MomSense: How to Buy a Minivan – Part 1


mom·sen·se (mɒm sens) noun 1.  practical motherly intelligence that is sensible or reasonable 2. a mother’s mental discernment, realization, or recognition  – She has momsense. OR She used her momsense to determine that something was amiss.


When it comes to buying a car, there is not “right way.”  Everyone approaches it differently.  Plus, it can be really stressful.  Am I getting ripped off?  Is this really what I want?  What if I hate it once I get it home?  Will this car work for our growing family?

So, when our friends decided to replace her Suburban with a minivan, I was very interested to learn how she and her husband arrived at their decision.

Erin M. shared her approach with SMB:

Mission: To buy a family car that will hold their three children, plus a friend or two while saving money on gas and repairs.

Current vehicle: Suburban

Frustrations: Eats gas for breakfast, too many repairs

Step 1: Search Consumer Reports
1. Go to the library with a notebook and look in the mini-van section.

  • To save you a trip, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna are the best according to Consumer Reports.

2. If you are looking to buy a used car, you can look in the used car section of Consumer Reports.   (They looked at the Kia Sedona too.)

  • Check what years’ models rate better or worse in all different categories.  This part was very helpful because they were able to ask the right questions about models from certain years i.e. had certain repairs had been made.
  •  Check which vehicles went through recalls, redesigns or added safety features.

Step 2: Get a good “feel” for each car

  • Go to the dealerships to sit in and maybe test drive each van
  • Do NOT buy that day!  (Unless you aren’t concerned with price, don’t buy on an impulse.)
  • After test driving they decided on the Honda Odysseys.  (Erin liked the Honda’s interior best, as well as the floor storage compartment behind the driver seat.)

Next time we’ll look at: Finding “the one”, which features to consider (or not), finding the right price and buying/not buying a warranty on a used car.


  1. […] How to Buy a Minivan – Part 2 June 9, 2010 by Joy Last time, I told you about how Erin just broke down and bought a pre-owned minivan after battling her […]

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