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  1. Default

    Iíve driven minivans for over 30 years. Every time i was in the market for a new car, I admired the sedans, SUVs, pickup trucks and Jeepís, but nothing met the utility of a minivan.

    We are a recently retired couple and love our Honda Odyssey. It has tons of room inside and can haul full sheets of plywood or lots of friends and family. It has lots of passing power but gets 25 mpg on the highway. Itís amazing how much stuff we pile up inside, because we have the room to do so!

    The ride is comfortable enough and 500 mile days are easy.

    Every time we consider a different kind of vehicle, we just canít give up the room and economy.

  2. #12


    My roadtripping minivan is also a Honda Odyssey. It does rather well in all-weather, but is certainly not AWD, but it does have horsepower. The Toyota Sienna has an AWD option (not sure if that is standard or not), so if AWD capability is needed then by all means check it out. I only wonder if it has a low clearance like so many Toyotas. The Odyssey has adequate clearance while maintaining easy entry/exit from front and middle row seats. If going for a test ride in an Odyssey, I would recommend the leather seat model (EX-L) as those seats are sturdy and great for old or troublesome backs.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by Doug sr. View Post
    Was thinking I needed a 4 wheel drive if we hit snow and icy roads but I guess AWD can handle most of that.
    A couple things here. Unless you're actually going to be doing off-road driving, where you need a 4WD-Lo, then AWD is actually the better choice. AWD is basically intelligent 4WD, where it engages when you need it, which is more than sufficient for any on-highway driving. There's also the element that if you want True 4WD you're basically going to have to get a body on frame truck, and you'll significantly sacrifice comfort and fuel economy in the process.

    I also need to point out that the need for even AWD is often overstated and a brilliant bit of American marketing. It's created a great perception by many thinking AWD is needed for even the smallest amount of snow - and at the same time seem to think AWD allows them to drive through a blizzard the way way they drive on a sunny day. In reality, in many cases, a FWD car with good winter tires is actually better in the snow than AWD. That's not to say that there are not advantages to AWD, and if you'll be moving to a mountainous area where you need to extra traction to make it up hilly roads, it may be a good choice, but it's probably not as essential as you might perceive it to be.

  4. #14


    Many areas now experience more snow and ice accidents than 30 years ago because of over confidence in AWD and 4WD driving and not realizing that stopping in not improved with either. Hence, faster driving and less stopping and collision avoidance.

    The only places I have needed all-wheel drive is really when I needed 4WD-Low, i.e., on deep beach sand (low drive and higher clearance), during the monster snows of around 1996/7 when I needed our 4WD to ferry my wife back and forth to the OR for work in addition to providing other employees emergency transport; and, to make it through a raging stream/river in remote Costa Rica where a bridge has washed-out, thanks to a South American fortified version of the Toyota 4-Runner.

    Four wheel drive vehicles did not help people that one icy morning in the commuter train parking lot with a slight elevation grade... everyone entering the parking lot that early morning slid down the lot and crashed into the other vehicles in the lot.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you want a minivan, there is one outstanding choice with AWD - the Toyota Sienna. Go check them out. Toyota reliability has always been excellent.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Another Voice Heard From...

    As long as we're on the topic of drive options for your new vehicle, I will pass along a bit of hard-earned knowledge. For many years, I lived in northern New England where I was the entire night shift in a hospital laboratory. For the final two years of my stay there, I lived some 50 miles from the hospital while I pursued my college education. But even though I lived that far away, not showing up for work was not an option, irregardless of the weather conditions. This is when I was driving the Subaru GL Wagon I mentioned in a previous post. Over those last two winters, that car never failed to get me through whatever Mother Nature threw at me. It was front wheel drive only. Nothing fancy, but again - it never failed to get me through. I fully agree with the posts saying that AWD or 4WD simply makes some people over-reliant on, and over-confident in, that technology. Besides which, as a simple matter of physics, adding the extra weight and friction of an additional drive train to supply power to all four wheels will have to lower your gas mileage. You will pay a price every mile you drive for the 'privilege' of having a system you simply wont need 99.9% of the time.


  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Weighing again on wonders of a front-wheel drive sedan

    Weighing again on wonders of a front-wheel drive sedan.

    When I was in the USFS (in a previous lifetime) I drove a Fiat-128 sedan over the course of a couple of fire seasons. One of those seasons was in 1996 when I worked in the Chihuahuas of southeastern Arizona. I often drove that vehicle on Jeep trails and often assisted in the recovery of stuck 4X4's on some of those rough roads.

    The suspension of that poor car was over-taxed a few times -- but I always came back down the mountain -- no worries. Skill in a 2WD almost always trumps 4WD in most situations.


  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Winter prep.

    so I want something that can handle the occasional snow storm.
    Whatever you decide on it's worth carrying some basic winter, equipment which in extreme conditions could be considered more important than what vehicle you are in. Decent tyres, fluids to top up with, anti freeze, ice scraper, De-icer, snow shovel and you can even buy lightweight fold away plastic grip tracks to help you out if you can't get moving again after stopping. Don't forget yourselves either, a hot flask of coffee and/or soup and a few snacks incase you have to get off the road for a while in poor conditions. Being prepared and minimising risk to yourselves by keeping an eye on weather and road conditions will keep you safe than choosing between 2 and 4WD.

    Safe travels and good luck with your search !

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I think we have our sights set on a mountainous area to start our retirement search, TN, NC, somewhere like that, so I want something that can handle the occasional snow storm.
    AWD could be beneficial if you are going to be living in such an area, not just visiting it. The Sienna is the only minivan available with AWD, but most crossovers and SUV's have it available as an option. AWD would be better than manual 4 wheel drive in a passenger vehicle such as what you are looking for.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Here's a female viewpoint.

    Over my life, I've road-tripped in many types of vehicles: from station wagons to Suburbans-Blazers, to compact cars (not enough space), to mini-vans (Aerostar and Pontiac TransSport), to our current pick up truck. You can travel in any of them. It all depends on the amount of space you want, what you need to carry, and the ride.

    Frankly, I love my current pickup -- a 21 year old Ford -- and the ride is quite comfortable. We like the space it affords us in the back where we have a camper shell. We don't sleep in that shell, but we carry a lot of stuff with us. Mileage? About 15-18 depending on wind, speed, and more. It's diesel. Both of the pickups we've owned have been diesel.

    When I retire, we will be looking for an AWD vehicle. This will be for winter trips, if any, and for use around snowy roads. Right now, our focus is on Subaru. We've owned 2 in years past, one of our daughters has their SUV (Accent) and loves it to tote around their family and all their gear.


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