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John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
5/25/21 10:31 a.m.
John Welsh said:

Do you consider the Ford Flex a viable option, size consideration? 

I don't have one specifically to offer but just wondering if it's wagon style/size would work for you. 

Early on, I asked the question above about the Flex.  Where my intention was going to go was to the little known Taurus X.

This began life as the Ford Freestyle and the car was PLAUGED by a CVT trans...enough said.  But, after 3 years it was refitted with a 3.5L and normal trans and relaunched as the Taurus X.  That lasted for 2 model years and it was restyled (but with same good 3.5L and trans) as the Ford Flex. 

Like the Flex, more wagon rather than van but I highly recommend the largely overlooked Taurus X badged cars as a good buy because no one goes looking for them.  Partially because the same look Freestyle has such a bad trans reputation and partially because the Flex is much better looking.  However, mostly because the name, Taurus X, is so unknown.  

Michigan sample, 2008 w/ 68k miles asking $5.5k
Again, in Mich, low miles does not mean low rust...inspect.  

Two dealer offerings in metro Detroit:

73k at $9k

95k at $9.5k

Here's a GRM thread from 3 years ago and 2 GRM'ers praising their Taurus x

P3PPY
P3PPY Dork
5/25/21 8:08 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

Haha thanks for all that context. I'd never seen a mopar van with no rear window controls before so I figured it must be some crazy stripped down job and little did I know!

 

Regarding the Flex/Taurus X, as with cars, wagons, SUVs, it's just too little storage room for what we do. I hate to keep telling people "no, not that" but for convenience sake my wife keeps a stroller and two scooters in the back of the van at all times, for instance. Stuff like that just wouldn't work along with two rows of rear seats for the kids and occasional cousin, is all. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
5/25/21 9:37 p.m.

As I stated, I just went through this whole same/similar shopping just a year ago.  I came within $1,500 of owning a Lincoln MKT (fancy Flex) but the salesman wouldn't budge the $1,500 more off that I wanted so I walked.  

 

I was slow to recommend the TaurusX because this thread started with a debate between mini and maxi van.  Once the maxi was ruled out I then offered the TaurusX.  

Sure, scooters and strollers, but...that low mileage Michigan TaurusX is $5k to $10k cheaper than most everything else (with high miles) that we're finding.  I'll bet a different stroller could be bought for less than $5k.   

Another thing to consider...The TaurusX has a 3 place bench in row 2.  This could mean that you can have 3 kids and still have all the 3rd row area as cargo.  You can't do that with a Mopar van.  In a Mopar, 3 kids means at least one side of the 3rd row is being used.  For bigger travel, use some of that $5k to $10k saving to buy a roof cargo box.  $100 should get you a great one off CL/FB, like this..  

RACEC4R
RACEC4R New Reader
6/2/21 12:18 p.m.

This was actually a really helpful thread.

 

Appreciate you guys taking the time to discuss nuances and options.

P3PPY
P3PPY Dork
6/2/21 9:15 p.m.

Well here's where we are-- ConsumerReports seems to do legit research/scientific surveys so that's what I'm basing this off of, to be clear.

Going for a minivan still, because other options come close in certain options but they cannot beat a van all-around for what we want.  
Full-size Express is no wider nor taller inside than a Caravan, Econoline is 10" wider. Which would come in handy if I bought one again because that's where I'd be sleeping. SWMBO ruled it out because of being unwieldy. They're both potentially longer, but that's kind of a hindrance. Interesting to note that the 15 pass Chevy has a longer wheelbase than standard. The 15 pass Ford has a longer tail overhang than the standard. FWIW. 
 

Years:

I read on here the other day that the avg lifespan of a car nowadays is 11.8 years. According to ConsumerReports, reliability drops off a cliff at 10 years, across the board, but relative to the car's general reliability. So if I'm spending tons of money I'm going to want to buy as many of the good years as possible.

 

The choices were 2015 and newer of:

-Toyota Sienna

-Honda Odyssey

-Dodge/Chrysler/Volkswagen

-Nissan Quest 

-Kia Sedona

 

Nissan has the CVT weakness so that's out, period

Honda's minivan is their black sheep of the family as far as reliability. Only one year around our range has decent reliability (2016) -- BUT it earns its high marks from things like the power doors and the radio being highly reliable, whereas the engine/trans are 4/5. The prices are the same as the excellent Sienna, while not being itself mechanically excellent.

Kias are hard to find and only the 2017 has high marks for reliability so it kind of saw itself out of the running due to scarcity/cost

Siennas are costly. Like, I was looking at a 2016 Caravan for 9 and a 2016 Sienna at 17. Both were good deals of their model. That's almost double! It's my preference but at $10-13 I'm looking at a 2011, which is dumb.

I started this thread not wanting an FCA, but here we are. The 2017 is a somewhat more reliable year than any of the others. When I got desperate I looked into it and engine/trans/electrical (the important stuff, to me) is all 5/5 for reliability! It's the power options and noises, squeaks, rattles that are dismal and bring the whole rating down. While those would be cool to have work, they won't do me much good if the van is dead in the driveway (Honda). 2017, which is a 4 year old car, can be had for $10-13 fully loaded, too. 
 

So, fine. Dodge Grand Caravan it is.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/3/21 7:52 a.m.

In 2011, the Mopar vans got the well respected 3.6L engine.  The same, nearly 300 hp V6 that Mopar puts in EVERYTHING (Chrysler 300/Charger/Challenger, Ram 1500 truck/Promaster Van, Wrangler/Grand Cherokee and more.)

In 2014 the Mopar vans got bigger front brakes.  

From 2014 to 2020 they just kept making the same van.  Not much in the way of changes. I generally feels like they had a formula that worked and they just kept working it.  They kept working it even though the Pacifica came out in 2017 and was supposed to replace the Grand Caravan.  They kept the GC going for another 3 years.  

 

Somewhere in the earlier posts you mentioned that your wife finds the GC seats uncomfortable.  If that comment is about the 2rd row seats...I agree.  In order to accommodate the stow-n-go folding seats there are some compromises.  I find these 2rd row seats comfortable like good patio furniture (made to fold and store) but not comfortable like good living room furniture.  For me, these 2nd row seats are most likely to be filled with kids in car seats.  Since they are sitting in the car seat, or booster seat, these kids wont really notice the faults of the seats.  The same booster seat pretty much feels the same in any car.   It is the adults who might feel the compromises.  

In the early years of this version of GC, Mopar offered a fixed, not folding seat.  This offering was more "living room like".  But, the stow n go was Mopars big differentiator, so it eventually became that everything offered stow n go.  But...

 

VW rebadged the Mopar van as the Routon.  Not wanting to give away all the differentiators, the Routon never offered stow n go.  It only came with some fixed buckets.  However, you can retro fit stow n gos into a Routon and you can retro fit Routon fixed buckets into a GC.  

This picture found on car-part.com of a Routon in Sterling Heights, MI asking $114 per seat for these leather Routon seats.  

For comparison, here is a typical stow n go seat:

Notice the flat, unbolstered, odd, seat bottom as well as the much thinner and shorter seat back.  

 

Also, lesser model GCs offered a 2nd row bench which seats 2.  I don't find that seat to be all that comfortable but it too can be retro fitted into a Stow n go equipped GC.  

All this talk of the 2nd row seats, I think it should be noted that I find the front row seats of the CG to be very good.  The Routon and GC have the same front row seats.  These Routon 2nd row seats seem to generally be front row seats added to the 2nd row.  All have the same 3rd row.

P3PPY
P3PPY Dork
6/3/21 8:26 p.m.

Sheesh man those are beautiful 2nd row seats! Ha I didn't know :)

Well we ended up with a 2017 with 114k miles for $10,500. 2nd row captains, but they look WAY slimmer than the non-stow captains we have in our '08, which weighed in at 95 lbs, IIRC.

 I'm going to do a fly n drive this weekend.

Thanks for the advice, all, and the sounding board, too. And John I'm kinda curious about how you got so expert on these vans  

NOTE: if anyone from MI wants to do a fly n drive or MO wants to do a drive n fly for a few $$$ I WILL HAPPILY PAY YOU BECAUSE THIS IS GOING TO SUCK. :P Seriously though, part of the territory with needing three car seats is that we do not get much sleep and so 12 hours straight is not done well these days. Time to renew Audible. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/3/21 9:10 p.m.

In reply to P3PPY :

Thanks. I'm just an idiot savant.  I need to find a way to profit from this knowledge.   Instead,  I just give it away. 

The internet has some deep rabbit holes...that I've followed. 

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