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Thread: Cool Minivan??

  1. #1
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    Cool Minivan??

    Over the last few months my buddies and I have been debating the best bike hauling vehicle for me. I'll be in the market for a new long distance bike hauling rig in the near future so I've been looking at my options.

    Here's my criteria.

    1) Has to get better then 20mpg on the highway.
    2) Has to be able to get serviced locally. No Europeans. Not prejudice just no service around here.
    3) Has to seat at least four and haul bikes and gear for all those people too.
    4) Should be comfortable for long trips
    5) Would like it to be AWD or 4x4

    I've considered the Honda Element, Ford Escape, Toyota Highlander, and many more. As much as we debate we keep coming back to a Minivan. I've had Dodge minivans for years. I have four kids and so I'm very familiar with them. You just can't beat them for room, mpg and long distance comfort. I live in western Nebraska and we take a LOT of trips to Wyoming and Colorado for mtn. biking. Probably three weekends out of four were out riding. The more we debate the more the minivan keeps coming around. I know it doesn't have awd/4x4, but I've driven them in a lot of snow and mud and they have preformed well.

    So is it possible to have a cool minivan? Please post up pictures if you can.

    tanx

    Zero

  2. #2
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    My 06 Chevy Express AWD works awesome and gets 19-20 mpg on the hwy. Plus, I can haul bikes inside and not worry about them getting stolen, when I run in some where. I love it. I also have a, 08 Honda Odyssey. It only gests about 24-25 mpg and there is only enough room for one bike inside. I like the Express way better. Check out my MOTOVAN thread .

  3. #3
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    I've been looking at your motovan thread. I'm gonna look at that option. Wish I could find a large ford van with a diesal. I've loaded up a Grand Caravan with five bikes(two for me and one was a 15" frame), four people and all our gear. It was tight, but no bikes got rub marks. It is a good feeling to have all the bikes inside.

  4. #4
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    I don't think 'cool' and 'minivan' should be used in the same sentence......

  5. #5
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    Too bad Dodge doesn't offer the Caravan with AWD, but they all have the traction control system that transfers power from a slipping wheel to the other wheel...Which hopefully isn't on the same slippery surface.

  6. #6
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    Ford flex maybe?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dompedro3
    Ford flex maybe?
    I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth....

    Sorry man, no offense I just can't stand the looks of that thing. I know...this from a guy that's considering a minivan as a ride. I really like the Honda Element. The proportions are much better on it, I also like the Ford Edge, but it's a little pricey. I'm looking used around $15k-$20k. Lots of good Escapes, Elements and Minivans for that money.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by piston honda
    I don't think 'cool' and 'minivan' should be used in the same sentence......
    You need to get with the decade:

    <object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/ql-N3F1FhW4?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/ql-N3F1FhW4?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by wuzilla
    You need to get with the decade:
    SwaggerWagon
    Damn, beaten to it.

    Sienna, Odyssey, really any of the new minivans. I'd drive one if I needed the seats/storage.

  10. #10
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    That is awesome. I work in the advertising field and that is a genius branding idea. I'm not totally convinced, but it did make me feel a lot better about looking at one. Plus...I didn't know the Sienna was AWD. Very cool.

  11. #11
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    20MPG isn't that almost 12 litres per 100kms?
    That's to much!

    If you were in Europe, I would say to go for the new VW Sharan with the 2.0 TDI engine and DSG gearbox!
    It isn't 4x4, but it is as cool as it can, confortable, and with lot's of space.

    http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/#/new/sharan-nf/

    But you don't have around the US! You only have the Routan (? it looks a Voyager...).



    Won't a SUV do the job?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeroack
    That is awesome. I work in the advertising field and that is a genius branding idea. I'm not totally convinced, but it did make me feel a lot better about looking at one. Plus...I didn't know the Sienna was AWD. Very cool.
    I recently got an AWD Sienna. "Cool" it ain't, and you have to have a light foot to get 20mpg. That said, it's a great family/road trip vehicle and I've no regrets so far.

    Well, I do have one regret. The kid seats are attached the the middle row of seating so I don't get to sit in the recliners.
    This is no time for levity. - Oliver Hardy

  13. #13
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    Chev Astro

    - good mileage for a 4.3 liter
    - comes in AWD
    - it's a real van (truck) not a large station wagon (Chrysler, Ford)
    - downhill bikes will fit inside standing up with the wheels still on.
    - Holds 5 bikes and 5 people inside the van
    - holds 8 bikes and 8 people if you put the bikes outside the van on racks
    - you can buy a used one in good shape for $1000

  14. #14
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    I'll drive a Sienna and see what I think. Always a option. As for the Astro. I want something I'm not going to have to worry about on long trips. My buddy has one and his gas mileage isn't that great either.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tkul
    If you were in Europe, I would say to go for the new VW Sharan with the 2.0 TDI engine and DSG gearbox!
    I'd love to own a VW but getting it serviced anywhere close won't happen. No qualified repairmen. I'd have to drive a minimum of 150miles one way to get it serviced or worked on. I owned a Audi out here for two years. Loved the car, hated getting it worked on.

    Why America won't accept or bring in more diesal cars is beyond me. Great mpg, great power and torque. I don't get it. I know there must be some sort of politics at work but...what ever.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plim
    I recently got an AWD Sienna. "Cool" it ain't, and you have to have a light foot to get 20mpg. That said, it's a great family/road trip vehicle and I've no regrets so far.

    Well, I do have one regret. The kid seats are attached the the middle row of seating so I don't get to sit in the recliners.
    What year Sienna? And how happy are you with it? We're looking at the 2011 but the wife is upset with the bad reviews on Consumer Reports. I've also been reading about automatic tailgates not working properly. Our 2000 Odyssey is crapping out and we're in the market for a new minivan. I've read a lot from people that are unhappy with the new Sienna's but that's pretty typical on the internet.

    As an aside I started driving in the 70's and vans were cool back then. I owned a few before I ever got married. My favorite was a 68 dodge van that was the same color and in a little worse condition (OK a lot worse) than the one in this picture... ( had a couch in the back of it and thought it was the bomb) The other cool thing about it was that it had a foot pump for the windshield washer fluid, and someone spray painted Rebel Yell on the side of it during a night of hard partying, oh man those were the days...


  17. #17
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    Mazda5

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by edthesped
    What year Sienna? And how happy are you with it? We're looking at the 2011 but the wife is upset with the bad reviews on Consumer Reports. I've also been reading about automatic tailgates not working properly. Our 2000 Odyssey is crapping out and we're in the market for a new minivan. I've read a lot from people that are unhappy with the new Sienna's but that's pretty typical on the internet.
    2011 Sienna XLE AWD. I'm happy with it, and so is my wife (she drives it with the kids 95% of the time). Be aware that neither of us are nit-pickers when it comes to cars. It's possible we are blissfully oblivious to things that would bother others. Haven't read any reviews on Consumer Reports, so dunno what people are complaining about. Haven't had any issues with the automatic rear tailgate thingy. Did have to look in the multi-hundred-page user manual to figure how to set the smartkey unlock mode how we wanted. Instructions could've been clearer, but not too big a hassle.

    Chose it because of desire for AWD, which made the Sienna the only game in town in minivans. Compared it to various SUVs, but didn't like any of them.
    This is no time for levity. - Oliver Hardy

  19. #19
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    We owned a 2007 Honda Odyssey EX Touring minivan and it is the bomb We are a family of 4 and I would be hard pressed to pick anything else (save for a BMW 750il) I'd prefer for a long road trip. Luggage space, 4 bucket seats and great entertainment package. Styling is.....blah, but when I'm seated inside, its all good.

    We looked at the all new Sienna, and it seems to be cut from the same mold. The body style is very nice, kinda like the Venza, but the price has gone up considerably. Siennas used to be 18,000 minivans, but a well equipped one was going for 37,000 at the dealer.

  20. #20
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    Chevy astro van. 1. They look badass lowered. 2. If you get an awd one they look badass lifted. 3. They are basically an S-10 pickup so raistng or lowering them is cheap-ish. 4. An LT-1 engine swap can be completed with off the shelf GM parts. 5. You can find them for pocket change all over anthem country. 6. And last. Imagine the look on a Porsche drivers face (after the engine swap) when you suck the doors off his German exotic with a van covered with bike stickers.
    In the great Ford vs Chevy debate, I choose Porsche.

  21. #21
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    Astro or safari. Seriously, dont look at anything else. Just picked mine up for $3000, not a spot of rust and not a single problem. You can get 200,000-300,000 miles out of them with the usual high mileage maintenance. Mine will get 19 mpg no problem, and it will go sideways around corners ( tell me another minivan that can do that! )
    Mine-

    Wish it was mine-

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by piston honda
    I don't think 'cool' and 'minivan' should be used in the same sentence......

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by wuzilla
    You need to get with the decade:

    <object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/ql-N3F1FhW4?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/ql-N3F1FhW4?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>
    It's an SNL skit.

    Minivans are appliances.

  24. #24
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    I bought a second Astro because at $800 I assumed the first one (a 1991) would die soon. 3 years and 100,000 mountain miles later I've replaced the brakes.

    The second one is still waiting.

  25. #25
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    It's too bad you can't get a Chevy Express in diesel. I love the Expres/older Astro/Safari vans. They look like awesome road trip vehicles.

  26. #26
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    I really dig my Mazda 5. More of a microvan than a minivan though. Can easily fit four full grown adults plus a roof rack full of bikes. Pretty fun to drive too.

    Downside is it isn't AWD. Gas mileage is also a bit less than I would expect...but this has been a brutal summer down here in FL and I think the temps combined with me having to crank the AC may have something to do with it.
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  27. #27
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    My next car WILL be a minivan. In fact when my truck goes, I will probably inherit the current family van and buy a new one for the wife & kids. Minivans are infinitely useful, versatile vehicles.

    I have LONG given up trying to look cool when I drive. Who the hell cares what you look like in your car anyway. Its how you look on the trail that is important! Plaster a bunch of bike stickers on the windows, throw on a roof rack, and you are good to go.
    Grit, spit, and a whole lot of duct tape!

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeroack

    So is it possible to have a cool minivan? Please post up pictures if you can.
    That's a really tough call. I wish there was something like that myself for a daily driver.

    We have a Eurovan as a road-trip machine and it's great (see below), but you need a good shop near by for sure.

    A couple ideas:

    1) VW Vanagon with a Subaru engine conversion - check out the Vanagon forum at https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewforum.php?f=20

    2) Subaru (Tribeca) B9.... might be too small for you?

    3) Late 60's Chevy/Dodge/Ford van - see https://vintage-vans.smugmug.com/



  29. #29
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    "cool" was on my criteria when we were being cornered into a minivan by the growing number of kids in my house.

    Test drove the Dodge/Toyota/Honda. Considered a VW/rAstro Van/etc.

    Ended up with an Odyssey.

    240 HP tows our heavy camper with ample power (including in the mountains)
    Handles exceptionally well for a minivan (I LOVE passing packs of cars over Berthoud pass)
    Reliable as a tooth brush (some had/have tranny issues - read up on that)
    With snow tires, pulled us from Denver to Winter Park after a blizzard (48" dump!)
    Looks decent enough (subjective)

    Smooth as butter when towing and all the way up to redline. Caught myself bumping up towards 85 MPH towing our camper back to CO from Lake Mcconaughy.*




    *this ain't safe. Don't do this.

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    My vote would go to the VW Eurovan, and with any of the camping conversions, they rock and are fairly unobtrusive. The one we have has a folding seat/bed in the back, two fridges, table, and an extendable roof that allows one more to sleep up top, and also has screens for ventilation to keep the bugs out. Driven daily for ten years by pop! They also have a Mercedes variant. Practically the same, especially with the westfalia conversion, but not as strong running as the VW and no AWD.

    For looks, lots of customization available.

  31. #31
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    Schmed, you darn near sold me with the towing of that camper. What's the weight of your pop up? Mine is around 1900lbs. I have a 1991 suburban that I keep around just for towing our camper. If I could do it with both vehicles....damn that would be nice. Your also a fellow Turner owner, I know I can trust you. Homers don't lie.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chewymilk99
    Chevy astro van. 1. They look badass lowered. 2. If you get an awd one they look badass lifted. 3. They are basically an S-10 pickup so raistng or lowering them is cheap-ish. 4. An LT-1 engine swap can be completed with off the shelf GM parts. 5. You can find them for pocket change all over anthem country. 6. And last. Imagine the look on a Porsche drivers face (after the engine swap) when you suck the doors off his German exotic with a van covered with bike stickers.
    Then the road curves. I love the Porsche acceleration comparisons. They are never-ending with silliness.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Supadave
    It's an SNL skit.

    Minivans are appliances.
    Nope - Toyota marketing campaign. And if they want to sell minivans, I'd believe that they'll sell some. Afterall, they somehow convinced the buying public into an overpriced, impractical, ugly little car called the "Prius".

    Back in the eighties, station wagons were uncool because they were driven by old-people. In came the minivan. In the nineties, minivans were uncool because they were driven by moms. In came the SUV. And now SUV's are uncool because they're driven by the newer, hipper "soccer-mom". So what's next?

    Personally, I'm hoping it doesn't become the "Crossover" decade and the cycle flips back to the station wagon. Until then, and to stay on topic:

    <object width='428' height='352' classid='clsid27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000' id='SFID016554228495806456'><param name='movie' value='http://www.streetfire.net/flash/SPlayer.swf' type='application/x-shockwave-flash' /><param name='allowScriptAccess' value='always' /><param name='wmode' value='transparent' /><param name='allowfullscreen' value='true' /><param name='FlashVars' value='&video=f6bbd779-5cc3-4a6c-afa9-0e85c33ad4d3&servicecfg=386'/><embed src='http://www.streetfire.net/flash/SPlayer.swf' flashvars='video=f6bbd779-5cc3-4a6c-afa9-0e85c33ad4d3&servicecfg=386' allowfullscreen='true' wmode='transparent' width='428' height='352' allowscriptaccess='always' type='application/x-shockwave-flash' pluginspage='http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer' /></object><br/><a href='http://www.streetfire.net/video/eurovan-with-engine-996-turbo_43224.htm'>Eurovan with engine 996 turbo</a>

  34. #34
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    TopGear took this one out a few seasons ago. I really wish we could get something close to it.

    http://www.ford.co.uk/Cars/S-MAX

  35. #35
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    We use our caravan to pull a pop-up trailer as well.

    Hey Schmed,
    You may be interested in a rack I built for our popup. The bikes ride on top not on the back. You may have noticed how bouncy the back of a pop-up is...That rack is on borrowed time.

    https://s156.photobucket.com/albums/...20bike%20rack/
    Grit, spit, and a whole lot of duct tape!

  36. #36
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    SM, I saw that same rack on ebay the other night for $500. Nice work putting it together yourself. My pop up is older and so I just bolted it too the top. Works well so far.

    I'd get one of these if I didn't think my kids would disown me.

    http://www.fordvehicles.com/trucks/transitconnect/

  37. #37
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    Suburu Outback or Forrester???

    AWD.
    TREK EX9 27.5

    NINER MCR 9 (Moondust)

    GIANT REVOLT ADVANCED 1

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by wuzilla
    Nope - Toyota marketing campaign. And if they want to sell minivans, I'd believe that they'll sell some. Afterall, they somehow convinced the buying public into an overpriced, impractical, ugly little car called the "Prius".
    I realize it's not actually an SNL skit, just stylized after one. But the point in the SNL skit is usually making fun of something, not acutally endorsing it.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stupendous Man
    My next car WILL be a minivan. In fact when my truck goes, I will probably inherit the current family van and buy a new one for the wife & kids. Minivans are infinitely useful, versatile vehicles.

    I have LONG given up trying to look cool when I drive. Who the hell cares what you look like in your car anyway. Its how you look on the trail that is important! Plaster a bunch of bike stickers on the windows, throw on a roof rack, and you are good to go.
    There is nothing cooler than my primer grey Astro with 8 high-end downhill rigs strapped to the outside and me driving. I'm almost 60 years old & I have very grey hair. That old truck turns heads everywhere. They assume the other people inside are as old as me.

    When we stop somewhere the eyes get even wider. The kids I ride with are in their late teens and early 20's and they look like some death metal band that has kidnapped a senior citizen.

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    The VW Routan is a rebadged Chrysler, serviceable by any Dodge/Chrysler shop. OTOH, it doesn't look all that different (IMO) and if it costs any more then that premium is for a fancy interior and different branding.

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    Have you considered a Chrysler Pacifica? I'm really liking mine as a non-minivan family hauler. If gets abut 25mpg on the highway and comes in AWD. Very comfortable, and pretty affordable on the used market. I admit to being a big fan of station wagons, and this car fits all my needs perfectly. Dodge has a new model with similar characteristics as well.

  42. #42
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    Yea, other then Caravan Chrysler really doesn't do it for me now days. I've never been a ford guy. However it seems I'm leaning towards a Newer Ford Escape. I know I can't fit the bikes inside, but a rack on the back will take care of that. Great gas mileage on either the hybrid or the std. Great ground clearance and it can be serviced locally. I haven't driven one yet. Going to try and work that in this weekend.

    As for Station Wagons I'll take a 1968 Olds Vista Cruiser please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeroack
    Yea, other then Caravan Chrysler really doesn't do it for me now days. I've never been a ford guy. However it seems I'm leaning towards a Newer Ford Escape. I know I can't fit the bikes inside, but a rack on the back will take care of that. Great gas mileage on either the hybrid or the std. Great ground clearance and it can be serviced locally. I haven't driven one yet. Going to try and work that in this weekend.

    As for Station Wagons I'll take a 1968 Olds Vista Cruiser please.
    I'll take the Family Truckster any day...







    I think you're all ****ed in the head. We're ten hours from the ****ing fun park and you want to bail out. Well I'll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun. I'm gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much ****ing fun we'll need plastic surgeory to remove our godamn smiles. You'll be whistling 'Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah' out of you're *******s! I gotta be crazy! I'm on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy ****!

  44. #44
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    Since I have a Honda and a Express I can tell you get an Express AWD. They have so much more room and you can never have too much room. I can haul 8 people in both vans, but I like the Epress better because I can haul the bikes inside and I can even camp inside the Express with the rear seat removed. There are so many more options with the Express. The Express has a 300hp V8 that will tow better than the Honda. The Honda is fast and corners really nice though.

    My wifes Honda.


    My Express with its new Billet grill.






    The rear seat is removed. There are 3 bikes in there under the blankets and all our gear for 2 weeks of riding and my wife packs a ton of crap.
    Last edited by kntr; 09-17-2010 at 11:08 AM.

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  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbikerTi
    Now you are talkin.

  47. #47
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    Funny you should say that

    Quote Originally Posted by Tkul
    20MPG isn't that almost 12 litres per 100kms?
    That's to much!

    If you were in Europe, I would say to go for the new VW Sharan with the 2.0 TDI engine and DSG gearbox!
    It isn't 4x4, but it is as cool as it can, confortable, and with lot's of space.

    http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/#/new/sharan-nf/

    But you don't have around the US! You only have the Routan (? it looks a Voyager...).



    Won't a SUV do the job?
    It is a Voyager with VW styling.

  48. #48
    ballbuster
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    I'm unclear...

    Quote Originally Posted by wuzilla
    Nope - Toyota marketing campaign. And if they want to sell minivans, I'd believe that they'll sell some. Afterall, they somehow convinced the buying public into an overpriced, impractical, ugly little car called the "Prius".
    Why do you (edit: Anybody would) think a 45-50 mpg (real world) car that is big enough in back to put a bike in with the wheels on that goes for $24k is impractical? Also the few bucks extra you pay up front pays for itself in 12k miles in gas savings... the rest is gravy.

    I have three friends with Priuses, and they all swear they are the best cars evar. Zero issues, a bit on the slow side 0-60 compared to other cars today (about 9.5 seconds depending on year, IIRC) but compared to other compact economy cars in the 80s to mid 90s, they are faster. One of my friends got her car to 120k miles 9 years out, and its still hassle free and tight.

    I drive the boss' Highlander Hybrid truck on a regular basis for work, and I'm very impressed with it. It has gobs of power... more than my Audi A4... and still gets 27 mpg... about the same as my A4. Probalby about the same sticker price, too (when new).

    You're right on one count, tho. The Prius is ugly. Some things are more important than vanity, tho.
    Last edited by pimpbot; 09-19-2010 at 12:56 AM.

  49. #49
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    +1

    Quote Originally Posted by pimpbot
    Why do you think a 45-50 mpg (real world) car that is big enough in back to put a bike in with the wheels on that goes for $24k is impractical?
    I rode Prius for about a week while waiting for Toyota Tacoma shipment after trading in a Volvo. I ACTUALLY liked driving Prius. I don't know what it was about Prius, but it has a calming affect on my driving.

    I'm not a big fan of Toyota, but Prius wasn't too bad. Tacoma (not mine) is alright too.
    Last edited by light3monkey; 09-18-2010 at 11:21 AM. Reason: really bad typo

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by J_Westy

    A couple ideas:

    1) VW Vanagon with a Subaru engine conversion - check out the Vanagon forum at https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewforum.php?f=20

    2) Subaru (Tribeca) B9.... might be too small for you?

    3) Late 60's Chevy/Dodge/Ford van - see https://vintage-vans.smugmug.com/
    Zeroack, you never said what your budget was, but in case you were dismissing the Vanagon idea, here's an example:

    https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifi...php?id=1015348


  51. #51
    Digital Toast
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    Nice...budget is around 20k.

    I did answer my question today. Yes you can have a cool minivan. All you have to do is fill it with one of these......



    Which I did today. Then it's cool no matter what.

    Zero

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