Minivans remain a popular choice for families who need more space than a sedan can provide but who aren’t willing to get behind the wheel of something as large as an SUV. Used minivans like the Toyota Sienna and Dodge Grand Caravan provide an exceptional value for families on a budget, as they combine a long list of features with the kind of interior room and fuel economy that are important to minivan buyers.
Let’s take a look at five of the leading used minivans on the market, starting with the used Honda Odyssey, and examine what makes them compelling options as family transportation.
The second generation Honda Odyssey – built between 2005 and 2010 – is one of the leaders in the previously-owned minivan market. Although refreshed in terms of styling and the inclusion of a few additional features in 2008, all used Honda Odyssey minivans from the era are essentially the same package. The vehicle’s main highlights include available eight passenger seating, a total of 147 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear two rows of accommodations out of the picture, and features such as a DVD entertainment system and a power liftgate are available.
Under the hood, the used Honda Odyssey offers a 3.5-liter V-6 motor, which provides 244 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque in most editions of the van. Some top tier versions of the Odyssey come with a cylinder deactivation feature, which reduces engine output somewhat but balances that deficit with fuel economy rated at 17-mpg city and 25-mpg highway. The standard used Honda Odyssey returns fuel mileage of 16-mpg around town and 23-mpg during highway cruising. A five-speed automatic transmission is included as standard equipment with the van.
The Toyota Sienna minivan also saw its second generation fall into roughly the same period as that of the Honda Odyssey (2004-2010). Later editions of the used Toyota Sienna are more desirable as they moved from a 3.3-liter V-6 to a more robust 266 horsepower, 3.5-liter six-cylinder unit (2007 model and up). This engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, and unlike most other used minivans the Sienna can also be found with optional all-wheel drive. Fuel mileage for the front-wheel drive edition of the used Toyota Sienna comes in at 20-mpg in city driving and 27-mpg on the highway.
Inside, a used Toyota Sienna boasts a wide range of equipment, including an available navigation system and a power folding feature for the third row of seating. Like the Odyssey, the Sienna can handle up to eight passengers, and it offers as much as 149 cubic feet of cargo room behind the front two positions with the rear seats out of the picture.
A used Dodge Grand Caravan is typically the more affordable of the two minivan platform twins available from Chrysler (the other being the Chrysler Town & Country). The current generation of the Grand Caravan first hit showrooms in 2008, and before an extensive refresh for 2011 the minivan offered three V-6 engine options. These included a 3.3-liter unit (175 horsepower), a 3.8-liter (197 horsepower) and a 4.0-liter motor (251 horsepower). Of the three, the most efficient used Dodge Grand Caravan engine is not surprisingly also the least powerful – the 3.3-liter motor returns fuel economy of 17-mpg city and 24-mpg highway. Each of the other two engines, however, is only one mile per gallon behind for each respective measure. Transmission choices include a mix of four and six-speed automatics.
A used Dodge Grand Caravan comes with seating for seven as well as the option of choosing either the Stow ‘n Go or Swivel ‘n Go seating management systems. The former folds flat into the floor (and is included as standard equipment) while the latter provides a center-mounted table and the ability to rotate the second row of seats to face the rear of the vehicle. Total cargo volume for the used Dodge Grand Caravan tops out at 144.3 cubic feet.
A used Mazda MAZDA5 minivan represents a different take on the family hauler concept. The MAZDA5 doesn’t provide seating for more than six passengers, as it is intended as a compact minivan for those who prize maneuverability, a fun to drive chassis, and a small form factor that can still offer substantial interior room. 2005 to 2010 used Mazda MAZDA5 models provide three rows of seating along with 44 cubic feet of cargo space with that final row of accommodations folded forward.
Most used Mazda MAZDA5 shoppers will want to target 2008 and up models. These editions of the van feature a 2.3-liter, 153 horsepower four-cylinder engine that also generates 148 lb-ft of torque, yoked to either a five-speed automatic transmission (introduced in 2008) or – rare for a minivan – a five-speed manual in the MAZDA5 Sport. Fuel mileage for the minivan comes in at 21-mpg in stop and go driving and 27-mpg on the highway.
A used Kia Sedona minivan provides low-budget family hauling without the need to sacrifice when it comes to features or capability. Value-focused even when new, a used Kia Sedona is one of the least expensive minivan options on the previously-owned market. Since 2006 the used Kia Sedona has been available in a mix of both long and short-wheelbase designs, each of which can accommodate up to seven passengers. Long-wheelbase editions of the Sedona provide a third row of seating that folds flat into the floor, and the extra length gives this version of the minivan the most impressive total cargo space figure of the two: 121 cubic feet.
All 2006-2010 used Kia Sedonas in the U.S. are equipped with a 3.8-liter V-6 that provides 250 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed transmission sends this power to the front wheels, and fuel mileage for the minivan is rated at 18-mpg in stop and go driving and 25-mpg during highway cruising.