We have a 2009 Honda Odyssey with more than 270,000 kilometres on it. We have loved it, but alas, it doesn’t have much left to give. We are a family of five and even though two kids are now off at university, we still want room for everyone and our gear. We’re not looking for luxury, but we’re prepared to pay for quality. We live in the city and we worry that many new models are getting bigger and maybe more difficult to manoeuvre in the city. We’d also like a hybrid. What do you think? – Colin, Toronto
Mark Richardson: Ooo – a minivan question! Here we go again.
Petrina Gentile: Your favourite, not mine. But I admit they make sense in Colin’s situation with a large family and lots of gear to lug around.
Richardson: Actually, I’m not so sure. If Colin really does want room for five adults and their gear, then it’s simple: Toyota Sienna hybrid or Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid. Those are the two electrified minivans on the market. But if two kids are away at university, then why limit the choice to such large vehicles that are mostly not needed?
Gentile: You mean – you’re not loving the minivans?
Richardson: I mean, if 95 per cent of the time, it’s just two or three people in the vehicle, then buy something for that and scrunch for the few hours of extra passengers. Especially if Colin is concerned about manoeuvrability on city streets.
Gentile: Colin didn’t give us a price range. Minivans nowadays are way more expensive than his 2009 Odyssey. I think he’d be shocked to learn a Pacifica plug-in hybrid, for example, costs around $60,000. Hybrid minivans aren’t cheap.
Richardson: The Toyota Sienna starts around $45,000 before tax as a basic eight-seater. It’s a hybrid, so the drive technology isn’t as costly as the plug-in Pacifica, and I’ll happily recommend it to Colin. But I think it’s a lot bigger than he really needs.
Gentile: And that base Sienna model is front-wheel drive – if he wants all-wheel drive, it’s almost $53,000. So, it’s also expensive. But I agree – Colin doesn’t need a minivan any more.
Richardson: He never mentioned wanting all-wheel drive and he lives in the city, so that would probably be a waste of his money. I think he should look at a spacious SUV or crossover, instead. He wants quality and hybrid – you think a Lexus RX is too expensive?
Gentile: Even though Colin didn’t provide a budget, I think the Lexus RX is too expensive. The base 2024 model starts around $63,000. And besides, Colin said he isn’t looking for luxury. He has been driving a 15-year-old Honda, after all. I’m thinking of a more affordable Toyota. Maybe a Corolla Cross hybrid?
Richardson: That’s coming down a long way in size from a minivan. I think Colin wants more space than that. How about sticking with Honda and considering the CR-V Hybrid? It’s not too big, not too small, and not too fancy.
Gentile: That’s a good option. I like the CR-V hybrid – it is larger and more spacious than a Corolla Cross hybrid. And I’m assuming he’s pleased with his Honda Odyssey so it might be convenient and easy to switch into another vehicle from the same family.
Richardson: It’s made in Canada, too, at the Alliston assembly plant in Ontario.
Gentile: It’s always nice to support Canadian-made vehicles and our local economy.
Richardson: If he does like the CR-V, then he’s kind of obliged to consider the Toyota RAV4 as well. It’s also made in Canada, in Cambridge, Ont., and it’s available as a hybrid. There’s a wait for the hybrid, as there is for the Honda, but it should be just a few months now as the supply chain improves.
Gentile: Both are solid, reliable vehicles and direct competitors in the marketplace. You can’t go wrong with either – it really comes down to personal preference.
Richardson: The Ford Escape hybrid is also direct competition. It’s made in Kentucky.
Gentile: It’s roomy and spacious, but handling and acceleration isn’t as good as the CR-V or RAV4, in my opinion.
Richardson: It’s just as good to my mind, but you can’t beat the reliability and resale values of the Toyota and Honda. There are also the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage hybrids to consider as well – they may be quicker to take delivery and do just as good a job, but they don’t have the reputation of those Japanese brands.
Gentile: True. But I do like the South Korean brands, too. The Tucson and Sportage hybrids are value packed and well-equipped for the price. Now that we’ve offered several options for Colin, what’s your favourite?
Richardson: I’m still confused about what he’s asking for. He seemed to want a minivan, with space for five people and luggage, but then said he’s concerned about vehicles getting bigger and harder to manoeuvre. So if he wants a hybrid minivan, go straight to a Toyota dealership and settle on which Sienna to buy. But if it’s a more compact hybrid vehicle that can carry five people sometimes, then the obvious choice is Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V.
Gentile: There’s no need for a minivan. A Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V hybrid is the way to go.
What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Petrina at email@example.com and use ‘What car’ as part of your subject line. Emails with different subject lines may not be answered.