By on August 23, 2018

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited - Image: Chrysler

Let’s not kid ourselves. American demand for minivans is still shrinking. In fact, July sales in particular tumbled as three of the four top-selling minivan nameplates – a trio that accounts for nearly three-quarters of the sector’s volume – combined to lose more than 5,400 sales, year-over-year.

But set aside all of that negativity for just a moment and consider the segment in a more historical context. After more than a decade of collapsing demand, in which minivan volume plunged 54 percent between 2005 and 2015, the first seven months of 2018 reveal a hardy bunch of remaining stalwarts that have very nearly levelled off on an acceptable grade.

2018 is nevertheless on track to be the worst year for U.S. minivan volume since the recession. In this case, however, “worst” is beginning to sound like too strong of a word.

U.S. minivan annual sales volume 2005-2018 - Image: © TTACThe days of 1,000,000 annual minivan sales are long gone, erased prior to the recession a decade ago. Now it also appears that the years in which the U.S. auto industry could reasonably count on more than half a million are also over, as the industry last attained that level in 2016.

Rewind to the days of 1M+ annual U.S. minivan sales and you’ll find a wide variety of nameplates long since deemed unfeasible. In 2005, General Motors, Ford, and Mazda, produced one-quarter of all van sales, but over time, each of those manufacturers surrendered their position in the market.

Van July 2018 July 2017 % Change 2018 2017 % Change
Dodge Grand Caravan 7,289 7,503 -2.9% 94,067 87,370 7.7%
Chrysler Pacifica 8,775 8,288 5.9% 71,799 67,886 5.8%
Honda Odyssey 9,269 10,134 -8.5% 60,524 58,290 3.8%
Toyota Sienna 6,757 11,100 -39.1% 52,761 67,258 -21.6%
Kia Sedona 1,567 1,710 -8.4% 11,955 16,738 -28.6%
Chrysler Town & Country 26 -100% 5 528 -99.1%
Nissan Quest 12 -100% 2 4,933 -99.9%
Total 33,657 38,773 -13.2% 291,113 303,003 -3.9%

Yet the buyers that once existed for those extinct minivans did not quickly and automatically turn to the remaining nameplates. Accompanying the decrease of van nameplates was a commensurate decrease in the number of minivan buyers. In other words, the sector’s collapse – in which the van category’s share of the overall market slid from 6.5 percent in 2005 to 4.1 percent in 2010 to 2.9 percent in 2015 – didn’t turn every would-be buyer of a Mercury Monterey and Ford Freestar into an owner of a Dodge Grand Caravan or Honda Odyssey.

Fast forward to 2017. Minivan volume tumbles to the lowest level since the recession, sliding 12 percent, year-over-year. Every brand involved in the category reported fewer sales in 2017 than in 2016, including the retail-leading Honda, the ancient third-gen Toyota, and the transitioning Chrysler brand.2018 Toyota Sienna red - Image: ToyotaMore than halfway through 2018, minivan volume continues to slide, but at a slower clip. Moreover, once defunct nameplates are excluded from the mix, minivan volume is down “only” 4 percent. Indeed, America’s three top-selling vans – Grand Caravan, Pacific, Odyssey – have actually exceeded last year’s seven-month pace by a 6-percent margin, adding a combined 1,800 sales per month.

To be fair, these aren’t signs of rude health for the category at large, not by the standards of ancient history. But after more than a decade of generally rapid decline, America’s minivan segment is now approaching the bottom of the valley. Outputs achieved by most of the remaining players, however, are relatively healthy.2019 Honda Odyssey - Image: HondaHonda is on track to sell more than 100,000 Odysseys in 2018, Toyota will sell nearly 90,000 Siennas. Chrysler on Dodge are on track to add another 260,000 van sales. Kia’s 1,700 monthly Sedona sales aside, these aren’t the kinds of figures put up by inconsequential afterthoughts in a major automaker’s lineup. These are major players.

And they’ll continue to be, at least they will if we’re as close to the valley as the first seven months of 2018 would lead us to believe.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

111 Comments on “America’s Minivan Market Still Hasn’t Reached the Bottom of the Barrel, But It’s Nearly There...”


  • avatar
    pmirp1

    As I have said before minivans are equal to giving up on life. Means you have a family, and can’t even pretend to have a manly outdoorsy image. Even women hate them. It is why SUVs are taking over. And please save me the it is practical comments. SUVs and truck are just as practical. Hopefully we are seeing the end of this species.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “As I have said before minivans are equal to giving up on life. Means you have a family, and can’t even pretend to have a manly outdoorsy image”

      These are odd sentences.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        This is funny because one of the most popular vehicle seen in the outdoors doing outdoorsy things is the minivan. Campgrounds and trail-heads are packed with them. Most people with SUVs are too chickensh1t to take their vanity boxes off a dirt road, so a minivan fits the bill just fine. It’s really no wonder why most “SUVs” are basically AWD minivans anyway.

        I spend a lot of time camping and out on trails in the mountains and minivans are especially popular with mountain bikers.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          My brother rocks a rusty ’89 Mazda MPV as his MTB hauling rig, does Assault on Mt Mitchell (62 mile MTB race up a mountain) every summer, takes it on jeep trails and through water crossings, throws tire chains on the back and takes it up the unplowed forest access trail by his house in the winter just for kicks. He’s the living breathing epitome of the “active outdoors lifestyle” person the marketers dream about. When there’s fewer bikes and people to haul, it’s his beige ’96 Mystique with a roof rack.

          I’ve hauled 5 people, 5 30 racks of beer (and not enough water), camping gear, and a 16 foot canoe in my ’98 Allsport MPV back in college for a weekend trip to Saranac Lake. Good times.

      • 0 avatar
        Lee in MD

        Au contraire! Those sentences are quite typical of the insecure automotive poseur.

    • 0 avatar
      turbo_awd

      That’s pretty funny.. My wife’s minivan will outrun a LOT of CUVs and non-V8 SUVs.. Unless they’re not trying because THEY’VE given up on life?

      Also pretty funny when, loading 4x8s into our van, a guy came over to give me a hand and said “Wow – my pickup can’t hold those!”. More practical than ANY similarly-sized truck. And gets 25 mpg highway.

      But, obviously marketing has done their job and brainwashed the gullible masses, including you..

    • 0 avatar
      kcflyer

      Loved the Ford Windstar we had when the kids were little. It was by far the most useful vehicle I have ever owned. Towed our old boat from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma and got 23 mpg on that trip. Hooking up the boat was easy, just open the back hatch and watch the whole process directly. Unfortunately, the newer boat and trailer we have now weighs in at 4500 lbs. I think manufacturers handicap their minivan tow ratings to protect their SUV sales. Why cant a Honda Odyssey tow as much as a Pilot for example? The disparity is over 2000 lbs of towing capacity. If I could buy an Odyssey, Sienna or Pafica that could tow up to 5000 lbs safely I would replace our Enclave with a minivan when the time comes, despite the kids being grown.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      pmirp1 I’m really curious to hear what you drive and what sort of exciting life you (think) you live?

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Please explain to me how a crossover is just as practical. The proportions are awkward for loading and unloading. The openings are smaller. The cargo capacity and especially useable cargo capacity are smaller. What people describe they want is a minivan, they just want some extra compromises for the sake of style. They think that this makes them look less like a soccer mom. Like anyone ever saw a mom in a Traverse and thought she was on her way to a kayaking trip in the Rockies.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      pmirp1, you live in a fantasy world made up by marketing teams.

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      Minivan troll is troll.

      That said, I’ll bite. I have no family (though I do have a live-in girlfriend and a cat, so maybe that counts?). I also have a truck but not a minivan. That said, I’m continually on the lookout and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid has almost won me over, except that it’s a Chrysler. If Honda made it I’d probably already have one.

      The idea of being able to drive 1000 miles to Moab in minivan-comfort, getting great mileage along the way, is enticing. That I can carry a mountain bike in back and still have room for my 76″ frame to sleep full-length next to it is a big bonus.

      Suddenly a 3-day weekend trip costs $200 in gas instead of $400 in gas and $600 in hotels. I don’t claim to be an outdoorsy manly-man but I am a man who likes the outdoors and saving money!

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      When you’re trying to tie you kid into a rear facing baby seat in a crowded parking lot, minivan sliding doors are a godsend. When you’re running to the minivan with your arms full of child and possessions self opening doors are a godsend.

      You’re married with children, who are you trying to impress with this manly outdoory image? Your next wife? Your nubile babysitter? Part of being a grown up is no longer caring what other people think about you.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Okaaaay? So, at 68 years old, my only car is a 10-year old Kia Sedona. Which means, by your definition, that I’m basically the walking dead?

      Does that means I need to get rid of the three motorcycles in the other garage, stop riding from Richmond to Daytona for Bike Week every year, and stop doing 17th century re-enactment, shooting black powder muzzleloaders, and camping six months out of the year? The latter being the main reason why I have a minivan in the first place.

      Oh yeah, I’ve never fathered kids, either.

      Funny, I don’t feel like life has passed me by. And when this one dies, I’m looking for another.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      Raising a family is the pinnacle of manhood. Otherwise you are just a fat comb over know it all who screws porn star. The last part is your only saving grace except for the itching.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      “SUVs and truck are just as practical. Hopefully we are seeing the end of this species.”

      A pickup truck is practical? Tell that to the guy who couldn’t maneuver it through the McDonald’s drive through the other day and is now wearing yellow pain from the barrier pole in front of the menu. Or the unfortunate truck owners who try to park underground where I work and frequently scrape their trucks up coming and going. I suspect they get dinged up pretty good in the garage as well as the spaces aren’t made for comically large land barges currently favored by the wannabe urban cowboy.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      When my kids were little I had a Jeep and a Ford Aerostar, I win with my “manly outdoorsy image” firmly intact ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      ktm

      Then you are a little, LITTLE man who lets what he drives define you. You need a tape measure with centimeters…….

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “As I have said before minivans are equal to giving up on life. Means you have a family, and can’t even pretend to have a manly outdoorsy image. ”

      There is no feeling better than having, and using, the right tool for the job.

      Or would you deny disposable diapers in an effort to protect that “manly outdoorsy image”?

      SUVs are nowhere NEAR as useful and practical as a minivan. But you have no idea of that, because you’re in denial of getting older, and of having older relatives.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      In the immortal words of Owen Wilson: Wow.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris FOM

      http://www.advertisingarchives.co.uk/detail/53193/1/Magazine-Advert/Daihatsu/1990s

      As the linked image says, a “manly lifestyle” vehicle makes you look virile, but a minivan full of kids proves it. I’m a young (36) physician that’s well respected by my colleagues with 5 young kids (8$2 months), my wife drives a Pacifica she’s been pounding the miles on, (well over 30k in the 18 months we’ve had it), and I’ve got no regrets about any of it.

    • 0 avatar

      Even though I don’t subscribe to this because I’m comfortable with my masculinity, if we’re going with the “manly outdoorsy image” that trucks and SUVs supposedly have…

      My old 96 Aerostar can outdo them all AND is built on a RWD platform.

      The fact that people will choose something that doesn’t fit their needs as much as a minivan would says a lot about how out of whack our priorities as a society are.

    • 0 avatar
      HaveNissanWillTravel

      Although you are entitled to your opinion, I find our 200k mile ‘11 Nissan Quest not only practical, but damn reliable and versatile.

      Cross-country drive with the wife and 4 kids and a golden retriever, easy. Haul plywood from Home Depot, easy.

      Get to the third row without moving a single seat, easy.

      Changing a dirty diaper while the child is in the car seat and the car next to you parked about two feet too close-thanks to sliding doors, easy. Try that in an SUV.

      It rides better than my company-Escape or Taurus, has excellent visibility all around. Is Infiniti-esque interior has held up very well for 7 years and 200k children miles.

      Your can have your SUV but everyday I wish my company car was a minivan and I drive 40k miles per year just in it alone.

      Drive what you want but saying that someone has given up on life because they drive a minivan? To me I’m someone who is full of life and is very fond of taking care of the lives they made together making a family finds a minivan perfect.

      It is your life that may need some reflection and review because you sound like a sad sack.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      “As I have said before minivans are equal to giving up on life.”

      You’ve conflated “being too busy living life to care what people like you think” with “giving up on life”.

      For most men, that manly-image stuff is about getting an opportunity to become a dad. Once you’ve impressed a lady enough that you actually are a dad, the posturing is replaced by stepping up to care for your children.

      My progeny is sufficiently beligerent and numerous that a minivan is the best tool for the job. Choosing something else to out vanity would just be making unnecessary work for myself.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    It’s a shame minivans are too uncool for school as they are the most darn practical people/stuff/Home Depot hauler you can buy unless you’re carrying manure. The mommobile reputation can’t be shaken.

    Oh, and forget a Buick death watch, how in the Hell can Chrysler (the mark not the company) survive on the 15 year old LX platform cars, which are fleet queens, and a minivan? Both the RWD sled and the minivan are in dying markets and no additional products for at least 3 years.

    Dead mark walking.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “Oh, and forget a Buick death watch, how in the Hell can Chrysler (the mark not the company) survive on the 15 year old LX platform cars, which are fleet queens, and a minivan?”

      The same way it always has. The brand only briefly in the 2000s had anything resembling a complete lineup. They share space and resources with the rest of the company, the cost to keep it versus roll the products under another brand is basically nil.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Admittedly, they’re also poor for hauling motorcycles any bigger than a dirt bike.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Bolshoi. The minivan just needs a little dressing up to resemble a SUV, a little more road clearance and AWD, and a GOOD marketing campaign.

      The company best placed to do it is FCA, pulling out their old Jeep switchable RWD to AWD on-the-fly, and just ONE trail-rated model. Some minor compromises on utility, and aggressive sheet metal are all that’s needed. The advertising campaign will do the rest.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I agree, minivans would be an easier sell if they offered up a few “backwoods” style vehicles. AWD and a few more inches of clearance would be a good place to start

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          Exactly.
          This is the only real reason I can’t have one, although I love the Pacifica.
          My driveway and garages have horrible approach angles and I can’t have the scrapping.

          And I wish there was a mini-minivan again!
          Just like I wish the Flex was just a bit shorter…and higher.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            As an actual minivan owner, I want two things (not necessarily in the same minivan):

            1) A greater towing capacity. Most minivans are rated to tow 3500lbs, but I’d like to be able to tow a family-friendly RV while maintaining the convenience of sliding doors and a kid-friendly floorplan.

            2) Green powertrain options. Hybrids and EVs. The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid shouldn’t be a unique.

            I’ve considered a Tahoe for the towing capacity, but I just don’t like it very much, and it’s expensive. I’d rather drive a real minivan for that kind of money.

  • avatar
    ernest

    It bears mentioning that Chrysler outsells all it’s competitors in the minivan segment COMBINED. And they’re still knocking down very respectable numbers on their aging LX cars. Not exactly stuff of a death watch.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Ummm, the numbers above don’t bare that out – Honda is outselling Chrysler all by itself.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        APaGttH- are you reading a different chart? DGC 94k, 87k; CP 71k, 67k; HO 60k, 58k. Both FCA products are solidly higher and they have higher sales growth.

      • 0 avatar
        ernest

        Chrysler would include the Dodge. I honestly would have thought that would be obvious, yes? Since this isn’t, let’s walk through the math,

        FCA sales (Pacifica and Grand Caravan) 165,866
        ALL minivan sales 291,113

        FCA market share: 56.97%

        This isn’t anything new. Mopar’s had a lock on the minivan market since… well, since they invented the segment.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          And my post above said the mark not the company, I thought that would have been obvious but I guess not.

          Chrysler the mark has two products – a 15 year old LX platform RWD fullsize sled that is a dead segment walking and a very nice minivan in a dying segment. That’s it.

          Toyota Sienna sales year to date are just a few hundred units behind the Pacifica and the Odyssey is outselling the Pacifica this summer. If you combine the FCA number Dodge/Chrysler — Kia, Toyota and Honda are outselling them. The chart is right above in the story.

          There is a difference between Chrysler and FCA. As for the Caravan, it too is an ancient vehicle that is walking the green mile.

          • 0 avatar
            TwoBelugas

            “Chrysler the mark has two products – a 15 year old LX platform RWD fullsize sled that is a dead segment walking and a very nice minivan in a dying segment. That’s it.”

            Toyota’s car, minivan and crossover line up is/was mostly composed of rehashed 15 year old Camry platform. What’s the problem if it keeps bringing in money?

            “Toyota Sienna sales year to date are just a few hundred units behind the Pacifica and the Odyssey is outselling the Pacifica this summer. If you combine the FCA number Dodge/Chrysler — Kia, Toyota and Honda are outselling them. The chart is right above in the story.”

            If it takes Toyota, Honda and Kia combined to outsell FCA in a segment, normal people would call that a good day. Only in your mind is that an indictment of a company, just like only in your mind, July = Summer.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “marque,” not “mark.”

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            APaGttH- 2018 sales:

            Dodge GC 94k. Chrysler P 71k. Honda O 60k. Toyota S 52k. Kia S 11k.

            And it’s not this summer- its July. You don’t have a basis for summer.

            You are looking at 2017 sales instead of 2018 where Honda and Toyota are quite a bit behind and falling further.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    There are not single one on my company’s parking lot.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Changing demographics help explain the decline in minivan sales. When we had a minivan (‘95 Windstar) most people we knew had 2 or 3 kids and took someone else’s kids along for carpooling or party going. Now my friends’ kids have at most one child. They manage just fine with a sedan or two row SUV. Also, our ‘95 Windstar was $25K less a $2K discount and gas was less than $1/gallon. I think the price inflation of minivans has pushed them out of consideration.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “Also, our ‘95 Windstar was $25K less a $2K discount and gas was less than $1/gallon. I think the price inflation of minivans has pushed them out of consideration.”

      Do you realize that $25k in 2018 dollars is $41k? I’d say the current crop of vans in mid-trim are perfectly decently priced, especially as the crowds flock to CUVs and discounts can be easily found on vans.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      There are 3 Dodge Caravan SE Plus for 26k asking on the local lot right now. Not a sale.

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        “There are 3 Dodge Caravan SE Plus for 26k asking on the local lot right now. Not a sale.”

        I don’t know how the SE plus differ from the SXT but dealers within one hour radius of my house will be happy to sell you an SXT for 25k. SEs start around 19k.

        If you only buy from the dealer nearest your house, well, good luck with that.

        • 0 avatar
          MrIcky

          So even better deals to be had (I just googled the closest dealer). I had a minivan for a few years when my kids were younger and I really liked it- strangely miss it. For the last 3 months I’ve been considering picking one up because they are uniquely convenient- especially for biking where you can lock your bike inside.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      See, that’s why my wife refuses to buy a minivan, she doesn’t want to be the doormat that gets guilt-tripped to drive other people’s kids every time the kids’ groups go anywhere.

      I see the case if you have 3 or more kids, but we actually get around fine with 2 kids in a mid size sedan. I don’t know what other people are carrying with their 2 kids to require a minivan but the new ones are certainly too bloated with the exception of the Grand Caravan which still looks like a normal-ish van and not trying to be a blimp.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        For us the impetus even with the prospect of #1 incoming is we have two larger dogs. Just with luggage, baby with baby things, and two dogs with a pair of folded crates puts us into a minivan for easy packing/travel.

  • avatar

    Until you have a mini van for a while you would not understand having one. I had a friend sell me a older turbo version and I bought it just to fix and flip. Drove it a couple weeks to make sure all was okay. After that two weeks I didnt want to sell it. NO WAY…loved it. Had a few since and now bought a 2012 and its the best yet. Sure it’s not a Jeep or a sports car, but it does everything great. Stow-n-go seats are fantastic.
    I’m 65 years old and use it every day. I use my sports car for fun.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    If you have 3 kids, the minivan is the way to go. No SUV is easier to get into/out of.

    If you have 2 kids, you probably don’t need a minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      That’s right. The third kid is the turning point (it was for us). With four kids it’s perfect. Never having to worry about swinging rear doors is a big bonus too.

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        JKR….

        Bingo. Laser sharp.

        3 is the turning point.

        I see a man driving a mini van and i think, good for you bro. Hope you are thinking, ‘I love my wife and my big family and I have a practical mini van.’

        • 0 avatar
          turbo_awd

          2 was the turning point for us. Wife has a bad back, double stroller wasn’t going to fit into her Mazda 3, no way, no how.. (I told her to get the hatch, but no.. she had to have the sedan :-).. Plus, needing to take her parents and relatives at times – we’ve often had 6 or 7 in the van.

          If you need to haul more than 5 people, no comparison – folding benches to TRY to get to a rear seat? Not gonna fly – especially if you have kid car seat bases already strapped in nice and tight..

          We got upgraded to a Q7 recently on vacation – nice car to drive. And could (in theory) hold 7 people. In practice? It might be somewhat quieter, but it’s not any more powerful than our van. Interior space isn’t really any better. Lots of expensive Audi maintenance, though, I’m sure..

        • 0 avatar
          HaveNissanWillTravel

          Must agree. We have 4 and a Golden.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    My god, look at those Grand Caravan numbers. Long may it live. Seriously, I respect that Dodge continues to offer a low-cost entry to this utilitarian segment. After seeing what $34K buys at the Toyota dealership, I wouldn’t hesitate to look at a discounted-to-$21K Grand Caravan.

    Anyone have current Grand Caravan experience? It cannot possibly be as bad as the SavageGeese micro review that appears to now have been removed from the internet. Is it worth spending 50% more for the newer vans?

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      A Chicago megadealer has ’18 Grand Caravan SEs (one trim up from the AVP I think) for $17,500. That same amount can get you a one year old 25k mile Grand Caravan GT with a leather interior and heated steering wheel. The Pacifica has a dramatically superior driving experience and just feels like a premium vehicle, but I enjoyed my rental Grand Caravan GT quite a bit as well. We’re tentatively/cautiously excited to say we’re starting on the path of “giving up on life” as of a day ago so this article couldn’t possibly come at a more relevant time.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Congrats, gtem. There’s never been a day I’ve regretted parenthood. There have been a few individual moments at 1AM, 2AM, 3AM…

        Surely, though, you will be looking to retain your manhood through pmirp’s less-for-more approach and going for a 3-row Traverse or Highlander for twice the purchase price.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          There have been a few individual moments at 1AM, 2AM, 3AM…

          Oy don’t remind me. My son is 18 days old today. I love my children, but I love them more once they sleep through the night.

          Once Momma has her 6 week checkup she wants to discuss if 2 is enough or we should go for 3.

          • 0 avatar
            an innocent man

            @PrincipalDan

            >she wants to discuss if 2 is enough or we should go for 3.<

            As we were having the same discussion a few years ago, a wise person told us: Having two is like having one, and having three is like having ten.

            Choose wisely, friend.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Jim Gaffigan commented about 4 kids…

            “You know what it’s like having a fourth kid? Imagine you’re drowning, then someone hands you a baby.”

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Congrats Dan!

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I say cautious/tentative because it was a early preggo-test that came back positive. But I don’t want to jinx anything, I know all about the really early stage snafus. Fingers crossed though, we’re very excited to enter this next stage in life.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @gtem – wishing you the best. I know all about cautious optimism and my wife and I have experienced early stage loss, thankfully only once.

            In daily life I have to be my confident, calm, guy in a leadership role. When it comes to childbirth I feel like I’m holding my breath until they come into the light and are screaming while the nurse cleans them up.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            gtem, Congrats to you and your wife! Funny how we spend much of our dating lives doing all we can to not slip one past the goalie, and then when we want to, it’s not as easy as we thought.

          • 0 avatar
            rustinginNL

            Congrats and best of luck. Our 2 came via international adoption, so we know most of the ups and downs, except the infant stage. Our oldest is now about to graduate high school and figure skating (university will be freaking cheap in comparison) and we are downsizing from our super Crew Silverado. We had minivans when we had small children, and I loved them….Pontiac Montana, great memories and a reliable, spacious, comfortable vehicle. It remains my favourite vehicle ever.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            And congrats to you as well Gtem

    • 0 avatar
      eakratz

      We picked up an ‘16 GC SXT last year for about $16.5k and 40k miles. We have put 10k miles on on it and the only thing wrong was the software needed an upgrade because the motorized rear hatch was acting weird. Probably getting 22-23 mpg and it rides quietly and smoothly compared to my wife’s ‘14 Forester. We got it because every time we wanted to go somewhere with the kids and the dog and the stroller/wagon/bikes it was a two car affair. Relative visit two cars. My only criteria were power sliding doors, stow and go, and privacy glass, and that’s about all this has which is fine for me. Now that we have it we think it perfect for our needs. Because it was so cheap I don’t care about the damage the kids and dog and I do to it. And because there are so many and it’s been around so long I imagine fixing it won’t be too expensive. That said I sprang for an extended warranty. It has good power and swallows up stuff like crazy. When we replace it it will be another van. Probably a Pacifica because of the Stow and Go which is a wonderful feature.

    • 0 avatar
      Lee in MD

      I have a 2015 Grand Caravan R/T that was the most fully loaded FCA van you could get that year and I got it for a measly $31K out the door. And it is clearly only one data point, but it is the most defect free new vehicle I’ve ever owned. It recently had to have one of the sliding door lock actuators replaced under warranty after my daughter went apeshit yanking on the handle just as I was unlocking the door from the console but that’s it after three years of ownership. I must also say that I was pleasantly surprised by the dealer service department. Dropped the van off one evening and got it back fully repaired the very next afternoon and the service manager only gave me a softball pitch for an oil change “package deal” and immediately backed off when I indicated I wasn’t interested. So far, my initial instinct that the $7K to $10K premium for a similarly equipped Honda or Toyota just wasn’t worth it seems to be bearing out true.

    • 0 avatar
      mjg82

      My sister and her husband have a 2016 GC and have logged nearly 70,000km with no issues so far. I borrowed it for a camping trip when my Roadie was disabled. The Pentastar motor made for a pleasant drive and it was the perfect camping car. I sleep in the wagon when I camp, and unlike with my car I could fit an air mattress in the back of the GC and still have head clearance.

    • 0 avatar
      turbo_awd

      Picked up an off-rental ’15 Town and Country Touring “L” on Superbowl Sunday 2016 with 29k miles for around $19k. I say around, because I wanted a specific deal after trading in our ’08 Grand Caravan with 70k miles – I’d just heard about the airbag recall on those, and after going through it with Subaru, I didn’t want to do *THAT* again. Overall, could have probably gotten a somewhat better deal.

      We’re now at 47k miles. So far, similar to the ’08 – the passenger sliding door is finicky, just like before. Ours won’t open/close properly when the rear is more than few inches higher than the front. Other than that, it just “works”. Not fancy, has some creaks, but we just did ~3k miles of road trips in a month, and it was fine. A/C cold when needed (had to have the ’08 fixed once, probably will need this one fixed at some point – got extended warranty to 75k miles), gets 23-25 mpg on 87 cruising at 75 mph+ (~16-17 mpg on E85!). Can handle 80-85 mph in the mountains without feeling floaty (unlike wife’s ’00 Explorer that we got rid of ASAP after we got married). Brakes are shuddering as normal for this model – need to get aftermarket rotors / pads to get rid of that problem. Did that on the ’08, and the problems went away. Uconnect, from what I hear, is decent for entertainment. Kids love the DVD player when driving for school field trips.

      It’s NOT a luxury car. I *THOUGHT* it came with heated seats (it has leather), but alas, no. And strangely, no adjustable pedals, even though our ’08 SXT had them. They’re reasonably reliable (the ’08 had an annoying issue with the ABS module that I should have just gone to the dealer for, but tried to use independent shops and they thought they had the right tool, but they didn’t.. As a result, took way too long to get fixed). And there are very few surprises in terms of “why did they do it like that?”. I changed shocks/plugs/brakes on the first one, will probably do the same on the new one. Installed / uninstalled / re-installed trailer hitch on both without much of a fuss.

      It’s not a Toyota – if you need to rack up 200-300k miles, maybe not your best choice. We drive ~7.5k miles/year (per car). And it’s not a BMW. But, it’s way cheaper than either of those. And can do things those can’t. It all depends on what you want / need / can afford.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        thanks for that thorough rundown turbo, these sorts of long-term owner insights are priceless. It basically confirms my suspicions of the well-worn GC platform being a great bargain, with a few nuances to ownership, nothing scary to a DIY guy per-se. I was more-so worried about TIPM-related electrical issues. Brakes seem to be a common issue with a lot modern heavy and powerful vans.

        • 0 avatar
          rustinginNL

          I won’t tell you about our gc, let’s just say I know lots of people who had great experiences, much better than mine. I got a lemon, chances are you won’t.

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    I spent the last month driving a Mercedes Metris passenger van. While not really a minivan, it sure looks the part. The Metris is a very enjoyable vehicle to drive and due to it being RWD, it maneuvers extremely well due to the high steering angle. The dual sliding doors work better than any van I’ve been in. While it’s a company vehicle, it raised my eyebrows as a future option. My only complaint comes as an offset to its strength, the rear seats. Rearward visibility is lousy due to the taller seatbacks and headrests. Those seats are extremely supportive and comfortable. The price of the Metris was reasonable since it doesn’t have all the needless modern pampering devices.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    As I have mentioned numerous times (ad nauseam?) we had at least 1 and often 2 minivans in the driveway for nearly 25 years. A total of 8. 4 from Chrysler and 4 from GM. Loved the practicality and the value for dollar.

    Unfortunately experienced all the problems associated with the Chrysler product. Had problems with GM’s A/C and one had the unfortunate GM problem of the passenger side sliding door not fit properly. However the Montana SV6 was/is one of my all-time favourite vehicles.

    In the Toronto area, mini-vans are among the most expensive vehicles to rent from car rental companies. More than any ‘car’ or small or regular sized SUV/CUV and as much as a Tahoe or fullsized pick-up. On long weekends even more than the pick-up. Thus demonstrating their utility.

    Currently I believe that there are 4 issues impacting their sales.
    1) Size. They have ballooned. Finally my wife asked for a smaller vehicle and received a Kia Rondo, which the family loves. It is slightly larger than the Honda Wagon we traded for our 2nd van, much smaller than current generation mini-vans, but almost the same size as the original Dodge ‘Magic Van’.
    2) Price, with the exception of the Caravan, most mini-vans have gone ‘up market’. Before GM, Ford, Chrysler and some Asian companies offered inexpensive mini-vans.
    3) Marketing. How much marketing do the manufacturers invest in their mini-vans as opposed to their SUV/CUV products?
    4) Demographics. But I will leave that discussion to others.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      All very good points. I wonder what the dollar value of those “reduced” sales are, because I am sure the average transaction price of today’s large minivans is much higher (inflation adjusted) than 20 years ago when they were selling a million a year.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    There is nothing “mini” about today’s minivans. They are massive.

    A return to form could help, as would a healthy helping of style. Google “Renault Grand Scenic” to see what the minivan could be. It’s shorter than a Honda Civic….

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      What do you think of the Pacifica? I think that’s quite a stylish and clean design, and it drives much more sedan-like than any other vans I’ve driven. The Pentastar at full song is a beauty as well.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I like it, especially with the plug in option. But it’s too effing big. I’m amazed FCA has not made a Chrysler crossover yet. The Pacifica powerplants in something positioned against the Edge/Murano seems like a complete no brainer. That’s really what the 200 should have been.

        • 0 avatar
          Carfan94

          Thank You sporty! I logged in to say the same thing and then I saw your comment. There is nothing “mini” about them. Can we just call them vans at this point?

          I figure Chrysler dealerships sell enough Cherokees, Grand Cherokees, and Durangos that they figure an extra crossover isn’t needed. I think The Grand Cherokee competes nicely against the Edge and Murano, I’m sure Chrysler agrees with me.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            I think there is room in the lineup. Compared to the “200X”,

            – Cherokee is cramped, not super luxurious, somewhat weak powerplants.
            – Grand Cherokee is about right sized but loses room for the RWD layout and is a gas guzzler. A little pricey too
            – Durango is massive + a gas guzzler
            – Pacifica is fuel efficient but massive

            I think there is enough room for such a vehicle to exist, especially with FCA having no FWDish sedans. Plenty of companies have semi-overlapping crossovers; there’s enough room in the market now. Especially in that midsize 2 row space.

          • 0 avatar
            Carfan94

            @sportyaccordy

            Yea I know what you mean about it being space constrained because of RWD.

            As an RX owner, I’m a big fan of midsize two-row SUV/CUVs with something larger than a 4cyl engine.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      They are massive.

      I don’t know how others feel about that, but I consider it a plus since the only reason I would be looking at a van is for the space. I remember the Mazda5 being considered “right-sized”, but I’m not sure anyone with 4 kids and their gear to haul ever made that claim. It was a people *or* cargo proposition. Sales of it and the euro Ford minivan suggest bigger is better. Grand Caravan sales suggest bigger and CHEAPER is even more better.

      Of course, the 3-row CUV trend is all about giving up space for perceived style and cost seems to be no obstacle there, so the market has shown what my opinion is worth.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Yeah I see the size as only a positive, that’s the only way to get that tremendous interior people/cargo capacity. Our MK1 MPVs were about 180-183″ long, a very tidy size, less than a current midsize car. Easy to park and decent interior room, I could sort of “sit behind myself” in all three rows but with knees brushing seatbacks at 5’11.” And that left a tiny amount of cargo space behind the third row. That Mazda was more like a modern 3 row crossover in that regard. A modern minivan has oddles of space in all three rows, and still has a big roomy cargo area (30-40 cu ft).

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          For me, something in that ~185″ length is about the right size. Fits well in the garage, long enough to be roomy (even with RWD, especially so with FWD + modern design), easy to park on the street and monitor space on the road. A true minivan within such a footprint would easily have more room than a compact crossover while not being a complete behemoth to drive.

          Both of our cars are about 185-190″ long and fit fine in our garage. Our neighbor’s Odyssey has rendered their garage into 1 car only between the length and the width. In the winter that matters.

          • 0 avatar
            Richard Chen

            The market spoke long ago, small minivans have been out of favor for quite some time. Here’s your 3-row compact van selection:

            190″ Ford Transit Connect LWB

            Some dead minivans & people movers:

            179″ Kia Rondo 1st gen
            181″ Mazda5
            183″ Chevrolet Orlando (Canada)
            187″ Honda Odyssey (1st gen)
            189″ Dodge Caravan SWB (4th gen)
            189″ Kia Sedona SWB (2nd gen)
            189″ Mazda MPV (2nd gen)
            189″ Mercury Villager

            I had a Mazda5 and have a 2nd gen Sienna. One is a heck of a lot more useful than another.

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      Oh yeah. I was sitting behind the original Honda Odyssey a while back and thought it looked like that the entire vehicle could fit inside a current Odyssey.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        I would love a modern version of the original Odyssey. Although in reality it is more like a lifted Accord wagon.

        The Kia Rondo can fit 4, sometimes even 5 (thanks to a flat floor and high roofline) with adequate storage room, as it is designed to accommodate a 3rd row of seating. However with the 3rd row, ‘up’ there is little usable cargo space.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “I was sitting behind the original Honda Odyssey a while back and thought it looked like that the entire vehicle could fit inside a current Odyssey.”

        Very much like the Gen 1 RAV4 can fit inside a current gen RAV4.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          To be fair, the first-gen RAV4 was already the smallest of the first late ’90s CUVS, more subcompact than compact. On others, the difference is not so stark. The CR-V, for instance, didn’t hardly grow at all from 1997-2016.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Agreed that modern minivans are not. Many folks complain about the size of minivans, I believe that FCA already has the answer. The Fiat 500L.

      If they were to re-body that vehicle (like FCA did for the Renegade) as the Dodge Voyager, and priced appropriately the nuevo Magic Wagon would sell.

      However, I believe that the same conundrum that prevents mini trucks from being sold again would be in play here. They probably couldn’t take out enough cost to make it sell more cheaply than a Caravan AVP/CVP.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    The whole thing with minivan’s is I can’t wrap my head around them being an ‘upscale’ product. Even more than pickups, I associate minivans with being able to take some abuse inside. I totally understand why the DGC is still #1 despite objectively superior products being on the market.

    I have no problem with a minivan being a fairly basic tool to move around a family. Not everything has to have heated seats and multiple temperature zones.

    I also wonder how/if #vanlife is coming into play here. There seems to be a growing trendiness to vans (particularly cargo vans, but I think a lot of that is transferable).

    • 0 avatar
      Carfan94

      In my suburb, I’m seeing an awful lot of 2018 Odysseys Majority of them being Tourings or Elites. I see very few EXs and LX may as well be nonexistent. They are usually grey too or that smoky topaz brown color.

      At the neighborhood elementary dropoff almost all the vans are uplevel Siennas or Odys very few CHrysler vans. The few Chrysler vans I do see are usually A) driven by elderly people or B) are rentals.

  • avatar
    Ryan

    I’ve owned a Sienna and put over 70k miles on the not so “mini van”. For business purposes we had to upsize to a Transit. To date both vehicles have performed well and never left someone stranded on the side of the road. The typical wear items – tires, brakes, wipers, and a battery are all that has been needed. Given our current requirements, a minivan suits us better than a comparable sized pickup (Tacoma/Colorado/Frontier) or CUV/SUV (4Runner/ Highlander/Explorer).

    I agree with most of the posts above. With 2 kids, I’ll stick with a midsize Wagon or SUV. With 3 or more, I could not recommend anything easier to live with than a minivan. They make life easier and in my opinion are the Swiss army knife of family vehicles.

  • avatar
    chrishs2000

    I hated minivans. Until I bought one. Now I love minivans.

    A lot of us seem to have this same story. What other car segment can say this? Who has ever regretted buying a minivan the way so many people impulse buy and then regret trucks, sports cars, or big SUV’s?? Long live the minivan.

    And death to the poseurs talking smack about vans while spending 87% of their disposable income on their brodozers, who think anyone actually gives a flying f about what you drive besides the girl in the trailer next door who seems way less related to you the more you drink.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      “who think anyone actually gives a flying f about what you drive besides the girl in the trailer next door who seems way less related to you the more you drink” …please, go on with this story. way more interesting than minivan talk.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      seems like chrishs2000 is used to buying things others don’t care for, and bases his entire identity on it.

      • 0 avatar
        chrishs2000

        I think the error in your assertion is thinking that I care about what other people care for or consider this in any meaningful way in my purchases, or in life in general. It’s impossible to base an identity on almost total antipathy, so no.

        I think any legitimate car enthusiast has some oddball tastes and can be attracted to vehicle attributes that most people would not really care about. I don’t judge anyone on what they drive or like, and the people that do irritate me to no end. I respect and enjoy being around people that are into Panthers just as much as people that are into Porsches, so long as it’s for the same basic car enthusiast reasons – and not to try to impress anyone else. That’s a game that never ends and can never be won.

  • avatar
    DM335

    It’s hard for me to understand the hatred for minivans. It seems to be the one type of vehicle that some people feel justified in expressing a negative opinion about someone else’s purchase. The only other vehicle I can recall someone expressing such superiority about was the gigantic Ford Excursion.

    Every person and every family has different needs. For many, a minivan makes a great deal of sense. I can’t count the number of times someone has asked me for a suggestion of how best to accommodate 2 to 4 kids with a comfortable ride and relatively decent gas mileage. Time after time, I suggest a minivan, at which point I am typically stared at as if I have suggested having a limb removed. In almost every case, the friend then buys an SUV.

    I drive a “full-size” Mercedes GL450. My wife has a Chrysler Pacifica “minivan”. The Pacifica is longer, has more cargo area and gets better mileage. For getting kids or adults into the third row, the van is much friendlier. I prefer driving my car and my wife prefers hers. Neither is the only solution to a family’s needs, but I can readily admit that a minivan makes a lot of sense.

    I have to laugh at the times my wife’s friends have been impressed by our Pacifica, only to buy a Discovery, Expedition, MDX or some other SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      people don’t want to drive the vehicles their parents drove them around in. My parents’ generation shook off station wagons. my generation scorns minivans. Maybe the up and coming generation(s) will reject CUVs and take us back to wagons.

  • avatar
    pprj

    We love ours. Toyota. 100k untroubled and comfortable miles.

    And boy, If I need to consider what car I drive in order to establish my manliness… wow… I’m really in a bad spot.

    So I guess a straight guys would never have a Sienna and a MX-5, right? Good to know. Let me go to CarMax right now. Need to get rid of my cars or what will the neighbors think about me?????

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I bought 2 2018 Nissan Quests,they’re going to be worth a fortune!!!

    Seriously, though we’ll be buying a 2018 Sienna AWD this next year. The Pacifica is intriguing but it’s just too wide, I have discovered a 75 inch width is workable for downtown trips, tight parking lots and preventing door dings in our garage(actually the main reason).If they make an SUV with sliding doors I’d be all over it.

    We’re last on the city plow route so I prefer AWD.I’d hold out for an AWD Hybrid Sienna, similar to what Toyota did with the Rav 4, but given the shrinking marketshare that’s not gonna happen.

  • avatar
    Hoodedhawk1

    I recently bought a ’18 Kia Sedona that was being used as a dealer loaner. I was able to buy it as a new vehicle with the full warranty at a sizable discount. I had been driving a F150 crew and haven’t missed it since the trade. The van is much more comfortable for my teenagers and no one complains about riding in the back. We made a 2000 mile round trip to Colorado over the summer, and we all rode in style without anything tied to the roof or hanging off of the bumper. The damn thing is well appointed with a mid level trim coupled with some good option packages. The $20,000 Caravan was tempting but this offered a lot more comfort (especially in the 2nd and 3rd rows) and options for about $5000 more. I’d have spent $38-44K to get into a comparably spec Sienna or Odyssey whereas the Kia listed for $35K but I bought it for $26K. I am really pleased with the Sedona so far.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I’ve read that if you can look past the limitations/flaws in the Sedona it is a great people mover. Biggest complaint I’ve read is about cargo arrangement and function of the second seats when not being used as seats. Otherwise, I’ve read it’s pretty darn competent.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Fordson: Some makes just should never produce SUVs…this is one of them. Look at the Maserati car in the group...
  • FreedMike: Toyota. Why do you think they haven’t invested in EVs?
  • redapple: Who will buy Tesla? GGM?
  • forward_look: Once I bought a ’74 (?) Colt/Mitsubishi for $100 that had the strut towers rusted out. I welded...
  • thelaine: Tick tock

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States