Transition from Minivan to bigger Mid-sized SUV

Feb 28, 2015
So we’re looking at transitioning from a 2011 Toyota Sienna to a mid sized, but as big as possible, SUV.

We travel with 2 kids and a dog, but use up every bit of our Sienna’s cargo area when vacationing / camping (tent camping). This is partially due to bringing the dog, and too much stuff every time. Wife thinks she can begin minimizing our stuff, as our kids are getting a little older (elem. school aged).

Thinking of multiple mid size but bigger SUVs and wondering if I’m missing anything, and/or what anyones opinions are on some of these.

Our short list now is:

Kia Telluride / Hyundai Palisade
Toyota Highlander
Toyota 4 Runner
Subaru Ascent

I am a mechanic, but out of the real / dealer world now so I’m not that knowledgeable on new stuff. I maintain my own vehicles (to this day, completely, but they are getting so high tech that I know I can’t completely repair them), but serviceability is a factor to me.

Any advice or other options we should consider is appreciated.

Is anyone getting new vehicles under MSRP yet? I see some of our local dealers are advertising over MSRP still, while some are advertising no markups.
The only vehicle in your list that the market is anywhere near soft for is the Ascent. However-Subaru thinks each one of their cars is special so I don't know about getting a deal. The Ascent has been plagued with issues-and IS NOT Subarus best effort. There was a recent thread on here about the 4Runner-it IS NOT a great family vehicle.

You will pay dearly for the other SUVs you mentioned. As stated on here NUMEROUS TIMES recently, it's a terrible time to buy a new vehicle. Unless the mini van is ready to self destruct...WAIT!!!
The Buick Enclave used to be the best Minivan Replacement. I don't have any experience with the latest generation.

Around here you can get a discount if you order and wait.
Yeah the highlander wouldn't be bad but I honestly don't see how it's much bigger than the sienna you already have. If you're sardined in a sienna then how will a highlander or Subaru accent fix anything? At least get a base model or close to base suburban or expedition max if you don't want to spend too much. Not worth getting the Yukon xl anymore they've jacked the price way up for what the suburban can equally give instead for thousands less. I logically wouldn't go beyond a Suburban LT unless you've got a wad of benjamins burning a hole in your pantalones.

But don't even bother with the small crappy tahoe or regular expedition. Waste of money buying those short suv's. You save only 2-3 thousand but you'd decapitate the utility and space you're desperately looking for.

And on top of that the market is worse than the Mexican made shoes so I wouldn't buy anything unless it's at or hopefully below msrp. I bought my 2021 escalade in October 2020 right before it hit the fan and I rounded down almost 2k under msrp. Now they're 10k+ more used.

I've owned a 1999 Suburban and currently own a 2005 XL Denali and 2021 Escalade Esv. I use up every bit of them on road trips and i still wish they made these long wheel base models even longer. That's why i believe the sequoia, LX, and "grand" wagoner are jokes. Their market share is low and will stay low long after from not having a long wheelbase version.
I agree with those saying the sienna will have more room than the Highlander. I have both.

The highlander is a great dd for me, as I have been diagnosed with arthritis in both hips and it is more than roomy enough. But when we are all going on an out of town trip (five of us), the Sienna is the way to go. All five of us have more room in our seats in the Sienna. And with that third seat down (as in you can sit in it) in the Highlander, the sienna has more cargo room.
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Yeah, I get that it’s not the best transition. I would keep a minivan for quite awhile longer, someone just has an itch for a something new, and she says it’s not going to be a minivan.

I know that we’re losing space. We’ll be packing lighter and most likely utilizing a roof cargo box or something as I want the hitch free for a bike rack.

If things are still at a premium, we’ll hold off.

I didn’t realize the ascent had issues, thanks!

What’s wrong with a 4 runner as a family vehicle? I guess I’ve missed that thread, unless it’s burnin one of the huge 4 runner threads that I’ve avoided keeping up on :)
None of those will have more space than a Sienna. The new Sienna might have more space than the one you have :unsure:

If that isn't big enough for you, then the smallest full-size Transit is probably the best choice for you.
I was thinking the New 21+ seemed a little narrower at least in the third row vs the 11-20. Not by too much though iirc.
The Telluride was hot two years ago before all this madness.

My kids are teenagers now and the amount of stuff doesn't get any smaller. Not bigger, but not smaller.

We camped with a chevy HHR and the HF 40x48 mini cargo trailer. That's where the cooler, sleeping bags, etc stayed.
You won’t gain a whole lot of room going to a large SUV. With that said the new Toyota Sequoia is a possibility.

What you might consider is a pop up tent trailer. I believe you can put stuff in that as well this freeing up room in the main vehicle.
We did exactly that back in 2019 after 16yrs of owning various minivans. At the time I picked up our ex rental 2019 Nissan Pathfinder SV 4x4, which fills the gap quite nicely. Thing is, it's obviously no Toyota, nor would I suggest buying one in today's dollars. I paid $24k for it with 24k miles on it back in October 2019. New ones are double that now. Used are outrageous like everything else.
I would say maybe look at the Durango, but it's really long in the tooth at this point.

There's the all new Grand Cherokee L as well. A regular Grand Cherokee will be too small.
The highlander surprised me. My FIL has one and we do fit six adults in it; his car is the one always voted for when we all need to pile in. It has a flat floor all the way back, like a minivan. If I didn’t want to drive a minivan, that one would get a good solid look. With kids, however, we can reiterate, the sliding doors are supreme. I might have kept ours longer had the offset steering wheel not bothered me so much. We had a couple of gen IV town&countries. But, again, the SUV will be smaller than the minivan.

At one point before we bought our second, I was looking at Expeditions. Even my kids said, no, please don’t get that. Mom’s boyfriend has one and the back seat is bad. Please get a real minivan. Yes, my kids said it. They knew they’d have to sit in it. Pretty cool when even my son said it.

Back on track, however, it’s hard to beat the minivan for space. FWD packaging simply gives them more cabin space. Highlander isn’t a bad way to go, if you can pack smaller, use a roof rack or hitch cargo carrier (which is what we did)
IMO, Sienna is more practical than any mid-size SUV in terms of space,
It is the way the chairs are layout for some reason is more practical than the SUV even with 3 rows.
Usually, the third SUV row is not the same as 3rd Sienna row, now sure why.
Yeah, any 3rd row in an SUV I’ve found to be worthless. It’d really only be for kids when we have the grandparents in the car, or other kids if carpooling for something. Our Sienna 3rd row gets used MAYBE 2 times a year.

Are dealers not advertising above MSRP? I know one local to me is, the rest are just advertising the MSRP, so I assumed that’s what they are selling for. We don’t have a ton of time to waste at a dealer if they’re all just playing games and going to tack on their 5k high demand $$ still.