I am looking to replace a 13-year-old Honda Odyssey. I need safety, room for five, a towing capacity of at least 2,500 pounds and reliability. Oh, and I am a rabidly patriotic veteran who wants to support Canadian jobs – even if those jobs are in Ontario! The Odyssey was assembled in Alliston, Ont. - Chris, Calgary
Richardson: If you’re looking for another minivan, the only vans now made in Canada are the new Chrysler Pacifica and the less-expensive Dodge Grand Caravan. The Odyssey is now built in Alabama. Honda does make the CR-V mid-sized SUV at its Alliston plant and that will give you all you’re looking for, plus much better gas mileage.
Leeder: Something has to give in this mix, Chris, and I think it’s up to you to decide whether that’s going to be your dream of buying Canadian or having a broader lineup to choose from. The CR-V is going to feel too small and under-powered for you after the spaciousness of the Odyssey. The Pacifica, though, is a beaut (I can’t believe I’m saying this about a minivan) and worth at least a test-drive. It’s a vastly different vehicle than the Grand Caravan, stocked with creature comforts, thoughtful use of space and although it’s just as wide as the Odyssey, it doesn’t feel as lumbering. It’s got room for your full brood, built-in entertainment features should you desire them, and a bit of Canadian-made cachet.
Richardson: The Pacifica is also expensive. The company brought in a less-costly trim level soon after its summertime launch, but it still starts at around $38,000. And you don’t have to get a van. The Ford Flex is kinda homely-looking, but you don’t care about that because you’re happy in an old Odyssey. It’s got three rows of seats and then there’s still room for cargo behind and plenty of power for towing. It retails for about $32,000, but it’s an older design and you can probably negotiate it for $30,000, plus taxes and delivery. It’s built in Oakville, Ont., alongside the Ford Edge SUV, which you could also consider if you don’t need the space of the Flex.
Leeder: I’d love to see Chris get into the Edge, which is, well, edgier than the Flex, a vehicle I find to be horrifying in all elements of its design. But the Edge could be too small when he’s got the whole family on board. What about Ford’s Explorer? It’s got a third row of seats so everyone can spread out. And its price starts at a shade over $33,000. Chris can add whichever options he sees value in and that hitch. The Explorer has a 5,000-pound towing capacity.
Richardson: The Explorer is tried and true and due for a redesign, which means the price could come down later in 2017. But it’s built in Chicago. If Chris wants to spend his money on a made-in-Canada vehicle and wants space for five with some towing ability that’s bigger than an Edge, then his only options are the Flex or its better-looking (and $50,000) equivalent, the Lincoln MKT. Or the just-as-costly Lexus RX350, or either of the FCA minivans. Frankly, if he’s happy with his old Odyssey, then yes, the mileage is low enough that he should keep it a couple more years and hold onto his money.
Leeder: Richardson, were you an accountant in a past life?! Quit the penny pinching! Chris, crack open that wallet and kiss that old Odyssey goodbye. Whatever you choose, you’ll be better off on the road.
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