Last post on Sep 24, 2013 at 6:16 AM
You are in the Chevrolet Uplander
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Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac Montana, Saturn Relay, Buick Terraza, Pontiac Montana SV6, Van
#2027 of 2927 Re: Changes for 2006 [str]
May 16, 2005 (9:35 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 (12:41 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.
#2029 of 2927 Re: str [vanman1]
May 16, 2005 (1:12 pm)
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.
May 16, 2005 (1:35 pm)
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.
#2031 of 2927 Saturn Relay Radio
May 16, 2005 (3:18 pm)
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
May 16, 2005 (7:03 pm)
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.
#2033 of 2927 Buick Terraza
May 16, 2005 (7:26 pm)
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.
#2034 of 2927 Love it!
May 16, 2005 (8:41 pm)
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.
May 17, 2005 (4:45 am)
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?
May 17, 2005 (4:48 am)
"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?