Last post on Feb 27, 2008 at 8:47 AM
You are in the Vans & Minivans
What is this discussion about?
Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Caravan, Hyundai Entourage, Mazda MAZDA5, Kia Sedona, Car Comparisons, Car Buying, Van
#389 of 1261 Re: Empty nesters and minivans? [dennisctc]
Sep 29, 2007 (6:03 am)
It was my wife's comment "What the heck is with this thing?" when I brought home a Sienna for a test drive. The van bounced and pitched like a small boat on the water. It was not this one single van because I drove several other Siennas. For those of you used to Detroit iron you would probably not find the drive offensive. The Odyssey was (and still is) tight and handled wonderfully. That combination was a deal maker.
"Exactly!! Chrysler killed the competition with their minivans early on because they were based on a passenger car chassis and had "car like ride", while everyone else based their minivans on trucks etc.."
What competition are you taking about? When Chrysler came out with its mini there was only one other, the terribly unreliable VW Vanagon. The Vanagon rode like a boat so anything was an improvement. As you have admonished many times, please stick to the facts. Chrysler will tell you in its advertising that it "invented" the minivan but VW had a Microbus out in the '60s.
I am not an automotive expert nor employed in the business but I have owned, new:
1983 VW Vanagon (air cooled 9 passenger model, rarest of the rare).
1987 Nissan Van (bought back by Nissan under a recall. Yes, Nissan bought every single one on the road back from its owner after several years of ownership)
1990 Pontiac Trans Sport a wonderfully useful vehicle
1994 Dodge Grand Caravan the creme de la crap
1997 Ford Windstar once again, a very useful, reliable van.
2003 Olds Silhouette had lots of potential but horrible frontal crash rates. I must have been temporarily insane at the time of purchase.
2006 Honda Odyssey EX-L The best minivan ever.
In between and during I rented a bunch of Chrysler minis by virtue of using Dollar and Thrifty from 1995 through 2006.
Seven different vans and lots of personal experience. I only relate what I have known to be the truth.
#390 of 1261 Re: Empty nesters and minivans? [artgpo]
Sep 29, 2007 (6:34 am)
What competition are you taking about?
Up until the mid 90s, there wasn't any real competition, you had Ford/GM with truck based Minivans, you had Toyota with mid engine vans, Nissan had some mini minivan, and Honda had a station wagon. The combination of FWD, car chasis, good MPG, decent ride/handling and space took Chrysler's competitors over a decade to figure out. Look at the Winstar and how long it took Ford just to copy Chrysler's formula, Then Honda, after studying the market, slammed it out of the park in 1999.
Sure VW invented the minivan with their bus but it never became mainstream like Dodge's. It was loud, slow, poor handling etc....I've owned a few air cooled VWs. I could claim my old Corvair coupe invented the ponycar because it was the only thing with bucket seats and manual tranny and was selling great in 1963, Ford noticed and that's history, hence the phrase "ponycar".
I wouldn't use any rental car as a basis for an opinion/judgement...rental cars are abused, base models period. I would also put things in perspective i.e...your insane comment about the Olds? At the time, what were other's crash tests or reliability? It's easy to look back with 20/20 vision. 5 years from now you'll probably post you're driving the best minivan ever again because of progress.
#391 of 1261 Re: Empty nesters and minivans? [dennisctc]
Sep 29, 2007 (7:31 am)
What amazes me is how long it took the competition to copy Chrysler. It was obvious they had a winner from the start when they came out with the Caravan. It was at least 10 years however before anyone had anything that was even close in features. Chrysler has lived off that initial inertia for a long long time. While they're still number 1 it's clear the competition has caught up and they keep chipping away at Chryslers sales. Their new model looks pretty good, but they're playing catch up with their major competitors.
#392 of 1261 Re: BEST Minivan Ever? [artgpo]
Sep 29, 2007 (12:35 pm)
2002 Chrysler T&C eX or Grand Caravan eX
Honda and Toyota were NEVER viable alternatives until they copied the Chrysler size and layout. Chrysler minivans are still the BEST BUY for comfort and convenience at a reasonable price...NEW or Used.
#393 of 1261 Re: Empty nesters and minivans? [artgpo]
Sep 29, 2007 (2:52 pm)
It must have been the Sienna you drove, our 04 has no bounce and the build quality is still there. I like the way our Sienna handles, it can carve through the mountains like an Odyssey if i wanted, but i didn't buy it for that reason. Well hope you enjoy the Ody =]
#394 of 1261 Re: Empty nesters and minivans? [dennisctc]
Sep 29, 2007 (4:49 pm)
At the time I bought the Olds there were much safer choices on the market. I finally snapped out of my coma on October 3, 2005, the day I bought the Odyssey.
My son and daughter-in-law went van shopping again today. They borrowed my Odyssey and took it to a Toyota dealer for a test drive of an '08 Sienna XLE. Their opinion was that there was not much difference between the two vans except that the Sienna seemed to have a shorter turning radius. They are leaning toward the Sienna at this point.
#395 of 1261 Re: Empty nesters and minivans? [artgpo]
Sep 29, 2007 (5:47 pm)
Good job on snapping out of your comma lol, yeah the Odyssey and Sienna are both good vans . I got my issue of Car and Driver and the Ody was number 1 because of handling and the Sienna was number two, they loved the engine, it won every performance test.
#396 of 1261 Re: Empty nesters and minivans? [artgpo]
Sep 29, 2007 (5:55 pm)
There really isn't that much difference, you saw Car & Driver gave the Ody an 8 and the Sienna a 7 for handling. Plus, reverse those scores for ride - they scored Sienna higher.
There's no question the Toyota leans towards comfort, and that's what I wanted - a quiet, comfy ride so the kids can relax on those long trips.
The turning radius is amazing. C&D didn't test for that but Consumer Reports did. The Sienna turns tighest among all vans, but it also does a tighter U-turn than the Subaru Forester it replaced, which is amazing because that's more than 2 feet shorter.
VW? The Vanagon was big, not really a "mini". It will be interesting to see what they do with the Chrysler platform.
As for the minivan formula, let's not kid ourselves, Chrysler invented it, perfected it, tuned it. Competitors were wise to finally copy them. Does anyone actually miss the old Ody with 4 swing-open doors? Or the mid-engined Previa? About 12 people.
Sep 30, 2007 (1:29 pm)
Probably not in the market, at least right now, but took at look at a combo Honda/Toyota dealer today. We're using my dad's 2006 Grand Caravan SXT since my wife's car is in the shop, so that is my point of reference for minivans at the moment.
Right now, Honda dealers are really dealing...the Prices Paid forum for the Ody is showing EX and EX-L's going for 26ish which strikes me as an excellent value. I will be interested to see the 08 freshening...I can see why the dash needs it in the Ody, its a little tired looking.
Great feel up front..more room than the 06 GC for the driver. Not crazy about the Ody console but it is convenient.
Looked at a "base" Sienna XLE...more expensive right now, of course. Not crazy about the type of fake wood. Like the three zone auto climate...Ody gets it for 08. Also good driving position.
Tough to rank the two without driving them...high hopes for the Sienna engine and Ody handling. Styling wise I probably would take the Ody, but that's not a driver. If/when we went one, it would probably depend on what the best deal is at the time, particularly when certain options like Bluetooth are factored in.
I might look at the 08 GC/TC, but probably wouldn't buy. Not impressed with the build quality of the 06, driving dyanmics, steering, powertrain, etc are all subpar. My dad loves his van for utility, and it was a great deal...SXT for $21k when he bought it new. But reliability means a lot to me, and my experience with vehicles has indeed tracked with what CR finds--the American cars that my family has owned have had major problems and ended up being ranked below average, and my Camry and my mom's Forester have been absolutely perfect.
I would note that in terms of reliability, sometimes its not just a part that fails, its how the manufactuer handles it. For instance, Toyota has already redsigned the Intermediate Steering Shaft on the 07 Camry. When my made a bit of a noise, I brought it in, there was a TSB on it, it was replaced with a totally redesigned part that Toyota is now putting in 08s. And that was the end of it..it works perfectly now, etc. Contrast that to my last GM product...in 45k miles, it had FOUR steering shafts...including two within 5k of each other. See, it was a faulty part...and GM never replaced it. They just kept putting the same part in over and over again until your car is out of warranty and they don't have to pay for it.
Its a lousy way to treat customers. Its like they just don't care. Now its not relevant to this discussion because GM doesn't make a minivan, but...it will be a long time before I ever buy another GM product.
So the focus on recalls really isn't the whole story. Hopefully the new Chrysler philosophy will be better, but...is it worth taking a chance with 25+k?
#398 of 1261 Re: Took a look [mfletou1]
Oct 01, 2007 (8:54 am)
The trim on the LE and CE is interchangeable, if you don't like the plood (it's plastic).
I agree with your early impressions - Toyota wins for the powertrain, Honda for the handling.
The new Dodge falls in the middle for both, if you believe in C&D.