I've a friend who has an 02 odessey, he gets 24-25mpg on highway trips with 4 aboard. I don't like the odessey because of its transmission failure history especially the 5 speeds. The odessey was far and away my favorite before I fell into the honda tranny trap. Now I'd say go for a sienna.
Honda automatics suck!
02 Saturn SL
for pics click the link below
For what your looking for, I'd recommend a Chrysler Town & Country, stretched, with a 3.8L engine. You can get it with bucket seats in the front and middle and a bench seat in the back. It get's good mileage, has comfortable seating for 7 and with the 3.8 it has enough power to pull it all up hill's without unduly straining itself. We have a 94, which is waiting for me to canabalize the parts I want off of it and a 98 that we were able to pick up used, for $3500, with about 95,000 miles on it. My 94 is at about 190,000 miles and I'd rebuild it and keep using it, but the 98 was available, so I'm not.
On mileage, it gets 21-22 mpg, loaded, A/C on. I put a temporary grill block in and I got 24 mpg. Those mileages were driving it at 70-75 mph.
For comfort and family harmony, the middle bucket seats are a wonderful addition. It makes it so everyone can pretty much have enough space, be comfortable and not get on each others nerves, We used to have a middle bench and a back bench, but when we got the middle buckets, it was massivly nicer. The 98 has sliding doors on both sides, which is also a great addition for everyone, for getting in and out of the car.
160K is a lot of miles. Make sure it has all the maintenance records and be prepared to fork out some cash for an overhaul of the tranny or engine. Also keep in mind that a Town & Country is a twin of the Grand Caravan. The T & C is a luxury minivan, but if your gonna go strictly on price then you could probably pick up a newer Grand Caravan for about the same price, but it will have less features.
What's "YMMV"? ...
offtopic: rh77, have you watched a Wii commercial?
YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary.
To the offtopic: Yeah -- I stop by random houses and teach hypermiling
Regarding the T&C, it has a lot extra stuff (that could potentially fail) -- especially at that number of miles. I like popimps idea of a newer Dodge.
I'd check Consumer Reports for reliability issues in those years. I hear some things about the digital instrument cluster and rear a/c being problems (if equipped).
But Chrysler wrote the book on Minivans (drove an '88 Plymouth Voyager V-6 for a few years in high school -- I know, real cool -- parent's ride ) It did the job well for over 250K miles (rebuilt tranny tho).
I'm renting a Van this weekend to take the fam to a Cardinals game in St. Louis. I'll slap the SG on it to see what it does loaded down. I agree that the Kia is thirsty but FAST (too much power). Ford tried but has given up, and GM -- well, sigh.
Nobody's mentioned the Nissan Quest yet, or Dodge Sprinter Diesel (thinking of the less-commonly mentioned models)...