By on May 28, 2014

Ford Transit Connect Wagon: The Unminivan

Once the bane of soccer moms everywhere, the minivan segment is on the rebound in sales. However, the remaining stigma surrounding the name has some marketing reps doing their best to make sure “minivan” is verbotten down on Flower Shop Lane.

The Detroit News reports the marketers are throwing around alternatives — such as “people mover,” “MPV” and “family truckster” — in an effort to make the segment cool for all. Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell, however, has reservations on such re-labeling:

Nobody wants to be categorized as a minivan, but at the same time, they have to let people know about how they can utilize these vehicles. The harder you try to convince people it’s not a minivan, the more they are going to think it’s a minivan. Just call a spade a spade.

While the marketers are trying too hard to “#unminivan” the segment, minivan sales climbed to over half a million in 2013 after a nadir of 434,000 in 2009 during the global economic superstorm’s early phase; sales peaked in 2000 at 1.3 million. Current offerings from the Minivan Three of Toyota, Honda and Chrysler dominate the market, though newer minivans such as Ford’s Transit Connect Wagon and Kia Sedona will add more choices in the coming years.

Though the segment had a homogeneous appearance for the past few decades, modern offerings seek to grab an ounce of individuality as far as what each minivan has to offer to families and young people. In particular, smaller minivans could bring new customers to a brand, leading to further sales down the road as situations change among those who enter the showroom for a “people carrier” over a hatchback.

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127 Comments on “Minivans Making A Comeback, Minus The Name...”


  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    The mini-MPV segment might be worth thinking about here. The Honda Fit’s insane spatial gymnastics have given it a very strong core of true believers across a really wide swath of demographics. The Note is a direct copy of the same formula, and the Verso (coming to North America as the new Matrix) does the same for Toyota. Ford’s C-Max is the same idea too. Might be a small car, but as more people downsize their cars it will be a very useful segment.

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      Tell me more about the Toyota Verso coming to the US! I didn’t know that was happening.

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      Seconded. Source, please, for this “New Matrix” rumour.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        Don’t have it as gospel, but here in Canada, the Matrix was much more popular than in the US. When I was returning our car at the end of our lease, I told the dealer I would have been interested in a more modern Matrix, if they had one, but since not, I had to go elsewhere. They replied that they knew about the hole in the model line, and had been told by Toyota Canada to expect the European Verso to show up some time in late 2014 to fill that hole.

        As Derek has pointed out more than once, we are a lot more European in our tastes than you guys, so it might not make it to the US as well, but if this is a segment with a future…

        • 0 avatar
          djsyndrome

          The Auris is far more exciting than the Verso, but either plugs a hole in Toyota’s lineup (compact hatchback). There is a rumour that the Auris is coming as a Scion (mostly because of this article: http://www.autonews.com/article/20130905/BLOG06/130909921/could-the-toyota-auris-be-the-next-scion )

          I don’t care what badge they put on it; if it has a decent engine I’m there. Miss my 2ZZ Matrix XRS.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      or you could get an original 1984 Caravan or Voyager and restore it. at 175 inches, it’s shorter than the current Corolla or Versa. That’s about a foot longer than a Fit, but I’ll take the 112 inch wheelbase over the Fit’s 98 inches.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        Why would I want to do that though? The modern cars are better engineered, have much nicer motors, handle sweeter and to my eyes, look better as well. Plus those original minivans have oxidized into nothingness by now…

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Wear it proud. Now that hot rod powertrains and decent handling can be had in a minivan, there is no shame.

    • 0 avatar
      2drsedanman

      Agreed. 2011 Toyota Sienna SE: 0-60=7.7 sec, Quarter mile=15.2.

      As an owner of an 06 Toyota Sienna, it’s hard to make an arguement against a van if you have kids. Easy to get in and out of, car seat friendly, good visibility, 20 mpg city/25 highway, etc, etc.

      Unfortunately, people’s concern for what others think leads them to buy vehicles that are less convenient and kid friendly, like a four door truck or SUV/CUV. After the third stop at the gas station in one week and experiencing back pain from throwing the kids up and into their seats, I’m sure people start having different thoughts about their purchase.

      Once you are past the mental hurdle of van ownership, the benefits and conveniences really come into focus.

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        “Unfortunately, people’s concern for what others think leads them to buy vehicles that are less convenient and kid friendly, like a four door truck or SUV/CUV.”

        Or do what I did and choose option “C”. Start a family, buy a 2 door coupe. In my case a used Acura RSX Type-S. It made perfect sense in my head. Of course, my family is me, wife, and one child so we don’t need much space.

        For me, it had less to do with “don’t want to be seen in a minivan” and more to do with “not comfortable driving something that big”. Plus, parent or not I am just not ready to give up sports cars.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Still being mid-40s and single, I could have what I want within limits, but after driving a CR-V for a few days this winter, I just wasn’t comfortable with it! I would do better with my SIL’s Odyssey if I needed to haul stuff. (~60K on that van, and not a hiccup! Yep, no broken power side doors or transmissions! My brother and SIL wrote a check for the thing, and will likely drive it into the ground, or hand it down to my 5 y/o niece, whichever comes first!)

          Only thing I would do to one if it was indeed being driven loaded to the gills regularly is to install a transmission cooler.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I convinced my dad to run his 2012 Grand Caravan R/T at the drag strip in their trophy class one weekend last year. He was surprised to put lengths on a “modded” V8 Taurus SHO. The SHO owner was suprised too.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I don’t recall the third gen V8 Taurus SHO being all that impressive.

          Power output 235 hp (175 kW) at 6100 rpm
          Torque output 230 lbf·ft (310 N·m) at 4800 rpm

          For contrast the 3800 Series II is 205hp @ 5400 rpm and 230 ft-tq @ 4000 rpm

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_SHO_V8_engine

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        They might have second thoughts but good ol’ PRIDE will never let them trade into a minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Yeah, as a fellow Sienna owner, I think people who forgo the van wasted money and time. If they’re worried about what other people think…

        Most people underestimate how much power and handling my van has. I just drive it non-aggressively most of the time because I don’t want my son bragging about it to his mom….

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Let’s wait for the SRT8 AWD HEMI-POWERED T&C. If they can do it to a 5,000 lb. Jeep, they can do it to a 5,000 lb. minivan.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    What exactly does ‘sports utility vehicle’ mean? Do you play vehicular soccer or rugby in one like on Top Gear?

    Who the heck gave ‘mini-van’ a bad name? You are a parent, you have kids, you take the kids, their friends and their equipment to their activities in it. It is the most functional of all vehicles and often dollar for dollar the best thing on the market as far as practicality and features.

    Only ‘poseurs’ and those with real inferiority complexes would worry about driving something called a ‘mini-van’. The same people who finance high end European vehicles that they truly cannot afford because they want to make a ‘statement’ even though they have no idea how to hit the apex of a curve, or even drive a standard.

    The smaller ‘micro-van’ might be even more functional, particularly in the urban environment. In Canada we have the Chev Orlando, Ford C-Max, Mazda 5 and Kia Rondo. Are any of these even sold in the U.S.?

    Long live the mini-van!

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The C-Max and the Mazda5 are sold in the US. The Rondo was discontinued because no one except my neighbor and probably someone around here bought one. The GM Theta twins sell quite well, so I doubt we’ll get the Orlando, unless it gets the Voltec powertrain. Well, the Theta twins will be moving to a common platform with many other models, so they will have more in common with the Orlando soon.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It’s like there’s some kind of shame in growing up, building a family and having to move people/things. It used to be something to be proud of.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        I’m from Utah and about 60% of the people are LDS(Mormons) and they believe in having large families and are not ashamed of it…….and yes you do see way more minivans out here. Tons of large CUVs and monster P/ups as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark_MB750M

      Why not just use ‘van’? The full-sized van seems to be a dying breed now, anyway, and today’s minivans to my eye are a large as regular vans of yore.

      I also like the French term for minivan: ‘Monospace’. Maybe a foreign moniker is just the ticket…

    • 0 avatar

      We don’t get the Orlando in the US because it doesn’t meet our safety standards–something to do with how close the dash is to the knees.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        They could have added knee airbags or done something else. The bottom line is that it is too costly to bring the Orlando to the US for the volume it would move. Hell, the Mazda5 outsells it in Canada.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I just bought the wife a Honda Odyssey in Touring Elite trim. The main advantage over an SUV is the sliding side doors that permit better access while parked. It has good power and handles well for what it is.

  • avatar

    “Crossover” is a lie. Basically, what people want is a “wagon” that drives like a car, but Americans typically avoid the word “wagon”. Feminists don’t feel “powerful” driving a wagon and alpha-males think the word “wagon” sounds feminine.

    Audi calls them “sportbacks”.

    “SUV” – is a lie too. Basically they were car-like bodies atop truck frames.

    What people are truly looking for is a vehicle that has the interior space of an SUV – without the gas-guzzling or tire/oil/brake maintenance prices.

    The Minivan continues to fulfill this need and CHRYSLER continues to dominate it.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Does “dominate” mean sell on price and to fleets?

      In which case: Yay Chrysler!

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        The GC and T&C together sell 46% of the market. The next closest is the Honda Ody at 24%.

        Selling on price is one way to dominate the market, yes. Fleet sales is a way to spread those costs around to enable the non-fleet price to be lower.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        I really wanted to love the Town&Country. On paper, it seemed like it should be a win. Most features standard (was looking at Touring L trim) Stow and Go and price beat the Odyssey. So much so that we almost didn’t consider the Oddy.

        As I posted somewhere else on this thread, we rented a Town and Country for a week. Touring trim, only 13k on it so it wasn’t thrashed. I liked it, but didn’t love it. Neither did the wife, so we went back to the Honda dealer. After 5 minutes of driving the Odyssey, I just couldn’t go back to the Chrysler.

        In one word: refinement. The Honda has way more of it than the Chrysler. Yes, there are some odd moments/noises when the VCM cycles and I still question Honda transmissions attached to V6 power. But the switchgear, the operation of the power doors and rear seats, all the things you touch on a regular basis and the overall feel of the vehicle were smooth. Sorry, but the same could not be said for the Chrysler.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Installing a transmission cooler should allay that fear a bit.

          And yes, the VCM is noticeable especially when cold, but the highway mileage is phenomenal with it!

          Wonder if Tom K. will or has chimed in re: his T&C?

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    “family truckster”? Really?

    http://www.carlustblog.com/2009/03/wagon-queen-family-truckster.html

  • avatar
    dwford

    The mini minivan has yet to be successful in the US, primarily due to the less useful size, underpowered engines and general ugliness(Kia Rondo, Mazda5 with the swirls on the side and now the Transit Connect) – much the same way small and midsize trucks failed. People do want the space and the efficiency, which is why vehicles like the CRV are big sellers.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      I really wanted to like the Mazda5; wife and I test drove it and it was really a “meh” experience. I know people praise it’s handling, but I didn’t get it. This comes from someone who’s been drinking the Mazda kool-aid for a long time.
      Acceleration was ok, but came with plenty of noise, the interior was very economy car, even in Grand Touring and the interior space was snug. If it were just an around-towner I could see it, but once you put bodies in it, there isn’t much room for stuff.
      So mediocre performance, mediocre interior and tight space did not make for a compelling package. We ended up with a CX9 instead; both I and my wife are much happier.
      However, stuffing kids and car seats into it is a pain in the ass and we probably should have just bought a minivan instead. Some lessons you have to learn the hard way.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        The 5 handles much like a tall 3, but I think the handling is praised because people are used to things with sliding doors not handling well. I’ve pushed the 5 fairly hard at times and found it to be pretty confident. The weight and height limit the fun.Couldn’t say the same for the much larger Town and Country we rented or even our Odyssey, though the Honda definitely feels more competent, even with the lack of steering feel.

        • 0 avatar
          GoesLikeStink

          Plus, it is the only minivan you can get with a manual. (The transit connect doesn’t have one right?) This is why we test drove one a few years back. But my wife wanted a lot more room. We now have a 2011 Grand Caravan and I drive a Fiat 500 convertible. We all fit in both but she can handle all the friends and gear too.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Rename it to something stupid like F.T.V. (Family Transport Vech) and be done with it.

  • avatar

    So no-one’s thought of putting hybrid tech into a minivan yet. I wonder how it would turn out if the Sienna borrowed the Hybrid Synergy Drive stuff from the Prius…

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      JDM Estima Hybrid, smaller than a Sienna but larger than a Mazda5.

      RHD only http://toyota.jp/estimahybrid/

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Four banger Sienna was axed IIRC and was a bit unloved for the lack of grunt.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I don’t know why Toyota hasn’t done this. I would think even the Sienna would move OK with the 2.5L-based hybrid drivetrain. It would certainly kick butt on city MPG but perhaps the highway MPG doesn’t improve enough to impress.

      • 0 avatar
        Richard Chen

        Probably cost + lack of demand, perhaps we need $10/gallon gas for this to work. We also have an ’04 Sienna which gets 18mpg overall, but as it’s paid for there’s no rush to replace it.

        The Highlander Hybrid, on the same platform as the Sienna, uses the V6 but stickers starting at 40K.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        +1. I don’t get the lack of a hybrid minivan, either. At the prices minivans are selling for these days, another $3k added for a hybrid drivetrain doesn’t seem like all that much, particularly considering there’s actually a cost benefit to it. As the ultimate practical transportation appliance, I can’t imagine a more fitting home for a hybrid than a minivan. It’s just baffling.

        I mean, hybrids have been around for 15 years now. At one point, Toyota’s CEO was even claiming that every one of their models would have a hybrid option within a couple years, but that all seems to be a dim memory now. A Sienna with a four-cylinder/hybrid would seem to be perfect for its intended use.

        FWIW, Chrysler is rumored to be releasing a hybrid minivan ‘crossover’ for 2015. If true, it’s unfortunate that it will have the usual Chrysler quality issues. At least maybe if sales are good, other, more reliable manufacturers will finally get a hybrid minivan into production.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      What kind of mileage is a hybrid minivan going to get? Seems like its too expensive to be worth it in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        Richard Chen

        Somewhere between:

        Prius v, $26.5K, EPA 44 city /42 combined/40 hwy
        &
        Highlander Hybrid $40K, EPA 28/28/28

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I think we’d be looking much closer to the Highlander than the Prius V. And the Highlander Hybrid only comes in Limited trim now according to Toyota’s website. It starts at $47K.

          I think there are easier/cheaper ways to get a crossover/minivan to 30 MPG than a hybrid system. I own a hybrid too.

  • avatar
    genericuser1

    I’d have to disagree on the Mini Mini-van. I don’t believe the Mazda 5 has done all that well. For families who buy a mini-van they want the full monty. That is the purpose of buying one, maximum people and stuff hauling in comfort.

    If you want something small there are a number of mid-size CUV’s from which to choose from.

    One of the things that has killed the Ford Flex (other than love or hate styling) is that it’s $5k-$10k more than a equally optioned mini-van and less functional.

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      Even here in Seattle where Mazda does relatively well, the new 5 is an also-ran. Dealers refuse to stock them, and when they do, customers just wind up going for the (more economical) CX-5 instead.

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        Yeah, there’s something weird going on with the Mazda5… It should slot between the 3 and the CX-5 in MPG, because it’s between them in size. Maybe the 5 hasn’t gone full SkyActiv yet?

        • 0 avatar
          Richard Chen

          The JDM Premacy does offer a Skyactiv powertrain. It also gets the 7th seat, available power sliding doors and eAWD, features I wouldn’t mind having esp the eAWD.

          The rumors hint the Mazda5 eventually getting axed from the US lineup, so I’m not surprised that it’s not gotten any upgrades since 2012.

          A minivan one size up from the Mazda5 would be a nice size, although I’m not sure I would replace mine with another. The Transit Connect is already here, Nissan/Chevy doesn’t yet offer a passenger NV200/City Express, and the Ram Promaster City is on the way.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      “Minivan” sales have steadily shrunk as they have steadily become larger.

      You’re right that most people don’t really want mini “minivans”, but it should come as no surprise that mid-size crossovers are selling so well. People want useful mid-size vehicles. A mid-size “minivan” should sell well as long as it was marketed well.

      The new Transit Connect Wagon may fit into the mid-size category, especially the long-wheelbase version. We’ll see if Ford markets it well (if at all) and if the power train options are well-received. I would find it so much more interesting if they dropped the Energi setup into it, perhaps even with a larger battery. You’d still be left with plenty of hauling capacity, something you don’t get with any other plug-in on the market.

      • 0 avatar
        GoesLikeStink

        “so much more interesting if they dropped the Energi setup into it” This sounds like a great idea. I bet they would also sell a boatload of these to delivery companies. Short trip city hauling would be great. Use nothing but electricity to get the kids to school every day and have the gas motor for vacation trips.

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      “it’s $5k-$10k more than a equally optioned mini-van and less functional.”

      That pretty much sums up CUVs in general.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I don’t see what’s wrong with minivans, I would much rather rock a minivan than be seen driving a crossover, at least there’s no identity crisis at hand. I put crossover buyers into two groups, old people that need the easy entry exit – totally understandable, and young(er) parent aged folks who are more worried about what people will think of them all while screaming out for help in their midlife/now have kids can’t have fun crisis.

    Besides “Family truckster” says International Harvestor TravelAll to me.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Here in Canada there’s a crossover in almost every driveway. I think that the main reason to get one is ground clearance. Wagons and minivans tend to sit low, which makes them less useful in snow and on bad roads (spring potholes).
      As you mention, it’s also easier to get kids and older folk inside. And the hatch is very convenient.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        I have yet, outside of a construction site, come across an issue on a public road where I’ve required more ground clearance than provided by a family sedan. The ride height on a few of these cross-overs isn’t even much higher, if at all.

        At this point, I think the entire cross-over/CUV thing is strictly a fashion statement. Which is the consumers right…

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Ground clearance per-se is only required during snow storms, but higher cars generally have taller sidewalls and more suspension travel. Those are big advantages on bad roads, especially now that the fuel economy hit is minimal.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            I’d rather they just tried harder to fix the roads. Or tried at all in the case of Quebec…

          • 0 avatar
            bunkie

            That was my experience with the SRX I reviewed a few weeks back. It handled the miserable northeast Pennsylvania roads with aplomb.

            As for ground clearance, we have an issue when it snows heavily overnight and we have to get the CTS out of our down-sloping driveways before the plow comes.

            Personally, I have always liked minivans. But then my favorite Thunderbird (not the car, google “International Rescue”) was Thunderbird 2.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        ‘heavy’ All mini-vans and micro vans have back hatches and they are generally larger than the hatch on a CUV or SUV.

        As for access, oldsters find SUVs too hard to climb up into.

        Minivans usually have great access, high rooflines so that they don’t have to bend to get in and an easy step in floor height.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      My incoming FR-S is my midlife crisis car. The Rav that my wife drives is simply a taller, more practical station wagon with AWD. Should we go to something as large and inefficient as a minivan for one kid? Compact CUVs are definitely right sized for my family. Easy on gas (averaging 27mpg), tall cargo area, low load floor, easy ingress/egress for the kid. If we have an additional kid, I’d consider moving up to a minivan. 2 more kids and I’d definitely be in a minivan. But, with one kid, a minivan is ridiculous.

      • 0 avatar
        GoesLikeStink

        With only one kid all you need is a Tuk-Tuk

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Most of the criticisms of CUVs ring false. High price? Where are the loaded $28K leather-lined AWD minivans? Fuel economy? The best ones will do 30 mpg on the highway without driving like you’re trying to conserve your battery. Ground clearance really is an issue some places where it snows more than municipalities will ever admit and prepare for, or for people that have long gravel and dirt driveways that they’ve no way to plow. Most CUVs are not minivan alternatives. They’re incredibly useful and spacious cars that are easy to get in and out of, easy to park, get better mileage than most anything else that will carry four adults and 30 cubic feet of luggage, and don’t have you waiting for the plow in an emergency. They take up less space than midsized sedans and it doesn’t seem like overkill when you hop into one to run to the store.

        I don’t personally see the point of three-row crossovers, as they either have room for passengers or cargo, but people can buy what they want. I prefer minivans to three row crossovers for the same reason that wagons are dead. They do the job they were designed to do miserably.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      As far as I can tell the only difference between a CUV and minivan is lack of sliding doors. The inch or so of extra ground clearance that a CUV may or may not have certainly won’t mean the difference between being able to negotiate a snowy road or not.

      I find it odd that so many seem to think that sliding doors are (or lack thereof) are sufficient to change other people’s perceptions about how exciting and active they are.

  • avatar
    frozenman

    Waiting and hoping for a spacious cargo/wagon like this with full auto-cruise for the highway, perfect for the annual snowbird trip down south and back.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Minivans are for people who have given up. Usually they thinning hair, beer bellies and wear plastic polo shirts.

    The new Yukon XL, on the other hand, that looks like an Armored Personnel Carrier. Bruce Willis would definitely drive one.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      No, most of the minivan drivers I see are moms.

      I used to have a Ford Aerostar, used it to tow a Van Diemen race car.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      While Jason Bourne would make do with a Mini Cooper, if that was what was available.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      The new K2XX SUVs do not look masculine in any way. The low profile tires would cause a bent rim and then get stuck on the embarrassingly large plastic chin bumper before it could make it to the other end of a freshly graded dirt path.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Should that have been posted in the yet to be invented ‘sarcastica’ script?

      Bruce Willis, who had one movie delayed (reportedly) for months while they airbrushed in hair?

      As someone once said, the mini-van is the ultimate proof of male virility. Driving it says “Yes, my sperm works. I have impregnated my mate, many times”.

      “Meanwhile the guy in the 2 seat sports car is announcing that his sperm either does not or no longer works”.

      Wish I could remember the comedian who used that first.

  • avatar
    johnharris

    I wanted to buy a minivan as a family and small boat hauler, but 95% perfect wife WOULD NOT HAVE IT. (Her own ride is a ’11 TSX wagon now.) Settled on a Ford Flex, which has been great for 85,000 miles so far, but a Honda minivan would have been better.

    I’ve taken to calling the white-roofed Flex the “Macro Cooper,” parked as it is next to my white-roofed Mini Cooper.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Maxi-cooper?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      How about a Flex with sliding doors? Since it is basically a square minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        johnharris

        >>>How about a Flex with sliding doors? Since it is basically a square minivan.

        Makes sense to me, and would add functionality.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The Flex was originally supposed to have sliding doors. The reason is supposedly cost. Ford invested the money the sliding doors would have costs over traditional doors into the interior of the Flex.

          The Fairlane Concept, which became the Flex, actually had suicide doors.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            If Flex was being sold for $19995 or similar I might understand, but its kinda pricy. not adding sliding doors on an expensive model based on the price of the door parts/development seems fishy to me.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I was loosely quoting J Mays. I don’t have the numbers on the costs and such so I can’t dismiss or disprove his statements. However, it may have more to do with the fact that Ford doesn’t exactly have a great track record with minivans.

  • avatar
    miles solo

    I like my Chevy HHR – too bad they are out of production. Perhaps they will bring out a successor on one of the new platforms.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Chevy HHR????

    God god, I was fobbed off with one of those as a rental once. One of the worst excuses for a vehicle I’ve ever driven. Wheezy, gutless engine, slack handling, bad seats, looks only a mother could love.

    • 0 avatar
      miles solo

      Sorry you didn’t like your rental. Rental cars are rental cars. Mine definitely does not lack power. Plenty of torque. Excellent leather seats. etc. etc. Added a rear anti-sway bar and it handles well, even with lots of weight on board.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The visibility was what for me in the rental HHR. The small windows and big pillars ended up creating some dangerous surprises during the 5 days we rented one.

        I suppose you’d learn to live with it I’d you owned one, but the funky-retro style didn’t resonate with us and the spec-sheet didn’t beat my old Ranger in any way that mattered to me.

        P.S. I loved the way they did the LED interior lighting. That was cool. Not worth new-car money, but a triumph of Design.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    As the owner of an 08 Mazda 5 and now a 14 Odyssey EXL, the virtues of the minivan far outweighed any stigma associated with them. We almost leased a Chrysler, but for just a bit more money, we went with the Odyssey. We looked hard too, rented a Town and Country for a week. Still weren’t sold. 5 minutes of driving the Oddy sold us. Didn’t like the Sienna or Quest

    The Mazda has been good, but it’s a people or stuff preposition. With the Honda, we can take people and things places. Like taking the grandparents instead of having them drive separately. The Mazda becomes my daily driver now, which I’m cool with, because I enjoy the vehicle. 08 was the last year for the 5 to not have stability control or traction control, so it’s a very straightforward driving car.

    Sliding doors work great with kids and our narrow garage( or narrow parking spaces). The power sliders on the Honda are great, as is the power lift gate. The room, ease of use and ease of loading people makes the van a win. I don’t tow or camp, so my tune would change slightly. But for hauling people and stuff in comfort, the minivan rules. On our first highway trip with 4 adults and 2 kids, the Oddy returned 25mpg at 75 with only 500 miles on the clock.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I never understood why minivans were considered un-manly. What could be better proof of a man’s virility than a minivan full of kids?

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      That’s how I think of it. Being a dad is pretty much the whole point of manliness.

      The fact that the minivan is just as good for hardware store runs, camping, and light towing, as it is for hauling people makes it pretty much an optimal tool to accomplish what a manly-man needs to do.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    What’s really needed is a minivan with the original dimensions of the Voyager/Caravan. Small wheelbase, sliding doors on both sides, none of the electro nonsense like DVD players, and low beltline for visibility.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      The Mazda is close to the original Chrysler in dimensions, with decent belt lines. Whether it’s that or the fact it’s a Mazda ( or both), it hasn’t set the sales charts on fire( and Mazda doesn’t market it either, not in the US)

      Though I was just in the Charlottesville area of Virginia and saw 5 Mazda 5′s on the road, more than I usually see, especially back home.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        We really liked the Mazda 5 when we were looking at vans.

        We like small/efficient cars, and our other car is a Prius.

        The probkem with the Mazda 5, though, is that it doesn’t provide any of the benefits of being small. Price? Same as a big van. MPG? Same as a big van. Parkability? Hard to tell without owning it for a while.

        In the end, we bought just bought a used Sienna. We wanted to love the 5, but it just wasn’t competitive with the big vans and didn’t have any of the benefits we expected a smaller van to have.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Maybe the minivan is making strides internationally, but here in the Midwest… I disagree, I disagree.

    You see, here in Missouri, we’re still neck deep in “I’m not driving that thing (re: minivan), I’ll drive an SUV” logic. Even the body on frames (gasp!) still sell here in the conservative/red-state of Missouri.

    Although I have a personal hankering for a loaded Sienna AWD. Can’t for the life of me figure out why.

    Hopefully I didn’t lose too many man points for sharing that desire, but just being honest.

    I’d rather tear out my damned ligaments than drive a Chrysler van. Just sayin’.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      See the other comments for what a minivan REALLY says about the man driving it. Your man points will not be docked.
      Also, you say “here in the Midwest,” but later, “here in Missouri”. In my experience, the Midwest ends at I-70, and then you may as well be filming Deliverance for all the southern half of the state shares with the northern half. No offense intended, that’s just been my personal experience.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Dam!

        A Saint Louis native!

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Wrong saint–try going a little farther upriver. Like, two states up.
          I won’t claim to have much firsthand knowledge of what actually constitutes the South, but I’d like to think that I’ve got a pretty firm grasp of the Upper Midwest, having lived on the prairie, the northern lakes/woods, and the dry plains of West River SD.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    My fiancee loves the 2005 T&C we wound up with. Hell in fact when we originally met, she had a Sedona. She loves the space, height, and comfy seats.

    She is totally, utterly NOT vain when it comes to vehicles. Function over form for her!

    I’m the shallow one when it comes to cars apparently.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I know these Mini-mini vans haven’t really caught on in USA but in Canada the Mazda 5 is very popular due to its size and practicality. I like the new Ford but I don’t think the engine choice is too inspired for the long wheel base version. A small 1.6 or 1.8 diesel engine would be perfect, manual transmission or not.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I wish the 1.6T was available in the LWB version. Actually, I wish Ford brought over the Grand C-Max instead.

      • 0 avatar
        Richard Chen

        Ford probably looked at declining Mazda5 sales and said, “Nope. We’re only going to pursue certification for one vehicle in that niche, and that’s the Transit Connect”.

        Consumer Reports has a TC in the review process now, from the tone of the preview I would be surprised if it got a good score from them.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I’m sure that’s what they did. They already sell the TC here, so it basically costs them nothing to sell it as a wagon. Technically, they already were. Its just updated and being marketed now.

          The TC, although better than it was, is crude compared to the rest of Ford’s C-platform lineup. I find it to be a useful little runabout, but its issue is price. No one is buying it when a Caravan is cheaper, and you get into Edge, Explorer, and Flex pricing on the high end (especially the LWB model). As much as I like the idea of a LWB TC minivan, the transaction price of a comparable Explorer XLT is similar. Give me the Explorer all day.

  • avatar
    BartBandy

    In Canada, smaller vans like the Mazda5, Rondo and Orlando have always done relatively better as primary vehicles in urban/suburban markets. They are fuel efficient and tidy packages. It’s a shame Chevy never brought over the Opel Zafira, or that Honda couldn’t be bothered with the Stream. Both would have been excellent contributions.

    The broader decline of larger minivans is partly social related and partly product related. A lot of women – more than men – say they wouldn’t be caught dead in a minivan, but are happy driving their synonymous CUVs. They dread the “mommy-mobile” image.

    On the product side, crossovers and SUVs have taught buyers for a generation that they need AWD and high ground clearance, when really all that most need is a decent set of winter tires. With declining sales you have the chicken-and-egg thing – manufacturers exit a declining sector or dealers refuse to stock them, so there is less choice and customers are steered to CUV alternatives. The market is effectively now the Caravan at the low-cost end, and the T&C, Odyssey, and Sienna at the higher end. It will be interesting to see how the new Kia Sedona fares. Volume producers like GM and Ford have left, and VW has never brought its European product over. Too bad. I had a smaller ’98 Odyssey that was great, and have a ’10 Odyssey and love it.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      “The broader decline of larger minivans is partly social related and partly product related. A lot of women – more than men – say they wouldn’t be caught dead in a minivan, but are happy driving their synonymous CUVs. They dread the “mommy-mobile” image.”

      This. I’ve got a few female relatives the same age as me (mid 30′s) with kids, who have a Pilot, Highlander and an Xterra because they proclaimed they didn’t want the “mommy mobile” image of the minivan. My wife is quite happy with our new Oddy, as am I. She wouldn’t consider any SUV, after 5 years of Mazda 5, 3 of which with kids in car seats.

  • avatar
    genericuser1

    I’d really like to see VW make a true Microbus not a rebadged Chrysler. If they made it similar in size to current mini-vans my wife would totally trade in her Odyssey.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      You have about five years to save up: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20140514/carnews/140519934

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      I always thought the Eurovans were hip, but I may just sell my soul for a clean, well-maintained Synchro Westfalia.

      Anyone looking for a soul? Anyone? (Not to be confused with a Kia, of course.)

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    In terms of cubic feet of space per dollar, and HP/dollar, it’s truly hard to beat the $19,999 Grand Caravan AVP.

  • avatar
    7402

    Yep, it’s hard to love a minivan, but RESPECT, that’s easy. We hate our 2nd gen Odyssey, but it has provided 150,000 miles of trouble free soccer runs, interstate trips (30 states and 3 provinces), nursery and Home Depot runs (yes, you can close the tailgate on a 10-foot pipe or dimensional lumber), etc. etc. RESPECT.

    With one kid, you have a case, but two or more and a family is nuts to not have a minivan in the fleet.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    My wife refuses to drive a mini-van and she is the one who drives the kids around 90% of the time. So, no minivan.

    She would gladly drive a 1980′s Grand Wagoneer, or a modern Tahoe/Yukon/Escalade – none of which make any sense to me.

    I have owned and enjoyed a few minivans from the first 1984 dodge and toyota variants up through Aerostars in the 90′s. Today I would prefer to drive an AWD V8 CUV or sporty RWD/AWD sedan, but would be fine in a minivan if I was hauling the kids around more frequently.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      A minivan has all the appeal of a pocket protector.

      You should be happy she’s anti-van, otherwise, you’d be navigating the monstrosity, too.

      We live in a value era. Value is desirable, indeed.

      But come on- who wants to drive a minivan. Honestly.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        Compared to what, my friend? Because the minivan will thump any _UV in handling, not to mention space, comfort and economy.

        As for you, CBR, get the old lady the Grand Waggy. But first do a ‘prenup’ regarding fuel and repairs, since she’ll be getting 11 city/11 hwy and fixing some nuisance or another on a weekly basis. Meanwhile, decide which minivan you want most, for when she comes back with tail between legs.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          Truckducken:

          Your logic makes sense, and I do not defy you; however, current man laws in effect limit my public expression of agreement with you in regards to any potential benefits of said minivans.

          In the interim, due to your defensive nature of the ostracized minivan segment, “The International Society for The Progression of All Things Masculine” would like a word with you.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I would have a minivan in a hot minute if I regularly had to haul people around. I really miss being able to borrow Mom’s Routan for those times. There is just no equal for hauling people.

        Though can we stop calling T&Cs and Odysses and such “mini” vans. At this point, they are just vans. A Mazda5 is a minivan.

  • avatar
    omer333

    My sister-in-law and brother-in-law were opposed to a mini-van, but they got a great deal on a Chrysler and now call it the best car ever.

    My wife and I are now having conversations about a mini-van.

    Because kids.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do see these increasing in market share substantially in the near future.

    I can see these melding with CUVs and offered in AWD and becoming the new family large SUV alternative.

    These are light, produce much better FE than a ladder frame SUV and can do 99% of what a person buys a SUV for.

    The US will slowly move in the Euro direction, as it has been doing since the inception of CAFE. Why? The Europeans already more or less can provide vehicle platforms and engines for the future US market.

    Whilst the US continues on it’s path of ‘individuality’ and most of the world harmonises the US will import engineering. This is a loss for the US.

    Relying on EVs and hybrids as the future is a lost cause for the US as well. The Chinese will be able to produce them much cheaper.

    So, will we end up with a EVs and hybrids chicken tax one day?

  • avatar
    CH1

    “… minivan sales climbed to over half a million in 2013 after a nadir of 434,000 in 2009 during the global economic superstorm’s early phase; sales peaked in 2000 at 1.3 million.”

    The data cited point to continuing decline instead of a comeback.

    US auto sales were 10.6 million in 2009 and 15.6 million in 2013; a 47% increase. Minivan sales have only increased by 23% during the same period; i.e, minivans were a smaller share of the market last year (and this year) compared to 2009.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    In my evil plans, if and when I end up replacing my 240DL with a new vehicle, I will test drive the CX5 and CRV and Camry and Accord and Passat and Sportwagon and XC60, and then bring my wife to the most sensible vehicle of them all. Not much else can provide for $20-22K a modern V6, good towing capacity, spare camping space, comfortable and very good looking front passenger space, decent mileage and decent ride. Town and Country. And then I will race her TSX wagon. Bwahahaha!

  • avatar
    pb35

    A 600 watt sound system and captains chairs? Where do I sign up? Oh, my wife won’t drive one either so we soldier on with our 7 year old XC90. Or as I like to refer to it, the ticking time bomb.

  • avatar
    Curt in WPG

    We have an 08 Dodge GC and couldn’t be happier with it. Sliding doors make child seats so much easier to use. I have a couple friends who laugh at our van but that damn thing hauls so much. Show me a pickup that can haul a 4×8 sheet of plywood in the box anymore where I can (and have) filled my Dodge with it. Sto-and-Go seating is a wonderful thing. I figure people who laugh at mini-vans are either compensating for something or just don’t see how useful they are.

  • avatar

    I was very impressed by Ford’s civilian version of Transit Connect. The price was impressive most of all, but it’s just such a great expression of a modern utilitarian people mover overall. To borrow from Jeremy Clarkson, bravo, the fat man from Turkey! This is masterpiece!


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