Honest answers to your automotive questions

George Iny on minivans for less than $10,000 and BMW leases.

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From the September/October 2013 issue of the magazine.

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Minivans

Q: “I’m a mom with three hockey-playing teenagers. What’s the best used minivan I can buy for less than $10,000?” —Jennifer Richmond, Langely, B.C.

A: The obvious solution is a Dodge Grand Caravan because there are so many around and they’re affordable. You could go back to 2006 or 2007, the last years of the old body, as those were some of the best quality years for this model. A Caravan with below-average mileage in good condition will run from $8,000 and up, so it will easily fit your budget. The 2008 and 2009 models have been unreliable and are best avoided, and a newer Caravan will cost more. Be sure to have the vehicle checked by a mechanic and don’t be too focused on price—it’s well worth paying $1,500 extra for a van in good condition in your budget range.

Car Leasing

Q: “I heard you can lease a BMW for the same price as a Honda Accord. Is it true?” —Jason Chan, Pickering, Ont.

A: Yes, it may surprise you, but you can cruise around town in a BMW for almost the same as price as an Accord. If you lease a fully equipped Accord with no money down, your payment works out to about $580 a month over 48 months, including tax. For just a few bucks more, you can pay $598 to get behind the wheel of a basic 2013 BMW 320i xDrive. The Accord is a larger car with more features and a higher mileage allowance than the entry-level BMW, but it comes with less cachet. How do they make the lease payment on a $43,000 luxury car rival the one on a $35,000 sedan? An alchemy of low interest rates, a high buyout value at the end, and aggressive cash rebates to dealers from BMW and rival Mercedes-Benz, which are keen to expand their share of the Canadian market.

George Iny is the president of the Automobile Protection Association. Send him your automotive questions at ask@moneysense.ca.

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