Last post on Mar 31, 2013 at 4:37 PM
You are in the Vans & Minivans
What is this discussion about?
Toyota Sienna, Dodge Caravan, Chevrolet Venture, Mazda MPV, Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey, Chevrolet Uplander, Nissan Quest, Hyundai Entourage, Van
#2135 of 3798 Ratings on Cars, Are they Reliable???
Apr 18, 2006 (9:39 pm)
Now I have been spending a long time reading reviews on mini vans and I need some help here and opinions. I have read consumer reports, msn autos reliabity ratings, and JD power ratings. I tend to steer away from "consumer type reviews" because I have found that the syndrome of "if I own it, its the best" falls too much into play. I am really confused because each one lists different information..
For example looking at the Sienna reliability ratings I find the following (since everyone thinks that this van is the best most reliable thing on the road as far as mini vans are concerned):
MSN Autos: 1998 - 2001 Engine problems, listed are engine replacement due to sludge, this is listed as a significant problem with a cost of almost $6,000. It also lists the sliding doors on 1999 - 2001 cost around $400.
JD Power on Edmunds gives the ratings of 5/5 on Mechanical Dependability on 2000, 4 out of 5 on Mechanical Dependability for 2001 -2003
For comparison, I will look at the Pontiac Montana (which according to everyone is a big piece of junk)
JD Powers on Edmunds gives the ratings of 4/5 on Mechanical Dependability for 2001-2004, 3/5 for 2000.
MSN Autos lists for 2000-01 a PCS with a cost of $300. The other problem is a wiper arm cost of about $100.
The 02 model has moderate problem with a fuel pressure regulator and crankshaft position sensory, a cost of about 200 for both parts, it also has a signficant problem with a transmission valve body with a cost of about $550. The 2003 model had a moderate problem of a torque convertor clutch and it costs about is around $700.
So basically the Toyotas according the MSN Autos have some serious issues with engines and the Montana dependent on the year really may have only minor issues that can be repaired at a lower cost. Yet JD powers lists both of these pretty much at high reliabilty ratings.
So I then ponder, how reliable are these ratings and how is this truely reflected in the price we as consumers are paying for these cars? In my book the Toyota with an complete engine replacement is far more severe than even a $500 or $1000 repair on the other model, but Toyota vans are given this golden privledge of "the most reliable".
In fact when I was reading reviews left by consumers, some of the Hondas and Toyotas had some pretty severe problems like Engine rehauls and Transmission issues and the people gave them 9.5 out of 10. But the GM vehicles had problems like the cupholders broke, or the seats are too heavy and people rated them like a 6. Huh??
Are we as consumers conditioned to beleive that in fact certain models of cars are "better" than others??? Even safety ratings are hyped up, when there are so many different variables involved in a crash that no one can really predict the safety of a car. Many consumers are not even aware of what those safety ratings truely mean. I was at the car lot the other day and the salesman was pitching to this young lady how safe this tiny little Honda Civic was because afterall it had 5 stars!!!! Well, yeah if it hit another Honda Civic at an exact location and at a certain speed it would be safe, but hit by even a mid-size family sedan and it could suffer another fate.
We just had a horrific head on car crash in our county. A man and his two children in what should be a horrible car for safety according to IIHS and NHTSA. A mid-size family sedan hit a large pick up truck. The father and his two children walked away from the crash. The pickup truck driver wasn't wearing a seat belt and was thrown out and died at the scene. The picture in the paper of this car was scary. The entire thing was a ball of metal, yikes..
So did they survive because of seat belts, or because their car had a certain safety rating, or just because they had an angel watching over them?
Anyway, maybe someone can clear up the differences between all these ratings and help me make a better choice for my family
#2136 of 3798 Re: Ratings on Cars, Are they Reliable??? [tkcolorado]
Apr 19, 2006 (5:05 am)
I think you will get lots of responses to your posting.
Yes, people tend to give glowing reports about their own personal vehicles for whatever reason.
Since 1983, we have owned seven different minivans from all over. The worst were a VW Vanagon and a Grand Caravan. The best were a recently traded '03 Silhouette and our current '06 Odyssey. The Silhouette suffered from fit and finish problems but through 53,000 miles was mechanically reliable. The Odyssey is a solid, well built, reliable, comfortable and great handling van. So far it has to be among the best vehicles we have owned and there have been a lot aside from the seven minivans.
Consumer Reports, J.D. Power and the others combined can give you a good insight into the overall value of a vehicle. Carefully reading the posts here on Edmunds will give you a better, first hand account of ownership. Granted there a few people who life's mission is to tout their brand by denigrating all the others. I usually am concerned if a person adopts a user name containing their vehicle's brand name. Read ALL the posts and decide for yourself. I would not buy a van made by GM or Daimler-Chrysler because real world reliability based on personal experience tells me so. DCX is supposed to revamp their minis soon to have all the bells and whistles currently available from Honda, Toyota, Kia and Hyundai. I drive a Honda and my wife a 2005 Kia Sportage, both of which are head and shoulders above the competition for quality. Go and compare for yourself.
I am not a crash expert but when it comes to safety I would like a fighting chance.
#2137 of 3798 Re: Ratings on Cars, Are they Reliable??? [tkcolorado]
Apr 19, 2006 (6:16 am)
I think you need to make sure you are not comparing apples to oranges. I have looked into the MSN ratings before and they are based on input from actual repairs at independent (i.e., not affilitated with the manufacturer) garages, whereas the others are based on owner's reports. It is my personal opinion, but I think the MSN ratings give more meaningful results, but unfortunately, they are not as up to date (if you are looking for new or nearly new) as the other sources, but that kind of makes sense, too, since people aren't taking their new cars to independent garages for repairs until the manufacturer's warranty expires.
#2138 of 3798 Re: Ratings on Cars, Are they Reliable??? [tkcolorado]
Apr 19, 2006 (6:19 am)
Since we will be buying a minivan at the end of this year, and since I tend to research the daylights out of big purchases like that, I have been following minivans for over a year now. I think the best thing you can do, in light of competing reviews and opinions, is to look at general trends and play the percentages.
In minivans, one general trend I found was that domestic vans, except perhaps for the Dodge/Chrysler, generally and across the board were knocked for poor interior materials, poor fit and finish, and, with rare exceptions, being uninspired. Again, there were some exceptions to each of those, but that was the general, across-the-board impression. For me, even at a lower price, those things are important. They may not be for you, especially based on your budget.
After narrowing the list somewhat that way, I went and sat in and examined the remaining vans (the Hyundai and Kia more recently than the others). I crossed off the Dodge/Chrysler for various personal reasons (interior color choice, no roll down second row windows, don't like seats in stow-and-go, nav system small and low in dash, still use a four-speed transmission, engine size/power, etc) and because, generally, from all of my research, there appears to be an ongoing, over the years, problems with the transmissions. Those personal dislikes of mine may not be a problem for you. You, like a lot of people may like a gray interior. I think it makes the interior look smaller.
I liked the looks and size of the Mazda MPV, but it didn't have a lot of the bells and whistles we have gotten used to in our current cars (heated seats, memory seats, auto climate control, etc). This is an example of the need to do long-term, wide-spread research. There were several places, including Consumer Reports, that downgraded the MPV for tranny problems. While it did initially have problems, research revealed it was only a software, not hardware, problem that was easily solved by having the dealer reflash the computer module.
The Toyota, Honda, and Nissan (especially with new model changes) are all basically fine vehicles. The general trends, as opposed to a few people touting their own car, or trashing all vehicles that are not their own car, are that each of those vehicles (once Nissan worked out their initial quality problems) are interesting good quality vehicles. While I have some personal issues with the Odyssey (third row window does not open, memory seat controls only the seat, not the mirrors, and the PAX tires std if get the fully loaded Ody), those vehicles are not at the top of my list primarily because, in my opinion, they do not present the best value for the money.
I became sold on the new Sedona, and then the Entourage after my research showed that every car website and review I have found have said that especially the current generation of Hyundai and Kia vehicles are high quality and well-built vehicles. Both of their vans have all the bells and whistles I want (actually most known to vandom except a factory nav system) and they are priced several thousand dollars less than comparably equipped Hondas, Toyotas, or Nissans. Being reasonably confident in the quality (including long warranty), liking all the features available (including almost all safety features available in a non-exotic luxury vehicle), and with the lower price, that's why I intend to buy one of those vans.
As far as safety, there are no absolutes, you have to play the percentages. Sure, all the safety features and the biggest vehicle in the world may not save you, and you may walk away from an accident even though driving a Yugo and not wearing a seat belt. But the percentages say that you improve your chances of walking away from an accident by buying a vehicle that has done better in crash tests than other vehicles, by wearing your seat belt, and by driving defensively.
#2139 of 3798 Re: Ratings on Cars, Are they Reliable??? [artgpo]
Apr 19, 2006 (6:59 am)
"I drive a Honda and my wife a 2005 Kia Sportage, both of which are head and shoulders above the competition for quality. "
Just wondering - what competitors do you think the Sportage is head and shoulders above?
#2140 of 3798 Re: Ratings on Cars, Are they Reliable??? [tkcolorado]
Apr 19, 2006 (7:05 am)
CR is absolutely NOT Reliable and "NOT Recommended for purchase". Read the test results and compare the actual data with the biased, distorted written portion.
For accuracy, read in the Owner's Problems Forums for the various minivans here in the Town Hall. Read what actual owners report as problems and ignore comments made by owners of other brands.
Keep in mind that Odyssey owners are more likely to post problems than owners of lesser brands like Sedona since they have higher expectations and there are many times more Odysseys on the road than Sedonas. Sienna owners don't participate much in the Town Hall so you won't find as many complaints...but you also won't find as much discussion in the Sienna forums as you will in Odyssey forums.
#2141 of 3798 Re: Ratings on Cars, Are they Reliable??? [tkcolorado]
Apr 19, 2006 (7:18 am)
The Sienna you are looking at is a cxpmpletely different van than the new one, so the issues there aren't really relevent. Unless you are only looking at used vans. Not sure, you didn't say.
You have to realize that these ratings are all statistical. In general, one model will be more relaible than another. But it's just saying what is more likely to happen. That doesn't mean much when you are talking about a single car. I have a 2004 T&C which is supposed to be only average reliability wise. I have had zero issues in 2 years. A person with an Odyssey could have had to go to the shop 10 times in 2 years. Another angle is that the differences in reliability could be very slight. One compay could have "20 defects every 100 cars, and another could have 40." Sounds like it's a big difference, but it probably is not - .2 defects per car vs .4. Cars in general are much more reliable than ever before.
Crash test ratings are the same way. Doesn't mean that you walk away from a bad wreck in a poorly tested car, or that you'll survive on in a safe car. Because there are so many variable in every crash. But statistically, they are good in telling you what's your best chance to stay safe.
#2142 of 3798 Re: Ratings on Cars, Are they Reliable??? [mrblonde49]
Apr 19, 2006 (7:26 am)
Ask people who own the brand you are considering.
I have read the trash that CR publishes claiming DC minivans are not reliable but people who own and drive DC minivans tell me the DC minivans are reliable. Many have bought 3rd or 4th DC minivan because of complete satisfaction.
My sister just got a used 2005 GC SE because her 1986 Caravan had 170,000 miles with no problems before they sold it and got a Ford Explorer to tow their camper. Another friend has 90,000 trouble free miles on his 2000 GC LE...after owning 2 previous DC minivans.
#2143 of 3798 Re: Ratings on Cars, Are they Reliable??? [hansienna]
Apr 19, 2006 (8:30 am)
Ironically, CR's reliability surveys are also submitted by people who own and drive DC minivans. I have frequently discussed flaws in CR's methods, mostly because they exaggerate small differences. Even so, drawing conclusions from personal and internet anecdotes and owner reports is even more flawed than Consumer Reports if you are going to nitpick flaws in reporting reliability.
#2144 of 3798 Re: Ratings on Cars, Are they Reliable??? [mrblonde49]
Apr 19, 2006 (10:15 am)
Just about any vehicle its size. It may not be better than the RAV-4 and CR-V but it is at least equal based on our ownership.