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Minivans - Domestic or Foreign

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  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Why doesn't Hyundai have the nav installed at the factory?
    They have had many years to copy the neat nav systems offered in the Odyssey. Toyota now has a nav system integrated into the Sienna dash as useful as the nav is in the Odyssey.
  • Now I have been spending a long time reading reviews on mini vans and I need some help here and opinions. I have read consumer reports, msn autos reliabity ratings, and JD power ratings. I tend to steer away from "consumer type reviews" because I have found that the syndrome of "if I own it, its the best" falls too much into play. I am really confused because each one lists different information.. :confuse: :confuse:

    For example looking at the Sienna reliability ratings I find the following (since everyone thinks that this van is the best most reliable thing on the road as far as mini vans are concerned):
    MSN Autos: 1998 - 2001 Engine problems, listed are engine replacement due to sludge, this is listed as a significant problem with a cost of almost $6,000. :lemon: It also lists the sliding doors on 1999 - 2001 cost around $400. :sick:
    JD Power on Edmunds gives the ratings of 5/5 on Mechanical Dependability on 2000, 4 out of 5 on Mechanical Dependability for 2001 -2003

    For comparison, I will look at the Pontiac Montana (which according to everyone is a big piece of junk)
    JD Powers on Edmunds gives the ratings of 4/5 on Mechanical Dependability for 2001-2004, 3/5 for 2000.
    MSN Autos lists for 2000-01 a PCS with a cost of $300. The other problem is a wiper arm cost of about $100.
    The 02 model has moderate problem with a fuel pressure regulator and crankshaft position sensory, a cost of about 200 for both parts, it also has a signficant problem with a transmission valve body with a cost of about $550. The 2003 model had a moderate problem of a torque convertor clutch and it costs about is around $700.

    So basically the Toyotas according the MSN Autos have some serious issues with engines and the Montana dependent on the year really may have only minor issues that can be repaired at a lower cost. Yet JD powers lists both of these pretty much at high reliabilty ratings.

    So I then ponder, how reliable are these ratings and how is this truely reflected in the price we as consumers are paying for these cars? In my book the Toyota with an complete engine replacement is far more severe than even a $500 or $1000 repair on the other model, but Toyota vans are given this golden privledge of "the most reliable".

    In fact when I was reading reviews left by consumers, some of the Hondas and Toyotas had some pretty severe problems like Engine rehauls and Transmission issues and the people gave them 9.5 out of 10. But the GM vehicles had problems like the cupholders broke, or the seats are too heavy and people rated them like a 6. Huh??

    Are we as consumers conditioned to beleive that in fact certain models of cars are "better" than others??? Even safety ratings are hyped up, when there are so many different variables involved in a crash that no one can really predict the safety of a car. Many consumers are not even aware of what those safety ratings truely mean. I was at the car lot the other day and the salesman was pitching to this young lady how safe this tiny little Honda Civic was because afterall it had 5 stars!!!! Well, yeah if it hit another Honda Civic at an exact location and at a certain speed it would be safe, but hit by even a mid-size family sedan and it could suffer another fate.

    We just had a horrific head on car crash in our county. A man and his two children in what should be a horrible car for safety according to IIHS and NHTSA. A mid-size family sedan hit a large pick up truck. The father and his two children walked away from the crash. The pickup truck driver wasn't wearing a seat belt and was thrown out and died at the scene. The picture in the paper of this car was scary. The entire thing was a ball of metal, yikes..

    So did they survive because of seat belts, or because their car had a certain safety rating, or just because they had an angel watching over them?

    Anyway, maybe someone can clear up the differences between all these ratings and help me make a better choice for my family :)
  • artgpoartgpo Posts: 483
    I think you will get lots of responses to your posting.
    Yes, people tend to give glowing reports about their own personal vehicles for whatever reason.

    Since 1983, we have owned seven different minivans from all over. The worst were a VW Vanagon and a Grand Caravan. The best were a recently traded '03 Silhouette and our current '06 Odyssey. The Silhouette suffered from fit and finish problems but through 53,000 miles was mechanically reliable. The Odyssey is a solid, well built, reliable, comfortable and great handling van. So far it has to be among the best vehicles we have owned and there have been a lot aside from the seven minivans.

    Consumer Reports, J.D. Power and the others combined can give you a good insight into the overall value of a vehicle. Carefully reading the posts here on Edmunds will give you a better, first hand account of ownership. Granted there a few people who life's mission is to tout their brand by denigrating all the others. I usually am concerned if a person adopts a user name containing their vehicle's brand name. Read ALL the posts and decide for yourself. I would not buy a van made by GM or Daimler-Chrysler because real world reliability based on personal experience tells me so. DCX is supposed to revamp their minis soon to have all the bells and whistles currently available from Honda, Toyota, Kia and Hyundai. I drive a Honda and my wife a 2005 Kia Sportage, both of which are head and shoulders above the competition for quality. Go and compare for yourself.

    I am not a crash expert but when it comes to safety I would like a fighting chance.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    I think you need to make sure you are not comparing apples to oranges. I have looked into the MSN ratings before and they are based on input from actual repairs at independent (i.e., not affilitated with the manufacturer) garages, whereas the others are based on owner's reports. It is my personal opinion, but I think the MSN ratings give more meaningful results, but unfortunately, they are not as up to date (if you are looking for new or nearly new) as the other sources, but that kind of makes sense, too, since people aren't taking their new cars to independent garages for repairs until the manufacturer's warranty expires.
  • hrngffcrhrngffcr Posts: 90
    Since we will be buying a minivan at the end of this year, and since I tend to research the daylights out of big purchases like that, I have been following minivans for over a year now. I think the best thing you can do, in light of competing reviews and opinions, is to look at general trends and play the percentages.

    In minivans, one general trend I found was that domestic vans, except perhaps for the Dodge/Chrysler, generally and across the board were knocked for poor interior materials, poor fit and finish, and, with rare exceptions, being uninspired. Again, there were some exceptions to each of those, but that was the general, across-the-board impression. For me, even at a lower price, those things are important. They may not be for you, especially based on your budget.

    After narrowing the list somewhat that way, I went and sat in and examined the remaining vans (the Hyundai and Kia more recently than the others). I crossed off the Dodge/Chrysler for various personal reasons (interior color choice, no roll down second row windows, don't like seats in stow-and-go, nav system small and low in dash, still use a four-speed transmission, engine size/power, etc) and because, generally, from all of my research, there appears to be an ongoing, over the years, problems with the transmissions. Those personal dislikes of mine may not be a problem for you. You, like a lot of people may like a gray interior. I think it makes the interior look smaller.

    I liked the looks and size of the Mazda MPV, but it didn't have a lot of the bells and whistles we have gotten used to in our current cars (heated seats, memory seats, auto climate control, etc). This is an example of the need to do long-term, wide-spread research. There were several places, including Consumer Reports, that downgraded the MPV for tranny problems. While it did initially have problems, research revealed it was only a software, not hardware, problem that was easily solved by having the dealer reflash the computer module.

    The Toyota, Honda, and Nissan (especially with new model changes) are all basically fine vehicles. The general trends, as opposed to a few people touting their own car, or trashing all vehicles that are not their own car, are that each of those vehicles (once Nissan worked out their initial quality problems) are interesting good quality vehicles. While I have some personal issues with the Odyssey (third row window does not open, memory seat controls only the seat, not the mirrors, and the PAX tires std if get the fully loaded Ody), those vehicles are not at the top of my list primarily because, in my opinion, they do not present the best value for the money.

    I became sold on the new Sedona, and then the Entourage after my research showed that every car website and review I have found have said that especially the current generation of Hyundai and Kia vehicles are high quality and well-built vehicles. Both of their vans have all the bells and whistles I want (actually most known to vandom except a factory nav system) and they are priced several thousand dollars less than comparably equipped Hondas, Toyotas, or Nissans. Being reasonably confident in the quality (including long warranty), liking all the features available (including almost all safety features available in a non-exotic luxury vehicle), and with the lower price, that's why I intend to buy one of those vans.

    As far as safety, there are no absolutes, you have to play the percentages. Sure, all the safety features and the biggest vehicle in the world may not save you, and you may walk away from an accident even though driving a Yugo and not wearing a seat belt. But the percentages say that you improve your chances of walking away from an accident by buying a vehicle that has done better in crash tests than other vehicles, by wearing your seat belt, and by driving defensively.
  • mrblonde49mrblonde49 Posts: 626
    "I drive a Honda and my wife a 2005 Kia Sportage, both of which are head and shoulders above the competition for quality. "

    Just wondering - what competitors do you think the Sportage is head and shoulders above?
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    CR is absolutely NOT Reliable :sick: and "NOT Recommended for purchase". Read the test results and compare the actual data with the biased, distorted written portion.

    For accuracy, read in the Owner's Problems Forums for the various minivans here in the Town Hall. Read what actual owners report as problems and ignore comments made by owners of other brands.

    Keep in mind that Odyssey owners are more likely to post problems than owners of lesser brands like Sedona since they have higher expectations and there are many times more Odysseys on the road than Sedonas. Sienna owners don't participate much in the Town Hall so you won't find as many complaints...but you also won't find as much discussion in the Sienna forums as you will in Odyssey forums.
  • mrblonde49mrblonde49 Posts: 626
    The Sienna you are looking at is a cxpmpletely different van than the new one, so the issues there aren't really relevent. Unless you are only looking at used vans. Not sure, you didn't say.

    You have to realize that these ratings are all statistical. In general, one model will be more relaible than another. But it's just saying what is more likely to happen. That doesn't mean much when you are talking about a single car. I have a 2004 T&C which is supposed to be only average reliability wise. I have had zero issues in 2 years. A person with an Odyssey could have had to go to the shop 10 times in 2 years. Another angle is that the differences in reliability could be very slight. One compay could have "20 defects every 100 cars, and another could have 40." Sounds like it's a big difference, but it probably is not - .2 defects per car vs .4. Cars in general are much more reliable than ever before.

    Crash test ratings are the same way. Doesn't mean that you walk away from a bad wreck in a poorly tested car, or that you'll survive on in a safe car. Because there are so many variable in every crash. But statistically, they are good in telling you what's your best chance to stay safe.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Ask people who own the brand you are considering.
    I have read the :sick: trash that CR publishes claiming DC minivans are not reliable but people who own and drive DC minivans tell me the DC minivans are reliable. Many have bought 3rd or 4th DC minivan because of complete satisfaction.
    My sister just got a used 2005 GC SE because her 1986 Caravan had 170,000 miles with no problems before they sold it and got a Ford Explorer to tow their camper. Another friend has 90,000 trouble free miles on his 2000 GC LE...after owning 2 previous DC minivans.
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    Ironically, CR's reliability surveys are also submitted by people who own and drive DC minivans. I have frequently discussed flaws in CR's methods, mostly because they exaggerate small differences. Even so, drawing conclusions from personal and internet anecdotes and owner reports is even more flawed than Consumer Reports if you are going to nitpick flaws in reporting reliability.
  • artgpoartgpo Posts: 483
    Just about any vehicle its size. It may not be better than the RAV-4 and CR-V but it is at least equal based on our ownership.
  • mrblonde49mrblonde49 Posts: 626
    Just about any vehicle its size. It may not be better than the RAV-4 and CR-V but it is at least equal based on our ownership. "

    OK, but that's a lot different than saying "head and shoulders above the competition for quality. "
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    CR Surveys have very little correlation to the real world. People who use CR to make their buying decision will buy the item CR recommends.
    CR will NEVER have any credibility with reliability data until actual numbers of respondents, actual number of problems, cost to repair the problem, etc. are included.
  • artgpoartgpo Posts: 483
    It is when you compare it to Avalanche, Torrent, Jeep Liberty and Escape.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I wonder how much the dealer would ask for their system, and if it will be covered by the Hyundai warranty.
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    CR is absolutely NOT Reliable and "NOT Recommended for purchase". Read the test results and compare the actual data with the biased, distorted written portion.

    Totally Agree!! Just check out the latest issue with Sport Sedans. The Lexus IS350/250 are totally brand new vehicles this year, as is the BMW325i sedan. In the rating section, under predicted reliability the totally new Lexus is given a solid red circle for "excellent", the BMW is given "New". Shouldn't both be "New", and the Lexus sells in much smaller quantities than a 3 series, and therefore should have less realiability data available!

    Also note that they purposely show more pics of the Lexus...on the cover and first page of the comparison!!
  • I think you will get lots of responses to your posting

    Yep and I sure did, lol.

    Carefully reading the posts here on Edmunds will give you a better, first hand account of ownership.

    I have and each forum I go to it seems there really is an equal amount of cons and pros to each model. It makes the entire process really difficult.

    I would not buy a van made by GM or Daimler-Chrysler because real world reliability based on personal experience tells me so... The best were a recently traded '03 Silhouette

    I guess you got me confused here. You said the best minivans you had was a Silhouette, which is a GM vehicle. So why would you not buy a van made by GM??

    I am not a crash expert but when it comes to safety I would like a fighting chance.

    But that is just it, the ratings are misleading to many consumers because they are only valid if you are hit by a similar vehicle. If you get hit by a huge SUV in your Toyota those crash test ratings are totally not applicable. They are in essense saying if you get hit by another Toyota then thes are the results. How can that provide a true safety rating??

    Anyway, I can't afford to buy new cars every three years. I need a reliable basic vehicle. Im not even looking for bells whistles and such.

    I have a very short list of preferences that include: 4 doors (not including tailgate) with our without automatic sliding, front and rear air conditioning, cruise control, captains chairs in the second row, extended version (im 5'9", my children are extremely tall and the rest of the family is around 6'4" so leg room is essential), mechanical reliabilty and decent gas mileage (which is why I can't and won't buy a Kia Sedona, the gas mileage is HORRIBLE). Bells and whistles break and that is something I do not want, plain and simple.

    Anyway, thanks for your input. It really is greatly appreciated.
  • In minivans, one general trend I found was that domestic vans, except perhaps for the Dodge/Chrysler, generally and across the board were knocked for poor interior materials, poor fit and finish, and, with rare exceptions, being uninspired.

    Well I would say that Dodge/Chrysler is an exception to that rule. I just got done reading the Dodge/Chysler forum and wow, I would never purchase one used based on those reviews, lol.

    the current generation of Hyundai and Kia vehicles are high quality and well-built vehicles.

    Now I have mixed fellings about hyundai and kia. My friend just bought an optima and its a big piece of garbage. It rides horribly and she had in the shop after a month because it wouldn't start. On the flip side another friend has an older kia and it has run really really well for her and has minimal repairs.

    Anyway, thanks much for your input. Appreciated.
  • CR is absolutely NOT Reliable and "NOT Recommended for purchase". Read the test results and compare the actual data with the biased, distorted written portion.

    I noticed that when I was reading them today. I also noticed that if the model was not completely gimped up with all available junk for that model year they complained and complained.

    Keep in mind that Odyssey owners are more likely to post problems than owners of lesser brands like Sedona since they have higher expectations and there are many times more Odysseys on the road than Sedonas. Sienna owners don't participate much in the Town Hall so you won't find as many complaints...but you also won't find as much discussion in the Sienna forums as you will in Odyssey forums.

    Maybe they are posting more because there are truely more problems and issues with their vans??? I have found in my many years online that most typically people who are complaining are doing so because of a problem, not a praise. I would think that anyone who purchased a car for thousands and thousands of dollars would expect their van to perform regardless of the brand name and thus would report problems. I highly doubt that Odyssey owners are reported more problems because they expect more out of their vans.
  • Unless you are only looking at used vans

    Yes totally looking at used vans. I have not enough cash flow to purchase a new van.

    You have to realize that these ratings are all statistical

    Yes and I should have remembered that any statistical data can be manipulated the way the publisher wants it to be manipulated.

    Another angle is that the differences in reliability could be very slight.

    I think this is a good point you made. These places do not actually post their statistical data numbers. They signify with dots systems and out of scores. Well how do I know that the Gm line has a signficantly different reliablity rating from a toyota? One doesn't because you can't even see the actual data. That is like saying, "Joe received a B and Bob received an A. So logically most people would think that Bob is so much smarter than Joe. But if we could see the data we would see that Joe's be was a 89.9% and Joe's was 90%. Big deal, we could then say that both students are basically equivalent to each other.

    But statistically, they are good in telling you what's your best chance to stay safe

    No they actually are telling you that your best chance to stay safe in a crash with your cars twin. That is the part that really is misleading. Just because your car has a 5 star crash rating does not mean in any crash your car will perform well. That part is really misleading consumers.
  • mrblonde49mrblonde49 Posts: 626
    No they actually are telling you that your best chance to stay safe in a crash with your cars twin. That is the part that really is misleading. Just because your car has a 5 star crash rating does not mean in any crash your car will perform well. That part is really misleading consumers. "

    2 points: If you are shopping for a minivan, that really doesn't matter in your particular case. But I see what you mean.

    Also, a smaller car may not fare as well in a crash as a similarly safety rated larger vehicle, but in many cases, you'll have a much better chance at avoiding it with much more nimble handling, shorter stopping distances due to weight, etc...
  • artgpoartgpo Posts: 483
    My post was misleading. The Silhouette was reliable mechanically but it was not a good example of fit and finish. It had a decent ride until I drove the Odyssey. The day I bought the Silhouette I must have been abducted by aliens because it had a horrible IIHS crash test rating. When I checked the IIHS web site I discovered that the '03 Silhouette had the lowest premium for insurance of ANY vehicle at the time. Perhaps it was a "geezer mobile"?

    I am happy with my Odyssey. My son-in-law just traded his '04 VW Touareg (talk about crud) for an '06 Pilot so I have become a missionary for Honda.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    When are you going to dump the Kia Sportage and get a Honda CR-V or Honda Element? :blush:
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    "CR Surveys have very little correlation to the real world. People who use CR to make their buying decision will buy the item CR recommends.
    CR will NEVER have any credibility with reliability data until actual numbers of respondents, actual number of problems, cost to repair the problem, etc. are included."


    All fair critiques, though again, results for each model are provided by owners of that model, unless you suspect people of submitting information on the wrong vehicle.

    Yet, my point is that anecdotal accounts from owners in person or on the internet are even worse in all these regards. Even if CR's results have marginal statistical meaning, on the same basis you could argue that scanning Edmunds forums for reliability results has absolutely no statistical meaning. For example, if you believe people submit information on the wrong vehicle at Consumer Reports, you must realize some troll could submit numerous accounts to discredit another model in a public forum.
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    "No they actually are telling you that your best chance to stay safe in a crash with your cars twin. That is the part that really is misleading. Just because your car has a 5 star crash rating does not mean in any crash your car will perform well. That part is really misleading consumers."

    Actually, both the NHTSA and IIHS have correlated their crash test results to real world crash fatalties, showing that higher rated vehicles do indeed protect their passengers better on the roads. You can find these studies on their websites.

    For me, I'll still take my chances with a 5-star or "Good" model than a "3-star" or "Marginal" model. Why should I think a vehicle that does a mediocre job in the most common types of crashes (those simulated by the crash tests) will fair any better in crashes that vary somewhat? The vehicle manufacturers know the exact parameters of these standard crash tests. If they can't design a car to do well in these common impacts, why should I think they have put time or money making it crashworthy in other scenarios and miss the great marketing of top crash results?

    http://www.informedforlife.org is a great resource that takes weight, rollover risk, crash ratings and some other inputs to produce an overall rating comparable among all classes of vehicles. It's all based on published studies. You may not like it or believe it, but the calculations all have a basis in real world statistics and publsihed studies.
  • artgpoartgpo Posts: 483
    I know this has nothing to do with minivan shopping but you asked. We looked at the CR-V, Element and RAV-4 in April, 2005, when in the market. We actually drove the CR-V to the Kia dealer and did a side-by-side comparison (as did the entire dealer's sales staff). Dollar for dollar there was no comparison, the Kia just offered more for less. So far, after over 13,000 miles the Sportage has been reliable and mechanically sound. There are no squeaks or rattles and the fit and finish is very good. there was one major problem, repaired under warranty and that was a leaking sunroof. The entire sunroof and water stained sun shield were replaced by Kia under warranty. My wife averages 21 mpg in the mixed driving she does.

    Did I answer all the questions?
  • aaron_taaron_t Posts: 301
    I crossed off the Dodge/Chrysler for various personal reasons (interior color choice, no roll down second row windows, don't like seats in stow-and-go, nav system small and low in dash, still use a four-speed transmission, engine size/power, etc) and because, generally, from all of my research, there appears to be an ongoing, over the years, problems with the transmissions. Those personal dislikes of mine may not be a problem for you. You, like a lot of people may like a gray interior. I think it makes the interior look smaller.


    The DCX twins are available with grey or khaki interior, although grey is vastly more common. I have a 2005 T&C touring with the khaki interior. The DCX pushrod 3.8L has more torque than the 3.5L Ody under 4500rpm. That doesn't mean you should consider buying DCX, but you should know what the facts are.
  • aaron_taaron_t Posts: 301
    I've seen new leftover 2005 model DGC SXT's advertised for $16k. Right now, I could get a 2006 for $19k. I wouldn't pay more than $10k for a 2003 non-StoNGo DCX van.
  • http://www.informedforlife.org is a great resource that takes weight, rollover risk, crash ratings and some other inputs to produce an overall rating comparable among all classes of vehicles.

    Thanks for the website. My point is proven within the first page on a link to the article titled "5-star ratings are not good enough!" These crash ratings given by IIHS and NHtSA are extremely misleading to customers. See below from article:

    Also, the laws of physics apply to all vehicles, and the relative weight of your vehicle in multi-vehicle accidents has been demonstrated to be a very significant factor in determining your survivability. Despite the importance of weight however both NHTSA and IIHS simply advise you not to compare frontal crash test ratings between vehicles from different weight classes. Then how do you compare the relative safety of a 2,500 lb. passenger car rated 5-stars for front and side impact with a 4,000 lb. SUV rated 4-stars; or a passenger car rated 3-stars for rollover resistance vs. one that has not been rated?

    All of this confusion has provided the automotive advertising industry with great material. Nowadays it is commonplace to watch or hear an automotive ad proclaim “five-star” crash ratings. Sometimes we are told a vehicle is “best pick”, or even "double-best pick", by the Insurance Institute. While these statements are undoubtedly technically correct they only tell a small part of what is needed to identify a safe vehicle. Contrary to what you might believe, there are tremendous differences in the relative safety among vehicles, as evidenced by up to 30:1 variation in fatality rates, and knowing how to select the safest vehicle may save your life. These shortcomings are the reason the risk index SCORE (Statistical Combination Of Risk Elements) was created.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,233
    The DCX pushrod 3.8L has more torque than the 3.5L Ody under 4500rpm.

    What makes the difference? If it can't put the power to the ground, the paper specs mean diddly. It's slower than the Odyssey, no way around it. Slower to 30, 60, 30-50, 50-70....where's all this torque? DC drivetrains have been sucking excessive amounts of power for decades. Performance may not matter to you, but it obviously does to others (and myself). The Ody was the first minivan I would consider because it broke into the somewhat acceptable handling/power department. If it's going to wallow around and go slow, I'll just buy a big fat SUV.
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