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Full Size or Mini Van?

Discussion in 'Vacation Travel Information' started by Blues, Apr 24, 2014.

  1. Blues

    Blues Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    I'm booking a car for 8 days when we take DSS (step-son), DDIL, and DGD to the Big Island of Hawaii in October. Rates are still ridiculously high, but I'm hoping that Costco's rates will come down as the date approaches. However, we're going during the Iron Man Triathlon, so there's a possibility rates will stay up there.

    Right now, I've reserved both a full-size car at $325 and a mini van at $450 for the 8 days. There will be 5 of us -- 4 adults and an 11 year old girl. We're going to be travelling around the island, so I'm concerned with comfort. At first I figured that a mini van had to be more comfortable than what the car rental agencies consider to be a full size car. But then it occurred to me; if we get the comfort by using all 3 rows of seats in the mini van, will we have room for the luggage for 5 of us? We're going to pick up the car/van at the Kona airport and immediately drive to the Hilo side, where I've rented a house for a few days. 3 days later we'll drive back to the Kona side, where I have a 3 BR timeshare at HGVC Kingsland for 5 days. So, a lot of driving, to include sightseeing along the way. And we'll be hauling all our luggage for most of it.

    I've never driven a mini van, so I don't know if my worries about luggage space are justified. Frankly, I have the same worries about fitting luggage for 5 in the trunk of a car. The difference in price is not a concern. I'm just wondering what will be more comfortable for everyone.

    P.S. another option available is a full sized SUV.

    Thanks,
    Bob
     
  2. tschwa2

    tschwa2 Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Unless you are all minimalist packers- 1 medium bag each and a very small carry on each you will not have room in a full size car. In a mini van you may have someone in the back bench seat sharing the seat with extra luggage. That's better than having it on your laps.
     
  3. elaine

    elaine TUG Member

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    full size would be 11 yr old in the center of the car with all luggage in the trunk--no way for trips over 30 minutes--and maybe an issue getting the luggage into the truck.
    Get the minivan! You can usually fit 2 large or 3-4 medium suitcases in the back standing straight up, plus sometimes under the seats--backpacks/duffle bags can easily fit. Since minivans will seat at least 7, you can always put the 11 yr old in the back and pile suitcase in the floor or seat next to 11 yr old. Sometimes the seats split or fold down. With only 5 in a minivan, you can make it work. We have done it with 6, plus scuba stuff.
     
  4. csxjohn

    csxjohn TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    I hate mini vans and the inability to safely stow items. Every object becomes a projectile. You're driving in a strange place and in a strange vehicle. My choice would be to get the biggest car with a trunk that I could.

    I know, hundreds of thousands of people own them and love them but that doesn't mitigate my safety concerns.
     
  5. wackymother

    wackymother TUG Member

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    We have a 2004 Sienna and there's a pretty substantial area behind the third-row seat--there's about 18 inches between the back of the third row and the door, and that area dips down maybe six inches, it's not flush with the rest of the floor. Sorry, this is hard to describe.

    You may be thinking that there is no room behind the third row in a minivan, but there is. It probably holds an amount similar to a full-size trunk.

    Do you know anyone with a minivan? Take a look, you'll see. Or stop by a car rental place and they'll probably show you.

    Or try a grocery store parking lot. I know I got to chatting with some guys with a Town and Country at our Home Depot because I was buying sheetrock and the T&C could hold lots more sheetrock than our old Sienna bc the back opening was wider.
     
  6. wackymother

    wackymother TUG Member

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    I think our minivan might have tie-down places in the "trunk" part. I would have to look. I know we really try not to pack the back area higher than the top of the back seat. If we have something really problematic, we tie it in with rope or bungee cords.
     
  7. Fern Modena

    Fern Modena TUG Lifetime Member

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    I have a new Sienna minivan. The third row seat(s) hide in the floor, so if you need more luggage space than will stow behind the third row you could fold down half the third row as well. There is a deep legroom between the first and second rows as well, so it is likely that you could fit carryons, etc. between the first row and the second row, if not directly in front of people, at least behind the console, that is, in the center between the two adults, on the floor.

    There is plenty of space to stow things, if a Sienna is the van you get. If it is a Town & Country, I think the stow space is less, but go look at one, now, at home, and then make your decision.

    I know for sure that you won't be comfortable, or even have enough room, in a full size car.

    Fern
     
  8. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Last trip to Maui, we were 3 adults and 2 teens in a Crown Victoria. We fit, but were not as comfortable (imo) as we would have been in a minivan. It would have been majorly uncomfortable and unhandy for sightseeing stops on the longer drive Kona/Hilo and reverse.

    Go for the van.

    Jim
     
  9. Mister Sir

    Mister Sir TUG Member

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    I'd go with the mini-van, as long as it has a "trunk" behind the third row of seats. Some vans have the third row right up against the back of the van, leaving no room for luggage. Make sure before you commit.

    We regularly take long road trips with 2 adults and 3 to 5 older children in our Toyota Sienna. It seats 8 but we usually take out the middle seat in the second row for easier access to the back seat.
     
  10. riverdees05

    riverdees05 TUG Member

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    I travel with my daughter and her family, 1 senior, 2 adults and 2 boys and always get at least a mini van.
     
  11. DaveNW

    DaveNW TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Get a price quote from Discount Hawaii Car Rental, just to compare. I've been seeing their rates much lower than Costco's this year. Good luck!

    Dave
     
  12. Elan

    Elan TUG Member

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    No brainer -- minivan. Why have to think about what goes where and how comfortable everyone isn't? I've rented a minivan when it was just two of us visiting others just to be sure we could all ride comfortably together.
     
  13. Blues

    Blues Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Thanks everyone. You have me convinced; a mini van is the way to go.

    Up until a few days ago, the mini van price was over $900 :mad: at both Costco and Discount Hawaii. I wasn't gonna pay that kind of price, so I guess I had myself convinced that a full sized car would work. Now it's come down by half at both sites, and the mini van is tenable. I just had to get past my previous prejudice due to unreasonable prices.

    Unfortunately, no one guarantees what kind of mini van (or car) you'll get, so there's no way to know until you get there. But both sites say "Dodge Grand Caravan or equivalent." Of course, "or equivalent" leaves a lot of wiggle room. But does anyone know what a Grand Caravan has in terms of luggage space behind the 3rd row?

    Thanks again.
    Bob
     
  14. Elan

    Elan TUG Member

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    [​IMG]

    Edited to add that I once rented a mini-van in Portland. Went to the counter, completed the paperwork, and the dude hands me the keys and tells me the lot number for the van.
    I walked to the lot, and in the slot sat a Toyota Highlander. Since the line was so long at the counter, I didn't want to go back to get a mini-van. The Highlander served my purposes, but it was less
    accommodating than a minivan would have been.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014
  15. riverdees05

    riverdees05 TUG Member

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    When we rent a minivan and there are five of us, we put one seat of the third row up and the rest down and use that additional space for bags. One of the boys ride in that seat.
     
  16. LisaRex

    LisaRex TUG Member

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    Personally, I'd opt for a full size SUV over a mini-van because the road clearance is much higher with an SUV. But a mini-van should work just fine as long as you don't do the road to Hana or drive along roads with a lot of potholes. Just keep in mind that the clearance is very low (so be wary of potholes and steep inclines) and the van is much wider than you're used to.

    I used to drive a mini-van all the time, and once I got used to sitting up higher, I found I couldn't drive in a sedan afterward. Now that the kids are gone, I have a medium-sized SUV.
     
  17. pedro47

    pedro47 TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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  18. simpsontruckdriver

    simpsontruckdriver Guest

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    The only problem with a full-size SUV (Tahoe, Explorer) is the lower MPGs. Minivans can get in the mid-20s highway, while SUVs get just under 20mpg highway. If MPGs are not a concern, a full-size may work better (7 passengers).

    TS
     
  19. MichaelColey

    MichaelColey TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    We're a family of 5, so we have a similar seating situation.

    A "full size" car is really tough. Usually (if we're stuck with a car), it's a Premium or Luxury, which works okay. But it's still a bit cramped for 5, especially if you have much luggage.

    SUV's can be extremely hit or miss. The small ones have less storage space than a car.

    Minivans are always our preference. Two people up front. Two in the middle row. One in the back row. Half of the back row folded down if we need extra luggage space. (We've NEVER got a minivan that didn't have two separate folding seats in the back.) Minivans also get great fuel economy, are comfortable, and the sliding doors are very convenient.
     
  20. Blues

    Blues Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Thanks again, everyone! Jim, thanks for the picture of the trunk space in the Grand Caravan. I never realized that they left so much room back there. And Michael, thanks for the comments about the folding split seat. Didn't realize that either. I guess I'll keep the reservation for the mini van and (eventually) release the reservation for the car.

    -Bob
     
  21. UWSurfer

    UWSurfer Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    I concur on the minivan. On a slightly different tangent, I'm back from a recent two week trip, touring three islands of Hawaii. Rentals through Costco ended up with Enterprise in HNL & Alamo on BI & Maui.

    I was truly impressed with Enterprise. They've made an investment in both technology & how their people are to interact. Kiosks to check-in, reps with ipads outside to get you into the car and checked out. They went completely out of their way to be positive and helpful. If you want the counter experience they have one too but the kiosk completely bi-passes the hard sell/up sell experience and they usually have one or two people stationed to help with any issues using it.

    Alamo felt like they had the same Kiosk and software but were a bit more traditional and less friendly than the Enterprise people on HNL. I'll still go with the best price, but I was pretty impressed with that Enterprise location.
     
  22. MichaelColey

    MichaelColey TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    A little more detail: The back seat is a bench seat, and the folding seat is usually split 60/40. You can fold down either the wider section or the narrower section (or both). Very useful.

    Even without folding it down, the storage area is more spacious than most SUVs (other than Suburbans). The seat angles back and there's only about 12-18" clearance near the top, but it's more like 24"+ near the bottom. We can usually fit 4 suitcases and a stroller without having to fold a seat down. If we're stopping for groceries, too, we'll fold one of the seats down.
     
  23. thheath

    thheath TUG Member

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    This is the company /agent I rent through when traveling to other islands.

    They normally always get me the best rate and do not require a depost or CC info.

    I would use the request a quote feature, for best pricing and service.

    Ted

    Cheap Hawaii Car Rental

    http://www.cheaphawaiicarrental.com/
     
  24. Mister Sir

    Mister Sir TUG Member

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    +1 on UWSurfer's endorsement of Enterprise. I've always had a pleasant experience with them. I won't use any other rental company. :cheer:
     
  25. perktd

    perktd TUG Member

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    I would definitely go with the minivan. Not only will the luggage fit much better, but your passengers will be able to see out better when you are sightseeing. We usually try for a minivan even for four adults when we are on the Big Island. One thing I would not plan on is sightseeing with a van full of luggage. Tourist stopping points are not good for leaving visible items out and expecting to see them when you get back.

    You can easily see everything from the volcano area to Waipio Valley from your Hilo base and only put your luggage in the van for a direct transit from Hilo to the Waikoloa Resort area. You can then do your westside sightseeing from your Waikoloa base. Have a great time.
     

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