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



  • 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.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    On those points..

    Yes CR and other magazines can test back to back but do they know you and what you like or want in a van? Do they know if remote start or On Star are more important than flip and flop seats? I don't think so. That's why you should buy what you want, not what you or a magazine tells you to.

    On the quality side, the difference between #1 and #5 is probably only 20 problems per 100 cars. Yes some are better than others but in the end, quality is much less of an issue than it used to be. Even the Korean companies seem to be closing in on whomever is #1. Lots of studies (like the latest from JD Power) show GM is pretty darn close to Toyota and Honda now, even ahead in some categories, and every year that passes the gap is smaller.
  • kcoreykcorey Posts: 130
    Yes, the CXL has a 2 position memory seat --- driver 1 or driver 2. (It's kind of silly, really, but my wife loves it.
  • kcoreykcorey Posts: 130
    I have to admit that Vanman is really right, here! I subscribed to Consumer Reports for over 15 years, and woke up and stopped. I worked in the retail paint industry, and every year CR would change their top 10 list. Well, the ingredients in the paint didn't change, so why were they changing their "Top 10"? Look, you try the car (or Paint, or whatever) out yourself. If you like it, and it meets your needs and likes, then buy it. Gee, it's not like you're marrying the darn thing...if it doesn't fit the bill, turn it in in a couple of years. No car today is ever going to be like my "55 Caddy, or "57 Lincoln, or '49 Packard...and I'm not going to be 20 again either. Just enjoy them, and look forward to the next crop of new ones.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    I love CR as a reference and I check it all the time before I buy a camera or a PC, but in the end I still buy what I like, not what they do. I did buy their "best buy" digital camera last year but the BBQs they liked were way more than I could afford so I bought something else.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    When did I ever say people shouldn't buy what they like? Look, I was getting ready to buy an Uplander van. In January, though they were really hard to find. While waiting, the issue of minivans in CR came out, and I read it (also liked it for the mutual fund section, but that's another story.) It made me wonder about a number of points, and at the least I though, I should at least check out Toyota, Honda and Dodge (the 3 recommended vans) to see if they really are that much better than the GM vans, although I had been assuming all along I couldn't afford them. The reality was for me at that time, the GM vans were new, incentives were slim (still not great) and sticker price as well as invoice price, they were really no cheaper than the other 3 vans.

    So I drove the other vans, liked the Toyota and Honda a lot, a lot more than the GM, and then studied all of the features that came with each package to the point that I knew more about each van, than just about all of the salesman I visited. What it came down to was price, and in the end financially the Sienna was the better deal - and at the same time it was easily apparent to me that it was the better van quality wise too - the same basic conclusion the CR came to as well. The article did not make me buy it, it just opened my eyes as to how different one product from another could be, and listed pros and cons about everything. In the end, what convinced me was what vanman has been saying, and what I have agreed with, buy what suits you. It seemed obvious to me, that if 2 vans are close in price, and yet one drives better and has better features, it makes sense to buy that van, which is what I did. So when someone else in van shopping, I have no problems sharing my findings from my personal van buying experience, because I think it will benefit others.

    If you try the GM van and that works for you, find buy it. What do I care? If someone is going to fork over $25k+ for a van, and all they have considered is GM, I will politely mention they should consider the other 3 for comparison sakes, and then decide. If the GM is still the one, great again. That is my main advice to anyone, don't be hung up on brands. Vanman and others are, and it is GM. I am not, I don't think the Sienna is the greatest van ever made, but it's close. The Honda and Dodge all make good vans too, each with their strengths and the Nissan seems to be a good value for some too. Next year the van to get may be the Hyundai, who knows.

    I think CR is a valuable tool for some things. Comparing cars and paint is a silly exercise here. Maybe the ingredients did change - how would you really know what brand has changed what in their ingredients? You said you worked reatil, but that isn't the same thing as working for a paint manufacturer. I would imagine the basic ingredients are the same, but there can be tons of varieties within these parameters. And maybe some paints really do last longer than others, hence the change in the rankings. Are you basically saying that no one ever changes their paint formula year in and year out? I buy a lot of paint for my house, and I can tell you the difference in a Sears brand paint and the Behr paint I've been buying from Home Depot lately, there is a big difference. The Behr is much superior for both coverage, color and durability. Funny, it is CR's #1 pick I believe. I am not a paint or car expert, very few here are on this board. CR can be a good resource, and I don't profess it is the only one, as I have stated before if you read my previous posts. I have yet to see though, any magazine that is neutral (not owned by GM, Toyota, etc.) that has ever in recent memory ranked a GM van first, or even towards the top. The last test C&D did last year, they didn't even consider a GM van to test.

    By the way, I don't subscribe to CR, and I don't think it is great for everything. They test audio equipment (another hobby of mine) in a way that makes me cringe. For speakers, they test the audio frequency, and make judgements that way. Scientific maybe, but it doesn't tell you a damn about how a speaker actually sounds. One year they gave Bose a bad review (they definitely got that right) and Bose sued them. Bose lost, but in the years after that, CR never came right out and gave Bose a bad review again. I didn't like that - I liked the fact that CR stood up and actually published the frequency response of their speakers (something Bose never publishes - the only speaker company that doesn't, as far as I am aware). But I digress.

    I agree with one of your points, no car today is going to be like your '55 caddy, that is a true statement for sure. Because that was 50 years ago. They don't build 'em like they use to, and maybe that's a good thing. Probably wouldn't be any oil left at this point.
  • dan165dan165 Posts: 653
    I have an Uplander and I really didn't consider any other van because I wanted a SUV and this fit the bill for less money and with better gas mileage. The ride is smooth and quality is top notch, the dash is beautiful. My wife is the main driver but she agreed on the SUV look, she is very happy with her CSV.

    Let me tell you about Toyota Quality.. I leased a Sequoia when they came out and the engine would click all the time. It was so bad that Toyota finally offered to let me out of the lease as it could not be fixed. I was offered another but ended up with a Tahoe instead which was flawless for the 2 years I had it. I then realized that GM quality was back and it was an influence on my wife's purchase as was the quality of my current Grand Prix which has also been flawless.

    No one is wrong for buying anything. We bought the 3rd house we looked at, why? Because we liked it. I have seen many many more homes since we bought and some are very nice but I still love our house. Same goes for cars, if you like something buy it.
  • strstr Posts: 64
    I think irg is just getting tired of always having to justify his opinion every time he gives it to someone. I have talked to him a quite a bit on these forums and he has never tried to persuade me to buy a Toyota but gives his honest opinion which is obviously in favor of them, sometimes it is misunderstood. Maybe I am completely off base but isn't that what these forums are about, opinions and personal experiences?

    Anyway, we are looking at the Montana SV6 and a Toyota Sienna but are kind of stuck in the middle. The first time I saw the CSV's I loved them. I absolutely love the SUV look it sure beats the old boxy out of style body the minivans have had for so long, the change is really nice. I agree, the inside of these vans are beautiful. How is the gas mileage? Is everything holding up well? Did you get the remote starter? I think that would be a really great feature. If you don't mind telling me I'd be interested in knowing what kind of a deal you got on your Uplander.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    For a person who is willing to do some research, CR is quite inrrelevant when it comes to cars or cameras, or most of the things they test. And quite frankly I find some of their tests are pointless. There's very little information on the details of a product's features and strong suits, and they base their ratings on very generalized criteria. They often leave me scratching my head wondering what the article I just read really said. For a person who doesn't care too much or know much about the product, yeah, CR might be helpful. But for any person who cares to do just a little research or knows something about the product (be it a camera, a car or whatever), CR's rational and recommendation are too shallow and general to mean anything. Just my 2 cents. Now fire back you CR faithfuls before the host kills this topic ;)
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    I don't know why you guys and gals are so hung up on this "SUV" look. Maybe I'm just too geeky to care about looking cool :blush: we love the mini van look (well, on a 2nd thought, maybe just the Quest's mini van look ;) ). My wife and I have been dying to get our hands on a mini van, so we won't care one bit being seen driving one.
  • strstr Posts: 64
    I like the look of an SUV on a van but I also like the classy car like look of the Sienna or I wouldn't be considering one. I just don't like the look of the old body style minivans, even Sienna recently changed to a more sleek and modern look. It's just that a lot of the vans haven't and they've had the same body style forever and now with all the new changes they are starting to look out dated, to me it's kind of like when you see someone in 1980's style clothing and your thinking, why, we've already done that can't we move on? That's just my personal opinion though, I guess to the guy wearing the 1980's clothing he does look cool or he wouldn't be wearing it, right? ;) Really doesn't matter does it?
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    When I first saw the pictures of the new vans I was not impressed with the "SUV look". Now that I see them on the road though, I think they look pretty good with the big wheels and higher stance. I especially like the Uplander, looks almost like a Trailblazer or a Tahoe from the front. Definitely has more of a presence than any other van on the road I think.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Dan, you proved my point exactly in your last paragraph "we bought the third house we looked at." (I think we did too.) My point though, is that you looked at other houses didn't you, before you bought the third house. It's a major purchase like a car, so one should be thorough in their search. I understand that you liked the SUV look of the Uplander, which is what GM is hoping will lure in customers - not a bad idea, although SUV's in general are on the wane. However it is still a van, and not an SUV. IMO, it (the minivan) has many advantages over most SUVs, unless you need to tow something.

    Sorry to hear about your bad luck with your Sequoia. No manufacturer is immune from this, unfortunately. And GM is on the rise, you're right. But Toyota is still tops, in most categories. Both are heading in the right direction, which is what ultimately matters - better products for all consumers. My expeience with GM was not terrible like you had with Toyota, but it wasn't exactly confidence building either. I expect any vehicle in the 2-3 year window when you lease something like your Tahoe or my Blazer or Saturn to be pretty much maintenace trouble free. Your Sequoia wasn't and my Saturn wasn't. I understand well why you switched brands, I would have too. The only brand of cars I have bought more than one of is GM, and I might still consider them in the future. If my Sienna is trouble free like I expect, I would definitely consider Toyota again, if not, I'll try something else.

    Next time I buy a van, I won't automatically consider the Sienna, I will look at most of the main players, drive them all, and then buy or lease the one that best matches my budget and preferences. I give that advice often, and I follow it as well.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    I understand your points, although in general I do disagree. I don't think CR is irrelevant necessarily. I just think that is too general to say. For many years now, their rankings of (used and new) cars that are the most reliable have been one of the reasons, IMO, that companies like Honda and Toyota have catapaulted in market share, and the same reason in part, why the fortunes of GM and Ford have been in decline for years. That makes it relevant. You may not agree or like their findings or conclusions, but they're relevant nonetheless.

    Now I do agree that some of their tests also leave me wondering. I guess they can't test products in every different way possible that would make everyone happy. If nothing else, what I do find helpful on the rare occassions I buy CR, is to find out what else is out there, whether I am buying a new dishwasher, TV or van. I often don't know what is available, so I like CR as a starting point, to consider their findings, and then take it from there. I don't it view it as the bible of shopping or anything like that.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Now here we agree! I don't care at all anymore about having the SUV look. IMO, most of the new minivans in general have a pleasing look about them. I like the Odyssey the best, but not by much. A van is still a van, and right now my kids are young enough that they think the van is very cool. Maybe when they get older they won't, but who knows what will be in vogue then. Fortunately I don't live in a very materialistic town. Very old Subaru's and Volvo's (often rusty) are almost a status symbol here. The "it" car to have is the Prius. Hey, it's a college town, and there are probably more "greenies" here in this little college town than all of Texas. LOL.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    Actually, if you read "Dan's" email more closely he said they have seen many more houses sincethey bought, not before.

    As for Toyotas "top ratings", they are not tops by much and have fallen from the top in some categories. While still good, it's pretty obvious that over all Toyota is not all that special anymore and their products for the most part are dull. Over time I suspect their sales will slow when people realize this (they still have the reputation) unless they spice things up a bit.
  • strstr Posts: 64
    "Hello, Hello, Hello is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me, is there anyone home?" Just quoting a little Pink Floyd for you guys.
    What happened? Everyone's so quiet. There hasn't been a post since May 27. irg not around to argue with? Well, I'll stir something up then.
    Yesterday I saw a Montana SV6 on the road and it looked sharp. It was black and very sleek but it looked kind of narrow for a van. I was wondering if this is something they changed or if all of the Montanas are narrow and I just haven't noticed it before? I usually don't look at the older body styles so I really don't know. Do they have less room than other vans (width wise) or is it just an illusion with this new body style?
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Maybe Toyota isn't hot where you live, but they seem to be here, and most places in the US. I agree, that some of their product lines are a bit conservative, if not dull. That has always been on a knock on them. Nothing new. That is one of the reasons they have launched Scion. Maybe that will help, I know one local dealer can't keep the Scion tC in stock. And all of the dealers around here have been selling every last Prius they can get. Whether you like it or not, the Prius is a special product, and is already changing the automotive industry. GM wished they had a vehicle like that. Instead, the try and sell a product like the SSR pickup, make it look retro (enough of this trend already) make it pretty useless as a truck, and then slap a huge sticker price on it and watch the customer come flocking into the show room. Oh wait, that never happened, because nobody cares about a retro pickup that gets bad gas mileage and can't tow what a normal truck can tow. And now they are desperately trying to unload this disaster.

    How about the G6. Even with Oprah's help, they aren't selling many of these. Design wise, they are almost Camry dull, yet the Camrys and Accords keep selling well, but the G6, not lookng so good. Maybe things will pick up.

    Toyota's quality is still excellent. When you buy one of these "dull" products, for the vast majority of owners, they get a vehicle that is well built, dependable, and has very good resale. More of an appliance true, they do lack some personality. But for the typical car buyer that is not really into cars, a Toyota experience is more than sufficient. Quality, reliability, safety, and resale. If GM can nail all of these things, they will be back on top. Don't see that happening just yet. Don't see Toyota or Honda faltering too much either, no matter what you might believe (or wish).
  • tjhsmithtjhsmith Posts: 25
    The GM vans are a little narrower than competitors' vans. Originally, when GM redesigned their vans for 1997, an Opel badged version was going to be made for Europe. Opel insisted that the vans be made accomodate narrow European streets. The Opel version never happened, but by the time Opel cancelled, it was too late and too costly to reengineer the vans for the US market. Since the new vans are built on an updated platform from the 1997 vans, they are still a bit narrow. They are no narrower that the previous GM vans, but maybe they appear that way because they are longer than previous versions.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    I know this is the GM van board, but FWIW I want to give you all an update on our minivan shopping saga. And Man, what a journey it has been! Yesterday evening we finally made the committment and bought a base S model Nissan Quest for $650 under invoice (yes, you read right). After the 2K rebate, the price was $21751, and we paid a hair below $24K out of the door. The van has floor mats, splash guards, microfilter, cargo cover and cargo organizer. Too bad this van was made right after Nissan's price increase, otherwise we could've gotten it for $252 less. But we spent the extra $300 (after tax) for the color we liked. The van is still in transit on the delivery truck. Our sales person was nice enough to offer to deliver the van to our home when it gets there.
  • tamu2002tamu2002 Posts: 758
    My wife and I considered the Chevy first because we have GM credit card points and our 02 Chevy Malibu has been great. But I really didn't care for its looks and hated the fact that side airbags (curtain or seat mounted ones) weren't available and there was no folding seat of any kind. It drove noisily and it also felt very cramped inside being so narrow. And it was pricy! The Uplander's fate was sealed after my wife test drove it. She complained that she had a hard time grabbing onto the steering wheel's fat spokes.

    My wife and I then went back and forth between the Quest and the DGC SXT. It came down to the price. The Quest we bought has standard side curtain airbags, traction control, 4 wheel disk ABS, power passenger side door, power liftgate, parking sonar assist, power rear flip out window, and of course the small stuff like floor mats, splash guards, microfilter, cargo cover and cargo organizer. To get those things in a Dodge Grand Caravan SXT, we would've paid about $23K, 1K more than the Nissan. We tried real hard in the beginning to get the DGC, but sort of gave up on it once we realized it wasn't gonna happen for $22K. The feature we miss the most in the Caravan is the 3rd row plit seating. We love the 2nd row stow-n-go as well, but the Quest's 2nd row almost folds flat although without the two storage wells. On the other hand, we love the Quest's vast head and leg room, big and comfy seats, and its modern querky looks inside and out ;) We also considered the base model Quest which doesn't have the power door and hatch and rear sonar but is $15K cheaper. Finally we decided it'd be worth paying the extra for the added convenience. BTW, the Dodge salesperson was very nice to work with. Happy motoring everybody :shades:
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