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Chevy Uplander/Pontiac Montana SV6/Saturn Relay/Buick Terraza



  • carguy1234carguy1234 Posts: 233
    I'm specifically interested in the GM vans due to the AWD capability, something neither Honda nor Toyota currently delivers acceptably (well Toyota offers it, but then you are locked into very expensive tires that have very poor traction, ride comfort, and tread life, so that isn't really a competitive option).
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Well if you've had good experienceswith GM, then I guess it makes sense to stick with them. I tried them for a while, but time to move on. Maybe my next vehicle will be one, but I doubt it. My local GM dealer is also the Toyota dealer, although the Chevy dealership is about 1/5 the size. I'm not sure what surveys you are referring to, but year in and year out when you look at publications like Consumer Reports, and check out their used car recommendations or new car recommendations, there are usually heavily biased towards Honda and Toyota as the best picks. A few domestics sprinkled in but not often. I also subscribe to Autoweek and Car & Driver (and read a few others at the stores) and rarely if ever, do I see GM beat Toyota or Honda (or almost anyone else) in a comparison shootout. I believe GM can and will do better, but they better hurry before it's too late.

    Most horror stories I hear from friends and colleagues are almost always having to do with American made cars. But more importantly when I ask friends if they've been happy with their Honda or Toyota, I have seldom heard anything negative. A parents friend did have trouble with a Corolla they bought now that I think about it - and I guess that surprised me because I hear complaints so seldom. Folks I know, seem rabidly loyal to either Honda or Toyota - the kind of loyalty GM and Ford used to have, but not as much these days.

    My Saturn wasn't really a bad vehicle. It had some trouble early on, that was fixed under warranty. What I didn't like, and that was my own fault, is that the closest dealer was 1 hour away (100 miles roundtrip). And then the tires wore out at 16k miles, and I rotated them too. The reason? They use a "high performance soft compound" that wears faster. Why the hell would GM put a soft compound on a family sedan? My guess is that they were just cheap tires. I've heard that complaint from Honda owners too about their tires. At least my Sienna came with Michelin tires - hopefully they will be better.

    What features besides Onstar does GM offer on their vans that Toyota does not? Navigation system not found on GM, power rear hatch not found, side air bags, 5 speed auto, 3 zone automatic climate, fold flat into floor rear seats...

    Your 2004 was considerably cheaper than the new 2005 model. The rebates then wereastounding - I remember seeing rebates like $4500 around here. Not now. I've heard people complaining that the new GM vans are just as expensive now as the imports. That was my finding, and even today I was over at the Chevy dealer turning in my Saturn (a little sad) and checked out the Uplander again, and yep, a 2wd Uplander for $29,6xx. Subtract the $1k incentive, get close to invoice, and you're still in the $26 ballpark with all of the options you want. I've yet to see a LS model, and no base models at all. The Odyssey LX is a base model, but has pretty good features, especially safety, and is about $22k, a Sienna CE is about the same, an LE model can range from $23 - 30 depending on which of the ten million option packages you choose from. Yes, neither the Sienna or the Odyssey will have short wheelbase models, but I would never consider one, and I don't think many others would either. More for delivery and such. I like the look of the new GM dashes, but the Sienna to me, is a real nice layout, and looks super cool at night. I like that everything is very intuitive, and I've only driven it a couple of times so far. The first comment my wife made when driving it was, "I feel like I'm driving a luxury car. Not a van." Kinda think that's what Toyota was hoping to hear.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    I was not talking about the vehicles (if you re-read what I said), I was talking about dealer satisfaction and Toyota and Honda are both behind GM divisions. Check JD Power.

    Horror stories, yes I have heard some.. but they come from all brands, not just GM or "domestics" and yes even Hondas and Toyotas. Perhaps you are caught up in the myth that Japanese cars are trouble free, I am not.

    Features not available on Sienna.. On Star, MP3, Phat Noise hard drive based entertainment system, factory installed remote start (after market sucks), 4-wheel discs on base model, standard 17" tires, regular (short) wheel base model option and over head rail system.

    You can currently get 0% financing on the GM vans, it's about 3-4% on Sienna. No cash back right now up here except on the base Uplander value van where you get $4500. Like I said, the MSRPs are lower so you won't see the cash on the hood we go for our over priced Montana but I suspect you will see better deals at year end.

    If you like your van great. I like mine. In the world that's what makes a market. I just preferred to keep the $5000 for other things. I know the Sienna was a little better but the GM van worked better for us.
  • polo6sppolo6sp Posts: 2
    Living in western NY, the winters give us a lot of lake effect snow. We considered the AWD Buick but found out that stability control(proven to reduce accidents by double digit percentage) is only available in fwd. In the end we couldn't justify the cost or mileage penalty.

    GM may have troubles now but so are others. Consider that Toyota is today recalling 750,000 vehicles.

    Currently dealers in this area are advertising $5500 discounts on GM minivans(same as 4 months ago). Comparing options on similarly priced Toyotas (MSRP minus $1200 no rebate at that time) and the GMs offer ONSTAR, handsfree incar cellphone, leather heated memory seats, second row captains chairs, load leveling air suspension, DVD, remote start, rear park assist and stabilitrak.

    If you never had these options you may not miss them, but consider how important it is,that in the event of an accident, ONSTAR can call 911 when your airbag deploys and emergency personnel will be there much quicker or that rear park assist can tell you if your toddler is walking behind your van as your backing up. The second row captain's chairs are much more comfortable than the competition. We never had DVD before but with a 2 year old, at times its now a necessity.

    Motor Trend May 05 has a comparo between the Sienna, Odyssey and Caravan in which the Honda finished 1st by a wide margin. They wrote:

    "Yet at part throttle the Sienna feels like its stuck on flypaper, waking up only when provoked by stomping on the gas. Steering is Camry mushy. Stopping distance from 60 mph were only 2 ft shorter than the Caravan's dismal showing."

    Also in the article, the Toyota Sienna XLE and Odyssey were $36304 and $35210 respectively. I would expect on this high MSRP, you might get $2000 to $3000 off sticker price due to supply and demand. That makes the highly optioned GM minivan $4000 to $5000 less. Add in my $3000 in GM points and there was no contest.
  • strstr Posts: 64
    All of the SV6's I looked at did not have rear wipers. On one of these forums I read the list of added features for 2006 and a rear wiper was on it. I did not know that SUV's and vans didn't come with rear wipers. If you have seen one on a 2005 SV6 please let me know because I was not very happy with the thought of traveling on the highway in the rain with my rear window basically unusable.
  • strstr Posts: 64
    First of all thank you for your advice.

    I started my own business in 1999 when I was 23 before I started a family or even married. I have a three in one business it is a preschool in the mornings, Child care center in the afternoons and an after school program for children needing tutoring and a safe place to stay until parents get home. We house now nearly 75 children in a given day from open to close and it has become a huge success. I am a Christian based facility as well as preschool. In the mornings we have daily devotional and preschool classes then in the afternoon we keep children while their parents are at work and in the evening until 6:00 p. m. we mentor, tutor and provide activities for the older children of the community. This company started out with approximately 25 to 35 children enrolled and has grown this much! We have a five page waiting list of families hoping to get enrolled in the near future.
    Just three years ago I had to become an LLC with help from a board and brought my sister in as president of the LLC when I started my family because it was just too much for me alone. I love the fact that my children can work with me everyday and that I have been able to incorporate work with motherhood! It has been a blessing!
  • strstr Posts: 64

    Let me give you a little background on my car buying experiences,

    I guess I am not really nervous about buying a foreign car but unsure because I grew up in a family that bought only American and that is all I have ever considered because I know nothing about foreign. My father owns his own business and travels six months out of the year and trades vehicles every year and he is very knowledgeable about cars and he has always traded American because it is important to him. Also, he always picked out my moms cars brought them home and got her approval and had a new one for her every two years (always american never any other consideration) so there was never any discussion or debates about models or makes just yes I like it or no won't do. When I turned 16 (1992) my dad took me to the lot and said pick one out. Of course there was no discussion just pick it out and drive it (picked a white 1993 probe first year for the new body style) next car (1999 Sebring) was the same. Then I married and my husband had a Lincoln Navigator traded it after two years and he picked a durango, drove it one year (hated it) got rid of it and I asked my dad for advice on the next car, he shows up at my business with a new loaded Envoy and that was it, bought it and love it (still have it.)
    This time I said I want the new style vans that are coming out. My husband said pick one out and get it, you'll be driving it so it's all up to you. So, here I am lost about foreign cars and vans as well and trying to make the best decision for my two children's safety as well as for our family. If I ask my father for advice he'll say "Just buy American!" That is why I am a little unsure and lost right now and why I appreciate everyone's advice so much!
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    I have never seen a van without. Perhaps it's only an option on U.S. models because they all have rear wipers up here, even the C$19,999 (U$15,000) Uplander Value Van.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Here we go! I also live in NY (Ithaca) and thought that AWD would be a good option, but I think with decent tires, and/or snow tires, fwd vans should be fine most of the time. I have a 4wd Explorer for those other times. Around here - our roads are plowed quickly and thoroughly. Rarely a snow day here.

    What was the recall for Toyota? Every company has them, no surprise really. GM seems to have them practically every day. A recent spate of recalls on their full size trucks and SUVs. Surprising because these aren't new models at all. You'd think the bugs were worked out by now.

    So dealers are offering $5500 discount now on these vans. I've found these "deals" to be misleading though - and believe me I've checked them out. Usually you get cash incentive or good financing but not both. For example, one dealer near here on the Dodge Grand Caravan SXT sells them for $21,000 - pretty good considering the invoice is about $24k and sticker is $28k or so. But to get that price, you have to finance through them at about 8%, so you lose the incetives (about $3500) and so on. The dealer even said the offer of 0% was better, and that you would be better to lose the incentives, and I tend to agree. Problem was, after I ran the numbers, this van had higher monthly payments than the Sienna. And the same was true for the Uplander. And Odyssey too. My point is that none of these dealers are really going to sell for much under invoice - they can't really. If you have other loyalty incentives (like I was hoping for) than that's different as it doesn't come out of the dealers pocket. All I know is that I got a Sienna XLE for $26k, and with payments of $359 a month with $0 down, I couldn't beat it. And these incentives that GM have been using to lure in customers are really hurting their bottom line. They have to get away from so much of this. Every auto analyst has been saying the same thing for a while now.

    As for features, Onstar is one GM has that no one else has, true. And I stated that before. Sienna has DVD, (the Odyseey uses a 9 or 10" screen now) 8 way dual power seats with power lumbar (standard on XLE) sunroof option (GM doesn't offer this by the way), it DOES offer rear parking assist (options for both GM, Toyota, Honda, Nissan) using the dvd navigation screen for a better visual cue - GM doesn't offer this. The second row seats in Sienna come in two varieties - an 8 seat option on the LE (for those who need it) and the 7 seat option uses very nice seats as well. I didn't find anything great about the captains chairs in the GM van. And I won't be sitting there anyway. The Sienna XLE offers a moveable storage center that can be used in the front or move it to the middle seats (it clamps down in either spot). GM doesn't offer this because the van is too narrow. That was one of the first things I noticed is getting my kids in the third row seat (we'll have 3 soon) isn't the most convenient when an adult has to go back there and buckle them in. Piece of cake on Sienna and Odyseey. No power lifgate even offered on GM, again, standard on XLE.

    Each van has some neat features, the Ody also has a pretty neat lazy susan storage under the floor in the second row, no one else offers this yet. And of coure Dodge has the stow n go seats. Pretty clever, I admit. Stabilitrak - I couldn't find a GM van with that option when they were coming out. If you have a big dealer they might have one, but personally I don't know if it really makes much difference or not. Only on the fwd vans too. I just couldn't find any areas that GM was cleary superior over the Sienna for my needs.

    As for Motor Trend article, I dunno. I have never been able to take them seriously, but I guess some do. The best in the business is C&D though. And they gave the margin to Odyseey (an '04 at that). Consumer Reports had the two very close, with the Odyssey a slight winner. I do like the Odyssey best, the payments for me though, were $440/month vs $359/month for Sienna. As for MT saying the throttle was like fly paper, I can't comment as I wasn't driving their van. My takes off easily. And when I am going 70 or so, just a quick stab and I can fly by anyone. I really don't need more than that from a van, and my wife certainly doesn't either. What I noticed about the GM van was going up hills it was too sluggish for me. Admittedly Ithaca has some serious hills. The 3.9 should cure this though. Also, when in comes to articles, everything can be taken with a grain of salt. I think the CR report on the Saturn Relay seemed overly harsh. When I drove the Uplander and Terraza, I did not think they were filled with sqeaks and rattles as they mentioned. They were really harsh on the GM vans, but maybe they had a bad sample. All I know is that they are a good starting out point, and then I drive them to see how I think they fair.

    As for price, I guess it all depends on where you live, and how good a dealer you have. In that article you quote, the XLE was $36k, but there are many versions of this van. There are like 10 option packages. The one I bought has a sticker of under $30k, and I got it for $26k. Big difference. Same with GM too. Their sticker price is not what you would normally really pay. A lot of people here have been saying the Odyssey sells for sticker, but when I went to my local dealer, they were more than happy to sell well below that - about $500 over invoice. Again, it depends on where you are. With $3k in GM points, you probably really had no other choice, especially with the $1k incentive right now, and getting it close to invoice (my Buick dealer sells for $100 over invoice), but most people looking for a van are not going to get your deal. Comparing apples to apples, the new GM vans at their selling price (example an LT) to a Sienna XLE the difference in price is not that much different right now. Show me a Uplander LT with the convenience package to equal the XLE for much under $26k without using your GM points.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    I thought that was strange too. I thought it came standard, not even an option. Who ever heard about having a van or suv without a rear wiper? The Pontiac version do seem to have more options available to them than the Chevy or Buick for some strange reason. Maybe it is a base model? I thought in the US that only the Chevy came as a base, and maybe the Saturn too. Is GM offering the short wheel base in the US next year? I don't see many of the shorter Dodge caravans around here, seems like the vast majority of vans they sell are the long wheel base models. Same with the older GM vans. The difference in cost wasn't that much less to justify the loss of cargo are for most people.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    I know a few families as well that always buy GM, every couple of years or so. Actually buying ANY car every 1-2 years is a pretty bad investment because of depreciation. GM takes more of a hit than most in that first 1-2 years, and not to belabor the point, but Toyota and Honda do hold their value better. After 5 years it evens out somewhat, and once you get past 100k miles, most vehicles depreciate an awful lot. I also have friends who buy a Toyota once every 15 years (so not very often!) and basically drive them til there's nothing left. I can't do this (because I love new cars) but financially this makes the most sense in terms of saving money.

    If your family is totally biased against other foreign brands, it might be wise not to rock the boat! But if your husband doesn't care, I would look at Honda and Toyota too, and also Dodge. My wife didn't care for the Dodge interiors at all, very bland and sort of dismal. The Buick interior was quite nice. But again, the Toyota and Honda are another leap forward. If you test drive the Sienna and/or Odyssey and don't find them superior, then stick with what you know, in this case GM. I think it is fun though, to check out them all out. Although by far the most confusing, the Sienna gives you the most flexibility in terms of both configuring and options available and packages. It is the only 8 seat van (technically Odyseey EX can comes with an extra seat, but it isn't a true seat an adult would want for long), it is one of only 2 awd vans, it can be had for a low of about $22k, or almost $40k. It can come with leather or not, heated seats, power seats, (soon memory for '06)sunroof (not on GM), dvd, rear parking assist, navigation systems (not on GM), dual power doors, power hatch (a great feature that we have found - not on GM), 1 or 6 disc JBL sound system that is quite good, 2 glove compartments, about a million cupholders, and just about everything you can think of. Side curtain airbags are available but not standard, which I prefer in some ways. GM doesn't offer this for '05, Odyssey makes in mandatory on all models. I like choice I guess. Odyssey has all of these features too, except awd. GM has Onstar free for 1 year, no one else has. I liked the idea, but realized where we live, not that crucial. Overall I would rather have it than not, but it wasn't a deal breaker by any means. Generations have lived without Onstar, so can we. We could probably live without power doors too, but the kids think they're cool ;)

    GM took a different approach to their vans, that about 2-3 years ago probably seemed like a good idea. Make a van look like an SUV. I still think it looks like a van. But their marketing ploy might work for some. The problem is the price of gas, and backlash of SUVs, especially the big ones. This morning on the Today show, sales of Suburbans and Tahoes slipped 22% this quarter, and that was in Texas, the king of large SUVs. So now people are starting to realize that mpg does affect their wallets, and looking for more efficient vehicles. Minivans because of their overall size and weight will never be economy vehicles but they are better than SUVs. My Explorer gets about 14 mpg around town, just awful. GM did make these new vans safer, probably with the nose redesign, they strengthened the front end some, but that has also added to their weight. The have not kept pace with the interior size of the Sienna, Odyssey or Grand Varavan, and their luggage and cargo capacity lags behind them too. I wished they had addressed these needs more than trying to make them look like a SUV, but that's just me.

    So my advice would be to try the others and see what you think. I think the Odyssey has won just about every award out there this year, and the Sienna won many the year before. Both are leaders in this segment now. Dodge has some innovative features, but needs some serious updating in interiors and mechanicals. GM has never really been competitive with their vans, no matter what people have been saying. They just haven't. Chrysler led the way for many years, and then Honda went ahead in a big way, and Sienna has finally claimed its own territory. Nissan has missed the mark too, and Mazda is only a fringe player at best. Ford and GM never invested much in their vans, and it still shows. They are better that they used to be for sure, just not what their competition is at now. The ones to watch for in the near future, IMO is Hyundai. They (and/or Kia) are coming out with an '06 van that could in many ways on paper, be the equal if not superior to anything else out there.

    While this may mean bad news for GM or Ford, overall the fierce competition for customers means the market tightens, the profits are less, and the products always improving. Good news for customers overall, no matter what brand you buy.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    On some of your points..

    Narrow is good for us, the Sienna would be too wide for our garage which another advantage to many others also. It's not like the GM vans are starved for space or something. Makes downtown parking easier also. Wider is not better in my eyes.

    Nav systems are just expensive toys for most people. I could care less if GM offered them. I have never seen a minivan with a NAV system and all our friends dive them (including Toyotas).

    You are right, GM and Ford didn't invest much in vans. They never have. The market has been shrinking and it's not as profitable as trucks and SUVs. That said, things are changing with gas prices on the rise. GM is suppose to have an all new van in 2-3 years so perhaps it will have a top line van then? Till then, I think for the money, the Uplander and it's cousins offer a lot of value for the buck and are worthy of consideration. If you want a short wheel base, they are one of only 3 choices which gives them a leg up also.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    I think the minivan market is growing now - like you said since gas prices have gone up so much - and most people believe they aren't going to go back down again, not much anyway. The days of large SUV sales is appearing to be whining down. If you tow, there isn't much else you can do, but for daily driving, vans seems to be a better choice. I'm glad to hear GM is going to be making a new van in 2-3 years. Just in time for my next purchase. What they need to do, is what Toyota and Honda have been doing for quite a while now - redesign each vehicle every 4-5 years. Keep making it better every time, but not necessarily going back to the drawing board. The Odyssey is an example of this - they redesigned the top rated van this year. They redo their civics and accords every 4 years. It makes sense to me. That oldage in business - if you aren't moving forwards, you're going backwards. IMO, this is the main reason why Toyota has gained so much market share, and the Ford and GM keep losing.

    This is happening with pickups too. The newer F-150 was redesigned a lot sooner this past time, than the model before it. It used to be you could go 8-10 years or more without changing much. Not anymore, especially when Nissan comes out with a new truck that in many automotive circles took 1st prize, or Honda's first stab at a new mid-size pickup, and earn's C&D #1 ranking - while the Canyon in last place. It took GM how many years to redesign the Cavalier - like 15. And this new Cobalt is a pretty good little car. I may even consider it in the next year if it turns out not to have too many faults. It shows GM can do it, if and when they get their act together. Cadillac has become a more of a force in the higher end market. But then there's Saab, and GM doesn't seem to know what to do with them. I think I read that Saab has lost money for GM every year since coming into the fold, same with Jaguar and Ford.

    I get your point about size and vans. I like the wider stance of the Sienna, but I would not want it any bigger. I guess I was surprised that since the GM is 5" narrower, it would weigh less, but it is a bit longer. I could actually see a manufacture coming out with vans that are a bit smaller in every dimension, somewhere between what they are now, and the new upcoming Mazda 5 idea (3 rows of seats for 6 on a smaller car platform). WIth the GM and Dodge shorter wheelbase models, the main difference is that they have less cargo room in the back, I believe, otherwise they are the same size inside. I don't know if I would want a smaller van, but it might appeal to some, and offer more preium features. I could see Volvo, Mercedes and B&W do something like this. Different than their SUV offereings. Lighter, so they get better gas mileage and better performance, yet still have some utility.

    As for the NAVS, I use one when I travel for work (Hertz) which is great. I wish I could install that system. Otherwise I haven't invested in a NAV either, and won't until we do more long distance traveling as a family. A few years away from that. But I am glad it is offered, and by not offering it, that is just one more thing that could drive a potential customer away from GM to Honda or whoever.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Just read the following at Good news for GM and Toyota for initial quality at least. I had a meeting with a guy at GM a year ago who is the quality control enigneer at their Arlington Texas facility where they make the large SUVs, including the only plant making the Escalades, and they base a lot of what they do to improve their products, on this JD Power survey, so it is an important factor for manufacturers and customers. I also see the Sienna got best minivan in intial quality. Didn't see Odyssey on this list.
  • strstr Posts: 64

    I think my family would be ok with a foreign car but they just think American is the best choice. Who really knows? I have read about bad experiences with every car available it just depends on the car itself (I guess.) I have read some horror stories about the Sienna's tires, lag in the transmittion, squeaks and rattles and so on and since the SV6 is new there really aren't many reviews on it but it's just a matter of time until someone gets one that has a squeak or a bad tire or faulty line or something, I mean they are man made machines I expect some minor (fixable) imperfections! Anyway, my dad is really the only one who is set on American everyone else has basically neutral feelings.
    I know trading all the time is a bad investment (and bad habit) that is why I want to get a car that suits our needs and stick with it for a while (I too love new cars though) but my parents travel six months out of the year and put high miles on their cars quickly so they trade often. We have traded about every two years because we keep needing to change features to better suit our needs but I think a van is what we have really been needing. We are not having any other children permanently (if you know what I mean, tubes and tied is all I'm going to say) so we will only have four of us to haul around although we are somewhat tall people my husband is 6'3 and I am 5'7 and our children are tall for their age so we need lots of leg room and these vans are really roomy, I do love that feature.
    I'm going to check out a Sienna this weekend and give it a drive. I'll let you know how that turns out.
    By the way, I love your name Ian. My dad is a Scot/Irish man and I had actually considered the name Ian for my son when I was pregnant but it sounded wrong with our last name it kind of rhymed with the E sound in our last name so I went with Canaan out of the Bible. Are you any scottish or Irish? or is all your Irish in your name!
    Thanks for all the input in the last letter.
  • strstr Posts: 64
    I forgot to mention that in the picture of the SV6 on the brochure I saw a rear wiper. I am going to drive behind those vans tomorrow on my friends lot and make sure they don't have rear wipers. I know I looked at the loaded silver colored one in detail because I really liked it and it did not have a wiper and I was disappointed but at least I know some of them must. I just wonder if it isn't standard because somewhere on one of these forums someone lists the changes for 2006 and it says rear wiper added.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Hey Summer,
    I have Irish ancestry and Welsh too, with a little bit of Scot thrown in for good measure. I don't really think about it that much though, is not as if I go around saying I'm Irish American.

    My sister married a true Irishman, and their home is in Dublin (great city by the way), although they have been living in Beligium for the last couple of years for his job (Irish government).

    You're right, you can find something wrong with just about any car and car company. GM has been improving too. They still have more recalls than I think they should - especially on their full size trucks which by now shouldn't be happening. Any first year vehicle/redesign is more likely too to have more problems. That's another reason why I like the Sienna, it's the 2nd year it's been out now. Whereas the Odyssey and GM vans are first year designs.

    And the more anyone sells of any vehicle, the more complaints you are to find. The Caravan probably leads this list because they have sold more mini vans over the years than anyone. JD Power's recent survey did pick the Sienna as the best van in intial quality. Honorary mention to Dodge - and this is also not a new design. I read somewhere too, that the Nissan Quest has gotten better reviews too. They had a lot of problems when they first came out, the first 1-2 years, but seem to have a better handle on it now. Might also be worth checking out.

    As for man made machines - I think most vehicles are built by robots now! Well a lot of is anyway. I got a very neat tour of a GM facility in Texas not too long ago, and got to watch their large SUVs being assembled and put together. It is very interesting to watch a bunch of sub assembly parts coming together to make an entire vehicle in the course of a short period of time.

    Good luck with the Sienna test drive. I bought mine from a discount dealer in Maryland that was terrific to deal with. I was leary at first doing it over the internet and by phone, but when I signed the papers, everything was in order as promised. Much better than my local dealer experiences. You shouldn't be paying more than $500-600 over invoice on a Sienna, maybe less. I'll be curious to see how you liked this van. I really liked the Odyssey too, but I couldn't make the monthly payments to match the Sienna deal. Best of luck with your search and have fun!
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    discussions guys and gals. Thought I'd throw my 2 cents in. I waited for their new vans with anticipation and actually really intented to buy one. But now I feel very frustrated with GM. The van is ugly (who cares about the SUV look), small (narrow), seating configuration that has no flexibility (no folding seat), no side airbags, underpowered, noisy, LESS fuel efficient than the Venture, ELIMINATED 8 passenger seating...And worst of all PRICY, which makes it imposible to be a good value. And who cares about the DVD player--I'm buying a VAN!

    This is what GM and Ford should do: make everything standard on their vans except for the DVD and navigation and sell them for $21K. Think about it, why would anyone fork over so much money for a barebone GM van when for the same money he can get a basic Quest that has curtain airbags, 4-wheel disk ABS, traction control, cruise control, rear AC standard? Not to mention a vastly superior engine.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    You're even harsher than I am about the GM vans! I definitely agree on two points though, the seating configuration is not nearly as flexible as the others and they are pricey when you opt for either the LS or LT models with a few of the packages thrown in. The Odyseey and Sienna aren't cheap either, but at least you feel like you're getting more for your money - whether you are or not is debatable.

    Most people on this board who have gotten deals on these vans have used additional incentives like a GM Visa card rewards, and other customer incentives. All I received was a $500 incentive from GM - not enough for me to consider these vans. I think the GM models come standard with more features than you're suggesting, well at least the LS models. I've yet to see a base model on the lots. But if GM thinks they can sell many of the Uplanders in the $24-$29k range (some top $30k too) they will be very disappointed, I predict. I like your $21k van idea. Less profits, but they would definitely sell more.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    I wasn't in a good mood last night when I wrote it. Thanks to the union and medical insurance cost, it might not be financially feasible for GM and Ford to sell their vans for $21K. Too bad if that's the case. In any rate they need to do SOMETHING to stay competitive.

    The caravan has unique and very useful features (Stow-n-go, rear split seating);

    The Quest has standard safety features (curtain airbags, ABS, 4-wheel disk brakes, traction control, etc) and a futuristic styling which both my wife and I love;

    The Odyssey is just about perfect, although expensive;

    The Sienna has 8 passenger seating and close to perfect but pricy if you add the safety features;

    The Ford has 1st rate crash tests and curtain airbags.

    And as for the GM vans? There's simple NOTHING attractive to us about them. Nothing stands out. And they want me to pay $24k for it? I'd love to support the domestic automakers but our money doesn't grow on trees and we watch every dollar we spend. We simply can't incur that much debt for such a terrible value.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    My family just purchased a '05 T&C Touring and so far am very happy with it. We traded in my wife's '02 Tahoe and I wanted to consider the new Uplander. But, I couldn't (wife too) get past the front end of this Van. It is just plain ugly. I sat in one and the interior was pretty good. But, when I stepped out and looked at the exterior I was put off. Also (IMHO), Chrysler/Dodge just know how to build a good van. Our Tahoe treated us well over the years, but we couldn't "stay in the family" because the styling just didn't sit well with us.

    The price we got on our new van was incredible. It was easily $15K less than a comparably equipped Sienna.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    Quest is not recommended IMO as it's quality has been very spotty. Our neighbor has one and regrets buying it due to the rattles and bugs (his windshield wipers still don't work properly). Personally I don't like the styling and the interior is weird but that's subjective.

    The Chrysler vans are fine for the most part, my only beef is the lack of 4 wheel discs. I think they are a great buy right now also, lots of deals.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Well the front end styling does seem to be a bit polarizing. It has helped one thing though, and that is GM finally has a good rated crash test, to keep up with the other vans out there.

    As for yout T&C Country, what options did you get on it to make it $15k cheaper than the Sienna? I guess it depends where you live too, and/or what dealer you work with. I found the Grand Caravan that I was looking at slightly cheaper than the Sienna XLE I ended up with (both with the same options essentially) but the financing on the Toyota was better for my overall payments. However if the difference had been $15k, then yeah I would have gone for the T&C too. I think DC is offering a lot of incentives right now because their market share is being eroded away - it is such a tough market for manufactures at the moment. The Japanese vans now are a lot more competitive than they were just 5 years ago. I think the DC vans need an update in their intereriors and engine, but overall they are still very competitive, and offer attractive prices if you know how to get them.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Did you see this article? s+brand+strategy%2C+will+limit+portfolio+-+May+19%2C+2005&expire=-1&urlID=14285443&fb=Y&ur- nn_latest&partnerID=2000

    It is a bit hard to read, but interesting nonetheless. I will be surprised if Buick and/or Pontiac are still around by 2010. And I have never understood why GM Trucks are separate from Chevy trucks. Make a commercial line if need be, but why offer the same Sierra 1500 and the Silverado 1500. Same truck, slightly different styling, more cost to produce for GM. I would like to see GM make Chevy their main brand, with Cadillac as their luxury brand, and Saturn as their budget line ala Scion for Toyota. Not sure what you do with Buick, Pontiac and Saab.
  • carguy1234carguy1234 Posts: 233
    ...once the new Kia/Hyundai van arrives this fall. It will undercut the pricing of the Honda and Toyota vans, and all indications are that the quality and material level will be at least as good if not better than these vans. Powertrain will be on par with those, as will milage, safety, and standard features. Plus, add in a 10 year standard warranty, and this thing could be a big problem for both the domestic and the foreign vans.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    I agree 100%. It is going to be very interesting. And the new Hyundai Sonata looks very promising too. I've seen the recent adds on TV for their $1 billion investment in Alabama for building all of these new vehicles. I think they are going to be major players, and soon. I think Honda has to be worried more so than Toyota. Toyota is a lot bigger company with a lot more dealerships. But really, I see Hyundai taking market share a little bit from everyone.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    My wife loves the Grand Caravan after having it as a rental for 2 weeks. The dual power doors, hatch, stow-n-go are tough to beat! For these great conveniences, I'd be willing to overlook its antique interior, terrible 2nd row headroom (on the stow-n-go models) and rough craftsmanship. And the price still has to significantly undercut the imports.

    I was and am still trying to see if we can all those nice features in a caravan for under $21K. So far it's not happening :( In that case, we'll most likely go for the Quest now that its quality has drastically improved.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    Well, we got ALL the following for $23,735 + tax, tag & title"

    Leather Package
    Rear DVD Entertainment
    3 rows of Side airbags
    adjustable pedals
    6 disc in-dash cd/dvd
    removable center storage
    3 rows auto climate control

    Also, I purchased an extended warranty which covers 7yr/85K miles.

    As far as the interiors of the T&C's......I see nothing wrong with them. Are they as well put together as the japanese makes, probably not. But for the value and options I got, the T&C was a perfect choice.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    Which Chrysler Minivan lacks 4 wheel disc brakes? My Touring model comes with discs (ABS) all around and even the base Chrysler comes with discs with ABS. As a matter of fact, the "lowliest" Dodge comes with all disc brakes.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    I guess everyone has their own opinion on these vans, but I think the interior of the T&C is actually pretty good. I was impressed by the fit and finish on this Chrysler product. It doesn't compare to my '04 Passat, but, I was pleasantly surprised the first time I set foot in one of thse vehicles!!!
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    Thanks Fish8. I remember the dealer told you the price was a mistake but they honored it anyway, right? I was hoping to find such a mistake too ;) But so far no luck. I would have deleted (like that's possible) the leather and DVD and bought it for $21K.

    BTW, doesn't the Chrysler van come with 7 year/70K waranty already? Is yours on top of that? If yes, you're covered for life essentially; if not, I hope you didn't pay too much for those 15K extra miles of coverage.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    Well, the 7/70 only covers the powertrain(Transmission, engine, etc) not bumper to bumper. The extended I got covers powertrain, as well as all non maintenance items: AC, Radio, seats, power doors/liftgate, brake system (not pads or rotors), electrical system, etc.....

    Yes, the finance guy said it was a mistake, but I am not sure if he was just trying to say I got a really good deal. So, I am not sure if he was lying or not. Either way, I got a tremendous deal.

    BTW: you can delete the leather and DVD..they are options that can be deleted!! It may be difficult to find one on a dealers lot, because it seems that most dealers have pretty optioned up vans in stock!!
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Well, that is a lot of van for the money! However, doubtful most others can find that kind of deal. I had a local dealer that was selling the Grand Caravan SXT (no options) for $21,000 which I thought was good. However, even he admitted that once you financed through Chrysler at almost 8%, you were better off eliminating the incentives (so add in another $2500) and finance for 0% for up to 60 months plus tax, etc. which is still a pretty good deal. This was at or below invoice although it had no other options like you described.

    However, I was also concerned with not only the bottom line, but how much I could afford/month, and in the end, the Sienna XLE was best for me, my goal was to not go much over $350 for a payment, and with nothin down, I pay $359/mo tax included in this deal. I think this Dodge would have been about $415 and a cloth Honda Odyssey was about $440. I liked all 3, but the combination of features and price made the Sienna the best choice for me, which is what this board is all about - finding the best deals to match one's preferences.
  • strstr Posts: 64
    Hey irg,

    I am looking for the Sienna XLE and want all of the same features (or close to) that my Envoy has (heated seats, memory mirrors and seats, steering wheel controls, my Envoy has an awesome Bose stereo system what does Sienna have?, remote engine start) I really want the onstar system we have used it to unlock the doors and when we were lost and it is wonderful, this is a big deal to me and I am having to think hard about it because it is a nice security device, lowers insurance too. I do not want to go much over $350.00 per month for a payment and don't want to pay anything down. Where did you find such a deal? Do you mind telling me the year of your van and which package you have? I was looking at a 2005 model and my friend who owns a large lot says he can get one with about $21,000.00 miles on it but the payments would be close to $400.00. Not going to pay that much for a car. Our Envoy is a 2002 we bought it with 16,000 miles in 2003 and we pay $380.00 per month I want to lower that when we buy a van.
  • ClairesClaires Chicago areaPosts: 1,222
    It looks like a little of everything is being discussed here except the Chevy Uplander, Pontiac Montana SV6, Saturn Relay and Buic Terraza, and that makes things difficult and confusing for new members who want to talk about these vehicles. Please take a look at the discussions available in the Vans & Minivans Forum if you'd like to discuss other minivans and issues. Thanks.



    Need help getting around? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Tell everyone about your buying experience: Write a Dealer Review

  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    I have never seen a Chrysler van with rear discs though I'm not surprised the T&C has them. If they all have them now, must be new for 2005.
  • strstr Posts: 64

    Never mind I found the answer to this question in Toyota Sienna: Prices paid and buying experiences.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    I would email you, but I don't think your email address is public. Anyway, a few comments on the Uplander/SV6 vans and a comparison to the Sienna. I think with all of the features you want, it will be hard to get your payments at $350/month unless you lease, like I did. The Uplander and Sienna both have heated seats (if you get leather) like your Envoy, depending on the package with the Sienna. Same deal with Uplander too. The Sienna XLE has a great 10 speaker JBL sound system. I'm not sure what the Uplander offers, but it is decent. Both models have steering wheel controls, although I believe with the Uplander, you have to get the upper LT model. Onstar is not available on anything but GM. But the Sienna has a DVD navigation system that the GM vans don't offer. Of all the years I've owned cars, I have only once locked my keys in the car (and it was a GM vehicle) so for me, the Onstar thing wouldn't get much use. For safety it is nice for peace of mind. Don't forget though to budget in the $17 a month service fee after the first year, and that is the basic package. It does add to your bottom line.

    My XLE is a basic van, I don't have leather, or any other packages, although the XLE already comes pretty loaded to me. I get dual side power doors, and a power liftgate that is really handy, especially for my wife who is shorter than me. The XLE also comes with dual power seats that are some of the most comfortable seats I have been in. Fog lights, alloys wheels, there is even a little extra mirror that allows you to spy on all of the kids in the back. Very handy feature to have. You don't get remote start on the Sienna, but you can add it if you want later. No one has memory seats/mirrors yet, but I hear the Sienna will in '06. I know the GM vans don't offer this feature yet. I would think the Buick might, but not for '05.

    I got my van for $359/month with $0 down because the Sienna has a high residual, and the XLE models have a migher residual than the LE models too. If I got a loaded Sienna, payments would have been close to $400 probably. Same with the GM vans.

    You can go to any of the GM websites and use their payment calculator. Change the price to something close to invoice, and it will give you what it will cost to buy, lease (they don't do leases in NY anymore) and a smartbuy, which is similar to leasing, only you pay the whole amount in taxes like if you are buying, another reason why GM wasn't so attractive to me. You can also select how long you want to buy or lease, # of months that is, and miles. Toyota's calculator is similar, only it also asks you to select your credit worthiness (make sure you know this first). And then plug in the numbers. I noticed when I used my XLE price, which was $26,614, the lease price was very good - about $318 without taxes, and that is when I looked at the van in Fitzmall in Maryland, and realized I wasn't going to get a better deal elsewhere.

    But if you get special savings from GM, like customer loyalty $ (I was surprised I didn't get much incentive here, like $500 that was it), credit card rebates, etc. you might find you can't do better than the GM vans. If you lease, or smartbuy, you don't have to worry about depreciation as much, since you can just turn it back it. If you buy outright, you will want to keep it for 4-6 years or more to prevent losing so much from depreciation. Whereas with Honda or Toyota, you can turn around in 2-3 years and resell it for not much loss. I looked at used Toyota and Honda vans with around 16-24k miles on them, about 1-3 years old, and they were still selling used for around $21-26k. Seemed silly when I got mine for about that new, but people were buying them all the time used at these prices (a friend of mine did).

    You won't find a used Chevy Venture that is 1-2 years old with 16k miles on it for $23,000, more likely $12-15k used. The Dodge Grand Caravan with sto-n go used (2005 models) with about 16k miles on them sell for about $19k here, a little better for sure.

    If you are going to be buying and not leasing, it will be hard to find the van you want with all of the features new and keep your payments to around $350, doesn't matter what brand you go with. If you can find one slightly used (harder with the GM vans, but maybe a demo model) that would be the way to go for you.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    Do you work for Toyota? Just wondering as you seem determined to sell one.

  • strstr Posts: 64
    Check your email for my address.

  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Maybe I should - then I could get a commission. Funny, I was wondering if you worked for GM ;)
  • kcoreykcorey Posts: 130
    I bought a Buick Terraza about 4 months ago. The sticker was about $30,000 with heated seats. I ended up paying $26,000...but leasing it for about $370/month (in NYC). My wife and I love it. Sure, it doesn't have stow-a-way rear seats, but we never need to fold them down anyway (I'm 66). I've got 5 grandchildren, and they love it too...especially the DVD player. (I never would have bought the DVD player, but it's included). Try sitting in the rear seats of a lot of vans...they're really uncomfortable! My Buick is a real winner for us. I know, some other one's may look a little prettier, but I want a car thats's comfortable, and this one rides and handles just great.
  • strstr Posts: 64
    I test drove the Terraza and I too thought it was really comfortable. It has a beautiful interior and I love the class of the outside design. It's really nice to have the DVD included as a standard feature even though you may not use it all of the time there will be times that other passengers will not to mention it is great entertainment for board kids! I personally think you made a really great choice! We are minivan shopping right now and I am leaning toward the Toyota Sienna XLE because it has a lot of features that our family is looking for but the Montana SV6 is still in the running. It just depends on your own personal needs and preferences and the Terraza in my opinion is very classy and comfortable. :
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    Pontiac & Buick minivans may disappear soon:


    irg: I'm really surprised that Buick vans does not have memory seats. Are you sure about that? Because the Oldsmobile Silhouette did offer memory seats on all trim levels but the lowest.

    vanman: Since 2001, every Chrysler minivan (long wheelbase) have 4-wheel disk brakes.
  • strstr Posts: 64
    Ian, Ian, Ian,
    I finally get to tell you something about these vans (what a change), Samnoe is right, the Buick and SV6 have driver memory seats. I am looking at the brochure from the dealership right now and it is listed in the interior features under seats. It is standard on the CXL model but not offered on the CX.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Good article samnoe, I read something similar to that last week as well. Seems odd though, that just as they are rolling out the new vans for Buick, Pontiac, etc. they are already discussing cutting these new models - talk about short sighted! But overall I think it is a good move on GM's part. I could never really understand the difference between Buick and Oldsmobile - thankfully no one will have to now. What I don't get though is Saturn. The article mentioned moving it upscale, to be just below Buick. That seems weird to me. Saturn has NO history of being upscale, in fact it made its mark by being down scale and offering an unique dealer experience (I owned one until a couple of weeks ago). So where does that position Pontiac? Just below Saturn? I like the fact the Cadillac will be upscale only, to compete against BMW, Mercedes, etc. Makes sense. Ditto with Chevy, make it run the gamut against Toyota and Ford. Hummer is already niche so need to change anything there. Saab should be cars only, so I imagine as soon as they roll out these new SUVs that are really clones, they will be killing them off in another year or two. IMO, Saab needs to retain a real European feel, as sales in Europe will (are?) probably better in Europe than in the US. I've always liked Saab, I just want them to not be a copycat of a Subaru or a Chevy.

    I'd like to see Pontiac turn into a budget performance division. I like the GTO, the Solstice, etc. and make about 3-4 models, all rear wheel drive, with good performance at very reasonable prices, and an inhouse aftermarket dept. that could take these models to the next level if a customer wanted. I think Buick and Pontiac should not be similar in any way. Buick can continue to offer budget "luxury" enough to lure customers that want comfortable classy cars, without the caddy price tag. Still not sure though where that leads Saturn in all this. I've seen some of their new designs though, and they look killer. Hope they make it to market for more than one year.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Ah, so you are correct, although it is memory seat, and not seats ;) (Driver seat only) Does this memory seat have 2 memory positions? (programmable for each driver in a household) I believe I read that Toyota is adding memory seating for 2006. It isn't a necessity, but I think it is a good feature to have overall. I did drive the Buick but didn't realize it had this feature. The one I drove though did not have the heated seat option - again not a necessity but nice to have, especially in the winter here. I did drive a Lincoln LS recently with air conditioned seats. Now that is cool! Literally.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    I don't think Pontiac needs a version and Saturn should have the Opel van instead. I think a Chevy and a Buick (upscale version) would be enough.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    I never said buy a GM, I said buy what you want and what you like.

    I just don't think people should buy what other people or magazines tell them to. They should buy what they like because in the end, quality is not a big issue with any maker anymore and ultimately you have to live with your purchase for at least a few years.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    "I never said buy a GM, I said buy what you want and what you like." I have no problems with this. I am just recommending to anyone, to try out what's available, whether GM, Toyota, Ford, etc. Comparing brands is a good thing. I looked at the GM, Honda, Toyota, Dodge the most closely.

    "I just don't think people should buy what other people or magazines tell them to." I don't think so either. But magazines like Consumer Reports or C&D can be more objective than either of us, and they do offer the consumer all of the pros and cons about a product, and their tests are more thorough that what we can do as consumers, most of the time. How many of us can take all 4 vans from different manufacturers and drive them side by side on a closed circuit? I know I can't. All I am saying is that these resources offer good advice that are worth something. Same with owner's advice - finding someone who has owned the product you are considering is helpful. I don' think that should be the basis for making one's decision, but it helps all the same. Better to have the information, than not.

    "quality is not a big issue with any maker anymore and ultimately you have to live with your purchase for at least a few years. " I don't agree. Quality is still an issue and that is why companies like JD Power exist, to measure quality, and why every manufacturer including GM looks at their findings seriously. But quality to me is more than just whether a product works as advertised or breaks down or not. Quality is the comfort of the seats, the fit of the dash, the lack of squeaks and rattels, the ease of features, the gap in the panels, etc. GM has for years lagged in this area, so has Ford and Chrysler. Thankfully they are all getting better, but so has the competition. And some of the real high end rollers haven't faired so well in quality either. Mercedes, Audi/VW have both slipped some, probably because they have overcomplicated features in some cases. And perception still plays a big role. Ask any auto journalist who has higher quality, Toyota or GM and who do you think will be picked more often? The statistics still favor the Japanese at this point. And Hyundai is coming on fast. Once GM figures out what it wants from each division, that will probably help further their quality image as well.
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