By Mark Borlace
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2019
Our car comparison series pits some of the most popular vehicles on the used-car market against one another to help find the perfect fit for you. This time around, we’re weighing up four people movers built in 2013, priced around $20,000.
Raising children is an expensive exercise. If your family is large enough to genuinely need a people mover, chances are you’ll be budget conscious by nature. For many large families, $20,000 stretches the car budget within an inch of going twang.
But for your money, you get a lot of car. Modern people movers are like lounge rooms on wheels, with plush, hi-tech interiors, leather upholstery, Bluetooth, sat-nav and excellent sound systems. Mechanically, they’re often the equivalent of a normal sedan, boasting top-of-the-range safety features, powerful engines and reasonable handling.
To ensure you get bang for your buck, we’ve found four people movers that tick all the boxes in terms of space, comfort, safety and affordability.
Hyundai iMAX 2013: Great value for money, the Hyundai iMAX is the most spacious of our competitors with excellent running and repair costs.
Toyota Tarago GLi 2013: Three decades ago, the Tarago revolutionised the people mover market, boasting class-leading reliability and comfort. The same quality is evident in the 2013 model.
Kia Grand Carnival SLi 2013: The Kia Grand Carnival has the largest engine of the bunch and features a practical third row of seats that fold down flat.
Honda Odyssey Luxury 2013: The Honda Odyssey’s build quality is impeccable, with an emphasis placed on luxury, technology and comfort.
|Specs||Hyundai iMAX||Toyota Tarago||Kia Grand Carnival||Honda Odyssey|
|Used price||$12,800 to $16,800||$16,400 to $20,700||$15,200 to $19,500||$16,900 to $21,400|
|Price when new||$38,290||$48,990||$46,190||$42,920|
|Engine||2.4L petrol||2.4L petrol||3.5L petrol||2.4L petrol|
|Transmission||4-speed auto||7-speed auto||6-speed auto||5-speed auto|
Thirty years ago people movers were essentially delivery vans with rows of seats bolted in. The Tarago’s carlike interior, appointments and drivability were a first, but it’s always been at the more expensive end of the market.
Today, many brands offer cheaper alternatives, making it harder to find a decent used Tarago at a low price.
Honda’s legendary build and finish quality is evident in the Odyssey and it drives and handles well. It came with the best standard equipment of the bunch, including sat-nav, reversing camera, power and heated front seats, a power sunroof and all the usual safety equipment.
While the others are 8 seaters, the 7-seater Odyssey has individual lounge-style second-row seats, providing great passenger comfort. The Odyssey has avoided major depreciation, which is a blessing for the current owner and a curse for second-hand owners.
The Kia Grand Carnival is as spacious as the Tarago and is just behind the Odyssey in overall handling and road manners. However, it’s more practical than either, with third-row seats that fold flat and are accessible via large sliding doors.
The SLi and Platinum models have electric side opening doors, with the Platinum featuring an electric rear-lift tailgate. Seating is comfortable with armrests on the front seats and enough leg room. There’s also a handy fold-down table between the front seats. The Carnival’s Bluetooth is operated from switches in the steering wheel.
It’s standard across the range, as is cruise control, front and rear air conditioning and remote keyless entry. The Carnival has been the highest selling of the lot, so there should be more out there to choose from. It also has the best towing capacity.
The van-derived Hyundai iMAX was great value for money when new. It also came with a 5-year warranty, so most were covered until recently. It’s wallet-friendly in the running and repair costs department and is the most spacious of all our competitors. There’s room for 8 adults, with plenty of luggage space and storage compartments.
The driver has a comfortable captain’s chair with ergonomic grab handles to help climb into the cabin. The iMAX was the cheapest in the market when new and is still the most affordable of the bunch 6 years on.
By nature, people movers have poor rear visibility. To combat this inconvenient truth, the iMAX came with a rear-parking distance control alert.
All 4 people movers have their automatic gear selector positioned as part of the dash assembly. This creates a flowing, roomy affect through the centre cabin area.
People movers need to be big on space; this generally means they’re big on fuel consumption as well. Of our competitors, the Kia was the biggest drinker.
The Hyundai iMAX and the Kia Carnival are good value, but come with the least standard features.
The iMAX engine, with its older technology, lags behind the rest. It also lacks versatility in its second and third-row seats which don’t fold down and can’t be removed. Like most Hondas, the Odyssey has a high revving engine. This means it needs to be serviced more strictly than its competitors.
None of our competitors have any major problems, but dealers tell us that as the engines are pulling heavy loads, they really need to be serviced by the book. If neglected, the Honda can experience some transmission shift problems. Engine oil sludging can occur in all cars if they have been poorly serviced.
The value package
Value will depend on what you and your family need in a car. If space is most important to you, the Hyundai iMAX is streets ahead. If comfort is your priority, the Honda Odyssey is the one for your driveway. That said, all of our competitors are now less than half their price new. If they’ve been looked after, they all represent good value.
Because of their size, parking and manoeuvring a people mover can be a problem. The Odyssey, however, is fairly nimble and has the smallest turning circle of the bunch due to its short wheel base.
The Hyundai’s weight and engine design make it the slug of the group. That said, it’s the only rear-wheel drive so is less nose-heavy in corners.
Conversely, the Kia Carnival – with its powerful V6 – can make you look like a bit of a hoon if you’re doing a U-turn with a full load. If you don’t gently manage the accelerator during the turn, it will have you chirping the front wheels as it looks for grip, especially if the road is wet. The Kia also has the largest turning circle.
The final word
Due to their lower price and spacious interiors, our pick would be a toss-up between the two Koreans – the iMAX or the Grand Carnival. If cash is less of an issue, it would be the Odyssey (providing you can live with seven seats), and then the Tarago.