afterthought - it sits lower than the two captains chairs in the second row and is smallest of all minivans we looked at. The front seat passenger area also feels cramped (I'm 6'6") compared to the competition.

The Odyssey seemed to check all of the boxes - second in space to the Sienna, more substantial 8th seat, and my wife liked the dash better than the Sienna's. The EX-L model we drove didn't feel very high quality though - lots of plastic.

And then there's the Pacficia - I thought we would be satisfied with the Touring-L model, but there were a couple things missing that my wife wanted - such as more storage compartments up front. Most of the vans dealers in our area have in stock have black interiors (my wife prefers something lighter) and there are very few 8-seaters.

After checking these vans out, my wife and I both felt the Odyssey would be the ideal, safest bet...but now I'm reading the odyclub forums, and there are a bunch of people talking about how the VCM is terrible and causes premature wear on the engine - which has me reconsidering the other three options. If only reliability were a sure bet!

T

Best bang for your buck minivan
  Sea-Dan

Sounds like another wagon type car would work well for you.

I agree with your accessement of the Buick TourX -- very nice car in many ways but L-o-n-g and not that fuel efficient. Also pricy but thanks to poor sales it discounts are easily had. Will probably be orphaned after this year. After driving one when they 1st came out, I felt the 2019 Outback was a better car by a small margin (currently I drive a 2015 Outback).

Speaking of Outbacks, given that you are a satisfied long term owner of Subaru wagon I think you definitely should drive both the Gen 5 (2015 - 2019) and Gen 6 (2020) Outbacks. While there are a few nits, the Gen 6 (2020) is an improvement in most regards over Gen 5. To improve handling upgrade your tires. If you get a Gen 5, spend $100 to get an easily installed 19 or 20 mm Subaru STI rear sway bar for noticiably flatter cornering.

With the 2.5s your mpg and acceleration will be similar to the current Subie. If you need more ommph, get the a Gen 5 H6 engine or Gen 6 XT with turbo. Of course you you will get few mgp with the larger engine. Gobs of owner info on new Outbacks here: https://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/gen-6-2020-future.233/
https://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/gen-5-2015-2019.138/

Subies remain quite reliable although there have been some issues with late model Subies -- most notably a small percentage may lose oil (leaks or burn it). That said the early 2000 Subies had a reputation for bad bearings and blown head gaskets, so no car is perfect. To a significant degree your reliablity is partially dependant on the luck of the draw and maintenance.

IF the Outback doesn't fill your bucket and you are OK with a sedan, then I'd steer you to the Accord followed by a Mazda 6. Both should tick off most your boxes but the Accord will get better mpg and have more room (important with growing kiddos). Also both are reliable but given all the new electronic do-dads on new cars, the is more to go arwy and more complaints when compared to a car build 15 yrs ago.

Regarding Android Auto: that seems to be glitchy for lots cars and users. Just be sure to check your android phone for compatability. If you encounter difficulties, have the dealer set it up to your satisfaction before purchase.

Happy car hunting and please return to let us know what you end up with.

Reliable, fuel-efficient, good handling
  LectroFuel

Dan has good advice there. I didn't think that far. If you get a CPO Pacifica with the warranty I think you might be fine. The engine has been out for a long time and has become decently reliable. I would just worry about the electrical components. Alternatively, look at private party Pacificas and if you feel like the first owner took good care of it and they have service records, then I think that is almost as good as a CPO warranty.

Make sure you don't buy a Pacifica that has been a rental car. Hundreds of renters have driven them and kids beat up the interiors. You can check the CarFax for the car's previous uses. Also, don't get the plug-in Pacifica since they have the potential to be unreliable.

Best bang for your buck minivan
  Sea-Dan

As always, ElectroFuels recommendations are well reasoned and quite sound. But they may not be practical given your stated budget.

If I were in the market of a new minivan, I'd definitely have my sights set on the Sienna Hybrid. But, unfortunately, you're not going to be getting any new Asian minivan with latest safety nannys on a budget of $25K. So that leaves used. And you probabably aren't going to find a 1-2 yr old Honda or Toyota for $25K either unless it has been "ridden hard and put away wet".

On the other hand, if you have excellent negotiating skills, you able to land a 2020 Chrysler Voyager minivan (new for 2020, the Voyager is basically a stripped down Pacifica) or a 1-2 year old Pacifica with a CPO warranty (7 yrs, 100K) in your stated price range. Both are generally quite comfortable, brake and handle well, and very spacious.

Chrysler minivans have alway be a bit iffy in terms of reliability and they haven't generally kept up with their Asian counterparts in terms of technology. That said, I have know of and have read a number of reports of people who drove them 100K with minimal problems. And, as you and others have discovered, that even those considered more reliable are not a slam dunk when it comes to reliablity.

If you keep your next van for 90,000 miles, none of them are going to have a great a resale value.

Given your budget, I think you would get the newest, most up to date in terms of tech with a used Chrysler van and with a CPO warranty take significantly reduce reliability concerns.
https://www.certifiedpreowned.chrysler.com/It is a bit of a gamble in terms of reliablity and resale, but to a substancial degree, what Chrysler loses in terms of reliablity, it gains in terms of inital cost.

We'd love to hear the outcome of your search for a new family hauler.

Best bang for your buck minivan
  LectroFuel

If I were you, I would get a new Odyssey if you need a car quickly. If I didn't need a car quickly, I'd wait for the new Sienna Hybrid or possibly the new Kia Sedona.

I would take the Chrysler off the list because of reliability, unless you want to get a long extended warranty. Also, they depreciate very quickly, but if you keep your cars for a long time that won't matter. Your friends' stories of their Pacificas are anecdotal.

The current Sedona is a little old now and is a little small in the third row, but not a huge deal. I would personally get the current Sienna over the Sedona I think.

If you want to get a truly freshly designed modern car, look at the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Pallisade SUVs. They are excellent cars that are universally praised. They have a big backseat, but don't have the sliding doors which I love.

The current Sienna will likely be the most reliable and long lasting. All the safety features are standard, the powertrain is one of the best, and it is roomy inside. It is dated like you said though. The Sienna is on a whole other level with reliability compared to any of the other minivans. None of the other minivans have a track record with their powertrains and electronics.

I wouldn't hesitate to buy the first year of a resesigned Toyota. They are almost always reliable in their first model year unlike many other brands. Their hybrid system is more proven than most powertrains in the world. For this reason, I would get the new Sienna Hybrid as my first pick for sure. It will definitely be out of your $25k budget, however.

The Odyssey is refreshed for 2021, but the 2018-2020 are very similar. I recommend a CPO 2019 Odyssey so you don't get the first year of the redesign.

Best bang for your buck minivan
  LectroFuel

The 2018+ Accord is more highly rated than the Mazda6 because sportiness and steering feel aren't important to most buyers. The Accord is the better car for people who aren't swayed by the styling and feel of the Mazda6. The Mazda is more cramped and less practical than the Accord due to the styling of the Mazda. Also, the ride and road noise is a little more pronounced in the Mazda. The interior technology is also not as modern as the Accord's.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I LOVE the seat comfort of the leather seats in the current gen Civic and Accord. Mazda's are ok (not great), but I think Honda wins in seat comfort. I actually think Mazda's fabric seats are more cushy and comfortable than the leather ones.

For the Mazda3, there wasn't much of a different between 2015 and 2016 at all. So, go for a 2015 if you want and it won't make much of a difference compared to 2016. 2017 was a slight refresh that had a softer ride and less road noise, the addition of an electric parking brake, new steering wheel and higher-res infotainment screen, etc. Some of the Mazda3s are made in Mexico (I think only 2017+ some were from Mexico) and some are from Japan. If the VIN starts with "J", then it is Japanese-made and starting with "3" is Mexican-made. People say the Mexican ones are of lower quality, but I doubt it. I haven't seen any trend proving this. A lot of cars are made in Mexico and it isn't a huge deal.

Mazda3 vs Mazda6 how to decide?
  JD

I do not nor do I plan to own a Subaru. 5 in the greater family and every one has been trouble. I am the family petrolhead and I have been approached three times in the last 5 years asking if blown head gaskets, bad transmissions, CV joints and such were common. Only one family member has kept one because his job requires that he go onto sandy farms in the US desert. All others have gone to Honda or Toyota. Despite the fact I like driving them, I won't have one.

camshaft leak& front cv joints need replaced
  Avertus

thanks for the reply lectrofuel and everyone. When i look at every car publication they always put the honda accord universsally above the mazda6. I really like both the new honda accord and the civic honda has been killing it with their new offerings but I think the honda civic is a bit beyong my budget and like you said the older civics are not great. i wonder why the accord is so highly rated when the mazda6 is sportier than the accord? the mazda6 is interestingly faster on the 0-60 than the mazda3. If i do get the mazda3 im looking at the 2015 like the one your son has or maybe even 2016 if i can get it for a good price. 2015 mazda3, accord, or mazda6 seems very possible now but Im also like you kinda of leaning towards the 3.

Mazda3 vs Mazda6 how to decide?
  LectroFuel

I think you should look at the Mazda 3. You likely will have to go to an older 2012-2015 Civic and those are not that nice, though they are reliable. The newest generation Accord 2018+ is much nicer than the 2013-2017, but I still like the 2013-2017 Accords. However, I like the idea of a used Mazda more because you get a nicer/newer car for the money. Also, Mazdas are subjectively better styled by far.

The 2014-2015 Mazda 6 was a little outdated in the interior like with the infotainment. It is also a sedan that is much smaller on the inside than the Accord with which it competes with. It has the same 2.5L engine available in the Mazda 3. It is more sporty than the Accord, but the Accord is more comfortable.

As I mentioned in your previous post last month, my two sons have 2015 and 2017 Mazda 3s, one with the 2.0 engine and one with the 2.5. I think these are better than the Mazda 6 and even the Hondas. They are available in a hatchback that gives you much more cargo space. The interior is very nice for the segment. They are very fun to drive. The 2.5L is worth the upgrade if you want a more effortless acceleration. The only problem we had was the 2017 had the sunroof explode randomly, a very rare problem with these. Luckily the sunshade was closed so nothing got in the car. Reliability ratings are great for all Mazda 3s, but 2012+ is better.

The Hondas are more comfortable, quiet, spacious, and have better resale value. I would go with the Mazda 3 though.

Mazda3 vs Mazda6 how to decide?
  Sea-Dan

You really can't go wrong with any of the cars you mention; all three are great cars, but there are significant differences.

Both Mazda 3 & Mazda 6 are fun to drive cars with excellent overall reputations. The M6 is a sleeper and has not sold well in the US so it will be harder to find. But, thanks to its sleep status, will probably cost less than similary equipped M3. A quick search for model years 2014 through 2016 in Seattle area shows 10 M6s priced under $13K vs 26 M3s. So the selection of M3 is significantly better.

Aside from price, I'd say it boils down to your size and comfort preferences. The M6 being is larger and will be more comfy. The M3, being smaller, will be more sporty but a bit rougher in the comfort category.

The Honda Accord is perannually a well made favorite of many and a notch better overall than a Mazda. It will be larger and more refined that either Mazda and due to its popularity, will cost more. To get a similarly equipped and priced Accord vs a M6 you would probably have get a year older, higher mileage Accord.

We always appreciate hearing what you end up with and why. Happy car hunting!

Mazda3 vs Mazda6 how to decide?
  mkaresh

Anything more specific on what you want in a vehicle, and perhaps some you like and dislike, and why? As is, too many possibilities.

Preferably a used truck, SUV, hatchback or 4 door car
  mkaresh

This is not a topic I know much about, aside from the need for a transmission cooler in the vehicle being towed. A quick search finds that the Jeep Wrangler tends to be at the top of recommendation lists such as this one. Some lists recommend the Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus with the dual-clutch transmission, but that transmission has been very troublesome. The cars are cheap as a result, but somewhat risky.

Flat tow SUV
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