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Minivans - Domestic or Foreign



  • maryh3maryh3 Posts: 263
    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt".

    I may be out of my territory here and perhaps I don't understand but when I looked at the various brochures it seemed to indicate that they were made to offset effects for front end collisions. I question how much affect they have when it really counts -- read end collisions. Having been rear ended twice in my van and suffering mild whip lash -- I think these head rests are just window dressing.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'm not totally clear on what changes they made, either, to be honest.

    IIHS safety data does seem to sell cars, though. They're touted in many car commercials.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Are they warranted for the life of the vehicle?

    I have not seen any Toyota ads that provide a lifetime warranty like Chrysler has. :shades:
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    The best solution are active head restraints that sense an impact and move forward to lessen whiplash. I know Saab has them in their cars, maybe BMW and Mercedes? I don't know who else. This gives you comfort and protection but cost more to manufacture.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That comes with a catch. Two, actually.

    First, you have to have periodic inspections of you powertrain for it to qualify for that "warranty".

    Second, there is a $50 deductible for each problem that occurs, I believe.

    Basically you'll have to pay more for dealer servicing in the long-term for that coverage to remain valid.

    So it's not quite free, as you might expect.

    It is a step in the right direction, but a prospective buyer should be aware of those two hitches.
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    You have to have an powertrain inspection every 5 years at no charge, within a 60 day period - not too demanding. They say on the website - no deductibles, and you need to do periodic maintainance...i.e.. oil changes, fluids.

    Here's what I found on Chrysler's site:

    # Q4: Are there specific provisions to the new warranty?
    # A4. In order to maintain the Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty, you must have a powertrain inspection performed by an authorized Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge dealer once every 5 years. This inspection, performed at no charge, must be made within 60 days of each 5-year anniversary of the warranty start date of the vehicle. It is your responsibility to perform preventative maintenance on your vehicle. You’re strongly encouraged to follow the instructions contained in the Scheduled Maintenance Service guidelines in your Owner’s Manual.

    # Q5: When does the new warranty coverage take effect?
    # A5: The Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty begins at the end of the 3-year/36,000-mile Basic Limited Warranty.
    # Q6: Why is Chrysler changing its warranty coverage?
    # A6: Our confidence level in our vehicles is very high. Our dealers are telling us that our products are the best quality they've seen in a very, very long time – maybe ever. So, we'd like to take this level of confidence and share it with you, our customers. This new powertrain warranty demonstrates our commitment to you as a Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge customer and the confidence we have in our ability to produce quality, reliable and durable vehicles. We want you to feel that same confidence.
    # Q7: Are any Chrysler vehicles excluded?
    # A7: Vehicles that are not covered under the new Lifetime Powertrain Warranty include SRT models, Diesel vehicles, Sprinter models, Ram Chassis Cab and certain fleet vehicles.
    # Q8: What about second owners of the vehicle?
    # A8: Subsequent owners or lessees, even if they are within the same family or business, are not covered. Successor business entities or persons to whom the vehicle is transferred by operation of law are also not covered. Chrysler offers extended service contracts for purchase for second owners of Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles.
    # Q9: Why did you choose to make this program non-transferable?
    # A9: Our internal research data confirmed that the transferability take rate (available on the 7-year/70,000-mile warranty program) was low. We are providing peace-of-mind to the original owner who made the investment in our Chrysler product. Our competitors, Hyundai/KIA/Mitsubishi that offer what was considered the benchmark in long-term powertrain warranty (10 years/100,000 miles), only extend it to the original owner. With the announcement of the Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty, Chrysler will be the new benchmark in long-term powertrain warranty.
    # Q10: How does your new lifetime powertrain warranty coverage compare to your competitors?
    # A10: We are the first and only OEM to offer a lifetime powertrain warranty.
    # Q11: What is different from your 7-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty to the new Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty?
    # A11: The 7/70 warranty included a deductible per repair visit, and coverage was transferable for a fee of $150. The new lifetime warranty has no deductible and is not transferable.
    # Q12: If I purchased my vehicle on July 24 or 25, am I still eligible for the new lifetime limited warranty?
    # A12: No. However, Chrysler Service Contracts offers a Lifetime Powertrain service contract that is similar to the Company’s new powertrain warranty program. For 60 days, this plan will be offered at a great value to you if you own a 2006 MY and 2007 MY Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge vehicle with the 3/36 basic limited warranty coverage.
    # Q13: How long will this new Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty be offered on Chrysler vehicles?
    # A13: At this time, we plan to continue this warranty program through the 2008 MY.
    # Q14: How can I learn more about Chrysler’s new Lifetime Powertrain Warranty?
    # A14: Initially, warranty details will be provided as a supplement to the current vehicle Warranty Information Books. Revised warranty books for future vehicles are currently under development. Customers may also visit, and for more information.
    # Q15: Is towing included in the new Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty program?
    # A15: No. Our research indicates that most consumers have independent towing service plans such as AAA.
    # Q16. Are Mexico, Canada and International markets offering the new Lifetime Powertrain Warranty?
    # A16: No. This is a U.S. program only.
    # Q17: Is this just a marketing promotion to drive traffic to your dealerships?
    # A17: No. This demonstrates our commitment to improved quality on all our vehicles. This isn't a rebate or financing incentive. We stand behind our products with capital investment in facilities and technology. Our warranty programs exemplify our investment in powertrain. It's a move of strength.
    # Q18: What does 'lifetime' mean?
    # A18: Lifetime is lifetime.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    A clarification:

    My 2002 T&C LX had a 7 year 100,000 mile Powertrain Warranty that was transferred within the family at NO COST.

    I think the new Lifetime Warranty was conceived to promote sales since the 7 year 100,000 mile Powetrain Warranty helped me decide to buy the T&C. The Chrysler statements concerning the Lifetime Powertrain Warranty remind me too much of statements made by politicians where truth is manipulated. :shades:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Dennis: thanks for clarifying.

    I guess Dodge dealers could use that inspection to recommend ATF fluid changes and other service, but by that interval you'd be wise to follow their advice anyway.

    It's just that I do my own service when I can, keeping receipts of course. I wouldn't want to be forced in to a dealer for an inspection, then have them tell me I need a bunch of things done by them. Hopefully at least they give you a list of items after the inspection, and you can take care of them wherever you'd choose.

    I'm not too worried - I've had quotes for a 7/100 bumper-to-bumper warranty from Toyota in the $700 range, and just $585 for a 7/75k since I don't drive that many miles per year. My van shows no signs of having problems, so I'll play it by ear, then decide towards the end of my 3/36 warranty. After that the pricing goes up, of course.

    I'm not too worried about the powertrain - it's things like power sliding doors that can cost a small fortune to fix. At least the Sienna's can be disabled, and you can use the doors like normal manual sliding doors.
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    I think it's getting to the point where you'll almost have to take it to dealer for everything, especially with the maintainance monitors appearing in more and more cars. I know on my BMW, the dealer would have to reset the oil monitor, and even if they didn't change the oil, they'd charge for resetting it!!!!

    I know Dodge designed their sliding door to work manually or with power assist issue there.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Dodge/Chrysler power sliding doors work better than my Sienna power sliding doors when opened or closed manually. :shades:
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Really? That's insane! On the Odyssey (and all Honda vehicles with this device, and I'd hope other mainstream companies including DCX, Nissan, and Toyota as well) the procedure to reset the oil-life monitor is easy, and even included in the owner's manual. It involves turning the key to the II (on) position and holding the trip/reset button for ten seconds. That's it! :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Same for the Sienna. You have to be on the odometer view. Hold the button, turn the key to On, wait 5 seconds. It blinks 000000 on the odometer, and that resets the service light.

    I think the light itself is a great idea. It's hard to ignore, and it just wouldn't feel right to reset it without doing the service needed.

    I think for BMW you need a tool. I've seen it for sale in the back of C&D, in the classifieds.
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    That's why I sold my BMW and bought my 1963 Corvair Coupe :)

    No Resetting Here!!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    One of my co-workers has 2, one a convertible. They're very unique. He even drives it to work a lot of the time.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    ateixeira: Where did you get efficiency numbers in the Car& Driver comparison? All I can find in the article is the EPA ratings.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It was in the print copy. The Sienna got 19mpg, the Chrysler van got 18mpg.

    Still, the Ody only got 16, and some other vans returned a dismal 14mpg.

    Clearly the others had a lot of trouble keeping up with the quickest two vans - the Sienna and GC/T&C. ;)
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    Thanks. I might try and find a copy then. We are now actively looking at minivans (as opposed to me just looking at cars, as I like to do) and I dragged the wife out to do test drives over the weekend. I don't need to purchase until the end of summer, so we have time, but I am putting together my list of pros and cons for each van. I'll publish in this forum what I put together.

    The mileage reference was because I noticed the Odyssey would not hold speed and stay in ECO mode. I already test drove one and got a feel for the power and this time I wanted to play with the ECO light and found to keep it going at a steady speed I had to put enough throttle that it turned off the light. At all the speed ranges I drove (35 to 65mph) to keep the ECO light caused me to lose speed. If that's the way it is going to work, the VCM seems pretty well useless.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    We spent 4 days with some friends in Tucson that own an Ody, and they let me drive it. I noticed the same thing. The ECO light pretty much only went on when coasting or slowing down. I believe my Sienna cuts off the fuel in those situations anyway (my trip computer pegs to 99mpg the instant I let off the gas).

    I think Honda has revised VCM for this year, so maybe it's improved.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    FWIW, the ECO light and the VCM are not entirely tied together. I don't believe the VCM is ever active though without the ECO light on, however the ECO light can be on and VCM not. With that tidbit out of the way.....

    We have about 35k miles on our '05 Ody. There are a lot of factors that play into when the VCM operates. MY experience with MY Ody is that when new it seemed to have a rather tight engine. We had test drove at some length the dealers demo car which had around 3,000 miles. When we took delivery of our van, it seemed like power was a little off and mpg initially was poor. Both improved as the miles piled on and VCM operated more as well. We recently made a 400 mile round-trip and there were stretches of flat and mild inclines that VCM remained active at 70mph. This was with five passengers and cargo. I also noted that running west the VCM was not nearly as active (head winds were strong) and coming back it ran a lot more. We averaged 26mpg for that trip which is about the best we've done. I was intentially keeping the speed down, as I normally run more into the 75-80mph range and we usually get 24mpg.

    That being said, I totally believe VCM benefits the EPA sticker (and CAFE requirements) more than real world. No doubt it helps some, but I have my doubts the cost/benefit is really there. Replacing one of those fancy engine mounts will probably cost more than the fuel savings, but I'm just a born cynic..
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Perhaps what offsets the gains by VCM is the shorter gearing of those models, compared to the engines without VCM.

    I think they did that so that it could still pull the van with 3 cylinders. Revs are higher, though, in normal operation.

    Of course the gear shift mapping could compensate for that.

    Let's see if 2008 owners, with revisions, notice any improvement.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    The van we test drove was a 2008 Limited (since we only wanted to test drive we didn't specify a trim, so they brought out their best). It did only have 35 miles at the start so a tight engine could be an explanation for the ECO behavior.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    As part of our family decision making on big purchases my wife and I put together pro and con lists to decide between our options. With a third child on the way, our Subaru Legacy wagon is getting too small and we need to consider something with third row seating. The most practical option is the minivan.

    This is our list of pros and cons for the big 3 minivans: Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey and Dodge Grand Caravan.

    First the pros common to almost all minivans on the market (unless otherwise noted in the cons):
    Many, many cup holders
    magic third row
    Traction and/or Stability control
    Grocery bag holders
    V6 engine
    Front Airbags
    Side Airbags
    5 star crash ratings
    Cabin air filtration
    Dual power sliding doors
    Remote entry
    tinted windows
    Cruise control
    Conversation mirror
    Dual front ACC
    optional leather seat
    optional 110V AC outlets
    optional front seat heaters
    Optional power liftgate
    Optional Bluetooth
    Optional Nav system

    Dodge Caravan:
    Standout features:
    Swivel'nGo and Fold'nGo options
    Dual DVD screens
    Satellite TV
    HDD based entertainment system

    Adjustable petals
    6 speed transmission
    Lifetime powertrain warranty
    optional self leveling suspension
    Ambient lighting
    Underfloor storage
    Sliding console for 1st and 2nd rows
    Remote start
    Power fold 3rd row
    Sunshades 2nd & 3rd rows
    2nd row seat heaters

    Reliability reputation
    Questionable company future
    200+ HP engine only available in top trim
    Single LATCH position in 3rd row
    Resale value
    Clunky transmission
    Busy engine sounds
    SwivelNGo crams too much into small area
    Terrible 3rd row
    Seating not comfortable for small driver

    Honda Odyssey
    Standout options:
    PAX runflat tires
    +1 2nd row seat
    Remote window opening

    8 passenger seating
    Underfloor storage
    Best rated gas milage
    Telescopic steering wheel
    Resale value
    Full independent suspension
    Smallest turn radius
    Straightforward options/trims
    Sunshades 2nd row
    Transmission troubles in prior years
    Worst mileage in MT test.
    Loud on highway
    No 3rd row vent windows
    Single LATCH position in 3rd row
    Jumbled controls
    Brake feel

    Toyota Sienna:
    Standout options:
    Front and center 2nd row seat
    Most powerful engine & torque
    Adaptive cruise control

    8 passenger seating
    High reliability
    Largest cargo area
    Telescopic steering wheel
    Resale value
    Best mileage in MT test
    Power fold 3rd row
    Sunshades 2nd & 3rd rows
    Windshield deicer
    Smooth transmission
    Quiet engine
    Best seat comfort
    Intuitive control arrangement
    Door weld problems on prior years
    4 star frontal crash test
    Option packaging

    If there are things I missed (i'm sure there are), fee free to point them out.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Nice list.

    A couple of questions/comments:

    Sienna offers run-flats, too, did you mean to single out the PAX ones as being better? They probably are.

    Do the other models offer HID headlights? I ask because I'm not sure.

    I have an 07 Sienna. To address the cons you list, when I made my choice:

    Door weld problems on prior years

    2004-2006 models, plus Toyota is covering those.

    4 star frontal crash test

    4/5/5/5 stars from NHTSA is not bad at all. IIHS gives it the best score possible, too.

    Option packaging

    So true, even the brochures don't get it straight. I recommend "Auto 2008" from Consumer's Guide (not the same people as Consumer's Union, which publishes Consumer Reports).
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    These are our personal impressions of the 3 vans. My wife is a small woman 5'4", 110lbs and I am 6ft, 190lbs and we need a vehicle that fits both of us comfortably. I enjoy test driving, and I'm can be a little childlike in my appreciation for gee-whiz gadgets and technology. My wife endures test drives only as needed and while I'm ooh-ing and ah-ing over the toys she is critically appraising what she sees and feels.
    (part 1 of 3)
    Dodge Caravan: I was taken in with gadgets and options on this one and my wife was expecting to like it best too. I also had some rah rah feeling for the home team, especially with an uncle who works for Chrysler who has offered to get a discount in the past (he was excited to see us driving a Caliber at New Years until he found out it was a rental). We both have scratched the Dodge/Chrysler twins off our list, she did so adamantly- she wouldn't take one if they were giving them away.

    Driving position: My wife concluded the driver’s seat is designed for the grossly obese; I was OK with it but not thrilled. The headrest pushes the head forward, forcing us to slouch. The little woman found herself sliding side to side in the seat over a hump in the middle and the side bolsters pushed her arms forward in an uncomfortable way. She also didn't like the feel of the control surfaces (especially the steering wheel) and it didn’t help that the showroom model we started with was showing a lot of wear and tear from people like us pawing over it. Her summation of the van: clunky.

    Rear seats: The dealer said they did not have any Stow'NGo models for her to look at, only Swivel'NGo though I had seen the Fold'NGo on my independent trip. The second row captain’s chairs weren't bad, but were not as comfortable as the seats in either the Toyota or the Honda. With the 2nd row swiveled backwards there is not enough room for me to put either the drivers seat or the swivel seat into a comfortable position as their backs are right up against each other. Also with the seats swiveled everyone has too play footsies since there is not enough room in between for 4 pairs of feet.

    The third row is awful. The seat is so deep my wife could not sit back in it and bend her knees. While she could find a place for her small feet under the second row seat, I had no such luck with the big immovable base leaving me no opportunities to put my shoes comfortably on the floor.

    The third row seems strictly for small children who can sit in the seat with their legs sticking straight out- except for one problem. These days children are constrained by law to car seats or booster seats until they are 7 or 8 years old and by then they won't be anymore comfortable in these seats than we adults are. Further, one would expect a vehicle designed for the family market would have more than a single LATCH seating position in the 3rd row. Sure they can be strapped in the old fashioned way, but then why have LATCH at all?

    It just seems like they are trying to do too much with too little space. The Chrysler has similar exterior dimensions, even slightly larger, but they are not nearly so efficient with the space. Compounding that is neat ideas like Swivel'NGo that need space to work. I found myself constantly banging my knees and getting my feet caught in places and neither of us found ingress or egress to the third row easy. Even if we don’t sit there, we still need to get back there to get boys buckled in properly.

    Driving: With a six speed transmission, I expected the Caravan to be smooth and with the way they market the "quiet steel" I expected it to be quiet- it was neither. In stark contrast to the Toyota we drove an hour before, the transmission was amazingly abrupt with every gear change and the roar of the 4.0L engine made sure you knew it was working.

    It did certainly get up and go, but this was the 4.0L engine on the top of the line model. This is the only engine that can compete with the rest of the minivan market and buyers have to pony up a lot of money to get to it. This should be standard on all their minivans except maybe the most base economy model where the 3.3L might give them price/fuel economy bragging rights.

    Overall impression was that this drives like a much bigger vehicle than the Toyota or Honda. The steering takes a lot of motion to elicit the desired response and the body leans a lot on curves. It didn't make me sick like the minivans of yore, but it wasn't fun to ride in either.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    Not listing the run flats was one part oversight and one part ambivalence. I should list it since it is something some people want and I didn't limit the standout options/pros/cons to what I want to get. But I feel run flats come with as much baggage as benefit. The baggage is that they are expensive, wearout fast, make a harsher ride and (I believe) the space for a spare is eliminated in vehicles so equipped.

    The T&C offers HID on the Limited trim but the Dodge doesn't. I don't think the Honda offers it on any trim either.

    I'm not saying that 4 stars is terrible, but when everyone else (even Kia/Hyundai and Nissan) has 5 stars it is notable. Especially since I listed 5 stars as a common feature to minivans.

    The biggest problem with the options on the Sienna is that they change by region and if the option combination you want is not sold in your region you're out of luck. It makes no sense to me.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    (post 3451 continued, 2 of 3)
    Honda Odyssey: This is the minivan we see most often around us. All of our friends and acquaintances in this area who have minivans have a Honda Odyssey. My inlaws even have an old Odyssey (with swinging read doors). There is certainly nothing terribly objectionable about the minivan consistently given top-dog ranking by the professional reviewers.

    But for all the hype, it wasn’t the slam dunk best van. We may very well buy one depending on what we find available and the price. Honda starts at a disadvantage on price since we can meet our minimum requirements on a Sienna more about $2k less than the Odyssey (although that Odyssey has more features, they go beyond our requirements). However the Odyssey trims are neatly packaged, easily deciphered and available, unlike the Sienna.

    Driving position: Seat comfort was good for both of us. Odyssey seat position felt the best to me since the seat adjustment went the lowest of the three (on the Caravan and Sienna I was constantly trying to make the seat go lower). The steering wheel felt good and gave excellent feedback. We did feel like we had bigger blind spots in the Odyssey than the other minivans though.

    The scattershot controls were probably our biggest objection to the Odyssey. They brought us a fully loaded Touring to test drive with buttons everywhere and didn’t seem to have much logic to where they were. We constantly were looking around for the switches or buttons and hitting the wrong ones. It also makes the dash look cluttered and unattractive.

    Rear Seats: With the exception of the mother-in-law seat (aka plusone seat), all the seating positions were accessible and comfortable. The plusone wasn’t terrible, but I wouldn’t want to impose it on anyone over the age of 12 for too long and it doesn’t make a good place to put a car seat. It did have a handy console though.

    Again I was disappointed to find only one LATCH seating position in the third row again- for a family oriented vehicle this is a real shortcoming. We also found the anchor positions the most difficult to get to of the three vans as they were buried in the seat cushions. My wife also found the Odyssey to be the heaviest 3rd row to lift out once folded.

    Getting in and out of the back wasn’t bad, but we did find that the second row seat kept getting stuck in the far forward position. I don’t know if this was a defect of this particular van, or if this is common, but it didn’t give us warm fuzzies.

    Driving: It is not the quiet van of the group, but it’s not terrible either. The engine is certainly adequate to the task. The steering is precise.

    The testdrive vehicle had the VCM that is supposed to help with fuel economy so while my wife tried out the acceleration, I tried out the VCM. Possibly because the engine was new and tight, but the ECO light that helps indicate when the engine is running with deactivated cylinders would not stay lit if I gave the van enough throttle to maintain speed.

    To my foot the brakes felt very linear, but my wife didn’t like how deep she had to step into it in her emergency stop brake check. She felt as though the van’s brakes let go a little at the end and she had to push harder to make it stop. I would describe it as fade except it didn’t just happen with intense braking. Her family pride themselves on smooth driving with no sudden motions so I was caught off guard a few times by her jerky stops in the Odyssey.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    (post 3451 continued, 3 of 3)
    Toyota Sienna: The Sienna turned out to be the favorite for both of us. It is the biggest and most practical inside. Configured with just what we need it is cheaper than the Odyssey and if we can find it equipped the way we want it and get a good price, it will likely be our choice.

    The “equipped the way we want it” part is the hang up though. Because I do not want to replace this vehicle for a long time, and we want a larger family we need maximum seating capacity- the front and center seat give the Toyota 8-passenger a big advantage here. Because my wife is deathly afraid of little hands and fingers being crushed in a sliding door slamming shut, we need power sliding doors on both sides. The problem is that while Toyota makes vans that fit that bill, they don’t ship very many of them to the San Francisco region. At the dealer we visited, with close to 50 vans in the lot they had exactly one with the 8 passenger model and it didn’t have power slide doors. The dealer said they don’t get any allocated to them in the configuration we want because of the region. WTH?!?!?

    Driving position: My wife loved the driver’s seat in the Toyota- her favorite by far. I thought it comfortable, but wished it would go lower. The controls layout was perfect for us- we both instinctively knew were to find what we needed- much like our Subaru. The mirrors seemed to give the best coverage of all with no noticeable blind spots.

    Rear seats: Seats were comfy with plenty of leg room. I wouldn’t be embarrassed to ask people to sit 3 across in the second row. Moving the center of the seat to the forward position seemed difficult though compared to removing seats in the Odyssey- we gave up before we accomplished it. The tumble forward second row made this the easiest van to get in and out of the third row. It worked smoothly too.

    The third row actually had two LATCH points! The LATCH anchors were the easiest to get to as well. Finally a minivan for families with kids in car seats!

    Driving: I cannot say enough about the drivetrain on this van. Silky smooth power delivered with no fuss. The engine didn’t intrude above a whisper, it just went and fast. The transmission is by far the smoothest I’ve ever driven so that I could barely tell when it changed gears. This was the quietest of the three vans. If that is what they call “disconnected” I’ll take it. When I want to put a car on like a glove, I’ll drive my Miata.

    Steering was good and certainly not as far behind the Odyssey as I expected. I felt the brakes were a bit squishy on the top end though but as my wife pointed out from her experience with the Odyssey, it is better to be squishy at the top than at the bottom.
  • Great comparison yatesjo.

    I found the T&C the most comfortable of the 3 to sit in (probably because I am somewhat large than you and your wife), but elected not to get it because of the lack of seating for 8 people and the fact that the largest engine is only available for quite a price premium. Also, video screens blocked big portion of rear view from drivers seat - video systems in Honda weren't so obtrusive.

    I couldn't get comfortable in the Sienna's driver seat, although the availability of 8 real seats in the lowest trim made the Sienna really appealing. Did not look forward to negotiating apples to oranges between dealers with all of the different option packages.

    Ended up getting the Odyssey, where with some adjustment I was able to find a seating location where my right knee was not firmly planted in the dash bumpout. All 3 kids fit in the 2nd row, with the oldest sitting in the +1 seat - so far this is working great despite some minor squabbles. Negotiating between dealers was easy (Donkeypunch style) because of lack of extra packages to worry about. Also, easy to get $3K below invoice. I wish Honda would offer 8 seats in the LX version - if so, would have bought that model. As it is ended up getting EXL, as leather was important with 3 children, backup camera is nice, wanted to see if VCM would really improve fuel consumption and wife decided she wanted a sunroof so as to not feel couped up. Also, did not want permanently attached video system in the car (big highlight of the T&C), as then kids would constantly want it on, even for short hops - will just use multi-screen portable one for longer trips.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    The Sienna's 8 seats is a big plus but it's a shame they don't offer a leather trim. We have leather in our Subaru and while the seat covers catch most of it, they don't catch it all- that is when the easy cleaning of leather is nice. (I also think leather also make the car smell much nicer too) If it comes down to it, I think we'll take the Honda with Plusone over the Sienna without the 8th seat, even though we really really prefer the Sienna.

    The DVD systems were not a consideration for us so we didn't look at how the changed visibility. We are trying not to overexpose our kids to video but it is an easy habit to fall into (at home we find ourselves acceding more and more to the request to "watch video please mommy/daddy"). We thought that the Dodge had the worst back window since the D-pillars are gargantuan.

    We will be trying a version of the Donkeypunch method too. We did something like that when buying our Subaru and got a great deal for exactly the car we wanted. The proliferation of options on the Toyota makes that somewhat more difficult especially since Toyota and it's dealer network don't seem to have good tools for telling customers how vans they have in stock are equipped.
  • rahmibubrahmibub Posts: 39
    Excellent review of the top 3, Yatesjo!

    Well defined requirements, consistent review criterias, unbiased assesments.

    Nicely done! :)
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