Tag: minivans

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 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 15, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey

When Honda unveiled the new Odyssey minivan, it highlighted its boosted engine output, added gears, enhanced interior functionality, and the ability to spy on your entire family via its unique in-car surveillance system. One thing that wasn’t mentioned, however, was all-wheel drive.

Despite Toyota’s Sienna offering optional AWD and Chrysler admitting that it’s considering a future incarnation of the Pacifica platform with all-wheel drive, Honda decided to keep the Odyssey a purely two-wheel affair. That’s an odd choice considering sport utility traits are currently en vogue and it rides on the same platform as the AWD Ridgeline, MDX, and Pilot. So why didn’t the engineers at Honda just toss on a transfer case and call it a day?

Because that would spoil everything that made the Odyssey a great minivan.  (Read More…)

By on January 11, 2017

2015 Dodge Grand Caravan red Detroit skyline

(Update: A previous version of this story stated that the Honda Odyssey was the top-selling minivan in the U.S. in 2016. The number one spot actually goes to the Toyota Sienna.)

After being granted a stay of execution, the Dodge Grand Caravan’s hazy, undefined lifespan remains a controversial topic in Auburn Hills.

The Moses of minivans continues to trundle off Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Windsor, Ontario assembly line, alongside its far-more-advanced Chrysler Pacifica stablemate. Compared to the tech-laden Pacifica, the venerable Grand Caravan offers an acceptable level of content at a lower price point, and its reprieve was in keeping with FCA’s tendency to keep money-making models around for extended periods of time. Together, the two models span the segment’s price range.

The unavoidable question for FCA is: how long can the Grand Caravan stay in the lineup? (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 January 6, 2017

2017-chrysler-pacifica-touring-l-granite-crystal-metallic7

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat myself: the minivan is the one kid hauler to have when you’re hauling more than one kid. Crossovers are the rage, certainly, but lack vertical cargo and passenger space due to the relatively high ride height. Also, a minivan’s sliding side doors are a godsend when strapping down squirming small-human cargo — especially when aided by a power open/close feature, or when parked in a tight garage.

That’s why I own a minivan — a 2012 Chrysler, to be precise. Besides the two kids, I’m often hauling family members, the kids’ friends, and/or the various implements of suburban remodeling/destruction. No other vehicle is as versatile, but I’m as susceptible to the pull of the shiny new thing as anyone else. Thus, I welcomed the appearance of this 2017 Chrysler Pacifica in my drive for an informal comparison.

(Read More…)

By on January 3, 2017

fca-portal-concept

It turns out that the all-electric car Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was rumored to unveil at the Consumer Electronics Show isn’t going to be a EV Pacifica, but an new concept EV called the Chrysler Portal.

However, FCA’s new concept electric doesn’t show that the company is abandoning its internal combustion predisposition. If anything, it is weighing its options. (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 2, 2016

2017 chrysler pacifica hybrid

The Pacifica Hybrid started production today at Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant, alongside the venerable Dodge Grand Caravan and plain-Jane gas-powered Pacifica. It’s North America’s first-ever hybrid minivan and, thanks to that technology, also the most economical.

But will it bolster the segment and restore the minivan’s faded glory in these uncertain times?  (Read More…)

By on November 14, 2016

FCA Windsor minivan assembly Dodge Grand Caravan 2011 - Image: FCA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Windsor, Ontario, minivan factory will reportedly suspend Dodge Grand Caravan production in mid 2019.

Seats delivered from Magna International’s Integram Seating facility to the minivan assembly plant will no longer be delivered as of July 2019, according to a letter sent from Magna to Unifor. Automotive News Canada suggests that the Grand Caravan will be replaced by a crossover.

Budget priced, the Dodge Grand Caravan is currently America’s best-selling minivan. Together, the Grand Caravan and its Chrysler siblings own 45 percent of the U.S. minivan market. On its own, the Grand Caravan generates 56 percent of all Canadian minivan sales. (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 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…)

By on September 16, 2016

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota, and Honda produce nine out of every ten minivans sold in the United States. In a category little more than half the size now than it was a decade ago and with an ever-shrinking number of competitors, the dawn of a truly new people-carrying, grocery-getting, pickup-truck-aping van has the potential to upset the apple cart.

Two years ago, the Kia Sedona shook things up. Although the Sedona remains a relatively small player, Kia’s share of the minivan market is nearly seven times stronger now than it was two years ago.

Next year will be the turn of the Honda Odyssey, as the van with which we’re so familiar follows its Pilot and Ridgeline platform partners to market. Better than one in five minivans sold in America are Odysseys.

This year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dramatically altered its minivan strategy by confirming the top-selling Dodge Grand Caravan’s departure and by launching the supremely stylish, Town & Country-replacing Chrysler Pacifica.

The new Pacifica, a successor to the alleged minivan originator, is by most measurements the best minivan you can drive today. But a few glaring faults leave a large window open for Chrysler’s two key competitors, both of which suffer from advanced age. (Read More…)

By on September 15, 2016

2017 minivans Quest Sedona Caravan Pacifica Odyssey SiennaA long ways from the 1.1 million minivans sold in 2005, U.S. sales of sliding-door people carriers are on track to rise to a nine-year high of more than 600,000 units in calendar year 2016.

Through the first eight months of 2016, year-over-year minivan volume is up 19 percent in the United States, though an industry-wide slowdown stalled the minivan sector’s expansion in August.

More than a year after a plant shutdown in Windsor, Ontario, enabled retooling for a new generation of Chrysler MPV product — and severely cut into fleet sales — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles currently owns 45 percent of the American minivan market, up from 33 percent in the first eight months of 2015.

A portion of the credit for FCA’s resurgence belongs to the all-new Chrysler Pacifica, a direct Town & Country replacement that we’re testing this week. After forming only 25 percent of Chrysler brand sales at this stage of 2015, minivans are suddenly responsible for half of all volume at the fading Pentastar brand. (Read More…)

By on September 14, 2016

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited

In keeping with my current life stage, a bunch of my friends own minivans. Three of my four siblings have each owned multiple minivans. I own a minivan.

And this week, the test vehicle at GCBC Towers is this FCA Canada-supplied 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited, with a not-at-all limited array of options. As-tested, U.S. market pricing for this Pacifica climbs just beyond the $50K marker to $50,270.

Honda Odysseys top out below $46,000; Toyota Siennas below $49,000. FCA, however, wants the new Pacifica — which adopts the name of a failed crossover that died eight years ago — to be perceived as the automaker’s premium player. Buyers who want a value-oriented FCA van continue to have the Dodge Grand Caravan as an option, at least for the time being.

But we wonder if it’s a tenable position in the long-term; if, when FCA’s Windsor, Ontario assembly plant finishes its Grand Caravan run, the Chrysler brand can maintain the automaker’s longstanding dominance in the minivan sector. (Read More…)

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