Find Financing on a Used Van
Buying a used van instead of a new van is a much more cost-conscious choice, but you can shop for used van financing between dealerships, banks, and credit unions to save even more. Both finding a good price for your used van and getting a good loan rate on it are important. To find used van financing, follow these steps:
1. Check your credit scorescore before shopping used van financing. Lenders will see your score when you apply to them for used van financing. They'll look at your payment history, your current debt, and the length of your credit history to decide how much of a credit risk you'll be. In general, the higher the credit score, the lower your interest rate.
2. Calculate your budget on a used van and do your research. Figure out how much you can afford--if you put down a down payment, what you're able to pay every month, and what your price range is for a used van. When narrow the search down to a few used van models you like, research their selling prices and values.
3. Explore your options to find the best used van financing for you. Contact banks, credit unions, and other lenders to find out what rates and terms you can get with your credit score and down payment. Consider interest rates, but also look out for hidden fees in contracts and long auto loan terms.
Finally, don't feel pressured to take a loan from the used van dealership by getting pre-approved before going. Once you've found used van financing you are comfortable with, stay within your budget while shopping at a used van dealership.
History of the minivan
Millions of minivans have been sold in the United States since the first Dodge Caravans and Plymouth Voyagers rolled off the production line in 1983. Over the past three decades, the minivan has etched itself into the American psyche as a symbol of family, practicality and comfort. Minivans have created economic opportunities in every area of the automotive market, as well, including used van dealerships and used van financing.
In the 1970s, a team of about 100 engineers began working on a vision for Chrysler’s minivans under executives Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich. Some called it “the garage-able van.” The idea was to be as roomy, yet compact, as possible - something that would compete against all the new and used vans out there with all the comforts of a car.
The project carried notable risk, including a standing question as to why Chrysler’s competitors, many of whom were thriving in the new and used van markets, were not working on something similar. Even used van dealerships had found loyal customers and the automakers, for the most part, resisted breaking course. In fact, Sperlich had even previously been fired from Ford for advocating that the company produce a more compact version of the Econoline. Not to mention, there was a lot on the line. Chrysler already was on the brink of financial collapse with a government loan temporarily keeping operations running.
History also was not necessarily on the minivan’s side. What could arguably be described as the first prototype, called the Stout Scarab, was invented in 1935 as a sort of mobile office space. Only nine Scarabs were produced.
Later, GM came up with the Corvair Greenbrier in an effort to compete with the Volkswagen microbus, but the Greenbrier fell short of expectations and production was halted.
The Caravan, now one of the most recognized names for new and used van dealers, got its name by being, literally, a car and a van. Market research suggested the need for "spacious" and "compact," something comfortable for women, close to the ground for kids and safe in the event of a crash.
Chrysler’s project drew some of its inspiration from new and used van models, but some also came from the station wagon. The initial minivans were built on a modified K-Car chassis with front wheel drive. This helped to reduce the height of the minivan by 15 inches compared to even the smallest full-size used vans. It also provided for better fuel economy, an important selling point for consumers recovering from the Oil Crisis.
Chrysler sold more than 200,000 minivans during the first year, leading GM and Ford to develop competitive models within the next several years alongside a reinvigorated market for used van dealers. Today, there are more than 500,000 new minivans sold annually in the U.S. and used vans make up about 3 percent of sales volume.
The Dodge Grand Caravan remains a top seller, and many other models including the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey combine to create a highly competitive marketplace. Any used van dealer will note that quality and options have increased over time.
Think of all those cup holders in cars today. The dual temperature controls, televisions and even Bluetooth phone systems – each could arguably be traced back to production of the minivan, a vehicle that cemented the idea of consumer comfort.
While used vans remain the choice for thousands of consumers today, the dramatic drop in fuel prices in the 1990s made it possible for SUVs to cut into the marketplace. Once known almost exclusively as a rugged vehicle for off-roading, SUVs began to be engineered more for comfort. Some could argue that the inspiration behind this family friendly evolution in SUVs grew from a long and storied history of the American minivan.
Minivan vs SUV: Why the Minivan Wins
Many of today's new parents likely spent a significant amount of time in the back of a used minivan during their childhood. The cul-de-sacs of America were once filled with minivans, but now they've fallen out of fashion, replaced by crossovers and SUVs. A used van remains a great choice though, and in many situations, a better choice than an SUV. Here are some reasons why you should choose a used van over an SUV at the used van dealer.
Minivans are Purpose Built for Families
It's a shame that used vans have a negative stigma as "soccer mom-mobiles" but the fact of the matter is that they are purpose made for hauling kids and their stuff around. Used vans can be equipped with all sorts of features to help parents move their kids around, from integrated vacuums to video entertainment systems. A used van's flat floor allows the loading of people or things in a variety of configurations, and many newer vans have electronic sliding doors that are easy for kids to get in and out of.
Mini Vans Get Better Gas Mileage
A used van's streamlined shape and car based front wheel drive means that it gets much better gas mileage than comparable truck based SUVs. A used van like a Honda Odyssey gets 28 mpgs on the highway, while the Honda Pilot with the same engine and drivetrain only manages 25 mpg. Bigger SUVs like a Chevy Tahoe or a Suburban are even less efficient.
Minivans Are Safer
Used vans are generally more safe than used SUVs. Automakers know that the people who buy minivans are concerned about their kids, so minivans are generally chock full of safety features and perform very well in crash tests. Used vans are also much less likely to roll over than an SUV due to their low center of gravity. Newer minivans come loaded with accident avoidance systems like forward collision warning.
Top 10 Best Used Vans
In the world of big cars, nothing matches the carrying capacity of a van. These people- and cargo-carriers are unmatched in leg-space, head-space, seating capacity and interior room. With the cost of gas reaching the lowest levels in recent memory and with vans working to be more fashionable and features-rich, many car buyers – looking for practical solutions toward cargo-carrying or simply looking for something big and safe as a family vehicle or to just rule the roads in – are now starting to look at vans as a serious option.
With the average cost of a new car hitting a record high, however, not everyone can afford a new van. We have looked at the top selling used vans and have come up with a list of the five best full-sized used vans and five best used minivans currently available.
The Best Full-Sized Vans:
- 2000 Chevrolet Express G1500 Passenger Van (14 miles per gallon city/18 miles per gallon highway, 4.3 L six-cylinder, four-speed automatic with overdrive, 200 horsepower, 30.9-gallon fuel tank). There are few things in this world that don’t change; the Chevrolet Express is one of them. Since its debut in the 70s, this workhorse has had only one major redesign. But, with a powerful engine and seating for up to 15 adults, there have been little need to fix this beauty of a used van.
- 2003 Dodge Sprinter 2500 High Roof Passenger Van Extended (23.1 average miles per gallon, 2.7 L I-5 diesel, five-speed automatic with overdrive and auto-manual, 154 horsepower, 26-gallon fuel tank). With exceptional gas economy for a van and a reliability record that is second-to-none, this used van is one of the cheapest to operate and maintain.
- 2006 Ford E-150 Chateau Passenger Van (14 miles per gallon city/18 miles per gallon highway, 4.6 L eight-cylinder, four-speed automatic with overdrive, 255 horsepower, 35-gallon fuel tank). Formerly known as the Econoline, the E-150 maneuvers smoother than the truck base it is based on, but with all the power inherent to its truck descendants. While not as cushioned as a minivan, this used van’s ride is comparable to smaller vehicles.
- 2001 GMC Savana 1500 (13 miles per gallon city/17 miles per gallon highway, 5.7 L eight-cylinder, four-speed automatic with overdrive, 255 horsepower, 31-gallon fuel tank). While the Savana 1500 is a less-popular used van, its 15-occupant capacity and rear-drive truck base makes this van extremely capable.
- 2010 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van (24.3 miles per gallon average, 3.0 L six-cylinder, five-speed tip automatic with overdrive, 188 horsepower, 26.4-gallon fuel tank, 220-amp alternator). One of the effects of the Daimler-Benz and Chrysler merger is that some models were renamed under new name plates. One of these was the Dodge Sprinter, which became the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in 2010. The name change allows the Sprinter to indulge in luxury – such as an increase an interior space.
The Best Minivans:
- 2005 Chrysler Town & Country (19 miles per gallon city/26 miles per gallon highway, 3.3 L six-cylinder, four-speed automatic with overdrive, 180 horsepower). The luxury fraternal twin of the Dodge Grand Caravan, this used van is a comfortable people-carrier with Stow ‘n Go seating for seven and a dizzying amount of cargo space.
- 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SE (17 miles per gallon city/24 miles per gallon highway, 3.3 L six-cylinder, four-speed shiftable automatic, 175 horsepower, 3.600 pounds towing capacity). With exceptional towing ability and stylish interior and exterior detailing, this used van is an attractive option for those seeking a cheaper option to the Chrysler Town & Country. However, repair problems for this model will necessitate care in picking your particular used van.
- 2010 Kia Sedona LX (17 miles per gallon city/23 miles per gallon highway, 3.8 L six-cylinder, five-speed shiftable automatic front-wheel drive, 244 horsepower, 1,000 pounds towing capacity). With one of the highest horsepower ratings among minivans, a “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, seating for seven and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, this used van is in a league of its own. Add on the used van’s low price and this is a must-buy.
- 2008 Nissan Quest (16 miles per gallon city/24 miles per gallon highway, 3.5 L six-cylinder, five-speed automatic front wheel drive, 235 horsepower, 3,500 pounds towing capacity). Decidedly different in styling from its competitors, this used SUV is for those that want to beat their own path. While the driving experience is on par with other vehicles in the used SUV’s class and while the interior has been improved from previous models, the Quest’s top selling point is its powerful powertrain and distinct trim.
- 2007 Honda Odyssey EX (18 miles per gallon city/25 miles per gallon highway, 3.5 L six-cylinder, five-speed automatic front wheel drive, 244 horsepower, 3,500 pounds towing capacity). One of the best-reviewed minivans on the market, the 2007 Honda Odyssey consistently outperform the 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan, Nissan Quest and Chrysler Town & Country in consumer reviews. With seating for eight, expansive cargo space and multiple awards for safety and best buy, this used van – while not much to look at – is arguably the best performing van for 2007.