Our 1997 Club Wagon 4.2L V6 has 206,500 miles and we still use it frequently for our family. We bought the van when it was a year old and since then have only had a few major repairs -- like a transmission tailshaft seal, alternator replacement and some sporadic brake problems. The motor runs well and has decent power for a V6, but it isn't getting the best economy anymore -- about 16 mpg. It still has the original 4r-70W 4 speed automatic transmission. It slips a little in reverse and shudders at stops once in a while but otherwise no major problems. The brakes aren't the best, we tend to go through front pads frequently (every 30K or so).
Very simple & easy to use controls. Plenty of space and decent seats for a long ride.
Improve brake wear-- perhaps go to a bigger set with 4-wheel discs, and change front suspension to double-wishbone to give better handling & tire wear.
We were looking for a van 3 years ago to replace our Dodge Caravan. I wanted a truck but we had to settle on one vehicle and this was it. Since then we have (a) hauled kids (b) hauled materials, including 4x8 sheets of drywall inside (c) done a lot of camping. This van works good for all aspects. This has been reliable and taken us everywhere we needed to go. The 4.8 V8 works fine, but if you can find one with a 5.3 V8 you'll be happier with the power and the gas mileage will be the same. The V6 is underpowered, even if you are only hauling people, and it gets the same mileage! Repair costs can be above average but the frequency of repairs has been the least of all our vehicles.
Ride height gets you up above most other cars, improving visibility. Starts, corners, and stops well. Good flexibility for cargo space.
Tune ups have to be performed by a mechanic (special parts, tough access). Big van = 15 mpg.
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