Our car guys says now’s the time to go looking for the dreaded minivan
In this third and final installment of “The Cheapskate’s Guide to New Cars,” it’s time for the vehicles you hate to love: Minivans. If you’ve playing along at home, you’ll remember this isn’t about quality, but quantity: How much can you get for your money?
A lot, is the answer. The minivan as we knew it is almost entirely gone—there were 25 models at one point but by next year, there won’t be more than six. If you think that means they’re selling like mud, you’re right: You can find a 2014 model of almost any minivan hanging out on a dealer’s lot somewhere within a few hours of you.
Heck, there are unsold, brand-new VW Routans out there. Even among that class, however, there are some stragglers. There are four models in particular that are either being discontinued or replaced with an all-new model, making them real bargain leftovers.
2014 Kia Sedona
Before it got Kia’s new corporate face in 2015 and a body vaguely trying to look like a crossover, the 2014 Sedona was the last minivan-looking minivan.
However, by “minivan-looking,” I mean in a 1980s sense. It didn’t look great. Or good. But it was a decent vehicle; all came with a 269hp (!) V-6 and six-speed automatic, full power, standard Bluetooth and like 15 airbags plus five-star crash rating.
These things were seriously decked out and probably a good deal, even with an average $25,000 price paid.
Now, however, you’re looking at offers of $22,000 for a base LX, and $25,000 (original sticker was $32,000-plus) for an EX, many of which were highly optioned up. Consider current prices highly flexible.
2014-2016 Dodge Grand Caravan
One of the oldest minivan nameplates, Dodge has been talking about killing their minivan for a couple of years. One month it’s dead; the next it’s back for another year.
As Dodge said, “While we’ve announced the Grand Caravan will eventually be the minivan that goes away, we’re not going into more detail…” In other words, anything could happen.
What we do know is that Fiat-Chrysler America has zero interest in selling an affordable minivan, because what they really like is their (excellent) Chrysler Town and Country, which starts at about $10,000 more than a Grand Caravan.
The Dodge hasn’t and isn’t about to change before an all-new (or no) model appears, which makes it hard to tell one year from another. Usually, that’s bad for leftover prices but in this case, it’s in a shrinking market segment.
Lower trim models are generally advertised at $5,000 under MSRP, and you should easily be able to find a base (“America’s Value Package”) ’16 under $20,000.
After getting one last year out of the old Mazda5, it’s finally whimpering off into the sunset, as Mazda gives up on the “anything other than a crossover for five people” idea. There’s no question it is a niche vehicle, but it’s a super-versatile and tidy one.
It has two rows of captain’s chairs, along with a small plus-two rear bench seat. It all folds in every conceivable configuration, which I think is literally about 15 different ways. America has not turned out to be the market for a mini-minivan, though, and it’s done.
It wasn’t very expensive to begin with—you can’t pay over $26,000 for a top-trim 2015 Grand Touring—and some wheeling and dealing should see you in a base Sport in the $17,000 range, maybe less, especially if you find a leftover (but identical) 2014.
Honorable Mention: 2014-2015 Dodge Durango
Like so many SUVs (looking at you, Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer), the once very tough Durango has slowly softened into a pile of goo. After this year, though, it will dissolve entirely.
Like so much of the Chrysler line, no one seems to know what actually happens to the Durango, but it’ll surprise me if there was a ’16. It did get a major refresh for 2014, including 3.6-liter Pentastar power and an eight-speed automatic.
It’s selling well, actually, and starting MSRPs run from about $31,000 for a RWD SXT; to $43,000 for a 4WD V-8 Hemi R/T. Real-world prices start $5,000 less and when it’s officially killed, they’ll drop even more.
A Note From Dave
Volkswagen’s EPA fiasco broke too late for me to write about it. If you’re at VW and want to talk with me off the record, I’d like to hear from you.
Message me @proscriptus, or drop me a line via The Pulse.
David Traver Adolphus is a freelance automotive researcher who recently quit his full time job writing about old cars to pursue his lifelong dream of writing about old AND new cars. He welcomes the inevitable and probably richly deserved kvetching about Airbag and anything else on Twitter as @proscriptus.