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We're hoping to outgrow our little Saturn sedan and I'm looking for minivan recommendations. Anyone? Anyone still using/ prefer a wagon? I'm especially interested in cars that aren't total gas guzzlers and that aren't too big for a small woman (I'm 5'2''), but don't sacrifice safety for size/fuel efficiency.
 

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nak...I've got a Honda Odyssey, love it! Drives like a car, gets good gas mileage for a minivan. It has a feature that shuts down two of the cylinders when you're not accererating to improve gas mileage (I don't notice the switch). Also, it has an intuitive layout of the controls. And the GPS is awesome. Backup camera is very useful. I've been super pleased. I've has some issues with the rear sliders sticking, but that's all.
 

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I've test drove every wagon and van trying to figure out what I needed next. The Honda Odsessy was my fav van. It did drive like a car, I didn't feel like I was driving a minivan, this coming from someone who had a little car and isn't very big either. I had major issues wheter to go with a wagon through one more child and then go to a minivan when #3 was coming. I was thisclose to getting the Honda but decided I wanted 3 more years of a car (I love driving a car) and had concerns about front wheel drive since we live in the mountains so ended up gettting an used Audi wagon. There are many great wagons on the market now. The Subarus are nice, DH used to drive one, I don't know if all the new ones come with the turbo now or not but that definately cut down on the fuel ecomony. Good luck.
 

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I have a Honda Odyssey EX-L; that means I have the EX model with leather. It's really nice to have both doors slide right open. We are going to be purchasing some after-market stuff (door visors, sunroof visor, and a DVD player). If you're not after the Touring model I think you should go with after-market DVD.

I think it's a great car! If only I could *beam* my toddler into it instead of dragging him down 3 flights of stairs...

Whatever one you choose, do your research on pricing and force your local dealers to fight for your business with competitive pricing through email and the internet. Then print the emails and go where you want. They'd be foolish not to match it. Watch out for them adding this and that at the end. That's where they make their money back.
 

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We have an 8 seater Toyota Sienna and absolutely love it. We liked the Odyssey, but just didn't like it as much as the Sienna. We wanted an 8 seater and the 8th seat in the Ody was pretty much useless, though it is nice that you can stow it when you don't need it. It was just too thin to be very useful as a seat though. We love how the 8th seat in the Sienna moves forward so the baby is more between my husband and me making him much easier to get to when he needs a little reassurance that we are close by still.
 

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We have an Odyssey and love it!
We had narrowed it down to the Sienna and the Odyssey and I'm so glad we finally picked the Odyssey.

Just a note....mine is the last body style (year 2003)
 

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I would give my right ovary for a Toyota Sienna. As we're not independently wealthy, I'll end up settling for a Hyundai Entourage...the newest thing in the minivan world.
 

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We have the Odyssey (2005 base model--no frills), and love it! I thought I wanted the Sienna, but when I test drove them both, I *much* preferred the Odyssey. It really does feel like you're driving a fancy car, whereas the Sienna felt like I was driving a van (and had some funky arm rest issues, IMO!). So, in the end, the choice was easy.

If I knew that it would be a few years before I had three kids, though, I would definitely wait and get something more fuel efficient. It's lovely to have a minivan even just for two kids (we got our when our twins were 2.5, and it was life-changing! We got it because we were expecting a foster baby. . . and now we are expecting a bio baby), but it definitely feels wasteful (especially in those rare moments when I'm the only one in the car), and I do go through a lot of gas. If I were you, I'd get a car that got at least 35 mpg for now and hope that by the time you have a third baby there will be a newer more efficient minivan available.

HTH!

Lex
 

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Hi! We have a Dodge Sprinter van. It seats 8, gets high 20's to low 30's MPG, and runs on diesel. We use a bio-diesel blend in it, so we are using a renewable fuel that supports US farmers and is CO2 neutral. It has TONS of space inside, including a huge cargo area behind the second row of bench seats. This cargo area is big enough for our extra-large dog crate that holds our 120 lb. dog, plus some luggage.

Good points:
- fuel economy, as I mentioned (25 to 32 is what we get)
- great visibility: you sit up high, so you can see everything, and the windows are well-positioned
- you can run a renewable fuel if you choose, with no modifications
- easy to keep clean, with durable seat fabric and floors that are hard rubber: just wash off that kid goop!
- easy to get just the options you want, not the options packages that cost you an arm and a leg with Honda and Toyota
- we drove ours home for about $31,000

Bad points:
- availability might be tough, we had to order and wait 6 months
- it drives like our old VW Eurovan Camper; some people say it drives like the UPS truck

- some people think they are ugly

I just wanted to pipe in with some option other than the Sienna and the Odyssey! Also, before we decided on the Sprinter, we were looking hard at VW Jetta Wagons and Passat Wagons. Both were available, during various years from 2000 to 2006, with TDI engines. This means they use diesel (can run biodiesel), and get great fuel economy. The Jetta Wagon gets 45 to 50 MPG! But if you are growing out of your Saturn sedan, these wagons might feel too small for you.

Mercedes sold a really nice wagon, the E class, in the late 90's and early 00's. They usually had a "third seat", which is a flip-up seat in the rear cargo area. The seat can hold two people (usually children), and they face backward. With the third seat, the car seats 7. This car is one of the safest ever sold in the US, you can sometimes find them in 4WD versions, and they get equal to or better fuel economy than a Honda mini-van. Don't let "Mercedes" scare you away - you can get a beautiful example of one of these cars for less than $20K. You might even be able to find one with a Starmark warranty, so it's a certified used car. These cars drive like a dream. If I could get this wagon with a diesel engine, so we could run biodiesel, it would be my dream car.

Good luck with your new purchase!

~Diane
 

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We had a Toyota Previa minivan (until we got rear-ended last week
: ). I loved it!!! If you're looking for something maybe a little older and less pricey, it's a great car. Ours had AWD which was nice when I lived in New England. I think the only other minivans you can get AWD on now are the newer Siennas and Chevy Astros.
 
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