Category: Vans

By on March 22, 2017

2018 Toyota Sienna Limited - Image: ToyotaSurely it’s time for a new minivan from Toyota. Despite significant interior updates for the 2015 model year and significant powertrain improvements for 2017, the third-generation Toyota Sienna that launched in 2010 is still kickin’, seven years later.

First, the 2015 Kia Sedona shook things up. Then the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica confounded expectations. Landing shortly is the 2018 Honda Odyssey, which won’t surprise anyone if it’s the best in its class.

Clearly then, it’s your turn, Toyota.

Uh… Toyota, hello? Paging Toyota. Call for Toyota on Line 1, all-new Sienna required on the Princeton, Indiana, production line.

The 2018 Toyota Sienna gets a facelift. A refresh. An update. A refurb. What’s up with that? Read More >

By on March 7, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey - Image: American Honda

Got $43,695?

Honda spoke excitedly about the inclusion of an all-new, Honda-designed 10-speed automatic in the 2018 Honda Odyssey lineup when the van debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit two months ago. Along with a higher-powered 3.5-liter V6 and a standard 10-speed automatic from the Pilot, Honda made clear that the 10-speed would be reserved for “upper grades.”

Now we know precisely how high up the Odyssey food chain you must climb to obtain the minivan world’s first-ever 10-speed.

And it’s quite high. Read More >

By on February 24, 2017

2015 Nissan Quest profile – Image: Nissan USA

Skeptical of the Nissan Quest’s future in the latter portion of 2016, we demanded — on more than one occasion — to know whether there would even be a Nissan Quest in the 2017 model year.

Despite all the signs that pointed to a discontinued product, Nissan eventually confirmed that there would, in fact, be a 2017 Nissan Quest in the United States. Much rejoicing was heard among enthusiasts of JDM vans.

Yet nearly two months into 2017, Nissan still isn’t displaying the 2017 Quest on its consumer website and has only just added the Quest to the list of 2017 models on its media website. With only a handful of vans at dealers at the beginning of the year, Nissan somehow managed to reported an 11-month high in Quest sales in January 2017.

You didn’t buy a 2017 Quest. Your neighbour didn’t buy a 2017 Quest. There aren’t any 2017 Quests available at your local Nissan dealer. The 2015 and 2016 Quests are very nearly gone. Yet Nissan sold nearly 1,900 Quests in January. How curious.

Sure, the 2017 Nissan Quest exists, but it doesn’t exist for you. Instead, it’s apparently a fleet special for consumers named Enterprise, Budget, and Hertz. Read More >

By on February 21, 2017

2017 Ford Transit and Transit Connect - Image: Ford

On the surface, little Euro vans seem to make so much sense. Not every contractor needs a football field’s worth of space behind two front seats.

City-friendly exterior dimensions, a more affordable price tag, and four-cylinder fuel economy should, in theory, cause Bob the Builder or Handy Manny to take a serious look.

But enticing as the idea sounds, the value quotient proffered by 2017’s crop of five small commercial vans simply doesn’t add up for the overwhelming majority of commercial van buyers. Sure, the Ford Transit Connect may be a decent deal. But the Ford Transit is a comparatively great deal.

As a result, full-size commercial van sales are consistently on the rise. But small commercial van sales? Plunging like Paul the Plumber. Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Braun Ability Van

One in five Americans lives with some sort of disability, per the U.S. Census Bureau, including 3.8 million veterans. Not every disability requires a customized vehicle, but the minivan has become the ideal solution for those who do.

BraunAbility has worked since 1972 to adapt vehicles for those who need them, and unveiled its new upfitted Chrysler Pacifica at the Chicago Auto Show.

Read More >

By on February 9, 2017

2013 Mazda5 - Image: Mazda Canada

99.9 percent of the minivans sold in the United States in 2016 were (oxymoronically-titled) full-size minivans.

The Kia Rondo finished its brief one-generation U.S. run in 2011, having generated 73,100 total sales over the course of nearly five years.

Having produced more than 160,000 sales for Mazda USA, the Mazda 5 is likewise no longer part of the automaker’s U.S. lineup. Mazda 5 volume was essentially chopped in half between 2008 and 2014.

The Chevrolet Orlando arrived in North America with a decidedly Floridian name but never actually made its way to Florida, or the U.S. market as a whole. Having generated 12,038 Canadian sales, the Orlando quickly departed Canada after volume plunged 81 percent between 2012 and 2014.

Yet the Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 are still available in Canada. They’re alive and (un)well. And while “full-size minivans” claim 96 percent of Canadian MPV sales, Kia and Mazda just won’t give up on their genuinely mini minivans.  Read More >

By on January 27, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited - Image: FCAThere’s good news. And there’s bad news.

U.S. sales of minivans in 2016 rose 6 percent, year-over-year, to nearly 554,000 units.

Yet after shooting out of the blocks with a 23 percent increase through the first seven months of the year — partly a response to a slow start one year earlier — minivan sales tanked in the final five months of 2016. Read More >

By on January 9, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey white front quarter

Honda unveiled the production 2018 Odyssey today at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, revealing a thoroughly redesigned but wholly familiar family hauling box. New features include second row seats that slide side-to-side, as well as an interior camera to monitor mischievous rear-seat occupants.

Mechanical innovations include an optional, all-new 10-speed automatic transmission built at Honda’s Georgia transmission plant, and an upgraded 3.5 liter V6 that now produces 280 horsepower.

Read More >

By on December 6, 2016

2015 Nissan QuestYou can still buy a brand new Nissan Quest.

In fact, you’ll be able to do so in 2017, as well.

To be honest, we had our doubts about the Quest’s U.S. future. Nissan Canada killed the Quest in 2013.  Fast forward three years, and Nissan USA’s lingering Quest suffered a massive 73-percent year-over-year sales decline between August and November of this year. During that period, only 0.5 percent of American minivan buyers, just one out of every 200, opted for a Nissan Quest.  Read More >

By on December 4, 2016

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2016

We have, perhaps unfairly, categorized German automakers as far more calculating and efficient than their American counterparts. While there is certainly a case to be made for this positive stereotyping, there are also plenty of examples calling this perceived Germanic precision into question. One such instance is the absolutely ridiculous lengths Mercedes-Benz have been going to avoid the chicken tax on its imported vans. Read More >

By on November 25, 2016

2015 Honda Odyssey EX PEI Cottage – Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Just when I think to myself, Do we really need a minivan?, we plan a week-long road trip to Prince Edward Island. We didn’t need to add mileage to the lease on GCBC’s long-term 2015 Honda Odyssey EX. We had the option of driving a 2017 Ford Escape Titanium EcoBoost 2.0 from the press fleet instead.

But numbers matter. Indeed, the numbers pertaining to the cargo volume available behind the second rows of each vehicle matter greatly. 34.3 cubic feet vs. 93.1 cubic feet: nearly triple the amount of space for our stuff.

Yeah, we’ll take the van. Read More >

By on November 4, 2016

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Maybe God has it out for Windsor, Ontario. Or maybe fate has a sense of irony, at least when it comes to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The automaker’s minivan plant, which builds the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica, handily sidestepped a supplier-related shutdown this week, only to be unexpectedly hit with another. The assembly lines go dark in Windsor next week. Read More >

By on October 10, 2016

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited Billet Silver

Transitioning from one model to the next isn’t always a straightforward task for automakers. Forecasting and assembling the outgoing model before retooling for the incoming model is not an exact science.

For the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler’s replacement for the Town & Country minivan, the task was not made any easier by the presence of a value-oriented competing model inside Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ own fold. Through the first three-quarters of 2016, the Dodge Grand Caravan has set a pace that may end with the best calendar year of sales since 2012, if not 2007.

The Grand Caravan’s position atop the minivan leaderboard and the large number of Chrysler Town & Countrys that needed to be cleared out created uninspiring Pacifica sales numbers for the first few months of its life-cycle.

But Pacifica sales last month were 23-percent higher than in August, and the Chrysler Pacifica very nearly became America’s best-selling minivan in September 2016.

Only a matter of time? Read More >

By on September 26, 2016

Volkswagen-Amarok-2017-1024-01

Move over Chevrolet, Ram and Ford?

It’s hard to say if American van and truck builders have anything to worry about after the head of Volkswagen’s commercial vehicles division publicly mused about jumping into the U.S. market. Read More >

By on September 23, 2016

2017 Toyota Sienna 3.5L V6

Updated for 2015 with a revised interior, an invisible facelift, and improved LATCH access, the 2015 Toyota Sienna was nevertheless mechanically identical to the Sienna of 2011-2014. The Toyota Sienna was America’s best-selling minivan in calendar year 2015.

For model year 2017, the Sienna remains visually identical and continues on the third-generation platform, but Toyota is installing the Tacoma’s direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 underhood and linking it to a new eight-speed automatic.

With a 30-horsepower jump to 293, the 2017 Toyota Sienna is now the most powerful minivan on sale. Read More >

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