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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: 1,367
    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...
  • 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: 3,231
    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: 3,231
    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: 3,231
    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: 3,231
    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
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