Last post on Mar 31, 2013 at 5:37 PM
You are in the Vans & Minivans
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Toyota Sienna, Dodge Caravan, Chevrolet Venture, Mazda MPV, Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey, Chevrolet Uplander, Nissan Quest, Hyundai Entourage, Van
Apr 05, 2011 (1:55 pm)
I just want to share our recent experience with picking out our new van. With two little children (a 2 years old, and a new born infant), we are looking for a minivan to replace my wife's 2003 BMW 325i.
We started looking into the market since around Oct 2010. At that time, Sienna was our first and only choice (nothing wrong with domestics but we decided to go for imports based on past experience so far). We were focusing on the LE and SE as we thought the limited is just too much $$ for a minivan. We hesitated due to its poor interior and bad driving experience. The dashboard and door panels are made of very low grade plastics with no padding at all. I am okay with that for an entry level vehicle like Echo, but spending close to 40k, I expect something better. Integrated radio antenna should also be standard for all models, instead of only available in the limited model. These little details may not show the overall quality of the vehicle. However, we left with the impression that they are cutting corners in many ways, I guess to improve on the exterior look and six speed tranny. The test drive experience was not satisfying as well. The engine is powerful. The ride is quiet and smooth but the steering is just too loose, with no feeling of the road at all, to a point that we don't feel comfortable/ confident. We realize we are testing a van, not a performance vehicle. However, there must be something better in the market, so we decided to wait a few months for the 2011 Odyssey and Quest.
The Quest came out in 2011 and we were really excited as we had experience with Nissan Elgrand in the asia market. It is advertised as the "king of the minivan" over there, and I think it is the best van in the world today. Unfortunately, Quest is a trimmed down version of the Elgrand. The front and rear exterior is modified as well but the general interior layout is pretty much the same. The test drive was very impressive for us. The quality of the interior material is outstanding. You feel like driving an Infiniti. The ride is as smooth and quiet as the Sienna while the steering is much more "precise". Only drawback are the CVT transmission and the bland exterior. If they import Elgrand straight from Japan without modifying the exterior, we would have made our offer.
So at this point, you probably know we have ended up with the Odyssey. We only have our Odyssey EX-L for a few weeks but so far we are loving it. Touring is nice but EX-L seems to offer the most for the buck. The interior quality is fine (not as great as Quest but far better than Sienna). The exterior is quite subjective, depends on who you speak to, my folks think it is ugly and too aggressive but we got a few compliments in the parking lot (mostly in the 30's and 40's) Personally I think the lighting bolt looks alright. I wasn't so sure about our decision before the delivery. However, once I received the van and have the time to look at the details. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of many little things. And that's the reason why I registered with Edmund and submit my first post to share the experience and my appreciation towards this amazing van.
The only issue we have so far is with the width of the vehicle, it is definitely wider than most vans. It probably won't fit in those "small car only" parking spots in busy shopping malls. Other than that, we just hope we won't have to go through the tranny issue and the TPMS error that some people here experienced.
#3767 of 3798 Re: amazing van [mrwhy300]
Apr 05, 2011 (5:27 pm)
It probably won't fit in those "small car only" parking spots in busy shopping malls.
That may be the understatement of the day. These "mini" vans measure out right there with full-size SUV's and not far off on weight either.
We just did all the testing of a bunch of vehicles as well...and decided on the Sienna Ltd. It is big money but has quite a few features not available in the others. I think it looks decent inside with the limited trim as well. The low end models with black trim look pretty bad. We're used to the hard plastic interior anyway after putting 100k miles on our '05 Ody. Steering takes some getting used to but like anything else, once you drive it awhile it feels better. My wife loves the steering particularly because it works....we had a lot of problems with the power steering pumps in our Ody....it was needing #4 when we traded. Either way you can't go wrong with either of those vans in my book.
#3768 of 3798 Re: amazing van [sebring95]
Apr 05, 2011 (5:37 pm)
Minivans are usually around 200-205" in length, that's still far shorter than a Suburban.
Think of it this way, you get Suburban space, for the size of a Tahoe. Even then not as wide.
#3770 of 3798 Re: amazing van [ateixeira]
Apr 05, 2011 (5:47 pm)
Well sure not a Suburban...which does have more space inside particularly for adults (we have several in the company fleet...I actually spend a lot of time in them). The vans measure up nearly identical to the Acadia. Either way...there "ain't" nothing mini about them.
#3771 of 3798 Buying first minivan and need advice
Aug 17, 2011 (10:09 am)
My husband and I hope to buy our first minivan in the next few weeks. We've looked at new and used vans. We've read reviews. We're totally lost. We had narrowed it down to the Toyota Sienna but Dodge/Chrysler is such a better deal that we're waffling on our decision. There are so many varying opinions on which vans are reliable and which are not. Is there any REAL information (not just opinions) on which vans (makes,years,certain options) are more or less reliable? Specifically, we want to know about Dodge/Chrysler vans reliability vs. Toyota. Also, how does safety compare for these vans. Are there certain years or models that we should stay away from? Our goal is to purchase a reliable, safe and comfortable minivan that will last a long, long time. Our target price is around $20,000 but we are willing to spend more (and certainly less) if it makes sense.
#3772 of 3798 Re: Buying first minivan and need advice [momneedsavan]
Aug 17, 2011 (10:50 am)
$20k is pretty tough to get into a reasonable mileage Honda/Toyota IMHO. We sold our '05 Odyssey with 100k miles back in Feb for $16k. Stupid money in my book...but I'm not complaining. You can get into a decent fairly new Chrysler for that coin though. We have had Caravans in the family over the years and most were very reliable. However my parents now have a 2007 that has been a disaster and most of the reliability ratings haven't looked that good for that generation. I would try to get into the newest generation of them and hope for the best.
Starting in '08 the Dodge/Chrysler have safety ratings on par with the Honda/Toyota crowd.
So if wer're talking 2008+ I would recommend shopping for the features/comfort/driving dynamics YOU like. We were very happy with Odyssey and besides my wife just getting tired of it, I would have assumed we kept it a lot longer. We just bought an '11 Sienna largely because she liked the color
#3773 of 3798 Re: Buying first minivan and need advice [sebring95]
Aug 17, 2011 (12:39 pm)
Dodge just put in the Penastar V6, but at $20k you'd probably be looking at a used one. Kia also just dropped an upgraded engine in the Sedona.
Since you're concerned about reliability, consider a CPO model with a 100k warranty. Or maybe a base model Sedona with the 10/100 warranty, and sacrifice the goodies to buy new.
#3774 of 3798 Re: Buying first minivan and need advice [ateixeira]
Aug 17, 2011 (2:14 pm)
Thank you for the replies. A few more questions. Along with reliability, I am also concerned with lifespan. Could we expect to drive a Honda or Toyota for longer than a Dodge/Chrysler/Kia? What advice would you give for the most cost effective option for the long term? In other words, will spending more now, save us in the long run? I expect that we would keep the van until it was more costly to fix than it was worth.
#3775 of 3798 Re: Buying first minivan and need advice [momneedsavan]
Aug 17, 2011 (4:37 pm)
That generally used to be the case, but Kia's engine and trans are new, so reliability is unknown. But remember, you have the 10/100 powertrain warranty to address any teething issues.
Same with Dodge - they put in the Pentastar V6 and a new 6 speed trans as well.
Toyota is arguably using the most proven powertrain - the 2GR V6 has been reliable and used in the Sienna since 2007, plus other models longer than that. The 6 speed trans was new in the Sienna for 2011, but it's been fine so far.
Ody has been good also, especially post 2004 or so, with the improvements to the trans. 2003 and prior had trans issues to I'd avoid those, if you shop used.