The Best Used Minivan Under $10000

16 Aug

Following on from our popular “Best Used Minivan under $5000” post we wanted to do a similar comparison for those of you with a little more money to spend on your next vehicle.

Our comparison will cover the eight used minivans that were originally sold in the United States, and are now available used for $10,000 or less in my area. The minivans in the running are made by Chrysler, Dodge, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen. The big changes from the previous comparison is that Ford does not make a minivan that fits into our price range (and putting a $5k van up against $10k ones is never going to be a fair fight), and Kia, Mazda and Volkswagen now have vans available in our price range.

I have also excluded the full size vans with seats such as the Ford Transit and the GMC Savana.

The Ground Rules

As before, we need to set some ground rules, so we compare vehicles as closely as we can, as it is not fair to compare a bottom of the range vehicle to a top of the range one, as prices between the two can vary by more than the difference between model years.

  • The majority of our data was taken from Kelly Blue Book, this includes pricing and specification information.
  • We adjusted the model years of each chosen model to get as close as we could to the $10,000 target. For the models that came in a little over the target you could try to locate a model with a few more miles on the clock to bring the price down.
  • The prices listed are for my area of North Texas, your area may be more or less expensive. This may mean you need to adjust the model year, condition or mileage slightly if you need to stick strictly to the $10000 budget.
  • For each vehicle the price was for a van in very good condition, being sold privately with a trim level one above base and no additional options.
  • The depreciation value is worked out by looking at the private sale value of the same model van, but two years older.
  • Fuel costs are based on driving 15,000 miles per year for two years, with the milage being a mix of 75% city and 25% highway, with gas costing $2.75 per gallon.
  • Maintenance costs between the vehicles are assumed to be around the same. The majority of the vehicles in this comparison are already over 5 years old, and would be over 7 years old if you were to sell them after a couple of years use. At that age of vehicle, proof of regular servicing affects resale value much more than whether the servicing was done at a dealer.

What Features are the Same?

While there are a lot of similarities between the vans and their features, there is more diversity here than there was in the under $5k comparison.

Other than one vehicle in this comparison, all of the vans have a V6 engine and can seat at least 7 people, although engine power and fuel economy vary quite considerably.

In terms of safety and convenience features, all of the vehicles have keyless entry, power door locks, power windows and cruise control as well as traction control and ABS braking systems. All of the vans other than the Nissan list stability control in their list of features, and all other than the Toyota come with alloy wheels.

Other features such as parking sensors, power closing doors and reversing cameras will be listed with those vehicles that should come with those features.

The Contenders

2011 Chrysler Town & Country Touring – $9772

The Town and Country is closely related to another vehicle in the list, the2011 Chrysler Town and Country Dodge Grand Caravan. The Town and Country is certainly billed as the slightly more upmarket version of the van, costing a little more (you are able to get a year newer Caravan for your budget) but giving you a few more bells and whistles as standard to make up for it.

The $9772 purchase price gets you a 2011 Touring model with around 88,000 miles on the clock. It comes with a V6 engine, 6 speed auto gearbox which also allows for manual gear changes, four doors and seating for seven.

This is the vehicle in our comparison that comes with the most toys, including blindspot indicators, power sliding doors, power tailgate, a DVD system, parking sensors and a backup camera.

The Town & Country comes with a 20 gallon fuel tank and would give us 380 miles of range using our 75/25 split of city to highway driving and the stated 17mpg city and 25mpg highway fuel economy figures.

Ownership costs for the two year evaluation windows would be $2955 for depreciation and $4465 for gas.

2012 Dodge Grand Caravan Passenger SXT – $9862

2012 Dodge Grand CaravanThis is pretty much the same car as the Town & Country, same engine and gearbox (although the Doge doesn’t let you manually change gears), it just trades a few of the standard creature comforts for a slightly lower price.

The stated purchase price gets you a minivan with 80K miles on it, almost as many as our Town and Country despite it being a year newer, but we needed to adjust the mileage up a little to get this newer vehicle to slot in under our $10,000 target.

Compared to the Town and Country, which came with just about every add-on imaginable, the Dodge is a lot more basic, it retains the basics like power windows and remote entry, but loses all of the DVD, parking assist and power door opening features. It does gain a hill start assist, which also would have been available on the Town and Country had we had the budget to set up to the 2012 model there too.

The Grand Caravan comes with a 20 gallon fuel tank and would give us 380 miles of range using our 75/25 split of city to highway driving and the stated 17mpg city and 25mpg highway fuel economy figures.

Ownership costs for the two year evaluation windows would be $2956 for depreciation and $4465 for gas.



2010 Honda Odyssey EX – $10232

The Odyssey is the oldest of our group so far as we had to trade vehicle age for2010 Honda Odyssey the Honda’s strong resale value due to its reputation for quality and reliability.

Our $10232 purchase price gets is a EX model with around 92,000 miles on it. It again comes with a V6 engine, but only a 5 speed Auto gearbox, and the combination of that along with the engine being about 15% down on power compared to the Dodge/Chrysler means that it lags behind them in economy both in the city and on the highway.

In terms of features, it’s only addition to the standard set of features is the power sliding door, it does though manage to arrange its seating to provide space for eight rather than the 7 offered by most of the other vans in this comparison.

The Odyssey only gets 372 miles between fill-ups despite it’s larger 21 gallon tank due to its slightly worse 16mpg city, 23mpg highway fuel economy.

Ownership costs for the two year evaluation period is $3340 for depreciation and $4764 for gas.

2010 Kia Sedona EX – $9168

2010 Kia SedonaOn paper this is a very similar minivan to the Honda Odyssey, their engine have similar power and their economy figures are almost identical, only the Kia is over $1000 less than the Honda, that would be how much a vehicles reputation influences its resale value.
Our purchase price here gets us an EX model (see I told you it was similar specs to the Honda) which has covered around 88,000miles since new. Again, like the Honda it has a V6 engine driving a 5 speed auto box.

When it comes to standard features, the Kia has a few more than the Honda, adding parking sensors and a backup camera, but somehow it manages to lose the 8th seat, only having seating for 7.

In terms of economy it does a little better than the Odyssey, getting 390 miles between gas station visits, even bettering the Chrysler/Dodge twins due to its larger 21.1 gallon tank and 17mpg city and 23mpg highway performance.

Ownership costs for the two years we are comparing would be $4558 for depreciation and $4536 in gas costs.

** I did look at the prices for the 2011 Sedona to try and get closer to our $10,000 budget, but it looks like there was a body style change for the 2011 model year which pushed prices up over $11,500, so we are stuck with a 2010 for our comparison.

2013 Mazda MAZDA5 Touring – $10386

One of these is not like the rest, and this is it.2013 Mazda5

The Mazda5 is like a mini-minivan compared to the rest of the vehicles we are comparing here, it is more of an oversized car than the regular minivans we are comparing here, but it does tick most of the same boxes that its slightly larger brothers do. It has sliding rear doors, although not powered like some of the others here, and only has seating for 6 rather than the 7 or more seats all of the others provide, but if 6 seats is all you really need this may be a great option for you.

While $10,386 makes this the most expensive vehicle in the group, it is only a couple of tanks of gas more than the Odyssey, and for that you get the newest car in the group (4 years newer than the oldest) and the least amount of miles with only 68,000.

The little Mazda also breaks with tradition amongst its peers only having a 4 cylinder engine, but it retains the 5speed auto gearbox, even having a manual mode for when you feel a little sporty. It even keeps up with the competition in terms of features, offering all of the standard features, plus adding Bluetooth connectivity for your phone and parking sensors (but no backup camera).

Economy is the other standout for the Mazda, its smaller 4 cylinder engine coupled with it lighter weight (it weighs about three quarters of a ‘full size’ minivan) give it gas figures the other vans in this comparison can only dream about, achieving almost the same 374 miles per tank, but doing it with only a 15.9 gallon tank, saving you over $10 per fill-up at our estimated $2.75 / gallon gas price.

Ownership cost for our evaluation period would be $3500 in depreciation but only $3549 in gas.

2009 Nissan Quest SE – $8869

2009 Nissan QuestThe Nissan is both the oldest and cheapest minivan in the comparison, honestly I would like to have compared a 2010 model, but Nissan didn’t make one, or at least not in the US. I did look at pricing for the 2011 to see if that was better fit, but they are priced over $12,500, so not even close to our budget.

The reduced cost does get us a van with only 90,000 miles on, even if it is a year or two older than the others, so given the ages of the vehicles the mileage is likely to be as much a decider in the vehicles condition as its age is, making it a valid comparison for this review.

After the Mazda we are now back up to a V6 engine and 7 seats, although the gearbox is still only a 5 speed auto, and this time there is no fancy manual shift override.

In terms of features the Nissan is firmly in the middle of the pack, offering parking sensors and power sliding doors, but no DVD systems or backup cameras.

The Nissan has a 20 gallon tank just like the Dodge/Chrysler twins but only manages 360miles due to the 16mpg city and 24mpg highway numbers.
Depreciation would come to $3377 for the two year evaluation period, and gas costs would add a further $4727.

2010 Toyota Sienna LE – $9900

If you have read our Best Minivans under $5000 post you may know that the 2010 Toyota SiennaToyota Sienna in that group managed to win due to it low depreciation, above average fuel economy and it’s reputation for reliability.

Our under $10k limit gets us a 2010 LE model with around 92k miles on the clock, this includes a V6 engine and a 5 speed automatic transmission.

This is the other vehicle in the group with seating for 8 people, but that may be the highlight of it’s feature list as while it comes with a power tailgate it does only have steel wheels as standard, the only van in this review group to not to come with alloy wheels.

The Nissan manages 370 miles from the 20 gallon tank due to its 17mpg city and 23mpg highway performance.

Over our two year evaluation period the car would lose $3629 to depreciation while costing you $4536 in gas.

2011 Volkswagen Routan SE – $9970

2011 Volkswagen RoutanThe Volkswagen rounds out our review group, and breaks new ground for us, as this is the first European minivan to make it into one of our reviews.

For our budget we can get a 2011 SE model which has done around 82,000 miles. Like almost every other van here it comes with a V6 engine, but the Routan manages to back that up with a 6 speed auto with manual override.

While providing seating for 7, it does have some luxury items such as a DVD system, Bluetooth radio, heated seats and power sliding doors but seems to be missing a few useful safety features like parking sensors and backups camera which may have been more useful to a larger majority of buyers.

It manages 390 miles per tank (which equals the Kia of the longest range of the group) thanks to its 17mpg city and 25mpg highway while emptying it’s 20.5 gallon gas tank.

During our two year estimated ownership depreciation would cost you $4106 and gas costs would be $4465.

So What is the Best Used Minivan Under $10000

With the overview of all of our contenders taken care of, which one really is the best?

The decision may come down to how many people you realistically expect to be moving around. If you really must have space for eight then the decision is between the Honda and the Toyota, and both of them are so close that it is a coin flip between them, and which one you get may just come down to which one you find first in the color you want.

If you only really need one more seat than a standard sedan, and the 6 seat Mazda5 meets you other requirements then that may be the best choice. It retains the standard minivan features like the sliding doors, but packages them all into a slightly smaller package that costs less in gas, and is easier to navigate around town.

If you need 7 or more seats then the decision is down to the same choice as it was with our under $5k review, a slightly newer domestic minivan with more bells and whistles, or a slightly older import van which may have traded some luxury features for a reliability reputation. Of course the wildcard may be the Volkswagen, imported but still with a good helping of toys and tricks, maybe that is the happy middle ground.

Minivan Year Mileage # Seats Cost To Fill Tank MPG City MPG Hwy Gas Cost Depreciation Ownership Cost
Town & Country 2011 88,000 7 $55.00 17 25 $4465 $2955 $7420
Grand Caravan 2012 88,000 7 $55.00 17 25 $4465 $2956 $7421
Odyssey 2010 92,000 8 $57.75 16 23 $4764 $3340 $8104
Sedona 2010 88,000 7 $58.03 17 23 $4536 $4558 $9094
Mazda5 2013 68,000 6 $43.73 22 28 $3549 $3500 $7049
Quest 2009 90,000 7 $55.00 16 24 $4727 $3377 $8104
Sienna 2010 92,000 8 $55.00 17 23 $4536 $3629 $8165
Routan 2011 82,000 7 $56.38 17 25 $4465 $4106 $8571

I honestly didn’t know who was going to win this one until I had finished putting together the summary table above. I really want to give it to the Mazda5, it is cheaper to buy (meaning you can get a newer one with less miles for the same money) and cheaper to run. The only thing stopping me is the missing seat, while 6 seats would work for me, most people expect 7 or more seats in a minivan, and for that reason alone, the Mazda5 cannot be the best.

So that brings us back to our usual discussion of a slightly older import vs a newer domestic, with the import having lower depreciation and better gas milage and the domestic being cheaper, allowing you to get a newer, lower milage van.

Only it’s not, looking at the table above the domestic vans are cheaper to buy, cheaper to run, and depreciate less while doing it, so that just leaves us to pick between the Dodge/Chrysler twins.

I think, given the fact that the mileages are the same, and the depreciation is the same, I want the one with more toys, who wouldn’t given they don’t cost you any more, and for that reason the best used minivan under $10000 is a 2011 Chrysler Town & Country.