Buying a used minivan or wait a few years and buy new?

I have an SUV right now and thinking about getting rid of it. The size is a bit awkward (feels like a tall sedan to me) and think a minivan is the best way to go as I’ve got two young kids and could use the power doors and extra space for road trips. I have a 2005 Pilot now and it drives fine, but the doors are starting to drive me nuts as I always need to find bigger parking spots. I grew up in a small sedan and know I could probably live with that, but think life would simply be easier in a minivan.

I’ve been looking at the Odyssey and Sienna and looking to spend ~15k ish. Around this price I’m leaning more towards the Sienna as I’ve heard of transmission issues with the older Odyssey.

My price range I’m looking at:

$15k for a 2010+ model at ~90-100k miles OR
$10k for a 2000+ model at 100-120k miles

I can fix most things on my own (spark plugs, oil changes, brakes etc…) but would never touch things like suspensions/exhausts/tires mostly because I don’t have the space/equipment.

I can probably sell my SUV for 5k easily, so I’m looking at spending another 5-10k on the minivan. Is it even worth buying used at this point, or should I buy something new in a few years and drive it to the ground? My concerns are long term reliability as I usually drive cars up to 150k miles and sell it off before a catastrophic failure, and the fact that everything is moving to hybrid/electric.

Typing this out about spending ~5k on a similarly aged minivan is making me re-think this and instead just save the money and live with the SUV (we did get a great deal on it…). Any thoughts?

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I think you’re combining a lot of different decisions into one, and you should separate them out. I.e., whether you should buy new or used doesn’t particularly have relevance to whether you should sell the SUV and buy something now, or wait until the SUV dies and buy something then.

I think the general consensus around here is going to be: absolutely not. Buying new is almost never financially the right move. Of course - if you want a new car there’s nothing wrong with that, just understand how much you’re paying for that privilege.


Duly noted…

I think the conundrum here is if I want something reliable, I’d have to spend ~25k+ on a low mileage CPO. 100k+ doesn’t have much useful life left IMO and if I’m spending 25k I might as well spend another 5k and buy brand new. Barely used minivans don’t depreciate that much, unfortunately given the demand.

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For what it’s worth to you, this has been my experience:

I bought a 2014 Odyssey brand new in late 2013. I also purchased HondaCare to take the warranty to 8 years / 120k miles. The van is at just about 60k miles now after 5 years, and I have only done oil changes and transmission fluid changes — no other maintenance whatsoever. I would not hesitate the buy the vehicle I have now, it’s been so reliable and I anticipate another 8+ years and 100k+ problem-free miles out of it.

NADA says my van is worth $18k clean trade-in and $21k retail. If I could buy my van for $20k, I would do that in a heartbeat over the $35k or so that it would cost new (EX-L).


I will also add: Automatic sliding doors are amazing.

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Cadillac of minivans


Thank you! I needed a good laugh.

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I’d wait a few years, get one of those sweet Chrysler Pacifica plug in hybrid models as a 3-4 year old model.

I have been wrestling with the SUV vs Minivan quandary myself but from a different angle. I have always considered the minivan more practical than a SUV. Both the SUV & Minivan have similar front profiles so once the Vehicle breaks through the wind the minivan with it’s extra space and versatility wins hands down with little consequence for the extra length. For that reason I have owned a minivan for years with no regrets. Recently my 95 Oldsmobile Silhouette had too many problems to justify repairing it again. The entire body was plastic and I figured I could drive it for years. I called it my tupperware van. After 22 years I guess it did serve it’s purpose. Since 1995 I have discovered the longevity and reliability of Japanese designed vehicles. First with Honda and now with Toyota. Last year my wife and myself planned to travel the country like we have for years in our stealth camper, our minivan. Except we could no longer trust the old Silhouette. So we bought a 2017 Toyota Sienna. When we parked it in our garage we discovered how much larger and taller it is than our Silhouette. Besides making the garage crowded, It was no longer a simple operation putting our canoe on the roof rack. On a couple trips with it I have no complaints. It drives great and serves it’s purpose. Except now I have no simple way to carry our canoe and there is that crowded garage every day. I used to laugh at the hybrid vehicles saying those folks are going to regret it in a few years when they need to replace the batteries. Now that I have been researching for a better vehicle choice for us I have learned that the Prius drivetrain is very reliable. Some Prius taxi’s have exceeded 400k and still going and battery replacment is not hard or expensive if needed. For that reason I have been waiting for the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid to come out this fall/winter. The RAV4 is a all wheel drive version of the Prius. It would be large enough to sleep in, I could put our canoe on it. Have room back in our garage. Plus get 40+ MPG vs 24-28 MPG. As I have been waiting and researching I have learned that the Prius itself is a viable stealth camper with room for one and some say two to sleep in. I also read that the Prius has as much usable space as many compact SUV’s and gets 50+ MPG. Humm, there are many used Prius’s out there at good prices. Something more for you to think about.

We recently got a brand new minivan (Kia Sedona) with only 15 miles on it. We looked at the Odyssey and Sienna vans, but felt we really couldn’t justify the premium you pay for them when compared to the Sedona. We bought a 2017 mid-level trim edition in early 2018 with a pretty good price including discount, rebates, negotiating, etc.

We didn’t want as old of a van as you are looking so our decision would up being a get a 3 or 4 year old used Odyssey or Sienna with 40-50k miles for $20k or buy a new Kia, full warranty for $5k more. A lot of people don’t consider Kia to be as great as the Honda and Toyota, but it now seems to receive similar marks from auto reviewers for reliability and functionality.

Well, I guess I got my answer this morning. Went to look at a used minivan and it was fully loaded (almost 40k when it was new) and they were selling it for 10k (102k miles). Dings/scrapes/scratches as expected, but the part that bugged me was it had a bad steering leak. Unknown if it was from the top of the reservoir or the rack itself, but the rack replacement is around $1200…I could DIY this but just thinking about it gave me nightmares of working on used cars…

I’m just going to keep my SUV until 150-200k miles (it drives fine, no issues, got it for 5k, and bought new tires recently), and when the time comes either buy a plug-in minivan or skip it altogether and just get a sedan once the kids don’t need bulky car seats anymore.

I have found that the answer is almost always don’t buy the car if you already have a car. Something will come along to force your hand eventually.


Like a car accident. Someone wrecked me from behind and I was like, “Damn, I’m going to have to buy a new car.”

Exactly what got me. I was putting off and putting off and then an accident came. Now I’m scrambling to figure out what to buy. Something electric but not sure what I should go with. And no, I’m not getting a @TeslaModel3.

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I’ve heard the outlook for the used car market is positive for buyers in the next few years. Some are expecting a lot of depreciation in 2019 and 2020 as millions of lease cars flood the market. Probably not a good time to buy if you can wait. Buying a new car never makes any sense.

Get a Prius. Everyone expects them to drive slow but Prius drivers always seem to tailgate and do 85. What’s up with that?

Seeing that here, some insane price drops on certain cars-- $40k new, 3 years old w/40k miles $15k.

Seems like people don’t want Sedans anymore. I’m fine with them, more space means more space for junk.

On the other hand, it seems like all variants of the ford panther platform have gotten more expensive to buy now that it’s obsolete.

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I’ve been hearing people say this exact same thing for years. I don’t get it. It’s not like leasing is a new thing.