Reader Question: A “Non-Nanny” Minivan?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Sarah asks: I am shopping for an eight passenger van. Preferably a Sienna or Odyssey. I don’t like driving a “nanny” vehicle with lane assist, back up cameras, etc. Or even expensive LED screens that break. Basically I want to drive it not be driven. What are the most recent year that I could buy a van like this without all those fancy features?

My reply: Well, here’s the problem… minivans are the ne plus ultra of Nanny vehicles and so are usually among the first vehicles to have the features you’d like to avoid.

And me, too.

You’ll have to go back to the early 2000s or even the mid-late ’90s to find a van that is just a van… and not a rolling wet nursery.

But (cue Dr. Strangelove voice) I haf a plan.

You could buy a real van. Something like the Ford Econoline van. It definitely seats eight (in the right configuration) and even better, it’s rear-drive and V8-powered. And has very little in the way of wet nursery stuff, and thus is a kind of thumb in the eye to all of that.

It is also very saaaaaaaaaaafe – in case you were wondering. This is a big van, built on a steel frame (unlike unibody minivans) and is basically the same in its layout as a big, truck-based SUV.

Safest place there is.

You may be worried about mileage – don’t be. Or at least, keep in mind that an Econoline won’t use that much more gas than any current not-so-mini-van. The Odyssey/Sienna are huge – and thirsty. They will average high teens; the Econoline mid-teens.

But you’ll save a fortune by purchasing a 4-5 year old Econoline rather than the not-so-minivan. You should be able to pick up a low-miles example for $17k or less. That is easily $10k less than the price (on the lower end) of the current Sienna/Odyssey.

Not that they are bad vehicles; but they are expensive, over-teched and over-nannied.

In my opinion.

I am glad you seem to share it!

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Some friends bought a Dodge 31 passenger stripper van a couple years ago with only the 2 front seats.

    They installed windows of sizes they liked where they wanted them. Made some padded benches, storage area along with other amenities to make it a camper. They installed recliners as well as beds. It was impressive.


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