Last post on Jan 21, 2012 at 12:26 PM
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Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac Montana, Saturn Relay, Buick Terraza, Pontiac Montana SV6, Van
#2019 of 2925 Montana SV6 or a Toyota Sienna?
May 14, 2005 (3:54 pm)
I have been struggling with the choice of the 2005 Montana SV6 or the Toyota Sienna. The Pontiac is winning so far. I have test driven the Montana and love it! I am especially impressed with the remote engine start. We have a 12 month old and a three year old (four in September) and this would be a huge asset to us because we live in a climate where the summers get +100 and the winters get -30. I actually like the look of both vans I think the Montana looks like you could take it off road and the Sienna has the look of a Lexus. I am wondering if the remote engine start is available on one of the Sienna packages or if it could be installed later. If anyone who has owned either van has comments about them that would help in the decision process please let me know! Interested in quality of vehicle, ease of repair (if needed) and overall handling mpg etc...
#2020 of 2925 Re: Montana SV6 or a Toyota Sienna? [str]
May 14, 2005 (9:11 pm)
There is no doubt that if money is not the problem here, Sienna is the way to go, for many reasons. You can install an aftermarket remote starter on any vehicle (not integrated with the security system as the GM vans, though). The Montana SV6 may be "looking" good for off-road, but in real world there shouldn't be any difference (they're both NOT good for heavy off-road). With the Sienna, You get a more powerful & refined engine with better (or equal) mileage, 5-Speed transmission, more room because the van is wider, and you have the rear fold-away seat which is very convenient and more flexible than the SV6. Also it's available in 8-passenger seating, it have better driving dynamics, better turning radius, and, if you believe the hype, better quality and reliability. And it's a better value in the long run.
#2021 of 2925 Re: Montana SV6 or a Toyota Sienna? [str]
May 15, 2005 (7:30 am)
My advice: don't listen to anybody else and buy whichever you like the best.
The only piece on advice I'd offer is that if you are planning on getting the AWD version of either van I'd go with the GM vans then (I like the Terraza the best myself). The Sienna AWD does not have a spare, and uses run flat tires (two different ones are available) that have the worst overall ratings I've ever seen (look them up at tirerack.com). They are poor performers (noisy, poor traction, harsh ride), and have poor tread life. A lot of people are having to replace them in ~15,000 miles or so, to the tune of >$1000. That's a lot of dough per year on tires! Don't take my word for it, go look then up and see for yourself.
#2022 of 2925 Changes for 2006
May 15, 2005 (9:40 am)
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!
#2023 of 2925 Re: Changes for 2006 [str]
May 15, 2005 (3:27 pm)
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.
#2024 of 2925 Re: Changes for 2006 [carguy1234]
May 15, 2005 (4:54 pm)
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).
#2025 of 2925 Re: Changes for 2006 [carguy1234]
May 15, 2005 (8:47 pm)
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.
#2026 of 2925 Re: Changes for 2006 [samnoe]
May 15, 2005 (9:01 pm)
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!
#2027 of 2925 Re: Changes for 2006 [str]
May 16, 2005 (10:35 am)
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 Fitzmall.com 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.
May 16, 2005 (1:41 pm)
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.