By on August 15, 2006

x07ct_up006.jpg An airport car rental attendant recently handed me the keys to my temporary chariot and declared “Your car is down the row to your right. It’s an ‘06 Uplander.” A what? “It’s kind of an SUV,” she kind of explained. The butt-end of a something large and ugly poked out of stall 97. The bow tie on the trim above the license plate revealed the vehicle’s manufacturer: Chevrolet.  Apprehensively, I slid behind the wheel of the awkward-looking beast. I looked around. I turned to my colleague. “No wonder GM is in such bad shape.”

The Uplander’s exterior could have been penned twenty-five years ago. The awkward yet infinitely bland exterior displays all the styling finesse and surface excitement of a 1981 Chevy Malibu– with none of the stalwart sedan’s balanced proportions.  You can see how GM’s designers tried to transform their plane Jane minivan into a “Crossover Sport Van”: a longer than needed snout, big-ass B-pillars, slightly larger wheels and faux skid plates. It’s an entirely unconvincing effort that somehow manages to capture the worst of both the SUV and minivan genres.

x07ct_up003.jpg Once inside, a flip-down DVD screen attached to ceiling rails provides the only indication that “Bette Davis Eyes” isn’t about to debut on the radio. Again, it’s an interior from another era– before Chrysler, Honda and Toyota showed American soccer Moms that you could schlep the team in something very much approaching style. Hell, you can’t even get comfortable in the thing. The Uplander’s driver’s seat wouldn’t retreat far enough to accommodate my frame, and my preferred steering wheel position fell somewhere between two notches. Hello? I’m 5’11”.

Otherwise, the comfort sucks. The Uplander’s architecture, inherited from the 1997 Chevrolet Venture (whose running gear lives in perpetuity) is still too narrow to accommodate its [theoretical] complement of seven adults. And the Uplander’s plastics seem designed by rental car companies for rental car companies; their ability to withstand endless applications of industrial strength ammonia being their only saving grace.

959975838.jpg Needless to say, the Uplander is as dreadful to drive as it is to inhabit. The loose steering requires constant tending at anything other than a dead stop. The suspension crashes more often than a demolition derby driver. The long wheelbase and epic turning circle make parking lot maneuvering a seemingly endless chore. It leans excessively in corners. But wait! There’s less!

The CSV’s 3.9-liter V6 pushrod powerplant boasts (in the ironic sense of the word) a cast iron block with cast aluminum heads, hooked-up to Ye Olde Four Speed. With constant aural reminders that it would much rather be switched off, the ancient, rough-revving mill delivers a class-leading 240hp @ 6000rpm. But it's not enough to motivate the ponderous beast into a jog. In short, the Uplander’s performance doesn’t even deserve the noun.

To GM’s credit, the Uplander completed its assigned task: transporting my colleague and me safely from airport to office, office to hotel and back. The vehicle’s lights, windshield wipers and turn signals worked. There was plenty of cargo room.  The engine made the thing move forward and the brakes brought it to a stop. I observed no sharp objects that might threaten to cut or maim passengers. But all of this was done with Soviet-repressed bureaucratic adequacy.

x07ct_up002.jpg If you doubt that the Uplander is a half-assed has-been that never was and never shoulda been, click on this link from the Uplander’s menu and select Braking, Engine and Transmission. Three years after the model’s debut and the information is still “Not yet published.” In terms of design, refinement and packaging, competitive minivans (yes, minivans) from Honda, Toyota and Chrysler are literally decades ahead of the Uplander. And proud of it.

How could a thing such as an Uplander come to be? Hundreds of GM employees spent years on its development and implementation: designers, engineers, marketers and senior management. Ultimately, all of them stamped their approval on the Uplander and proclaimed to the world THIS IS OUR BEST IDEA. If fact, the company as a whole considered the concept so inspired they felt compelled to badge engineer this execrable automotive aardvark as the Saturn Relay, Buick Terraza and Pontiac Montana.

The General has hit some home runs with a couple of products lately (e.g. the Corvette and the Pontiac Solstice / Saturn Sky). Cadillac is heading in the right direction. But these are niche vehicles, not machines for the masses. To recover from its well-documented woes, GM needs volume sales of mainstream products. Otherwise, they’re heading straight for bankruptcy. But if bankruptcy is the only way to stop GM from inflicting crap vehicles like the Uplander on unsuspecting rental car drivers and (God forbid) buyers, then I can’t help but wish the world’s largest automaker a speedy Chapter 11.

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111 Comments on “Chevrolet Uplander Review...”


  • avatar
    Schmu

    this was funny. I enjoyed it. My father in law was a GM guy. Never bought anything other than GM since early 70 something. He just ended up with a dodge grand caravan, and loves it. He isn’t a dodge guy, but the chevy was too messed up even for him.

    • 0 avatar
      ENSAPP

      I have a 2008 Uplander. I love the styling. It looks allot like a Tahoe but with sliding doors. It may not be as fast as my 300zx but since my wife drives it it’s plenty fast. It gets good gas mileage around 25mpg and we BOTH like the interior. It rides better than the Caravan it replaced and is more comfortable on long trips. I could barely walk after a 500 mile ride in the Caravan ! As far as dependability mine ONLY has 315,000 miles on it. I’m only wondering how much Toyota and Honda pays these guys to trash every car made by American companies, I could use a better paying job and that’s the other thing, compare prices and tell me who’s better !

  • avatar
    stanshih

    I would get on your case for beating this dead horse, but then again, why is Chevy selling this carcass?
    Bury this thing!

  • avatar
    a_d_y_a

    Why no cool picture popping for this article? Amen to the dead horse beating .

  • avatar

    Sorted.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    When I first saw pictures of the Uplander (and its many clones) I thought that it was something new and exciting – maybe even a return to one of my favorite now-extinct forms of transportation, the panel truck. Much to my dismay, it was just a slightly warmed over version of GMs previous minivan, itself just an also-ran.

    With gas prices shooting up, it’s surprising (and disappointing) to me that someone has caught on to the fact that there might be a market out there for a vehicle that has economy, utility, and larger-than-a-compact-car hauling capacity, but not as big (nor as thirsty) as a truck. I’ve been looking for a replacement for my too-small Outback wagon for a while. In theory, my requirements (AWD, decent MPG, and big enough that I can sleep in it in a pinch) could be fulfilled by a minivan, but every one I look up the stats on is either (a) too expensive ($30k for a minivan?), (b) too thirsty (many minivans get near-SUV MPG ratings) or (c) ugly enough to make you go blind from looking at it. The Uplander seems to hit 2 out of 3, being reasonably inexpensive, at least in stripped down versions, though AWD doesn’t seem to be available.

    So far the vehicle that comes closest is the Honda Element. When my SO looked at it, she thought it was hideous (I love the rugged styling) and then she thought it looked like a minivan (I think it was the flat load deck and wide-opening doors that did it.) But a vehicle with all that cargo room that can offer AWD and still give up 21/24 mpg for right around $20k is just about right. And there’s no reason other manufacturers can’t do the same thing. Why they won’t do it is a mystery I may never know the answer to.

  • avatar

    “less horsepower (240hp @ 6000rpm) and twist than anything in its class.”

    I do not believe that is accurate. It is ahead of Chrysler, Ford and Toyota in this respect.

    Doraville is closing in 2008 and these 4 vans will probably die with it.

  • avatar

    By George you’re right!

    Chrysler T& C V6: 180hp @ 5000 rpm, 210 ft. lbs. @ 4000 rpm
    Ford Windstar V6: 194hp @4500 rpm, 243 ft. lbs. @3,750 rpm
    Toyota Sienna V6: 215 hp @ 5600 rpm, 222 ft. lbs. @ 3600 rpm

    Fact checker fired, text amended.

  • avatar
    jenni_p

    Gotta luv those plastic skid plates!

  • avatar
    stryker1

    So is this a Tahoe with downs syndrome? The only use I could see for such a vehicle is to be lined up, in two rows, under monster truck tires.

  • avatar
    phattie

    Seems like nothing can go right for GM. They redesign their vans to look like SUVs right when the SUV crase is starting to wane. What next?

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    It really bothered me when I first saw it: looks embryonic and unformed. Ew.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    The Uplander is the perfect example of Why GM Is Toast.

    Hideous design, ancient architecture, poor build quality, bad ergonomics, resale value that rivals a Kia.

    Kill it NOW.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    I think that if this particular CSV had the 3.5L engine, the horsepower assertion would have almost been correct at 201bhp.

    There’s a tale behind the R&D of the CSV’s predecessor – it was designed as a compromise between the EU and US markets, and satisfied neither. As a result, it’s still 72″ wide, 6″-7″ narrower than its US chief competitors. The EU version, the Sintra, lasted only a couple of years due to poor sales. Offset crash testing by both EURONCAP and IIHS was pathetic, which was fixed by the long snout in 2005.

    In a 2006 IIHS side impact test, the 2nd row captain’s chair broke loose. It did not affect the crash test score, but not specifically addressed by GM (fix/recall/TSB). IMHO, this really doesn’t inspire confidence in the General’s quality/safety. Other manufacturers (Subaru, Toyota) have recalled vehicles when something bad comes up in IIHS testing.

  • avatar
    james2550

    My family hired one of these monstrosities during a recent holiday to Hilton Head Island. It was immediately apparent to me that it was a “butched-up” re-hash of the old Chevy Venture and while I prefer to hire an American car while in America (it’s just boring to use something that I can access in the UK), I have to say I was sorely disappointed. The exterior looks like what it is – a Venture with a big snout and a few styling mods. The interior seemed an improvement on first glance, until it became apparent that the dashboard was a hard as a washboard.

    Nevertheless, the Uplander proved commodious and comfortable for a family of five to scoot about South Carolina for a fortnight. The DVD player was a great novelty (though it refused to play about half of our British discs) and meant that for the first time in history nobody wanted the front passenger seat!

    But that’s not nearly good enough. It works and has a telly. Big deal. Though a bit smaller than US offerings, full size minivans from Ford Europe (the new Galaxy and S-Max), Renault (its stunning Espace) and the co-effort shared by Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat, are vastly superior. It’s a shame that GM’s European minivan (the Vauxhall/Opel Zafira) is too small to be considered in the US, because it’s streets ahead of what the parent company can manage.

  • avatar
    nweaver

    Odyssey has more Go Juice, but not by much:
    244hp @ 5750 rpm
    240ft-lbs @ 5000 rpm (or 4500 rpm for the variable cylander engine)

    Its a 3.5L engine instead of 3.9L, however, and gets 19/25 or 20/28 depending.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Zarba: at least the Kia has the IIHS gold pick in minivans.

    I don’t understand why GM is trying to kill Chevy, but it looks like the good products are going to Saturn lately. I caught a base model (XE) Aura at the local dealer this weekend just before it was sold, and even in base trim it was an attractive car with a modern-looking interior. It still needs more than a 4 speed automatic in the base model, but at least a 6 speed slushbox is available in the XR.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    Deja vu all over again – It’s the Impala, only (incredibly) actually WORSE!

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Do not insult the 1981 Chevy Malibu… Thanx ;-)

  • avatar
    Kevin

    The vehicle’s lights, windshield wipers and turn signals worked.

    Enough with the puff piece. Tell us what you really think.

  • avatar
    David Yip

    I just can’t believe that something that looks like that is for sale, and that people are buying it.

    It is just – appalling! I mean with the Pontiac Aztek they were at least going for something, okay, it’s ugly, but they were trying something new.

    But this? How?

    It’s just – I can’t imagine it. Everytime I see an Uplander on the roads I say to myself – why?

    I know this is a redundant comment but I had to get it out.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    There’s horsepower ratings and then there’s what the car will do. Autos.com says the 3.5L Odyssey will 0-60 in 7.3, the 3.3L Sienna in 7.8 and the 3.9L Uplander in 8.1. Considering that the Honda and Toyota motors are new DOHC/VVT designs, this isn’t surprising. We bought a minivan in ’01. I tried all (except the Ford – too many painful experiences – and the Honda – too much money and a waitlist) and it was the Sienna I tested last and bought immediately. It had far and away the best acceleration and the torque was available at low RPMs. The Dodge and Chevy, while larger displacement engines, couldn’t do what the Toyota was doing.

    GM needed to put a more contemporary, sophisticated and capable engine into the Uplander and didn’t. Possibly they figure that displacement claims are what sell the cars to their base and at a .6L advantage over Toyota and a .4L advantage over Odyssey, that they had the marketing mix they needed.

  • avatar
    Lemmy-powered

    I was at the Toronto auto show’s press-day unveiling of this vehicle a few years ago. Our jaws dropped in shocked disbelief when they rolled the turd out and talked about its sporty new look.

    Relay, Uplander, Montana, Terraza, Silhouette — when’s the SAAB version coming out?

  • avatar

    Phattie, next I expect GM to put their 10 mpg 454 V8 in the Aveo just as fuel economy is back in style. Probably take out the back seat to make it look more like a sports car, too.

  • avatar
    dean

    Hmm. The interior doesn’t look too awful in the photograph. Which only proves that you don’t buy a vehicle without seat time.

    That is one hideous, malformed, stillborn vehicle. When you compare it to the newer model Sienna and Odyssey it is just horrifyingly ugly. The fact that someone at Chevy liked it enough to green light it is a damning indictment of their collective taste. Actually, it tells me that there are far too many yes-men working at GM. God knows enough people knew that was a steaming pile of dog-doo, and either were afraid to speak up or, worse, the higher-ups refused to listen.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    BTW this vehicle was totally designed in Mexico. That will learn ya!

  • avatar
    passive

    I think this article provides an example of something that needs to be bashed into the head of every GM executive.

    Your brand is only as strong as it’s weakest vehicle. Toyota and Honda have learned to live by this mantra. Every single one of us will probably have experience with dozens of vehicles before we purchase one, and those experiences will shape our perception of the brand. Even if I was purchasing a pure sports car, my decision would be influenced by the rental SUVan I drove last year, and that might be enough to push me away from the Corvette. Look at Honda’s lineup. Even where the vehicles might not be right for you, you have to admit that they are generally at least competent, if not pretty good.

    GM’s strategy of attempting to gain sales by simply having a *$%#&load of different models may have worked when there were less vehicles on the road, and people would only sit in 5 or 6 different models between purchases, but today vehicles are everywhere, new and used, and while a middle-class family with two teenagers might have had 1 vehicle 40 years ago, today they might have 3 or 4, and they will probably end up renting one or two every year when they travel.

    Nissan is a good example of this. By and large, the products in the Ghosn era have been terrific, especially considering where they were before. However, any serious discussion of Nissan will always end up talking about the Quest, and the initial quality problems experienced on the large truck models. These issues are more or less solved now (though the Quest’s styling is still divisive, but I would say less so), but they were enough to generate a steady stream of “Nissan is in trouble” articles, and slow down Ghosn’s rebuilding of their reputation (as an aside, I can’t wait for the new Sentra and Altima, they are looking sweet).

    So in short, GM, unless it’s very good, don’t release it. You’ve already got an image problem, and vehicles that disappoint the occupants, even if they aren’t the target market, aren’t going to help you one bit.

  • avatar

    Another GM vehicle adored by tens of thousands of people. The problem is that the people who think this vehicle is so wonderful, are all employees and stockholders of Toyota and Honda!

  • avatar
    FunkyD

    Having spent a long weekend (and 1400 miles) in the sister Pontiac Montana, I can tell you that it does have 2 redeeming factors. By sticking the nose out, it added space for the driver’s feet, even if it looks a little like a Frankenvan.

    The interior isn’t quite 25 years out of date…more like 10 :-)

    Mediocre ergonomics..check.
    Mediocre performance…check.
    Inprecise handling…check.
    Add to that only 20 highway MPG.

    BTW: The other redeeming factor is after our road trip, my wife has no interest in ever buying a minivan!

  • avatar
    Glenn

    james2550? I’m surprised ANY of your British DVDs worked in the US, since they are not “Region 1” DVDs. Kind of like “back in the day” when the VCRs were popular, the US tapes were locked in to the analog signals of NTSC for 525 lines and 30 frames per second, while the British and most Euro tapes were locked into the analog signals of PAL (incompatible with NTSC) and 625 lines and 25 frames per second.

    But I have to say that when we went on holiday in Scotland last year, I did rent a Vauxhall Zafira “mpv” (minivan in US parlance) and while the handling and room were very good, I was apalled by the diesel engine being so noisy, and my seating position (I felt as if I was driving an old VW microbus).
    It was, in its defence, the prior generation Zafira.

    In short, hopefully the new Zafira is streets ahead of the old, and if so, GM could do a lot worse than to actually yank the production of these US monstrosities and replace the cars with the Zafira.

    Just call it the Chevrolet Zafira and offer it with the most powerful 2.4 litre fours and hybrid assist, instead of trying to re-engineer the thing for a V6.

    But of course, GM won’t do any such thing. Because I just used common sense in describing a viable option, and GM cannot use same.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    The whole thing is just so cynical and gets to the heart of how stupid our SUV craze has been. Mass, psychotic penis envy on a national scale.

    I remember they had this ugly duck parked next to the gorgeous, drool-inducing SS Concept at the LA Autoshow a few years back… and we know which they built.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Most anyone who is looking for this kind of vehicle is going to pick an Oddysey, Sienna or if they can’t afford or don’t want to spend the money on those then a grand caravan. A few will go for a Quest or maybe a Pacifica. I can’t say I have ever seen an Uplander on the road before, perhaps I did but it was so bland it just didn’t register. Chevy doesn’t really seem to produce anything worth having except the Corvette. Everything else is merely adequate or subpar.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    A Pacifia would only get worse gas mileage.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Here again is the gm rub. They aren’t competitive in the minivan segement(never have been), so they need a totally new product, engine, tranny, frame, interior, etc. this costs real money. So what are the the designers told ,to freshen the thing. This is akin to the old annual model change. You make the grille and tail look different enough that some people will want to trade last years modelin. It worked for 40 years, but not now. You see, gm is not competing with just two other lesser domestics. The world class vans are here and even the nissan quest just came in for an overhaul. Chrysler get’s an all new minivan this year and this is off a far more sucessful model than gm has. So yes the gm formula continues,you compete in every segement with mediocrity, then you spread the wealth by giving all your division similar junk, what a formula.

  • avatar
    Caffiend

    Ugly doesn’t do justice. I drive an Outback, so looks are obviously not a big concern to me. I hate the B9 Tribeca, and thought it to be the ugliest vehicle on the road. I’d drive the Tribeca over the Uplander every time.

    GM, you should be ashamed.

  • avatar
    camp6ell

    i know i shouldn’t, but i do. that front end is so wrong it’s right. it’s the back 3/4 that’s all wrong/20 years old.

  • avatar
    airglow

    “The CSV’s 3.9-liter V6 pushrod powerplant boasts (in the ironic sense of the word) a cast iron block with cast aluminum heads, hooked-up to Ye Olde Four Speed. With constant aural reminders that it would much rather be switched off, the ancient, rough-revving mill delivers a class-leading 240hp @ 6000rpm. But it’s not enough to motivate the ponderous beast into a jog. In short, the Uplander’s performance doesn’t even deserve the noun.”

    For 2007 the Uplander’s only engine is the 3.9-liter V6. This engine is far from “ancient”; it is actually a clean sheet design that is less than 2 years old. The rest of your pejorative rant is purely subjective, but since you called a brand new engine “ancient”, I have to wonder about your subjective judgments as well.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    Just think, in 2 years,(maybe not even that long) we will be seeing tons of Uplanders with rust, broken body panels, and burnt out taillights. This can only be good news to Venture drivers, whose minivan is no doubt on it’s last leg now. Who knows, maybe even one of the rare Lumina MPV drivers will have something to look forward too.

    Can’t wait.

  • avatar
    chanman

    Ugly isn’t strong enough a word. It looks vaguely HHRish with the tapering lines on the hood. Then the blocky SUV-like parts, and then the mismatched window shapes that remind one of the Windstar, but weirder.

    No, ugly, isn’t it. Deformed is more like it.

  • avatar
    John

    Someone should test the automotive IQ of the people who buy this mediocrity. Suspect that they come from 3 categories:

    A) Do their research by watching car commercials
    B) Have been driving a beater so these seem good in comparison
    C) Had the Japanese shooting at them in WW2

  • avatar
    misterbozack

    This article is PERFECT. It’s dead on. And it’s right. I just spent the longest 2 weeks of my life driving a rented Ford Windstar SEL (aka the Ford Deathstar) and Pontiac Grand Prix GT (the GT should be in quotes) on my vacation in Maui (just got back yesterday). Each of these cars exemplifies the reason Ford and GM will die slow painful deaths at the hands of leaders who are so drunk on their own poisonous corporate Kool-Aid they can’t see how pitifully poor their products are. If I had half the talent of Mr. Montgomery I’d take a stab at writing all about it. Until then, suffice it to say they both sucked. A lot.

  • avatar
    Lemmy-powered

    Chanman’s comment about tapering hood lines made me take a second look.

    Now I get it — they weren’t trying to make it look like an SUV at all! They were going for the school-bus aesthetic. Paint it yellow, add a few black accent lines, and there you go.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    The only thing I do like is the front end on that thing.

    FWIW: the 4.2L Ford Freestar has 201hp and a best in class 263lb-ft torque. Then again, torque is probably the only thing the ‘star has going for it.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    Better watch it… this is the kind of review that gets the “Amurrican cars are best no matter what” troglodytes to come crawling out of their caves looking for “GM bashers” to feed on!

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

  • avatar
    qfrog

    Where do I send my RSVP for the GM funeral party?

  • avatar
    sashazur

    I wonder if a big part of the explanation for these crappy bland cars is that so many of them are sold to rental fleets which only care that a vehicle fits a specific number of people and is cheap.

    I don’t have any data, but it does seem like the more boring, bland, and crummy a GM/Ford/Chrysler car is, the more you see it as a rental, which makes sense if it was mainly designed to BE a rental.

    Could it be that this car and others like it was actually designed mainly to be a rental? It would explain a lot!

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Van’s going bye-bye in a year or two, so even GM knows it is behind the competition.

    My brother just got a Honda Odyssey Touring – nice van, but I’m old school – no car is worth $38,000 even if it tickles your butt while you drive.

    I’d spend $20,000 on an Uplander before I’d spend $38k on an Odyssey. It’s just something to schlep the kids around in.

  • avatar

    Yes well, buy an Uplander and you'll lose almost all your money in instant depreciation, whereas a well-cared for Odyssey will fetch excellent money at trade-in time.

    Remember: depreciation is car ownership's single largest expense.

  • avatar
    NoneMoreBlack

    Wait a minute, I’ve seen that front end before:

    http://www.taxifix.com/communities/004/005/328/680/images/4509179800.jpg

    It grew up, moved to America, and put on 2000 pounds.

  • avatar
    GMrefugee

    I guess there is no middle ground for this crowd.

    Thanks to Starlightmica for at least providing some context to the current vehicle design history. I dont think it is fair to state that the GM folks would say this is their “BEST IDEA” so much as it is their best compromise taking in all the budget, production and engineering restrictions. Sure, the result is not as compelling as the competition, but it allows GM to limp along without abandoning the segment entirely.

    I believe if the engine was a 3.5 than it was derived from the 3.4, derived from the 3.1, derived from the 2.8. Otherwise, if it is the new 3.9, you should consider correcting the engine review.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    taxman100: the reason your brother spent 38K on an odyssey is that he xmas treed every option in the book. Many more go out under 30K, and as stated above these will hold their value and are pretty peppy to boot.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    AIRGLOW: The rest of your pejorative rant is purely subjective,

    Wrong! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but ugliness is universally recognized. But thanks for the insight, that must be what those clueless GM decision makers keep telling themselves whenever their focus groups start puking on the floor.

  • avatar
    tyoung9

    Help me rate this.
    I reckon a Geely is about a 2 (on a scale of 0 to 10, where ten is perfect)
    An Audi A6 is about an 8+.
    Where does the Uplander (is this a play on Highlander?) lie.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    the company as a whole considered the concept so inspired they felt compelled to badge engineer this execrable automotive aardvark

    A great name for GM’s next new model.

    But, seriously, the one thing about the Uplander, more than any of its other myriad faults, that explains why GM is going down is this: How the hell could GM design and produce a modern minivan with a 3rd row seat that doesn’t fold flat into the floor?

    Even the worst-in-class (now discontinued) Ford Turdstar had a fold-flat 3rd row seat…

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    I’m with you, Dave – maintain the witty script.

    Sashazur, not all rental cars are alike. Last week I rented a PT Cruiser Touring Edition. This was definitely NOT your average rental vehicle (I passed up a Taurus and a Sebring for the same $).

    I had never set foot (or butt) in one before, but I was very impressed. Lots of room, nice features, just slightly underpowered with the 4-spd slushbox. But, it was generally competent and returned 25 MPG over 800 miles. Counterpoint: the seats are tough to take on a 7-hour drive.

    I’d actually now consider looking at one to purchase. So, in this case, the rental agency might actually help sell a car. I imagine that ain’t gonna happen with the Uplander, though.

  • avatar

    So far the vehicle that comes closest is the Honda Element. When my SO looked at it, she thought it was hideous (I love the rugged styling) and then she thought it looked like a minivan (I think it was the flat load deck and wide-opening doors that did it.) But a vehicle with all that cargo room that can offer AWD and still give up 21/24 mpg for right around $20k is just about right. And there’s no reason other manufacturers can’t do the same thing. Why they won’t do it is a mystery I may never know the answer to.

    I’m with your SO on the bad aesthetics. The face is awfully ugly, and the cladding doesn’t work for me either. Too bad–it is a practical car, and a little tweaking and it probably could have had loads of character, like the xB.

  • avatar
    sashazur

    One thing that’s not the Uplander’s fault – re. the early post about it not playing DVDs from the UK – this is normal.

    In fact, most DVDs from Europe (and other parts of the world) will not play in American DVD players, and vice-versa – so be careful if you buy DVDs while traveling!

    This incompatibility is intentional – media companies made DVDs ‘regional’ to ensure the highest degree of control over sales and distribution. There are very few worldwide (e.g. ‘region-free’) DVDs or players.

    (Another thing that can make DVDs incompatible is the different video signal formats used around the world, but DVD players exist that can convert signal formats, though once again, they are unusual).

  • avatar

    >>The General has hit some home runs with a couple of products lately (e.g. the Corvette and the Pontiac Solstice / Saturn Sky)

    I agree on the ‘Vette, but the Solstice and the Sky are too heavy to be home runs.

  • avatar

    >>The DVD player was a great novelty (though it refused to play about half of our British discs)

    The article certainly cited GM for failure to update a lot of stuff, but this is actually a problem GM hasn’t updated since the war of 1812. I’m surprised the DVD player played any British discs.

  • avatar
    210delray

    One more stroke of brilliance in these vans:

    If you order the optional side airbags, the removable 2nd row seats become nonremovable. Reason: the airbags are in the seats, not in the roof, so there’s an electrical wire that must transfer power to the seat.

    So, GM disabled the latches to take out the seats. Not to worry, if you get hit hard enough in the side, the seats will break free anyway (see IIHS side impact test results)!

  • avatar
    mikey

    34 yrs at G.M I guess I better start worrying about my pension cause nobody loves us anymore.

  • avatar
    wstansfi

    RF,

    So much negativity. Where is the positivity? So many reviews lately are comparing domestic cars to Japanese rivals – do they not also merit review space on TTAC? Initially when I tuned in I liked the fact that you were ripping on cars, even when you liked them on balance. Now, it seems we’re just getting ripping. And what happened to the stars? In the older reviews I felt that the stars, at the end of the day, were the cool appraisals under the flaming rants. I felt I could trust the stars. So?

    wstansfi

  • avatar
    islander800

    It is truly sad to see the depths of mediocracy that the once-great GM has sunk. With products like this, how do they hope to entice back the countless customers that have been lost forever to the offshore brands? Given the nasty experiences that many suffered with N.A. products in the 1970s-1990s, it takes a really spectacular offering for them to even consider buying G.M. Ford or Chrysler again.

    Case in point, I purchased a 2005 Mustang GT last year, entirely on the basis of the great looks, outstanding performance and value, crossing my fingers all the way. It literally took a vehicle like the new Mustang to overcome my natural aversion to the “big three”. I fully expected the quality and reliability not to be up to the standards of my wife’s Honda (2004 Element) or our last two Hondas, but I had my hopes. This, by the way, is the first N.A. manufacturer brand purchase (and my first Ford EVER) since 1978, when I had a nasty reliability experience with a new 1978 Regal Turbo…less said about that one, the better.

    Experience to date? The Honda, with 25,000 miles, has required zero warranty repairs; The GT? At 4,000 miles, I’ve had four warranty trips to the dealer, for a new battery, new driver’s door outside handle, replaced front strut mounts, and a new rear caliper assembly, which managed to drip corrosive brake fluid over the wheel clearcoat before replacement. To be truthful, the dealership has been great, cheerfully fixing everything, and thank goodness I bought the extended warranty. Do I still like the GT? You bet – it’s a blast to drive. Would I buy another N.A. brand product? Hmmmm……..

    I think that kinda sums up the situation in which the big three find themselves. With mediocre product, not a hope in hell. Gosh, what a concept – “it’s all about product”!

  • avatar
    misterbozack

    mikey, 34 years at GM? Wow. Please tell me you were one of the guys who spent those years saying things like “you know, we don’t HAVE to make it look like that” and “how about using a better plastic?” or even “Hey, what if the parts fit together even almost really well”.

    That was you, wasn’t it?

  • avatar
    James2

    wstansfi,

    I think there are precious few genuine “Haters” here @ TTAC. Everyone wants the General (and/or Ford) to succeed. But —most important— there seems to be no one inside either GM or Ford who wants to succeed, thus the public is offered utter tripe like the Uplander or the Trailblazer I rented a few months ago.

    It’s all self-inflicted wounds.

  • avatar
    yerfej

    I don’t know anything about cars or vans but I find it funny that no one noticed something about this Uplander thing right from the get go. The first time I saw one I said to my wife “Hell that looks like the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile”. I am not sure how it could have been possible to produce this ugly thing and not break out laughing. I don’t know anything about the quality as I have never driven one but just the look of the thing tells me that I would not be caught dead in it. I will stick with my Caravan, I really like it, and it looks pretty good too!

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Rudiger wants to know how Gm designed a minivan where the third seat has to be removed instead of folding in the floor. The answer is simple, ten and more years ago all minivan seats had to be removed at great effort and thrown in the garage. Starting with Honda, and now all manufacturers, the seats now go in the floor. Chryslers have all seats folding in the floor middle row included. You see, you have to redesign inside of a ten year cycle to have these improvements. When and if GM does another minivan which by that time will be fifteen years between redesigns

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Is there any minivans with available AWD that have all the seats fold into the floor?

    My understanding is Chrysler had to ditch AWD in order to get the folding seats to work. If AWD in a minivan is your bag, I don’t see that available other than GM and the Subaru “flying vagina”.

    I don’t even own a GM – I own a Grand Marquis, a Corolla, and a 67 Galaxie convertible. I do own 100 shares of their stock I bought last December at just over $18, so that is my link to GM. But with Ford leadership being clueless, I might switch teams once the Panther platform dies.

    However, I don’t see where the front end of the Uplander looks much different than a Honda Pilot. I’m sure a Honda will get stupid money used, but my brother paying $509 a month to lease doesn’t sound like that great of a deal to me.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Is there any minivans with available AWD that have all the seats fold into the floor?

    Toyota Sienna AWD has a fold-down 3rd row, and has runflat tires as the driveshaft sits where the spare does. Of course, those haven’t been completely trouble free.

    DCX has the spare tire between the front seats in the Stow N Go vans. Of course, they could go with electric AWD which eliminates the driveshaft problem completely.

  • avatar
    airglow

    “I think there are precious few genuine “Haters” here @ TTAC. Everyone wants the General (and/or Ford) to succeed. But –most important– there seems to be no one inside either GM or Ford who wants to succeed, thus the public is offered utter tripe like the Uplander or the Trailblazer I rented a few months ago.”

    Comments like this are why people like me are forced to label people like you “irrational domestic vehicle haters”. It’ a given GM’s minivans are not competitive and arguably worst-in-class, so this review and the follow-up comments are really just “piling on”. Rational, intelligent people still buy Uplanders and their siblings because they are great values and perfectly acceptable appliances. If you are math-challenged enough to buy new and sell at 3 years old and 50K miles, I guess you can make the depreciation argument. Most people I know who own GM minivans bought them new for a great price, and plan to drive them until they die, so the depreciation argument is lost on them.

    What really confirmed your ignorance and bias was you slamming the Trailblazer. I’ve driven the Trailblazer and most of its competition, what do you have against the T-blazer? I’d argue for most people, the softer ride of the T-blazer vs. the “kidney belt required” 4-Runner, Pathfinder and Xterra is a plus. I just don’t see the Trailblazer being even close to worst-in-class like the Uplander. I’d have to give that title to the Xterra for pure NVH, rough ride, and “cheapskate” materials, or the 4-Runner for worst value. You can get a Tahoe, with more room, towing capacity, and similar fuel economy for the price of an equivalently equipped 4-Runner. Only people with Toyota tattoos would buy a 4-runner.

  • avatar
    craigefa

    airglow,

    I don’t think Trailblazer vs 4-Runner, Pathfinder and Xterra is a fair comparison. The Trailblazer is built for, and marketed as, a family hauler. Even all of the pictures on Chevy’s website show the Trailblazer in the city. The 4-Runner, Pathfinder and Xterra, though most probably never are, can be seriously driven off road. Trailblazer vs Pilot, Highlander, Explorer would be a better comparison. How does the Trailblazer stack up against them? I don’t know because I haven’t driven the Pilot, Highlander, or Explorer but having owned a Trailblazer for the last 3 years I can tell you it wouldn’t take much to beat it.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    When the trailblazer came out I talked to a woman who just rearended a car at low speed with her new t-blazer and it was totalled (the trailblazer), I then looked at some data and realized that all of the toughness in that vehicle was styling. If ever a vehicle never lived up to it’s promise it’s the chevy trailblazer. It included A three hundred horsepower inline six that consumed every bit as much gas as the V8.It was a less than mediocre product that replaced a just mediocre one (the blazer). It will probably not be around long, as most gm nameplates aren’t. The long wheelbased models (that did a very good impersonation of a hearse) are already gone.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    taxman100, I don’t think any minivan with folding seats exist except the crossover suv’s The largest would be the chrysler pacifica which is still far short of the minivan’s interior volume. The big suvs usually don’t have folding rear seats. Since chrysler didn’t sell that many awd minivans they gave it up to accomodate the full folding seats van.

  • avatar
    airglow

    “When the trailblazer came out I talked to a woman who just rearended a car at low speed with her new t-blazer and it was totalled (the trailblazer), I then looked at some data and realized that all of the toughness in that vehicle was styling. If ever a vehicle never lived up to it’s promise it’s the chevy trailblazer. It included A three hundred horsepower inline six that consumed every bit as much gas as the V8.It was a less than mediocre product that replaced a just mediocre one (the blazer). It will probably not be around long, as most gm nameplates aren’t. The long wheelbased models (that did a very good impersonation of a hearse) are already gone.”

    Jerry Weber, the king of anecdotal, hearsay evidence as 100% gospel fact. You’re obviously not a scientist. But this is GM, Ford and DCX’s largest problem; most Americans base their auto buying decisions on anecdotes, hearsay and emotions, not data. One person I know who bought a loaded Uplander for under $20K is a scientist. He did the math, and he knows he will get the best possible bang for his buck over the next 8 to 10 years.

    Just what competitive, off road capable, body on frame mid-size SUV has any six cylinder engine that gets better mileage than a Trailblazer?

    It obvious 95% of TTAC posters have made up their minds, Japanese = perfect cars, American = junk. With the possible exception of Corvettes and the Chrysler Mobster Movie cars, all American cars are considered junk. I’ve rented enough cars to know better, but you all seem to have you minds made up. Being as objective as possible, I’ll take an Impala over a Camry any day.

  • avatar
    jmhm2003

    I’ll tell you the best thing about this thing. It’s the enourmous fuel tank. Here in Canada it’s 100L, or 25+ US gallons. Other that that it’s utter crap. Nothing but a rental car special, which is where I’ve been exposed to it. William did not hit on my personal pet peeve, the lack of fold in the floor rear seats. Hauling out those monsters is backache inducing. I would like to have the 3.9 though, as you can imagine how it is with the 3.5 used in the rental fleets. I don’t think they change anything on the interior for the Montana and Relay other than the logo on the steering wheel.

    As for those who claim GM bashing, well just drive one of these for a couple of days and you’ll wonder how GM is still in business.

  • avatar
    espo19047

    The 07 Tahoe has no competition.
    The Impala LTZ has a six cylinder with side curtain airbags Onstar and tire pressure monitors all standard the competition does not. All the superior cars you people speak of cost much more. If you compare a Cobalt to things that are the same price it does well. You people like to compare an LS Cobalt with Mazdas and Hondas that cost more. There is not alot of thought in your critiques just venom. You have authors who just trash GM over and over and then a bunch of regulars who agree like Rush Limbaugh’s audience. Think about rentals for a second, most of them are beat up or base models,regardless of the manufacturer.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Please do not confuse my criticism of this awful van with an anti-American bias. In recent years American workers have proven time and time again that they can assemble world class, quality vehicles. They do it consistently for Toyota, Honda and other manufacturers at plants that now dot the American landscape.

    The difference is that the Japanese automobile corporations are often giving the US workers better engineered and more appealing products to build. Unfortunately the domestics are shackled by fatal hubris, union collusion, and manifest incompetence at the highest levels. US quality control and, on some models, engineering has come a long way because of pressure from the imports. I hope the continue to do so if it is not already too little too late.

    For the record, my last auto purchase was of an American branded, American engineered and American assembled vehicle – and I love it.

  • avatar
    free2571

    When I looked at one of these at the mall, I was taken aback by the windshield wiper “trench”. Can you imagine digging snow and ice out of that hole on a frosty morning?

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    The seeds of destruction here were planted in the early ’90s. GM’s first minivan (the dustbusters, remember?) were, uh, less than successful. And the company was in the midst of its first brush with bankruptcy. The C5 Corvette was being developed at this time, and the story of how it got done on a shoe string is well told in James Schefter’s “All Corvettes are Red”. If you remember that story, you could imagine that investment dollars for any program were hard to come by.

    When it came time to pony up, the only way to make the numbers work was to build a version for Germany, which became the Opel Sintra. Problem was, in order to make it fit on European streets, it had to be smaller than would be ideal for the North American market. When the revised version came out in ’97 as the Chevy Venture, it was already smaller than the Chrysler and Ford vans, and the new Honda Odyssey which came out soon after. This doomed it in the marketplace. And it STILL turned out to be too big for Europe. Ironically, GM was a fast follower into the “right sized” van market for Europe and got it right the first time; Renault led the way with the Scenic, but Opel followed with the Astra-based Zafira, which had a very innovative and versatile seating system. I believe today it is either the market leader or close behind the Renault.

    By all rights the vehicle should have died rather than get even more investment (leading to Uplander), but the fact that labor at GM is (at least was until recently) a fixed cost, it’s an expensive decision to abandon a program and a plant.

    But the vehicle’s undoing was lack of investment 20 years ago, driven by GM’s first brush with bankruptcy, and points out the fiendish difficulty of pulling a car company away from the brink.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    airglow, you miss the point. We both know people involved with trailblazers. This is not s a statistical sampling. But since neither of us have the resources to get a proper sampling we go with gut feelings. We can both be right or wrong. But the second part of your response is that Americans are buying cars on anecdotes and heresay is flat wrong. Cars are bought on many levels, like satisfaction with brand, expert reports, neighbors experiences etc. You might fool buyers for one cycle. But to think we are all buying foreign based cars for all the wrong reasons belies the facts. The one fact that can’t be erased is that well worn older foreign iron consistantly bring higher values than comparable American stuff. (But youwould tally that up to the used buyer having the same irrational predjudices as the new buyer). J.D. Powers said in a study that foreign cars age better than domestics. ie. an 8 year old honda will have the age equivelent of a 5-6 year old American car. Finally, most foreign V6’s can out fuel economy the inline six of GM’s.

  • avatar
    airglow

    “Finally, most foreign V6’s can out fuel economy the inline six of GM’s.”

    I just can’t let factual errors go; I’m a data/fact guy. As I stated before, all of the 6 cylinder, body on frame mid-size SUV’s get about the same mileage. Also, the ones with a V-8 option, all except Nissan, get about the same with their V-8 as the sixes get. Therefore, it’s obvious GM’s straight six is a very competitive engine, case closed.

    Dodge Durango 4X 2 = 16, 21, 4X4 = N/A, V-8 only

    Ford Explorer 4X2 = 15, 21, 4X4 = 15, 21

    Nissan Pathfinder 4X2 = 16, 23, 4X4 = 15, 21

    Nissan Xterra 4X2 = 16, 22, 4X4 = 16, 21

    Chevy Trailblazer 4X2 = 16, 22, 4X4 = 15, 21

    Toyota 4Runner 4X2 = 18, 22, 4X4 = 17, 21

    The above illustrates one of GM and Ford’s largest perception problems. People assume the Japanese vehicle in any size class gets significantly better MPG than the big 2.5. This is almost never true, and in certain classes like full size pick ups, the opposite is true.

  • avatar
    espo19047

    The 07 Tahoe, Suburban and Yukon get the best fuel economy in thier class. The 07 Aveo is being introduced with 37 mpg. It is also #1 in sales in its segment. The Cobalt outsells all three Scion models combined without help from the HHR. GM is in a turn around.

  • avatar
    craigefa

    airglow,

    The Trailblazer’s 6 cylinder is competitive. Plenty of smooth power. The gas mileage did suck though and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that doesn’t need to pull a trailer. I remember just after we got it I flipped down the visor and discovered it was just a piece of cardboard covered with fuzz. There wasn’t even a cover for the mirror. This in a car that stickered near $30,000. I thought it would shine on the highway, with it’s weight and sitting up high, but the steering was so dead I was constantly fighting to keep it on the road. We drove it for only 28,000 miles but it in that short time it developed some awful creaking, the engine started to sound like it was grinding coffee, and the paint peeled off of the power button on the radio.

    Engine competitive? Yes. The rest of the car? Not so much.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    airglo & espo: thank you for the millege numbers you will notice toyota and nissan are only a mile better but they are better Read craigefa for a well rounded critique of the satisfaction his chevy gave him. Espo, the scion is the young people trendy line of toyota. If you want to compare sales put the cobalt against the corolla (toyotas bread and butter economy car).then you add in scion which has several models) and see who builds more small cars.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “The Cobalt outsells all three Scion models combined without help from the HHR. GM is in a turn around.” – espo19047

    Well, shoot, why not compare the Cobalt to the FJ Cruiser if you want to make the Cobalt’s numbers look good?

    Toyota sold 41K Corollas in July. GM sold 23K Cobalts in the same period. In the face of rising fuel costs and a rising consumer demand for small cars, GM managed to sell 14% FEWER Cobalts this year than last. Toyota sold 40% MORE Corollas this year than last.

    That’s some turnaround they’ve got going there.

  • avatar
    espo19047

    Ok
    You are talking GM so add the HHR and the MALIBU aND G6 into the mix.
    Just buy your imports and leave GM to sell to everyone else. Their is enough to go around.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “You are talking GM so add the HHR and the MALIBU aND G6 into the mix.”

    Let’s look at small cars vs small cars, Toyota vs GM. The Malibu options a six, so I’m leaving that out.

    Corolla + Scion + Prius + Yaris = 81,459
    Aveo + Cobalt + G5 + ION + HHR = 55,895

    In fact, this comparison puts a GM problem front-and-center. The Corolla, Prius and Yaris will turn 40mpg on the highway. GM doesn’t have anything that manages 40mpg on the highway. If I want good fuel economy, and at $3/gallon for gas who doesn’t, would I even walk into a GM dealership?

  • avatar
    crazyaboutcars

    Based on my recent rental experience, please substitute the word Chevy with Buick and the word Uplander with Rainer.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    dhathewa thank you for pulling out the production numbers. I am too lazy to look them up, but I know who is winning and it ain’t the big two. You would find similar results if you took honda, huyndai, etc. None of these asian products are Johnny come lately to the economy game. They have been honed and fine tuned over many years to perform as good as a light weight small displacement car can. They are relatively large inside and with their hatches carry cargo enough for most. The nice thing about the asians if fuel goes higher they have the best cars. If fuel stays the same or goes lower they have the best larger cars. I said this before as did others, the asians make money on everything they build. If the mix goes against trucks and suv’s they can get buy with their unter 2 liter engine products. GM and Ford can’t.

  • avatar
    Paul

    The anti-Detroit sentiment on these boards is astounding. It seems like any vehicle with a Detroit nameplate equals crap. If they rebadged an Accord and put bowtie logos on it, I’d bet people will find anything to bitch about – I hate the rear-end styling, gas mileage not good enough, the leather seats stick to your butt, etc. The editors on this website has not one positive article about American cars. Even Car and Driver has 4 of their top 10 cars being domestic. I’d like to know if there are more objective web-sites when it comes to discussing cars. The best one I found so far is carreview.com.

    I own both a Ford and Honda. All I can say is that they both have good and bad points.

  • avatar
    espo19047

    Toyota has seen its quality reputation tarnished by a series of recalls and defects investigations involving its vehicles. Earlier this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. upgraded its investigation concerning suspension failures in older-model Tundras.
    Replace Toyota with GM and you guys would bring out the stories of how your uncle had one and it was a POS…

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    espo you bring up a good point. All cars are increasingly complex pieces of machinery. Toyota took some hits this year on quality. How they handle this and how they tighten up their production will tell us if they are to remain the preeminent producer in the World. I would never disagree that there are all sorts of agressive competitors in the World who would glady replace toyota at the top of the heap. This is a fluid game and that’s what keeps it interesting. In the 50’s and 60’s it was Gm and fords to lose and they did. Now it’s toyota’s to lose, I don’t know if they are as atrophied yet as Gm was 30 years ago. Just look how in about 10 short years the Koreans have taken their “junk” image and turned it around into solid products. Can they go further? Will the lower priced Europeans ie. volkswagen make a resurgence? Will another Japanese nameplate push out toyota? We will just have to watch and wait.

  • avatar
    BubbaFett

    This is funny. I just spent a long weekend with a rented Pontiac variant of the Uplander, and within a couple hours of the road trip, the whole extended family was taking shots at how poorly executed this vehicle is (and the in-laws have never even owned a foreign made vehicle!).

    It started right off the bat–just try and get into the back row of seats (middle row doesn’t move out of the way)–and it continued with the 200HP 3.5L “engine” that didn’t even provide enough power to maintain highway speeds up hills on the Alberta prairies! (read: flat country).

    Long story short, I wholeheartedly agree with Montgomery’s “THIS IS OUR BEST IDEA” comment. I cannot imagine that anyone who works at GM feels good about their company when they see or drive these “vans” on local highways and biways.

    This vehicle is so “in your face” bad, it calls into question GM’s competence at every level–from the fellow on the assemply line to the Executive in the corner office.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Bubba as I said in another blog, it is not that these gm iterations of vans are bad, they are obsolete. In the 80’s and early 90’s, not being able to move seats in the van and to only have the option of taking them out was the norm. Nobody had anything better, so gm skated by with a reasonable faximile of a modern van. By the mid 2000’s everything has chaged: six speed autos, better engines, moveable seats (chrysler’s completely fold into the floor, nicer interiors, quieter ride. etc. All of these things came about thru the magic of redesign and incremental improvement. GM used to be the company that did that40-50 yrs ago. Now they put out a just average design and expect it to hang on for 10 years. Even the Koreans van is getting credible reviews as being refreshed and modern. How the golf pro’s at the tubes of GM thought they could make all of these different models, put them out and walk away except for paint and upolstery changes is a mystery. You would think these guys were running a classical sculpture studio where copies of the old stay in demand forever. For this the stockholders pay good money for administration at places like GM.

  • avatar
    xantia10000

    “The anti-Detroit sentiment on these boards is astounding. It seems like any vehicle with a Detroit nameplate equals crap.”

    I know it’s a crazy theory, but maybe this sentiment exists because… these cars actually _are_ crap!

    More specifically, I think one of the areas that most hurts GM, Ford, and DCX is perceived quality – the stuff a customer might initially notice at the dealership (or the rental car agency).

    For example, in most of GM/Ford/DCX cars (even in Cadi. and Corvette), the plastics are hard to the touch, and moveable parts (e.g. console box lid) feel too brittle to withstand years of use. Plastic trim pieces show visible parting lines from the molding tool. Sheet metal shut lines are not even. Doors do not close with a muted thud. A-pillars are not lined with fabric. Switches are clicky rather than smooth-feeling. Etc… Sounds like nit-picking details, but some of this stuff can influence someone’s perspective.

    Add staid, disproportioned exterior and interior styling to the mix, and many don’t need further evidence that these cars suck (at least I don’t). At this point who cares about fuel economy figures, reliability ratings, or the ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ deal or the week if the car feels fragile, looks horrific, and can’t even hide its value engineering? And I haven’t even mentioned the driving part yet!

    Maybe GM, Ford and DCX products _are_ improving in terms of reliability, but their bad first impression may be a good indicator of why they are often derided.

    I really really really want these companies to start making some good cars, so we can stop bitching about them and enjoy owning them. Until then, if it looks like crap and feels like crap…

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    xantia you start out with a conspiracy view of history against Detroit, and end up where everyone does, the stuff just doesn’t measure up. I am at the next level and don’t care whether GM and Ford recover or not. In most business ventures when you squander a lead like the two above did, you don’t ususally recover. Why would you really want these guys to make good cars in the futurewhen their competitors make excellent cars right now?

  • avatar
    xantia10000

    I’m not referring to any conspiracy theory – I’m simply quoting the post from August 17th, 2006 at 11:14 pm and responding to it.

    As far as “being on the next level” regarding GM and Ford, I respect your opinion about not caring if these companies recover or not. However, I disagree that GM and Ford cannot recover because historically we’ve seen upturns and downturns in many large auto companies.

    For example, VW of America was popular in the 60s, 70s and 80s, but by the 90s, sales were so low that they considered retreating from the North American market. But by the end of the 90s and through the earlier part of this decade, however, VW bounced back once again with desirable products (though VW’s current condition is another story…) Like VW, Nissan also went through a slump but revived itself under Ghosn’s leadership. Hyundai likewise greatly improved their cars and their image since the mid-80s.

    Will GM and Ford bounce back? It’s been done before, and I’m hoping that they can do so within the near-to-mid-term. I know that GM and Ford may have different problems that require different solutions compared with VW Nissan, and Hyundai, but I still have faith…

    Why do I want these guys to make good cars? Well, for lots of reasons:

    First, as a consumer, I want as much choice as possible. Currently for me, absolutely none of GM and Ford products are worthy of consideration. That’s too bad, cuz that means I must buy a car from a foreign company, such as VW, DCX, Honda, BMW, etc.

    This leads to the second reason I want GM to do well: I would like to support North American car companies. I’m not a diehard ‘buy American or die’ kinda guy, but it would be nice to see GM and Ford restore some element of respect to the domestic auto industry.

    Finally, I want GM and Ford to do well cuz I know they can! They make excellent cars right now in the form of Corsa, Astra, Zafira, Commodore, Ka, Focus Mk2, C-Max, and S-Max. All these cars are great products that I predict Americans might consider owning. Frankly, I find it a slap in the face that GM and Ford offer Europeans and Australians way better products than the misshapen, old-tech, ill-handling, and deeply discounted pieces of garbage they attempt to sell in their home market.

    I’d agree with you that I’d just write GM and Ford off if I didn’t see any promise, but I do. I am just frustrated that they can’t get their acts together!

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Just to see: I was surfing around msnbc business web site where they have comments on ford and gm in relation to fords newly announced down sizing. Most of us are gentle compared to that gang. There are bloggers over there who want ford and gm to burn in hell for their past transgressions. I have no idea who they all are there were 26 pages I think of these comments. So, with this bad attitude from non gear heads, can ford and gm survive? p.s. a few want gm and ford to survive especially after what happened in WWll, like the battan death march by Japan.

  • avatar
    NamDuong

    Oh my LORD!!!!!!!!!!

    HAHAHAHA!!! THE UGLANDER!!!!!

    You are seriously hilarious! I’m searching all articles written by you and reading them over again! HAHAHAH!!!

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    If you want to know who agrees with all of this negative blog on the uplander, it is surprise gm. The uplander name will go into the trash bin with countless other gm monikers, and a new minivan will come forth. After admitting they lost 20 years in the van game, gm now says they will be fully competitive with a completly new van. Some people it takes a little longer.

  • avatar
    tyoung9

    Just out of interest I looked at owner opinions on CR for the Uplander.
    It appears that most drivers actually like this vehicle. A couple really hated it. But most reviews were very positive.
    I would tend to agreed with a lot of TTAC commentators, but are we being too critical?
    Does the average buyer see what we see or care as much as we care?

  • avatar
    butzip

    This from the same company that ‘rubber stamped’ the Pontiac Aztec…………… enough said.

  • avatar
    GMrefugee

    Wow, from all the comments, looks like I am the idiot you have all been mocking. I leased a 2004 Trailblazer EXT for 2 years, loved it and never had a problem. Sure, the dash was a poor/ugly design but I liked everything else. Ran and rode great. Now I own a Saturn Relay AND a Pontiac SV6. Again, both have their lumps but I actually like the styling and they drive nice. I do wish they were wider and had fold flat rear seats but those items weren’t enough to drive me to pay more for the competition. Not sure how folks say the 3.5 needs more power. I am sure it is a dawg at the drag strip but I tow a popup of 2500 lbs and still feel there is ample power. True, I am not driving 80 but I set the cruise at 74 and all is well. Biggest problem GM and Ford face now is the well earned, negative perception of folks from the last 20 years overshadowing anything newer and competent coming into the market.

  • avatar
    Scottie

    GM should have ditched these minivans and started marketing the Astros/safaris as Retro. Maybe do something with the powertrain so it would have gotten more reasonable economy. But i’d much rather be seen in an AWD 2-tone Astro with Leather Captains chair, than any of the ugly beasts they try and fork off onto people now.

  • avatar
    massamike

    We use these for our field service department. I’ve been driving this vehicle for six months and I don’t like the style, but the van performs fine. Sure, it’s not the best minivan and its ugly, but I haven’t had any problems with performance. Since, gas prices are higher we have downsized our vehicles. I drive the commercial version with a 3.5L and loaded with everything for work I still get almost 20mpg. That’s verses 14mpg in the Astro Van. I have no problem with acceleration, braking, steering, or anything else William Montgomery mentions. I already have two speeding tickets at over 90mph, so believe me this van has no issue with power. I’ve never had a problem with acceleration and didn’t have trouble getting to 100mph. Mine has the smallest engine available so, when this guy says, “the Uplander’s performance doesn’t even deserve the noun” he’s basically full of crap.

    My only complaints are, the long nose makes it harder to park and it’s ugly.

  • avatar
    Tanvan

    My uplander came from a rental fleet and mpg is 20-23 with 3.5 engine. Handling was spookey until I put 37psi instead of 35 suggested. Love the way the computer handles lights on/off. Getting the horn to honk is not easy even after I found out just where to hit it. I use cruise control all the time and it does make the hills at a constant speed. The trans could use an update and engine has torque that always cause wheel spin on wet pavement so I wonder what the winter driving will be like ??? Needed to replace a steel 17″ rim but nobody had one because the thing is new and not enough of them are one the road yet so suppliers aren’t interested.
    Is it ugly? I don’t know, I’m always inside all the time.
    15,000 and things work well so far. Still don’t like the sliding side doors because they take so much effort to close.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    Yes, I just discovered this site so I am about a month too late on this review. We recently bought a new minivan, after test-driving and looking at pretty much everything. GM may have had a good (but poorly executed) idea here. The Uplander does not LOOK like a minivan…a fact that my wife loved. The big shoot down was how cheap the interior was. It was actually WORSE than the Kia Sedona. Handling wise I didn’t think it competed the Town and Country, Quest, etc… But it is appealing for minivan moms who don’t want to proclaim this. It was disturbing how high up on the “may buy” list this POS got for that fact alone.

  • avatar
    worldtraveller

    At least GM has not been fiddling with the odometers like all Hondas manufactured since 2000.It is ridulous that a so called high end manufacturer has to tamper with odo’s out of the factory just to reduce warranty claims. I truly hope the class action suit announced last week teaches Honda a lesson not soon forgot. BTW, my 2005 Venture has 93000km and is performing like new. Even the tires seem good for another 50000 km! So what if it has the snout of a dog. Is it reliable and does it offer good gas mileage. I can say yes to both counts. My friend has a 2006 Sienna and I looked up reliability and I was surprised to see so many problems including ac problems, rear door piston problems. When we go in his van, the radio turns on by itself even after it was replaced. I would never pay 35 grand for any mini van. His is now worth about 24 grand. A depreciation of 11 grand. So much for holding its value.

  • avatar
    sassy

    I like my uplander.

  • avatar
    crofoot

    Here, here, Sassy. I just bought a 2007 for a couple bucks and am thrilled to get a reliable workhorse like the uplander. These effete car snobs and their “OMG! It’s so ugly! Outre! How could anyone possibly buy one?” Basically it gets you where you wanna go, hauls your peeps and stuff, and doesn’t cost much.


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