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Minivans - Domestic or Foreign

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  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    The KV7 doesn't do anything for me. And while gullwing doors make a cool looking concept car at the show in the real world they would make getting in or out of the vehicle in a tight parking spot impossible. I've concluded that those big sliding doors are the van's biggest advantage over other vehicles.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, no doubt the gullwings would not make production, but I do like the unique, boxy shape.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Nissan Quest - interior of this seems more SUV and less minivan. Strange. All seats fold forward. This means you keep the well behind the 3rd row all the time, but the 3rd row itself is tiny, not adult-sized like competitors.

    Floor is higher, too. Folding the 2nd row leaves holes and gaps, an odd arrangement, but easy to use at least.

    Cargo floor is not nearly as long as 4'x8' fitting competitors. Cup holders cannot accommodate mugs, not even one.

    Materials were a mixed bag, soft but still cheap looking. Peach fuzz headliner and visors scream cheap. Vinyl arm rests also but the angles all adjust (nice). Some double-stitching looks nice.

    Little storage. Way behind competitors there.

    Overall a B-, could have been better with a little more thoughtful design.

    Grand Caravan got upgraded, too, but it went from being Rubber-Maid cheap to being merely cheap. The new Quest and Ody are still nicer. The Sienna materials are on par, but the design is better. Don't like all the vinyl - seems like even "leather" seats are 99% vinyl with a tiny leather insert in the middle. The top-of-the-line Town & Country had a nicer suede-like material, at least. No 8 seat model and for me that's a priority.

    Finally checked out an Ody. I like the inside a lot better than the outside. Opposite of Nissan - they had TONS of storage. Bigger bins and more of them, cooled even. Cup holder fit mugs as most do. 3rd row window is disappointingly small, especially given they make a big deal about the styling being functional. Probably best in class materials, but not by much.

    Kia - went to check that out as well, and the good news is the modern V6 and a 6 speed automatic are now standard, sort of like Dodge did. This beats Honda's 5 speed only if you're poor strategy, and Toyota's standard 4 cylinder. I think in the low price segments the Kia makes a lot of sense. The 3rd row window is HUUUUUUGE, 2 times bigger than Honda's, making Honda's claims about the styling being there to improve visibility a bunch of hogwash. Seriously, Kia's panoramic view simply puts Honda to shame.

    Funny thing is, each van has its flaws. There is no perfect van, still, even in this mature segment.

    * Honda needs better styling, AWD, bigger 3rd window, 6 speed standard.
    * Toyota needs to go back to the old 8 seater and nicer materials from the 04-10 Sienna.
    * Kia needs a styling update to go along with the new powertrain. AWD too and 8 seats.
    * Nissan needs a longer cargo floor and an adult-sized 3rd row, plus AWD and 8 seats.
    * Dodge needs to double the recent improvements to interior material quality, AWD, 8 seats.

    Basically a very competitive segment, with each van having certain advantages, and no clear leader at all.
  • tifightertifighter WAPosts: 1,385
    Good review Juice. Seems to me that no obvious segment leader plays nicely into Chrysler/Dodge's hands. They had a lot to lose, and might just hang on okay, especially given the content for the money on the Dodge side...

    15 Leaf / 08 RDX

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, but I wasn't a fan of the lower end Dodges they had there. The top-of-the-line Town & Country were nice, but then you're at $40k.

    Honestly I felt like Kia played the value card the best, but I'd like to see a fresh design, perhaps based on their recent, cool concept.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Interesting, and not the first time the SE has beat the Ody in a comparo.

    I still like the 8th seat in the Ody better, so it would be a tough call. I just wish Honda put the 6EAT in the vans under $40 grand. It costs you 0.7 seconds to 60, from tied for first to worst in class, ouch.

    Quest has 40 fewer cubes of storage, wow, that's a lot to give up.

    Still no perfect van, I say.

    They should have included a Kia since it has the new engine. Testing a Dodge and a Chrysler seems very redundant.
  • mrwhy300mrwhy300 Posts: 2
    I just want to share our recent experience with picking out our new van. With two little children (a 2 years old, and a new born infant), we are looking for a minivan to replace my wife's 2003 BMW 325i.

    We started looking into the market since around Oct 2010. At that time, Sienna was our first and only choice (nothing wrong with domestics but we decided to go for imports based on past experience so far). We were focusing on the LE and SE as we thought the limited is just too much $$ for a minivan. We hesitated due to its poor interior and bad driving experience. The dashboard and door panels are made of very low grade plastics with no padding at all. I am okay with that for an entry level vehicle like Echo, but spending close to 40k, I expect something better. Integrated radio antenna should also be standard for all models, instead of only available in the limited model. These little details may not show the overall quality of the vehicle. However, we left with the impression that they are cutting corners in many ways, I guess to improve on the exterior look and six speed tranny. The test drive experience was not satisfying as well. The engine is powerful. The ride is quiet and smooth but the steering is just too loose, with no feeling of the road at all, to a point that we don't feel comfortable/ confident. We realize we are testing a van, not a performance vehicle. However, there must be something better in the market, so we decided to wait a few months for the 2011 Odyssey and Quest.

    The Quest came out in 2011 and we were really excited as we had experience with Nissan Elgrand in the asia market. It is advertised as the "king of the minivan" over there, and I think it is the best van in the world today. Unfortunately, Quest is a trimmed down version of the Elgrand. The front and rear exterior is modified as well but the general interior layout is pretty much the same. The test drive was very impressive for us. The quality of the interior material is outstanding. You feel like driving an Infiniti. The ride is as smooth and quiet as the Sienna while the steering is much more "precise". Only drawback are the CVT transmission and the bland exterior. If they import Elgrand straight from Japan without modifying the exterior, we would have made our offer.

    So at this point, you probably know we have ended up with the Odyssey. We only have our Odyssey EX-L for a few weeks but so far we are loving it. Touring is nice but EX-L seems to offer the most for the buck. The interior quality is fine (not as great as Quest but far better than Sienna). The exterior is quite subjective, depends on who you speak to, my folks think it is ugly and too aggressive but we got a few compliments in the parking lot (mostly in the 30's and 40's) Personally I think the lighting bolt looks alright. I wasn't so sure about our decision before the delivery. However, once I received the van and have the time to look at the details. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of many little things. And that's the reason why I registered with Edmund and submit my first post to share the experience and my appreciation towards this amazing van.
    The only issue we have so far is with the width of the vehicle, it is definitely wider than most vans. It probably won't fit in those "small car only" parking spots in busy shopping malls. Other than that, we just hope we won't have to go through the tranny issue and the TPMS error that some people here experienced.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,233
    It probably won't fit in those "small car only" parking spots in busy shopping malls.

    That may be the understatement of the day. These "mini" vans measure out right there with full-size SUV's and not far off on weight either.

    We just did all the testing of a bunch of vehicles as well...and decided on the Sienna Ltd. It is big money but has quite a few features not available in the others. I think it looks decent inside with the limited trim as well. The low end models with black trim look pretty bad. We're used to the hard plastic interior anyway after putting 100k miles on our '05 Ody. Steering takes some getting used to but like anything else, once you drive it awhile it feels better. My wife loves the steering particularly because it works....we had a lot of problems with the power steering pumps in our Ody....it was needing #4 when we traded. Either way you can't go wrong with either of those vans in my book.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Minivans are usually around 200-205" in length, that's still far shorter than a Suburban.

    Think of it this way, you get Suburban space, for the size of a Tahoe. Even then not as wide.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,233
    Well sure not a Suburban...which does have more space inside particularly for adults (we have several in the company fleet...I actually spend a lot of time in them). The vans measure up nearly identical to the Acadia. Either way...there "ain't" nothing mini about them.
  • My husband and I hope to buy our first minivan in the next few weeks. We've looked at new and used vans. We've read reviews. We're totally lost. We had narrowed it down to the Toyota Sienna but Dodge/Chrysler is such a better deal that we're waffling on our decision. There are so many varying opinions on which vans are reliable and which are not. Is there any REAL information (not just opinions) on which vans (makes,years,certain options) are more or less reliable? Specifically, we want to know about Dodge/Chrysler vans reliability vs. Toyota. Also, how does safety compare for these vans. Are there certain years or models that we should stay away from? Our goal is to purchase a reliable, safe and comfortable minivan that will last a long, long time. Our target price is around $20,000 but we are willing to spend more (and certainly less) if it makes sense.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,233
    edited August 2011
    $20k is pretty tough to get into a reasonable mileage Honda/Toyota IMHO. We sold our '05 Odyssey with 100k miles back in Feb for $16k. Stupid money in my book...but I'm not complaining. You can get into a decent fairly new Chrysler for that coin though. We have had Caravans in the family over the years and most were very reliable. However my parents now have a 2007 that has been a disaster and most of the reliability ratings haven't looked that good for that generation. I would try to get into the newest generation of them and hope for the best.

    Starting in '08 the Dodge/Chrysler have safety ratings on par with the Honda/Toyota crowd.

    So if wer're talking 2008+ I would recommend shopping for the features/comfort/driving dynamics YOU like. We were very happy with Odyssey and besides my wife just getting tired of it, I would have assumed we kept it a lot longer. We just bought an '11 Sienna largely because she liked the color :sick:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Dodge just put in the Penastar V6, but at $20k you'd probably be looking at a used one. Kia also just dropped an upgraded engine in the Sedona.

    Since you're concerned about reliability, consider a CPO model with a 100k warranty. Or maybe a base model Sedona with the 10/100 warranty, and sacrifice the goodies to buy new.
  • Thank you for the replies. A few more questions. Along with reliability, I am also concerned with lifespan. Could we expect to drive a Honda or Toyota for longer than a Dodge/Chrysler/Kia? What advice would you give for the most cost effective option for the long term? In other words, will spending more now, save us in the long run? I expect that we would keep the van until it was more costly to fix than it was worth.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That generally used to be the case, but Kia's engine and trans are new, so reliability is unknown. But remember, you have the 10/100 powertrain warranty to address any teething issues.

    Same with Dodge - they put in the Pentastar V6 and a new 6 speed trans as well.

    Toyota is arguably using the most proven powertrain - the 2GR V6 has been reliable and used in the Sienna since 2007, plus other models longer than that. The 6 speed trans was new in the Sienna for 2011, but it's been fine so far.

    Ody has been good also, especially post 2004 or so, with the improvements to the trans. 2003 and prior had trans issues to I'd avoid those, if you shop used.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,233
    I really can't speak for the Kia's but IMHO I think they can all be reliable for a very long time. The big boost you get with the Honda/Toyota is resale which at some point doesn't add much to the equation if you're keeping it a very long time.

    You can easily get into a 2010 Chrysler with sub-30k miles for $20k. A similiarly equipped Honda/Toyota will be $5,000 more easily. That pays for a lot of repairs many years down the road.

    As I mentioned earlier, find something you like and go with it. Driving something that's super reliable that you end up hating is far more annoying than buying something that has a few problems but overall you like it.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Used vans from Honda/Toyota fetch absurd money, so I'd stretch to get a basic model else look for better values elsewhere.

    When the new Sienna came out, prices went up, so used prices followed. For a while there 1 year old used models were priced same as new had been a year before.
  • loucapriloucapri Posts: 214
    My feedback is based on your price point.

    For $20K, forget about new van. You are not going to get anything new at this price. I would say at least $25K for anything based model if you really want NEW. So let's look at used van.

    $20K actually get you some pretty good used vans. I was looking for one myself a while back. I could get a 06 Limited Sienna (leather, sunroof, headed seat, HID headlight... with 53K miles or 2010 LE (pretty basic, not as fancy but still under warranty) for that prices, just an idea.

    Used van sure has better value. I like the 04-2010 sienna better then 2011+ . I owned an 04 AWD sienna before and compared to 2011+, there are many dislike on the 2011+ Sienna IMO.

    Just remember used car do have problems so check out service history and if you able to find a clean, well taken care of used sienna, I think it is better then reaching out for a new based model sienna. Good luck
  • tifightertifighter WAPosts: 1,385
    The Mazda 5 can definitely be had new for $20k. Whether the size works for you or not only you can determine, but it works for lots of families in Europe and Asia.

    15 Leaf / 08 RDX

  • I have been offered brand new Kia Sedona LX vans for $19,999 (NE Ohio area). Also someone mentioned the Mazda 5, but that is not truly a van but a station wagon with sliding doors; it is VERY small if you are used to a regular minivan.

    The problem with the Sedona LX is that at the base level, they have stripped out everything that makes them nice -- no alloys, cheap plastic hubcaps, cheap peach fuzz upholstery, fewer cupholders, no fog lights, etc.

    Also: several dealers have informed me this is the LAST YEAR Kia will make the Sedona. Hyundai has already discontinued it's sister van, the Entourage. It is not clear what they will replace the Sedona with, if anything. It was a poor seller for them -- they won't even lease you a brand new loaded Sedona because of the model's severe depreciation problems.

    You can of course buy a used van for $20K -- I've seen 2009 Nissan Quests with 30K miles for that price. But you can't touch a Honda or Toyota; they sell for hyper-inflated values because of the name. Good vans, but seriously overpriced.

    The biggest thing is to look for a van with low miles; they are hard to find. Most people buy a van to run it into the ground, and if they have kids, the van can look like trash in a year.

    Today it is common to see Japanese vans asking $20-25,000 with 90K and not even clean condition. People will pay anything for that Honda/Toyota nameplate.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Keep the stock wheel/tire set as your beater/winter tire, and get a set of alloys with tires mounted, probably a grand or so.

    That's dirt cheap, is that with the new engine? Not a year-old model? Bargain, I say.

    Buy the kids each an iPad, another grand.

    Add a portable GPS.

    For about $22 grand you have all that you really need, with a warranty that goes until 2021!
  • Let me start with this, before i end up getting everyone on here jumping on my back.. I drive about 100-150K miles a year. I work in the IT field as a tech that needs a van to carry equipment around. I tend to buy minivans because they are easier to see out of then wagons, get better MPG then SUV's and are easier to park then cargo vans.

    With that said,
    I have owned 23 cars in 12 years.
    Dodge caravan 2002 model died a fire related death after 3 transmissions at 175K miles. (Owned for a little over a year)
    Kia Sedona 2004 died at 140K miles with a warped head from over heating, even though the temp gauge never moved.. (owned for 6 months)
    Honda Odyssey, which i will say was my favorite looking van was an awesome van, but suffered from a transmission issue at 130K miles then had electrical issues at about 160K, i sold it at 200K miles.. It still ran good, but the newer transmission was starting to slip.. Again.. (owned for almost 3 years)
    Toyota Sienna 2001 model which i currently have, i have had this and a Nissan quest 2005 model for about a year. I bought the Nissan to replace the sienna, but have decided to keep the sienna. The Nissan is hard to see out of, its also burning oil at 75K miles.. (owned the Nissan for about a year, but have driven it about 25K miles)
    The Sienna is not my first Toyota.. It is not perfect, it is bland, the interior is hard plastic and the fit and finish, i feel is not as good as some of the other vehicles i have owned, i guess they are made that way, because they know you need to be comfortable waiting for a tow truck.

    So while i will say, No.. Toyota does not make anything exciting.. They are really, really bland.. What i will say, if you pay more now, you will pay less later.. As long as you take care of it.. Oil changes every 3k miles.. etc..

    Best of luck to all those who have bought a Dodge.. I would suggest buying a fire extinguisher and keeping it in the van at all times. Or at least a lawn chair and a beer to watch it burn...
  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    Well I have a 2005 Dodge GC. I have had pickups for years, but when I discovered this Dodge had fold away seats, I traded in my truck for this mini van. I found out with my Brother's Dodge minivan, we could get as much or more in it as I could get in my truck. Except he hated having to take the seats out of it. I will have this van almost 6 years in Dec. and so far have had no problems with it and it has all kinds of electrical stuff on it. The only time it wouldn't start was when my Die Hard Platinum battery gave out after only two years.

    Yes you will pay more for that Toyota new. You will also pay more to have it serviced, every so many months. While it might be worth more in two or three years, there won't be much difference when you compare what you paid for it, even if that Dodge might need some repair. The only way you really make out over the Dodge, is if you trade it in after only a few years. I plan on keeping mine at least another couple of years.

    But I bought mine so that I can carry things in it. I am always buying stuff or moving things for my kids, so I didn't buy it as a people mover. I'm glad you like your Toyota. But don't judge all Dodges by your one experience. I don't hear of many of them burning up.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It may not be exciting, but read your own post - that 2001 is still running while several newer vans bit the dust.

    The 2004-2010 Sienna is a bit nicer, I feel like the 2011 model cut some costs (fewer soft-touch surfaces) and isn't as nice inside. You may want to look for a used one in that age range. The 3MZ engine (3.3l, 2004-2006) was good and the 2GR (3.5l, 2007+) even better. Also, the 5 speed auto used from 2004-2010 had fewer issues than the 6 speed in the new Siennas.

    Check the doors if you buy one, that's the most common issue.

    Newer Hondas and Dodges also seem to have fewer trans missues, too. If an option for a tow package is available, try to get it, because it adds coolers and heavy duty alternators, stuff that may help in the long run given your IT equipment loads may be heavy.

    Good luck. :shades:
  • I would take a tow package in my next Odyssey ; but go to an after-market trailer-cooler supplier and get them to replace the Honda installed one. Last year I had an after-market cooler added to my 2002; Honda dealer recommended after-market.
  • I am looking for a used minivan as my 2000 Chrysler T&C has this annoying habit of dying at random times while I'm driving. Have spent way too much time and money trying to fix that problem and time to move on. I know my budget is under $15,000 and my biggest issues are space and safety. I have to be able to get inside to buckle three or four kids into carseats. LATCH would be helpful. Renting a 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan now and not liking the cramped interior at all! The back seat is so small! But obviously I'm looking for something older and more affordable. Have heard bad things about both Chrysler and Dodge. And had my own bad experience with Chrysler. Interested in opinions since I don't really have time to get out there and test drive. I REALLY want stow and go seats and quad seating. I would love for all the seats to be able to fold down for hauling. Would like to be able to fit a full sheet of plywood in when folded down. Anything else would be a bonus. Will try to buy private to keep costs down. Suggestions???
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    I would recommend the 2004 to 2010 Sienna in 8 passenger trim. Those years the Sienna had the most LATCH positions available- 2 in the third row and 3 in the second row (with 8 passenger option) for a total of 5. The power train is reliable and 2007 and after has the most potent engine in the market. Our 2008 LE hasn't had any problems yet, but weaknesses from what I gather are the door hardware and water leaks around the rear hatch. Unlike the Honda, the Sienna 8 passenger will truly hold 8 adults comfortably.

    Stow-and-go 2nd row is a proprietary option for Chrysler so you aren't going to find it on anything but the Chrysler and Dodge models. Everyone except Nissan does stow the 3rd row in the floor. With the 2nd row removed the Sienna will comfortably hold a 4'x8' sheet flat on the floor in the rear.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,233
    The two better options for you are the Sienna (as mentioned above) and the 2005+ Odyssey. Problem is....$15k doesn't buy you much in the Honda/Toyota world. We sold our '05 Ody last spring with 100k miles for more than that. In that price/age range, the Ody feels more roomy. As mentioned above if you want folding 2nd row seats the Dodge/Chrysler is the only game in town.

    Since you mentioned wanting quad seats, you don't want the 8-pax version of the Sienna as recommended above. If anything the 8-pax versions just make it more difficult to get to the 3rd row when the 8th seat is installed. In the case of the Sienna, the 8-pax version also has smaller 2nd row buckets so it's not just a case of removing the 8th seat and having the same seats as the other models. If you really need 8-pax seating it's a great choice, but otherwise too many compromises in my book.

    When you say the "back seat is so small" on your rental Grand Caravan, are you speaking of the 2nd row seats or 3rd row? The 2nd row seats in the Dodge/Chrysler are smaller which is part of the folding Sto-n-go seats. No free lunches!!

    I think for your budget and needs...the Dodge/Chrysler really seem like the way to go. You can get into a much newer and lower mile model on that budget and still likely have warranty for awhile. The Dodge isn't as reliable per most published documents, but I don't believe the real-world difference is that huge. You're comparing your 12 year old model which most anything that old is going to have problems, even in the Honda/Toyota world.
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