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



  • strstr Posts: 64
    Has anyone read about the changes for 2006 SV6 and Sienna? I read that the Sienna is getting a front end change and tail light change as well as inside gauge changes. The SV6 is getting a rear wiper and more safety for back seat riders as well as color changes and lots of other stuff.
    This Toyota tire thing is something I'm not sure that I want to deal with. Are they taking care of it?
    Thanks for all the advise, I am making this decision on my own since my husband says I will be the one driving it so I should choose. He has his own car so this is ultimately my choice and a hard one to make since this will be my first van purchase. I have only driven cars or SUV's. This is a major change for me!
  • carguy1234carguy1234 Posts: 233
    The biggest changes I'm aware of for 2006 on these vans in that the GM vans get air bags for the second row (I think thats up several posts back here).

    The Sienna gets several nice upgrades, including memory seats and mirrors, improved instrumentation, and a power folding third row (probably only on the high end ones though).

    Note that the tires are only an issue on the AWD Sienna. FWD's have a wide selection of tires available.
  • samnoesamnoe Posts: 731
    All the above changes are for high-end Siennas only (memory seats and mirrors, instrumentation, power folding seat).

    SV6 will get a new optional 3.9L engine (for FWD only, not AWD) with approx. 235 hp, which will beat Sienna's (if they don't upgrade to compete with Honda's Odyssey).
  • strstr Posts: 64
    I was hoping for the second row air bags on the SV6 and I love the changes you include in the Sienna. Our Envoy has memory seats and mirrors along with radio/cd memory and a/c or heat memory that you set depending on your personal taste. When I use my remote to unlock the Envoy my memory settings are set so that when I start the engine radio tunes to my setting along with volume, air comes on to a certain temperature as well as level and the seat and mirrors move to my setting. It is great especially if my husband drove last and it is set for him. I have not been looking forward to giving these features up.

    I am now wondering if I should wait for the 2006. When you say high end does that include the XLE or just the limited. I was looking into the XLE FWD we don't really need the limited and certainly do not need the AWD.
  • strstr Posts: 64
    I was really concerned about the hp of the SV6. I have only driven SUV's and cars and that would take some getting used to (I think.) I don't really know how much of a difference it makes but I know my Envoy has 250 hp. Is a change like that really very noticeable? I have driven the SV6 and loved it, it was very smooth and quiet and took the big bumps like a pro, but I have nothing to compare it to because I have never before driven a minivan (besides test driving the Buick Terraza.) I can tell you though since 1998 the cars we have bought for me to drive were a Chrysler Sebring (before kids), Lincoln Navigator, Dodge Durango and the Envoy and after test driving the SV6 I am pumped about owning a van. They are just too handy. I swore I would never own a van or at least not until I was much older (29 now) but they are looking better all the time!
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Hey str,
    I just bought a Sienna XLE, and have spent a LOT of time researching vans (too much time really!). I began with the idea of replacing my Saturn L300 lease with a GM lease, since the "new" GM vans were coming out about the time I began looking. I drove the Buick Terraza and the Uplander AWD vans. All pretty similar to each other really. The Buick is supposed to be quieter, but the Chevy seemed about the same. The interior of these vans looked better than their previous vans for sure. I was initially skeptical of the safety records of these vans - the old models faired poorley from IIHS, but these new vans have made improvements which is welcome news. They still don't have side air bags which at first was a deal breaker, but it wouldn't be now. In fact I bought my XLE without side air bags, and one thing I read in my manual, and was concerned about, is when people (in my case 2 small kids) sit or fall asleep by the side of the vans, the air bags if deployed could be deadly. And since vans sit up higher, there is less need. Onstar on GM is also a nice feature if you ever need it.

    But GM, and I have been a fan or supporter, maybe that's the word, missed it on this redesign, as many other magazines have mentioned. It is underpowered somewhat. Around town, flat areas, it is ok. Going up hills (and there are a lot where I live) it seemed a bit anemic. This is the same engine that is in a significantly smaller Malibu. The 3.9 that is coming out this fall will be better - about where the Sienna and Odyssey have been for a couple of years. Maybe if they used a 5 speed transmission that would have helped too. Anyway, my Sienna feels powerful, quick, precise, and overall much more solid than the GM.

    Features missing. While GM has Onstar as I mentioned, the reality is that people buy minivans for convenience. The stow n go seats that almost every other van has now (Kia will soon) is missing on GM. Compare the 2 vans. There is so much more room for stowing things in the Sienna or Odyssey than the GM. And with 2 simple straps, I can fold the rear seats into the floor in seconds. Piece of cake. And I love it that they are of a 60/40 design. Why? Because 2 people can still sit on one side, while the other side is folded into the floor if you are carrying something big and bulky. At least GM did a split design, but they made it 50/50 which was dumb. Ford and Nissan don't have that option at all, which for me, made me cross them off my list.

    And while the GM comes standard with a dvd player (don't think you can delete that), it doesn't even offer a power rear door hatch. I wanted that for my wife who will be driving this most of the time. And we got dual power doors on each side. The Uplander LT has this feature too (Ls and LE Sienna make due with one) although I don't think by looking at their design whether they will withstand abuse, but that is speculation on my part. GM has had problems there before. I also like that my power doors sliding doors have power windows in them. GM doesn't. And these features can be turned off in case the kids misbehave!

    Both vans have clever features, but by and large the Sienna trumps them with more and better features. A moveable console in the front that can go in the middle, cup holders everywhere, 2 front glove compartments, and 2 other storage bins. I could go on. A JBL 10 speaker surround system (on XLE).

    The ride, handling and comfort of the Sienna was also superior. The Consumer Reports issue also agreed, giving their #1 ranking to the Odyssey, with a very close second to the Sienna, a #3 ranking but recommended for the Dodge, and the GM (Saturn in this case) was last and not recommended. This alone made me at least test drive the Sienna and Odyssey (at the time I hadn't) and after driving both, it was pretty clear to me, I wasn't going to be buying a GM product again.

    The final factor was also money. Oddly to me at least, is that the GM van is inferior to most of the others, but clearly it is outmatched to Toyota, Honda and Dodge. Yet they aren't cheap. And they aren't discounted much either. I had a hard time finding a midlevel van I could afford from GM, and believe me I ran the numbers in all directions. I also wanted to lease, and GM only does the Smartbuy in NY state. Even so, it was not going to be cheaper than the Toyota. In the end, I ended up going to Maryland and leased from for a terrific price. No one locally could touch it.

    All in all, I think the Sienna is a terrific van. Toyota's are well known for the terrific reliability and resale. GM is improving on these fronts, but not enough. I am not a GM hater, I wish they would do better, and feel that they can be competitive. But they make a lot of foolish business decisions, and this van makeover is one of them. I have seen very few of these GM vans on the roads around here, but tons of Siennas and Grand Caravans. I have been reading the owners complaints of the ones that have arrived (alternator) and hope that has been remedied. No car/van or manufacturer is perfect, they all have some defects, but GM has had far too many recently and historically. That's why they have been downgraded to junk status along with Ford.

    Before you decide on the SV6 van, do a real comparison, and drive the Odyssey and the Sienna. Drive the Dodge too. If you still want the GM, wait until the new 3.9 engine is in it. But doesn't it seem weird that in only 1 year, they are already going to be replacing/adding a new engine to this new van? Because they didn't get it right in the first place. This van is more about marketing it as a SUV hybrid which it isn't, than it is about trying to make the best van in the business. Honda and Toyota on the other hand want to be the best, and it shows. Even Hyundai and Kia with their new redesign coming out soon will show what they can do. And GM should be scared.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    Sienna is a nice van but you will get more for your money with a Montana SV6 in the end. If power is a concern, the 3.9L 240 hp is coming for 2006 and will easily out haul the Sienna. Unlike what the above post is inferring, they are not replacing anything, the 3.9L is an option for people who want more power.

    Buy what you like. I researched the thing to death and in the end, the Sienna was less value to me. Everyone looks for different things, buy what suits you.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    I did buy what suits me. I disagree strongly with your statement that the SV6 will get you more for your money in the end. It will not. It will depreciate faster because it is simply not able to compete with the quality of the Toyota. And as far as power, you are comparing what is being planned in the future, to what is current. Right now, the Toyota 3.3 is a superior engine to the 3.5 from GM. I've heard different horsepower claims of the 3.9 that is being planned for the GM. But basically it will be close to what the Toyota has now, but it will not "easily out haul the Sienna." Haha, good one. Funny thing, it still won't be as much as the Odyssey either. Does GM plan to keep using a 4 speed in their vans?

    The reliability still isn't there for GM. My new '02 3.0 Saturn powerplant had to have both the oil cooler and water pump replaced at 15k miles. My transmission on my Buick Regal failed at 50k miles (water pump also went bad). My new '99 Blazer was OK - it left me stranded 3 times, turns out just a bad battery. But considering it was less the 2 years old - oh well, I guess that can happen to any car though. But I can only speak from my actual experiences, but these did not want me to buy GM again. At least for a while.

    How was the Sienna less value to you? Not resale if that matters. Are we talking sticker price, or actual sale of van? My XLE was $26,614 to buy. The Uplander LT I looked at was more than that, with less features. Heck you can buy a Sienna LE with a basic #1 package for about $22k. Seen any SV6's for that price? I didn't, but there aren't many for sale around here still. No one seems to be buying them anyway.
  • carguy1234carguy1234 Posts: 233
    I used to think like irg (I mean thinking that I was a genius for buying a Sienna). But then as time goes buy you see that they still have issues too, just like any other make (the Sienna problems board has over 1500 posts on the 2004 redesigned model alone). While Toyota may have a slight statistical advantage over, say, a GM van in terms of overall reliability, in actuality it boils down to be a few problems per hundred units difference between them.

    I wonder how many others there are like me who bought a Toyota or Honda, and found out they have problems too (and aren't perfect), that they went back to buying something different next time around.

    So like vanman1 said: buy whatever you like the best.
  • holzwarthpholzwarthp Posts: 3
    Today I came out of the Dentist office and switched on my radio and for the 6th time the radio showed it was working but I had no sound. I was in town so I drove to the Saturn dealer and after 45 minutes they said that they were ordering me a new radio. It should be in next week. Now I have to go back to the dealer again. I hate going back to the dealer because of something that is wrong with the new car. This is the 5th time because of something wrong with the new car. Its a good thing that I am retired. Paul in Sutton, MA
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    Value does not equal resale. We keep our vehicles for 8-9 years. After that amount of time, it really is a negligible amount of difference. Value to me and most people is what you get for what you pay. I got things like power sliding door, alloy wheels, full function traction control, quad captains chairs, full roof rack/crossbars and a few other options for less than a stripped Sienna with plastic wheel covers.

    The 3.9L will be available in late July, it's not that far off. The 3.9L produces 240hp vs 230hp for Sienna.

    Maybe you have had some bad experiences but sorry, a battery is not a reliability issue? Fact is GM is not very far behind Toyota and the gap close smaller every year.

    People should buy what they like and want. The GM vans offer things like OnStar security, standard MP3 and DVD systems, 17" wheels, remote start that Toyota doesn't. GM vans are also less expensive, especially so if you add in incentives. Yes the Toyota is a very good van, it's well known. That doesn't mean everyone thinks it's the best choice for them. I know it wasn't for us.
  • polo6sppolo6sp Posts: 2
    We have owned this minivan for 4 months and are very happy we chose this over the Toyota Sienna that we also considered. Based on invoice pricing, rebate, GM points, interest on financed amount we saved $7000 over a Toyota Sienna LE with package with DVD and VSC, but that Sienna doesn't come with leather, heated memory seats, ONSTAR(an important safety feature), park assist, or (dual) power sliders. There are definite advantages to having factory installed DVD and remote start due to aftermarket wiring and installation being questionable.

    Our trade-in was a 98 Montana and is not comparable to the new GM vans. The new vans are quiet, safer, more refined, more powerful, and look much more upscale, but not completely femine, like some of the other manufacturer's vans.

    As for engine power, these are minivans not Corvettes(which is my summer car) If you look at the published 0 to 60 times for the GM, Toyota and Honda minivans,they are all comparable within 1/2 second(hardly noticeable to most). Ask my wife how often she is revving her Buick Terraza to redline to get the hole shot. Minivan passengers demand smooth acceleration which makes torque more important than horsepower. My 1990 Corvette has 245 hp and 345 torque which has a comparable horsepower number to a Honda minivan. The horsepower number doesn't mean squat.

    There is something to be said for buying American too. Foreign competition benefits the US consumer in many ways but Toyota is becoming the largest manufacturer worldwide and taking more and more market share away from the big three US. I understand that all these minivans are built in the US but buying a US brand promotes patriotism(leading to other US made purchases) and keeps the profits in the US which can put into our economy.
  • strstr Posts: 64
    I love these debates! This gives me a chance to view everyone's personal experiences and opinions. You are a great source of information and are very knowledgeable about the minivan market. I do not trust the car dealers (who does) because they all are out to make the sale so their word is zero to me but your testimonies are priceless. I never imagined I would be sitting here for weeks researching and obsessing over a van. I did not even look twice at my other cars just test drove it and if I liked it drove it home. This is crazy, but I now have two other lives at stake in the car with me so your information is valuable. Thank you!

    Now, this hp thing is a little weird. I own my own business approximately 20 miles away and must drive it everyday. Part of this drive (about half) from our acreage is a little bumpy, paved back roads and all basically flat (small hills) and the other half is highway and city roads. I really won't be racing anyone, I hope, or trying to out run the red light (very often) so I'm not to concerned with having the fastest minivan possible (crazy sounding) however, I also don't want to be the one that can't get around the semi on the highway and has the line of cars behind me.

    The back seat side air bag thing sounds very scary and I have never thought of it, thank you for that insight. If I wait for the 2006 for more hp I will also be getting the side airbags (back) because they will be standard on the 2006's and my children's safety is more important than driving with more power so perhaps the 05 is a better choice for me? I'm just a little ticked that they (GM) left off the rear window wiper, very out of date, who does that anymore!

    The Toyota is no doubt a classy top of the line van but I am a little nervous about buying a foreign car. As you can see I have never owned one, yet. We did look into a Lexus SUV after the Navigator but declined due to fear that our 11 month old child would shred that $50,000 investment and that was the same reason we were trading in the Navigator (not to mention gas mileage.) I am impressed with the Sienna and the SV6, this is terrible!

    I am also concerned with gas mileage because I travel Monday - Friday to my business. I would love to hear about how the two do on gas.

    Thank you.
  • bigdaddycoatsbigdaddycoats Posts: 1,058
    Have you considered a Rendezvous? They are built on basically the same platform as the GM minivans.

    I would guess the SV6 will be cheaper than the Sienna to buy. In some cases insurance is more expensive on foreign vehicles, even when they are produced in the United States. For me, I know it would cost me more to insure a Civic than it would a Focus.

    The side air bags are a definite added safety feature. If I liked a vehicle enough I would get it regardless. Our RDV has them, but my GTO does not.

    Many decisions for you to make. Good luck.

    What kind of business do you have?
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    "I'm just a little ticked that they (GM) left off the rear window wiper, very out of date, who does that anymore!"

    All the GM vans I have seen have rear wipers?
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    I agree that everyone should buy what is best for them. Obviously we both did! I know I spent months researching vans, and what I came up with this time, (Toyota) was different than what I thought I was going to choose (GM). I based this on a number of different factors, some rational, some more emotional - don't we all. First I looked at my past purchases. The new Blazer I bought in '99 was an OK SUV, but really, both the Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee, let alone the Pathfinder and 4Runner were superior vehicles. I bought it because it seemed cheaper at the time to lease, probably because GM was trying hard to unload these models. Same with my Saturn L300. Not a bad car at all, but an Accord or Camry are definitely better vehicles in every sense.

    This time I looked seriously at the new GM vans. The incentives at the time were not great. I don't work for GM, and my "loyalty" rebate was for $750 - but it expired before the vans even rolled out (end of December). I even called GM and told them I would buy another product from them if I could apply this incentive to a vehicle that was due out any day. Of course that never materialized. The rebate now is $1000. Sienna has a $750 rebate, so not much difference here. I know some people get added incentives and so on, but for me, I wasn't getting anything more. If you can pile on the incentives, credit purchases, whatever, then it might make sense to go for these vans. But most people will only get what is nationally advertised, which at the moment is $1,000.

    Right now, if I compare an Uplander LT, and add the convenience package only (similar to my XLE) the price of this van msrp is $29,930, invoice is $27,146, and the TMV is $26,789 after the $1,000 incentive. Even if you get this van at invoice, minus the rebate - $26,146 that is still very close to what I paid for my XLE - $26,614. Both vans have a few things the other doesn't, but in the end, what the Sienna has that the Uplander doesn't easily tipped the scales in its favor for me.

    For example, the Uplander has a MP3 player, but the Sienna's 10 speaker JBL system with subwoofer, is a better sounding system. I don't use MP3's anyway as the sound is too compressed for me. The Sienna has a power liftgate that GM doesn't offer - a feature my shorter wife really appreciates. The seats in the Sienna are much better for stowing, ease of use, and comfort. Even my 5 year old has mastered how to fold and stow these seats. The Uplander doesn't offer the third row stowing of seats - a big mistake in my book. For me, this was a feature that was much more important than whether I have nice 16" alloys vs the 17" in the GM. (both look nice IMO). They are 17" on the AWD Sienna by the way.

    I am not sure where the facts are in terms of GM closing the quality with their Japanese rivals. I sincerely hope they are by the way. But if this is accurate, why does Toyota keep moving further ahead in sales, while GM, Ford continue to lose market share? Maybe it's perception. People like me (for now), believe that Toyota is a better made vehicle maybe because sources like Consumer Reports says so, or JD Power, or whatever other survey is out there. Or because their residuals are better (by the way, the residual on the Toyota Tundra is 71%) or resale is better. I have a used Explorer I have been trying to sell (Eddie Bauer) which is in pretty good shape, 4wd, etc, and I can't even get $4k for it. A friend of mine sells his piece of crap looking Honda Accord older than mine with over 200k miles on it for $3500 (guess which cost more new).

    Look - it took a long time for Toyota and Honda to get to the reputaiton they have now. Their vehices weren't always good, but they continually strived to make them better, and now with the Hybrid technology they have, they are so far ahead of the others, that Toyota is in talks with GM to allow them to use this technology too, just so GM won't get left so far behind. In fact Toyota sales are so good that they are worried about a backlash, and feel that they now need to help their competition in some areas. And it has taken GM and Ford an equally long time to get the reputation they deserve, and that is of a company that is not as good as it's rivals. Getting better finally, yes, but again, its rivals are also improving.

    We could go on about the mistakes GM/Ford have made over the last 2 decades but I won't for the moment. The new GM vans are surely better than they have been. They simply weren't very good before, and sales reflected that. The hardest thing for Honda when they came out with the Odyssey was producing enough. If only GM had that problem! But the bottom line is that these new vans aren't new, they are redesigned. A slightly better engine (although I read somewhere that they are actually slower because of the additional weight for saftey measures) and a bigger snout on the front. A much improved dashboard, but the same size inside, no new features when it comes to seat arrangements, and while they through in a dvd player as a bonus, they are missing the more important features for me (and many others that buy these vans.)

    But for those that see the extra value in the MP3 player and 17" wheels etc., and like the looks of these new vans, and can get a really good deal with whatever incentives are out there, then they should buy this van over its rivals.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    Also I forgot to ask you vanman1, is your van one of the new GM models, or a previous generaiton? It is pretty hard to find a GM van like you describe "I got things like power sliding door, alloy wheels, full function traction control, quad captains chairs, full roof rack/crossbars and a few other options" which sounds like a Uplander LT or it equivalent for the same price as a stripped Sienna CE (around $21k or so). The previous generation GM vans were selling at an unbelieveable price with the incentives and all. But why would Honda or Sienna offer much incentives and discounts when people are buying them up left and right?
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    First power. I agree, these are minivans, so 0-60 times aren't as important as they might be for your vette (speaking of, I would love to get my hands on a new Z06 - one can dream...) but they can still be important. The GM 3.5 has 200 hp, and 220 lb/ft of torque at 4400 rpm. Nothing special really for a midsize car, but underpowered for a 4470 lb van. The Sienna has 230 hp, 242 lb/ft of torque at a slighty more useable 3600 rpm. And it has a sweet engine noise when you want it to rip. As all of the magazines have said - the Lexus of minivans. I will say though that I liked the interior looks of the GM vans, especially the Buick. But I still like the Sienna better, but definitely GM put a little more thought into the insides this time. As for outside styling, Honda and Toyota for me are better styled, but this of course subjective.

    One of the most important things for minivans, IMO, is utility/convenience - this is less subjective. The GM vans have 137 cu ft of cargo room compared to Sienna's 149 cu ft, and 26.9 cu ft of luggage space compared to 43.6 cu ft in the Sienna. If you have a larger family you will definitely appreciate this. If there's just two of you, maybe not a big deal.

    If you got a Terraza for $7k less than a Sienna LE, you did very well. I will bet though, that most people won't be able to capitalize on these same savings. Financing with Toyota is 3.9% which is pretty competitive. Not as good as Dodge's 0%, but then you take away the cash incentive.

    I could not make the numbers work out for me this time with GM. I tried. But these are not inexpensive vans anymore. And the rebates for most people are not that substantial. When I compared apples to apples, my XLE to a LT (Uplander) they are right about the same price. I got a smoking deal on mine, but I credit where I got it more than anything. If I had had to pay $7k more for my Sienna, I probably would have chosen the Terraza too. What I find curious is that the price between the Buick, Pontiac, Saturn and Chevy are all very similar. Seems the best value of those 4 is the Buick. What happened to Chevy being the budget model? Talk about confusing your audience.

    For your last paragraph about buying American, I have done that for the last 6+ years with 4 American cars. I've had 2 German cars, and one other Japanese car (Nissan Altima, which to this day is the only vehicle I've owned that never had any mechanical problems of any sort). If GM or Ford want me to buy American, then they need to be building the best product, period. Not almost as good, or pretty good, but the best. The Japanese have copied our products, made them better, and continue to strive to be the best. I want to see GM do the same now. When they remade the Malibu, they should have made it better than the Accord or Camry. Instead, they made it almost as good (and that's being nice here). Not one single magazine I subscribe to could ever say that this was a better car than the competition. Cheaper, maybe. Thank God for fleet sales, or GM and Ford would be in real trouble.

    GM is saddled with many problems that they can't yet figure out out to deal with - unions, exploding pensions, etc. They've relied far too long on trucks and suvs (both which lag behind everyone else now) as their bread and butter. But that chapter is closing, fast. They finally update their small car (Cobalt) which is leaps and bounds better than the Cavalier, yet it looks an awful lot like it. They built the Aztec, the most God awful styling disaster in the last 25+ years. That nearly killed them in every magazine publication out there. They have recently lost ground in pickups too. Car & Driver placed both their Canyon and Sierra in last place in the most recent comparisons. The list goes on. There are bright spots too - Cadillac finally looks like they want to play with the big boys. The Vette is probably the best value in sports cars today. But these are niche market vehicles. I've been hearing some rumors that they might kill off Buick and Pontiac too. Hard to believe that, but maybe it would help their bottom line.

    As you said, Americans are buidling the Sienna, the Odyssey, just as they are the Terraza. With globalization the way it is, sales from a Toyota or Honda will benefit our economy in much the same way. Toyota just announced it is spending $10 million more on its plant in Kentucky to make Hybrid Camry's. That will benefit Americans, and the local economies too. When GM makes a product that is the better or at least just as good as Toyota, then I will buy it. Right now, that product doesn't exist. I hope it will, and soon.
  • irgirg Posts: 197
    All I really want to convey, is that if you like the SV6, before you buy, drive the Sienna or Odyssey or the Grand Caravan, and compare the ride, quality, features that are most useful for you, and then factor in the price. If you compare apples to apples (hard sometimes) an Uplander LS to a Sienna LE or an LT to an XLE, you may find that there isn't much difference in price - at least on paper. If you can get a great deal on one versus another, than that should play a role in your purchase. For me, I got a much better deal on a Sienna than I could on a GM van, icing on the cake because I feel strongly (could you tell) that the Sienna is a better van overall than the GM products. And I have been a loyal GM owner for a while now.

    Fuel economy - it takes some of these vans a while to break in, and none of them have really great fuel economy. I got 23.5 mpg on my first drive home going about 80 mph, with a lot of hills. I expect it to improve somewhat. The Sienna is rated at 19/26, the GM is rated at 18/24 so not much difference. The GM vans weigh more (about 300 lbs more) and have less power, so that is probably why their economy is not quite as good. The new 3.9 engine might actually help economy. The Odyssey has on their upper line models a feature that uses half of their cylinders while at highway speeds. Won't make any difference around town, but probably a good feature to have if it proves to be reliable. GM does something like this on their pickups or it use to.

    Why are you nervous about buying a foreign car? They are only foreign in terms of where someone like Toyota is headquartered. Most (maybe all?) of these vans are made in the USA by Americans, sold by Americans. Pick up a copy a few months ago of Consumer Reports and read the reviews of the Odyssey, Sienna, Grand Caravan and the Saturn Relay. I thought the review was overly harsh of the GM van, but it did make me reconsider where I was going with my search, and made me look at Toyota and Honda. I never considered the Ford Freestar or the Nissan Quest. Ford seems to be giving up on the minivan, and they can't sell them very well at all. No split folding rear seat which was a must for me, same with Nissan, and their quality issues for the Quest have been very well documented. Plus I didn't like the funky interior. Ford seems to have a winner with the Freestyle and the Ford 500, but I don't know if anyone has noticed them...

    The GM vans do I believe have a rear windshield wiper. Maybe a base model doesn't, but I think the base models will be mostly for commercial sales, although I could be wrong. If you drive 20 miles a day and don't need a lot of power, the GM 3.5 should be adequate for your needs. Whene the 3.9 option comes out, it will make the GM vans competitve with the Odyssey, Sienna and Quest in terms of power. But as we have all mentioned, there is more to a van than HP (or torque). Just try the Sienna or Odyseey for comparison sakes first - you might prefer them. If not, at least you can feel you've done your due diligence here.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    GM has always taken care of me and my cars in a professional and fair way. I hear horror stories about Toyota service and customer care. There is a reason why they finish well below GM in customer service surveys. I'd be a bit worried of buying a Toyota also. Our office administrator is a good example, has a Corolla with a stinky A/C system that Toyota won't even acknowledge has a problem.

    We have a 2004 Montana Sport. The list price of the new vans is less than the old but the deals are not as good. That said, they are likely better then when you looked and having priced out a Montana SV6 I came up with a price that was still less than the Sienna though not as much less as mine was.

    You bring up your Saturn L series a lot and although I sympathize, it was well known to be a poor effort from the get go. No big surprise it had issues, they all did. Part of the reason Saturn sales have slid that last 5 years.

    While I do agree the Sienna is likely a better over all choice, the GM vans offer features not available from Toyota. Further the GM vans offer lower prices, entry level models and short wheel base models (new for 06 in the US, available here now) that Sienna can't match. I also prefer the simpler look of the GM dashes.
  • 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.
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