There are two types of people in this world, those that dislike vans and those who have come to the realization that they’re probably the most versatile vehicles money can buy. While vans may not be ideal for every single situation, they can slot into just about any application with a level of ease other vehicles could only dream of. But there are super specialized variants, with converted campers being among the most popular.
Word on the street is that General Motors will be discontinuing its existing full-size vans to make way for electrified alternatives. While the gut reaction may be to recoil in disgust at the very premise that Euro vans would dare usurp the rightful place of one of the most venerable working vehicles in North America, it might be worth remembering that the Ford Transit has managed to supplant the Econoline/E-Series rather effectively.
While often derided as highly unfashionable, minivans really are the Swiss Army knife of vehicles. They’re people haulers, cargo carriers, mobile campsites, and can even improvise as work vehicles for when a utility van (the Leatherman of vehicles) is unavailable. Minivans also drive more like cars than the brutes occupying the SUV and pickup segment, making them easier for some drivers to live with.
With vans having enjoyed a cultural renaissance during the 1970s, minivans hit the ground running in the mid-1980s and continued to swell in popularity until the millennium. By then, North Americans were buying an estimated 1.5 million minivans a year. But that’s also where society decided to apply the brakes. Sport utility vehicles and crossovers have effectively supplanted the van as the default family conveyance — though recent sales figures have suggested those dying flames are now being rekindled.
Ford’s commercial vehicle arm has been teasing the upcoming Tourneo Custom EV ahead of its formal debut on May 9th, 2022. Ford Pro is eager to expand its lineup of all-electric light commercial vehicles and has already started production of the E-Transit, making the Euro-focused Tourneo the next model queued to be juiced up.
Winnebago has revealed the electric e-RV camper van concept at the Florida RV SuperShow and it looks to be right in the sweet spot for North Americans interested in partaking in van life. However, the motorhome manufacturer has said the model is only capable of driving 125 miles between charging, drastically limiting how much wiggle room is in the travel itinerary.
On the upside, the 86.0-kWh battery pack does run the cavalcade of appliances the e-RV comes without the same need for maintenance as the deep-cycle units that typically go into recreational vehicles. But that also means every time you run the modern conveniences it’s been equipped with you’re losing range.
Ever since the 1998 model year, Toyota has sold a big, American-style minivan with the engine in the front and cupholders throughout the interior. Prior to that, though, American Toyota shoppers looking for a new van had to take an innovative mid-engined machine designed entirely with the Japanese home market in mind: First the TownAce (known as the Van here) and then the Estima (known as the Previa here). The Previa was too small and too underpowered to compete head-to-head with Detroit minivans, but those who bought them found that they lasted for decade after decade. Here’s one in a Denver-area yard that got pretty close to the magical 400,000-mile mark.
Back in the days before smartphones and cheap tablet computers, parents planning to take some screaming ankle-biters on a long road trip needed some means of hypnotizing the little darlings into submission, something that didn’t involve extreme measures such as tranquilizer dart guns or child literacy. Minivan makers began installing airliner-style flip-down video displays in the 1990s, enabling The Slime to ooze out of tiny flat screens on the road. The General took this idea one step further, partnering with Warner Brothers to issue a special-edition Chevy Venture packed with Looney Tunes goodies and branding. I spent years trying to find one of these rare vans in the U-Wrench-It yards I frequent, and I hit pay dirt last month in Denver.
Badge engineering! Always near the top of my search list when poking through car graveyards, obscure examples of marketing-inspired rebadgitude will jump right out from the ho-hum ranks of Elantras and LaCrosses in any yard. I haven’t managed to find a discarded Suzuki Equator yet, sad to say, but I have documented such rarities as a Mitsubishi-badged Hyundai Excel, an Isuzu-badged Chevy Colorado, and a Dodge-badged Renault 25. Today we’ll visit one of the most puzzling examples of badge-engineering history in the North American automotive marketplace: the Volkswagen Routan.
A warning was issued today to owners of 2021 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans with 6.6-liter gas engines by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If a battery short circuit were to happen, there may be a low battery voltage warning, the battery might die, or an engine compartment fire could take place.
Inching closer to its mid-year debut, the 2022 Hyundai Staria multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) was revealed yesterday, with the premise of next-level mobility.
Minivan though it may be, at no point did Hyundai use this often-maligned vehicle classification. In the world of auto sales, it is the people mover that a family of four or more can hardly live without and that many parents dread for the stigma associated with them.
Camper vans, ubiquitous homes on wheels for digital nomads, were up 125 percent in total shipments in November, according to the RV Industry Association. This was part of total RV shipments that finished the month with 42,513 units, a 43.4 percent increase over the 29,644 units shipped in November of last year.
Despite vans being slightly more popular than getting a thumb in the eye, Mercedes-Benz is sticking with them. Earlier in the month, the automaker revealed the production version of its 252-mile (we’ll see) EQV. Essentially an electrified version of the plush V-Class/Metris, the model will likely serve a very specific subset of the population.
On the other end of the spectrum, Daimler has been mulling over what should be done about the Citan. As the smallest van in MB’s range, the Citan also has the lowest point of entry. However, sales are roughly one-sixth what the V-Class sees in Europe, making it a plausible candidate for discontinuation. But it was not to be. On Friday, Daimler announced it will keep its smallest MPV on the table.
Digging up names from the past is a popular hobby at most car makers, to the point that a few of them would be well served to hire their own archaeologists to smooth out the process. Some are wantonly ditched prematurely in the pursuit of alphanumerics (*ahem* Legend, Vigor *ahem*) while others are relegated to the dustbin of history after being appended to a particularly horrid car.
Others simply slip away into the night like a silent bandit after the shuttering of its brand. Voyager is one of these, with FCA deciding to trot it out again and apply it to entry-level versions of the Pacifica (which, by itself, is a recycled name).
Ford is sexing up its sexiest vehicle, the Transit van, for the 2020 model year with a bevy of new powertrain options and added safety tech. Two new engines are a base 3.5-liter V6 and a 2.0-liter EcoBlue bi-turbo diesel four. Thanks to direct-and-port injection, Ford claims the V6 PFDi will offer greater efficiency than the 3.7-liter unit it replaces. Meanwhile, the hard-working 2.0 liter will do the same while offering improved power and torque against the outgoing 3.2-liter diesel.
The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 will persist as the preferred option for getaway drivers and thrill-seeking plumbers. All models will come with Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission, with gasoline models (including the beastly EcoBoost) having the option of all-wheel drive.
The only minivans coming out of Detroit these days aren’t actually rolling out of Detroit, but a plant a stone’s throw from the Detroit River, on the Canadian side. Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant, home to the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan, will go dark for two weeks starting on New Year’s Eve, presumably to manage inventories.
Short-lived shutdowns are commonplace at the plant, where workers assemble one of the newest and undoubtedly the oldest minivans on the market. The latter vehicle, while likely not having much of a future, certainly has a fan base. It’s not giving up on the model, and sales figures show it.
The appearance of the unabashedly traditional, square-rigged Chrysler 300 in the mid-2000s inspired high-fives among car lovers sickened by the 1990s Ovoid Era. It’s unlikely those same revellers feel the same way about the 300 biting the dust to make room for a tech-savvy, electric minivan.
And yet, that’s what we’re hearing. In 2020, the last Chrysler passenger car will reportedly give way to a second Chrysler minivan, keeping the shrunken brand’s two-vehicle lineup intact. If only we could say the same for its heritage.
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.
You don’t need a family to own a minivan, it just helps avoid a series of awkward follow-up questions. However, regardless of whether you’re riding with your complete progeny or your only friend in the world, you probably hope your vehicle has your back in the event of an accident.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small overlap crash test separated the wheat from the automotive chaff ever since its introduction in 2012. The test imagines what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an stationary object, focusing an immense amount of energy on a small area of the automobile. It’s a worst-case scenario for the structural integrity of a model and makes for a great viewing experience, as it really does a number on the test car.
Despite fielding a rather pathetic number of vehicles, the minivan segment performed pretty well in the IIHS passenger-side small overlap front crash test on the whole. However, while no outright deathtraps revealed themselves, the group still saw some mixed results.
As the Ford Aerostar and Toyota Previa fade from our collective memory, one could be forgiven for thinking minivans were always a front-drive proposition. As for winter-beating all-wheel drive, a laundry list of crossovers and SUV fill that buying space, poaching sales from the once-hot minivan segment.
Still, one model continues offering four-wheel traction for buyers who aren’t scared of being seen in a traditionally uncool minivan. That model, the Toyota Sienna, enters 2019 with more AWD availability. As an underdog in the segment, it seems Toyota wants to sell its offering as the more family-friendly SUV alternative.
Friday Night Adventures Prove Yet Again That Minivans Are the Best Vehicles the World Has Ever Known
The wind is gusting above 40 miles per hour on New Brunswick’s Northumberland shore. I’m standing beside an oversized ATV trailer, desperately trying to figure out how one of three ratchet straps holding an ATV snowblower to the trailer tore itself to shreds, launching the blower into the trailer’s front box.
It’s the kind of wind that limits one’s cognitive function. Though often guilty of running multiple trains of thought along one set of tracks, I realize as I stare at the shredded strap that virtually all of my brain activity is presently devoted to maintaining a semi-socially acceptable level of snot spray and, concurrently, keeping my shirt from blowing up neck-high, Marilyn Monroe-style.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, a whirlwind journey that began by leaving work early with the digital handshake of a deal, ended in my driveway with the blower intact. Hours later, our new 2018 Honda Odyssey EX ATV tow vehicle – a replacement for the 2015 Odyssey EX we victimized for three years – opened its tailgate to reveal a cavernous cargo area and hauled a wide array of 4x4s, 2x4s, and cement blocks home from the lumber yard. “Pickup trucks don’t take this much stuff in one load,” the teenaged attendant said. That afternoon, the Odyssey was back to hustling children across Prince Edward Island, three rows of seating full.
Can a minivan be beaten at life?
The Ram brand isn’t shy about disclosing its identity to strangers. Many a passer-by has suffered retina damage after a shaft of sunlight caught the massive, seemingly foot-tall “RAM” lettering adorning the tailgate of the truck division’s pickup models.
The brand’s vans are another story. Perhaps feeling insecure due to their Mexican birthplace and Italian architecture, Ram’s ProMaster and ProMaster City felt it sufficient to display the horned Ram logo in the center of their Dodge-like crosshair grille. For 2019, however, the
Fiat Ducato and Doblo Ram ProMaster and ProMaster City see a boost in self-esteem.
Minivans are great for a lot of things, but intimidating the neighbors is not among their many attributes.
While you could spend the weekend welding spikes onto one and giving everyone on your block “the stare down,” alternative options exist. You could purchase some custom wheels and replace the chrome accents with something darker, or you could have Chrysler do it for you if you’re in the market for a Pacifica.
As much as I hope this brings back a dark and sinister version of 1970s van culture, I would be satisfied with just seeing more of them on the road. According to Chrysler, the murdered-out look offered by the S Appearance Package has proven quite popular with standard Pacifica shoppers. Now, it wants to extend the opportunity to those interested in the plug-in hybrid model.
Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen AG seem to be on the verge of a relationship that could yield jointly developed products aimed at the commercial sector. It’s looking a lot like the rumored FCA/VW partnership we reported on last year, only that date ended with cold showers.
Late Tuesday, Ford and VW issued a joint statement announcing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two automakers. This “potential alliance” might lead to the conception of any number of vehicles.
We’re always surprised with what counts as a van in Europe. For example, Ford just showcased a new one based on the Fiesta at the Birmingham Commercial Vehicle Show — and it’s kind of wonderful. However, we’re unlikely to see it on our roads. A vehicle like this makes almost no sense for the North American market.
In fact, I can only think of a handful of applications for such an automobile: high-volume pizza delivery, flower delivery, amateur plumber, organ transport, and pet grooming for a business that only takes modestly sized animals. But they would all have to take place in an extremely-dense urban environment to rationalize the use of such a small vehicle. Otherwise, business owners are going to splurge on a proper small van like the Transit Connect.
You’d think the advent of dedicated electric vehicle platforms would breed a new era of flat-floored minivans, but most automakers just aren’t interested in going that route — internal combustion or otherwise. There’s no electric Chevrolet Venture on the horizon, nor will Ford resurrect the Aerostar in EV form and name it after a late ’60s muscle car.
Even in our clean, green future, SUVs reign.
The present, however, hasn’t abandoned the minivan, even if the segment is a shadow of its former self. March minivan sales in the U.S. topped that of last March, and year-to-date sales are up compared to 2017, despite the disappearance of two nameplates. Unlike SUVs and crossovers, however, there’s just not enough demand to put wind in every minivan model’s sales. It’s easy to imagine a near future where Fiat Chrysler and Honda own the segment.
Automotive trade shows typically provide little more than early access to vehicles you’ve already read about for months. But every so often details emerge that are so incredibly hot, you can’t even begin to fathom why God chose to trust you with them.
At this week’s 2018 New York International Auto Show, Kia Motors America unveiled a refreshed 2019 Sedona minivan, which — get a load of this — has totally new fog lamps. These babies aren’t even remotely the same shape as the outgoing version’s bulbs. Those old round heaps are over and done with; we’re entering an entirely new era of illumination, folks.
To be accurate, the new Sedona actually has entirely new front and rear fascias but, after staring at the 2019 model for several minutes, the only standout upgrade seems to be the fog lights. Which is strange because, when compared with the older model, it becomes immediately apparent that the refresh worked some legitimate magic on the family wagon. Don’t believe us? Well, here is a visual sample of the 2018 Kia Sedona:
General Motors, the automaker that once took badge engineering to dizzying new heights, is culling a slow-selling carbon copy from its lineup. The Chevrolet City Express, a small, front-drive panel van you’ll be forgiven for not remembering, will no longer be available to commercial buyers, GM says.
Essentially a Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo with a chrome grille and bowtie badge where the word “Nissan” should be, this body double gave GM a cheap North American entry in a small commercial van market dominated by Ford Motor Company. It seems buyers preferred Ford by a wide margin. Don’t worry, though — there’s still a CVT-equipped van available for repairmen with oddball tastes.
When Ford launched the Transit Connect in North America in 2009, it was little more than a budget-friendly hauler for small business owners who needed a small van to help with their blossoming flower-delivery service. By the second generation, it received new engine options and became decidedly more passenger friendly, but remained light on features and refinement. Still, if you put a gun to the heads of a lot of car experts and asked them to pick a do-anything small vehicle, the Transit Connect would probably be on their short list.
Updated for its third generation, Ford is further enhancing the model’s versatility and comfort. However, Ford appears to be marketing the Transit Connect toward a very specific demographic — baby boomers.
While we think the Transit van’s smaller sibling probably has a far broader appeal than just the AARP crowd, things like a hip-high slide-in driver seat (with more comfortable foam), plenty of room for the grandkids, and an ultra-low load height do seem like desirable features for aging shoppers. You’d think Ford would market the Connect a viable alternative to crossovers.
Nobody knows why the custom van lifestyle ended. Despite the keep on truckin’ imperative, the 1970s ended and took those kaleidoscopic fun-wagons with it. Maybe the Baby Boomers grew up and decided to stop smoking weed in the back of large vehicles with words like “Vandy Apple” painted on the side so they could get a real job and start smoking weed at home.
Perhaps the trend simply passed and foreign-built economy cars were the next must-have item. All we know for sure is that it was a mistake.
Fortunately, vans have only gotten better since the ’70s ended. The objectively perfect minivan had its heyday when leisure travel vans still held a corner of the market. While not so popular anymore, the van’s unparalleled versatility has kept it a viable option for work fleets and individual private owners who want a jack-of-all-trades vehicle in the driveway.
Mercedes-Benz is hip to this, revealing its third-generation Sprinter with all the customizable variables one would expect. However, it’s also adding load of new technologies and hardware as part of the brand’s “adVANce” philosophy. That includes new internet integration, driveline configurations, and a forthcoming electric model. Does this amount to the most exciting model in Mercedes’ lineup?
Back in June, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles faced a problem with its Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. One so significant, in fact, that it briefly stopped production of the vehicle. After recalling all models sold to date to replace faulty inverter diodes, production resumed, ending the problem of hybrid minivans suddenly going dark while underway.
The Pacifica Hybrid’s electrical gremlin appears slayed, but there’s no such luck with the gasoline-only version. Public safety advocates are raising their collective voice following multiple complaints of 2017 Pacificas behaving as if possessed while on the road.
It’s never easy to find out something you thought was objectively perfect has a fatal flaw. Honda is recalling over 800,000 Odyssey minivans due to faulty passenger seating that has resulted in around 46 reported injuries. According to the manufacturer, vehicles from the 2011-2017 model years may have second rows that latch improperly.
The solution? Honda says its working on that and will be issuing an official recall late next month, once it knows the best way to approach the repairs. In the meantime, it has provided step-by-step instructions on how to properly position the second row outer seats and confirm they are securely latched to the floor. The final step involves shaking the crap out of a seat to insure it does not tip forward.
Minivan sales tumbled 16 percent to only 33,358 units in September 2017, the lowest total for America’s people-carrier sector since January 2015.
Between the disappearance of two nameplates (Nissan Quest and Mazda 5), limitations on Dodge Grand Caravan sales during a period of plant transition, and further decreases from the aging Kia Sedona and new Honda Odyssey, minivan volume fell 6,460 units below September 2016’s total and nearly 11,000 units shy of September 2015’s tally, and more than 10,000 units short of 2017’s monthly average through the first two-thirds of the year.
A positive spin is difficult to find.
You’ve decided to stay in the minivan fold. Or, to Fiat Chrysler’s delight, you’ve decided to join it. Just because your Pacifica spends its days shuttling around colorful little Playskool houses and playing Paw Patrol videos on the seatback media screens doesn’t mean it shouldn’t also strike terror into the hearts of passers-by on the mean streets of America.
Right on cue, or perhaps a little belatedly, Chrysler is adding a hint of menace to a decidedly non-menacing model with the return of the S Appearance Package to its minivan stable. Last offered on the defunct Town & Country, the package does for the Pacifica what it does for the 300 and what it did for the departed 200.
Bring on the darkness.
Okay, maybe not the specific vehicle itself, but the key feature that sets it apart from every other crossover/SUV on the road or in conceptual blueprints.
Seen here is the just-revealed Toyota Tj Cruiser, a commodious concept car heading to the upcoming Tokyo Auto Show. “Tj,” Toyota tells us, is a combination of “toolbox,” which this versatile box-on-wheels can certainly be, and “joy,” which you’ll certainly be feeling when behind the wheel. Take the company’s word for it — there’s joy here.
Whether you find it ungainly or endearing, the Tj Cruiser seems to be an answer to a question few are asking. However, TTAC was one of those askers.
We all know minivans bring out a driver’s inner beast. Here at TTAC, hardly a day goes by where we’re not discussing which minivan is best suited for an impromptu spin around the track. Seriously.
However, if exploring the limits of your minivan’s handling abilities tops your short list of things to do today, Chrysler Pacifica drivers had best hold off — at least if you’ve got a crowded backseat. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles doesn’t want owners driving aggressively until they’ve taken their van in for a voluntary recall.
Fiat Chrysler will idle production of both the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan for over a month in autumn. But with the latter model seeing impressive sales in the United States last month, can FCA afford to hit “pause” on assembly?
Not really, but that doesn’t matter — the Grand Caravan has to meet updated U.S. safety standards if Dodge wants to keep selling them. Unfortunately, FCA only has a 19-day supply of the minivan in reserve after an exceptional August depleted inventories. On the flip side, Chrysler’s objectively good but slower-selling Pacifica has a 108-day vehicle surplus. Wait, that’s also bad news.
At least the line workers at FCA’s Windsor Assembly Plant have have some time off to look forward to.
Would a minivan with all-wheel drive, added ground clearance, and wheel arch cladding ever stand a chance of being called an SUV?
It’s not so far-fetched. There was a time when the Subaru Outback was perceived as nothing more than a wagon, but times changed.
What about the other way around: does the Chevrolet Tahoe Grande’s sliding doors necessitate a minivan designation for America’s top-selling full-size SUV? In other words, is a full-size SUV with sliding doors no longer an SUV?
Nissan and Datsun brought quirky, interesting, innovative vehicles to North American shores in the years prior to roughly 1994. Commenters — okay, I — brought up our subject Stanza in a post the other day about AMC Eagle creator Roy Lunn. Mr. Lunn used American Motors’ rather slim budget to create what was arguably the very first crossover vehicle from an assemblage of existing parts.
Let’s see what Nissan did with its early proto-crossover vehicle idea.
No Thanks to the New Honda Odyssey, U.S. Minivan Sales Increased In August 2017 for Just the Second Time in a Year
It’s all about product, they say.
Product, product, product.
When in doubt, add product.
New product, they say, will reinvigorate the American midsize sedan categor y. New product, one might have imagined, would provide an ample boost to America’s minivan segment.
Yet in August 2017, only the third month on the market for Honda’s fifth-gen 2018 Odyssey, overall minivan sales increased for just the second time in a year despite another sales decline from that very same new product, the Honda Odyssey.
It was quicker, quieter, more fuel efficient, and less expensive, but the all-new 2018 Honda Odyssey failed to win its first Car and Driver minivan comparison test.
The fifth-gen Odyssey is also the newest minivan redesign. The Toyota Sienna was updated for 2017 with a new powertrain but remains in large part the same minivan that arrived for the 2011 model year. The first Chrysler Pacifica minivan — aka the second Chrysler Pacifica — has been on sale for nearly a year and a half. The Kia Sedona, having lost its previous Car and Driver comparison test, was not deemed eligible for the test. Likewise, the Dodge Grand Caravan, while currently America’s top-selling minivan, was rendered ineligible by past performance.
With only three minivans in the test, all upper-crust examples of their specific nameplates, each contender finished on the platform. But lofty expectations for the all-new Odyssey failed to come to fruition, and the segment progenitor’s party trick produced a solid victory.
Stow’N’Go isn’t the only differentiator, however.
Eight years ago, American consumers, businesses, and governments acquired only 10.4 million new vehicles.
Sound like a lot? The U.S. auto industry generated an average of 16 million new vehicle sales in the five years leading up to 2009; 16.3 million annually over the last half-decade.
With the overall market’s collapse, it’s not surprising to hear that very few minivans were sold. Claiming only 4.3 percent of the industry’s volume, minivans collected only 448,000 sales.
At the current rate of decline through 2017’s first seven months, this year won’t be quite that bad. But it’s on track to be almost that bad, and the worst year since.
In the 2016 calendar year, the Honda Odyssey was Canada’s 41st-best-selling vehicle.
In the first half of 2017, as the fourth-generation Odyssey’s tenure came to an end, the Honda van plunged 11 positions to 52nd. Odyssey sales were down 18 percent, year-over-year. Odyssey volume was on track to fall to a five-year low. Hashtag minivans dead.
Then, descending from the top of Mount Fuji with a Soichiro-shaped halo, hosting enough seats for the entire Odyssey SCCA pit crew, declaring 30 more horses than the original Acura NSX, equipped with enough gears in its transmission for 2.5 copies of the Toyota Yaris, and speaking with just enough of an Alabama twang to be authentically North Americanized, the 2018 Honda Odyssey appeared.
Canadian sales of the Honda Odyssey consequently rose to the highest level in 15 years. And so shall it ever be.
It’s a question parents don’t ask often enough: are is our children learning?
More commonly queried: why not are our doors all is sliding? Furthermore, why is minivans are not mini?
Ford gave it a five-year whirl, slapping sliding doors on the side of the Fiesta-based B-Max. But according to a report in Romania’s Automarket, production of the Romanian-built B-Max ends this fall.
Are is our automakers learning?
2018 Honda Odyssey Elite Review - Innovative, Safe, Luxurious, and Powerful Eight-Seater; Yours for $48,000
You buy an iPhone 6 assuming you will like it more en-han you liked your old iPhone 5. You were excited to read Tender Is The Night because The Great Gatsby was a worthy tale. You had high hopes for The Godfather Part II on your Christmas holidays in 1974, having waited more than two years since The Godfather permanently altered cinema.
Expectations are everything, and my expectations for the 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite, a 280-horsepower, $47,610, eight-seater were high precisely because our garage houses a 2015 Honda Odyssey EX. My van isn’t perfect, but I’d happily buy another. And seven years after the fourth-generation Odyssey went into production, expectations for the fifth-generation model have grown significantly.
It’s 2017, not 2011. We expect quieter cabins, more powerful and more efficient engines, better interior materials, more standard features, and novel equipment.
In almost every facet, the fifth-gen 2018 Honda Odyssey is multiple steps beyond the fourth-gen Odyssey I own. But not every step forward is a step in the right direction.
This is not a review. The 2018 Honda Odyssey Touring will be reviewed, by me, at some point in the near future.
But this part couldn’t wait. This is breaking news. This is an alert. This deserves a chyron.
The 2018 Honda Odyssey Touring’s 10-speed automatic transmission does not suck.
Who knew the well-equipped 2018 Honda Odyssey was so… titillating? An unsuspecting journalist over at Forbes saw a few more — let’s call them entertainment options — than she expected while browsing through the video selection offered via her Odyssey tester’s rear media screen.
At that point, things became a little hot under the collar at Honda.
Minivans. They’re the ultimate family haulers: unpretentious, utilitarian, and usually ugly.
Minivans haven’t been slow in some time. A decade ago, the Honda Odyssey produced 244 horsepower and required fewer than nine seconds to accelerate from nought to 60 miles per hour, hardly the behavior of a contemporaneous Chevrolet Aveo.
But the rate at which minivans have been packing on the ponies and adding gear ratios has evolved quickly over the last year. The Chrysler Pacifica came first, producing horsepower similar to its Pentastar twin from Dodge but adding a handful of gears. 0-60 times dropped to 7.3 seconds.
That was nothing to sneeze at. At least until Toyota made the 2017 Sienna the most powerful van in the segment and linked its 3.5-liter V6 to an eight-speed automatic; at least until Honda launched the 2018 Honda Odyssey with 10 speeds and 280 horsepower. Now the numbers are staggering.
Conflicting reports claim Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has either restarted, or is poised to restart, production of the Pacifica Hybrid minivan in Windsor, Ontario.
This comes after a tumultuous month for the automaker’s headline-grabbing plug-in minivan. First, a voluntary safety recall saw all Pacifica Hybrids built to date recalled for faulty inverter diodes, following incidents in which several vehicles lost power while underway. The recall then led to the shadowy shutdown of hybrid minivan production.
Despite being lauded for its high level of content, smooth ride, and all-electric range, Chrysler’s plug-in hybrid minivan has hit a large roadblock. After voluntarily recalling all Pacifica Hybrids due to a safety defect that could see the minivan go dark at inopportune times, it seems the assembly line has ground to a halt in Windsor, Ontario.
A recall earlier this month saw Fiat Chrysler Automobiles call back 1,368 vehicles in the U.S. and 309 in Canada following complaints of loss of propulsion. The issue reportedly stems from defective inverter diodes. While the wonky electrified powertrain hasn’t resulted in any crashes or injuries, electrified cars that suddenly stop sending current to the motor aren’t something customers or the automaker can tolerate.
It’s a serious stumble for FCA’s green halo car.
After a Dreadful Start, 2017's Second Half Is the Minivan's Time To Shine - but Can the Segment Recover?
The 2018 Honda Odyssey went on sale three weeks ago. The Chrysler Pacifica has only been on the market for a year. The Toyota Sienna will enjoy another refresh for the 2018 model year.
If ever there was a time in which America’s minivan segment needs to shine, the second-half of 2017 is it.
Minivan sales tumbled 14 percent, year-over-year, through the first five months of 2017. Only 3 percent of the auto industry’s volume is now minivan-derived. Year-over-year volume decreased in nine consecutive months between August 2016 and April 2017.
There are far fewer competitors now than there were a decade ago. Therefore, the minivan market doesn’t need to produce the sort of volume it did a decade ago. However, minivan sales can’t continue to plummet, month after month after month.
Minivan sales need to rise. If they can’t do so now, then when? And if the segment can’t do it with fresh product from Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota, then who can supply the growth?
Honda Is Considering An Odyssey Hybrid With Acura MDX Running Gear To Challenge The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Can frugal transportation and family transportation coexist in a single package?
Lead Honda R&D engineer Tom Sladek indicated to Wards Auto at the Hawaiian launch of the all-new, fifth-generation, 2018 Honda Odyssey that Honda’s minivan could receive a hybrid powertrain in the future.
Presently, hybrid powertrains are available in a numerous three-row crossovers. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is presently launching a plug-in hybrid version of the new-last-year Chrysler Pacifica, as well.
“The electrification initiative is definitely coming, but on which products and which timing is not 100% clear yet,” Honda’s Sladek told Wards. If one such product is the Odyssey, we would expect to see improvements both in the Odyssey’s fuel economy and its performance.
And all-wheel drive?
“The Nissan Quest has been discontinued for the U.S. marketplace.”
– Nissan Sr. Manager, Product Communications, Dan Passe
TTAC has been tracking the Nissan Quest’s failure in the U.S. marketplace for some time. Just ahead of Christmas last year, when it appeared as though the Quest was surely dead in the water, Nissan confirmed that there would in fact be a 2017 Quest.
But when tipped off by an industry insider last February, we noticed that Nissan was reporting higher-than-normal Quest sales despite lacking any meaningful inventory. That’s right — the 2017 Nissan Quest was essentially a fleet-only vehicle.
Most of us stopped tracking the story. After all, it’s a minivan, and a long-ignored minivan, in a market where buyers are currently turning away from minivan in droves. TTAC’s Corey Lewis didn’t quit, however. Like a dog with a bone, Corey discovered that the Quest was missing from NissanUSA.com. Under the Minivans & Vans section, there’s no minivan. We asked Nissan, not for the first time, whether the Quest is dead.
The Nissan Quest is dead. Gone. Expired. Terminated.
2017 Is Set to Be The Worst Year For Minivans Since The Depths Of Recession, Unless The New Honda Odyssey Makes Hay
U.S. minivan volume has decreased in nine consecutive months as the American minivan category lost 70,000 sales since August 2016, year-over-year.
As a result of the steady decline in a minivan segment that essentially features only five vans, 2017 is set to be the lowest-volume year for the category since 2009. At the rate achieved through the first one-third of 2017, Americans will purchase and lease only 452,000 minivans in 2017, just 2.6 percent of the overall market and only slightly more minivans than Americans purchased and leased when the overall industry collapsed to the lowest level in 27 years.
Or perhaps not. Fresh product is the carnauba wax bath balm for the soccer mom segment’s tired flesh. And a new 2018 Honda Odyssey is due at dealers in the coming weeks. (We’ll have a review of it next week.)
Is a new Odyssey the answer for America’s minivan woes?
Honda believes so.
America’s mini-MPV market is dead. It was hardly ever alive.
Canada’s mini-MPV market is dying. The Chevrolet Orlando couldn’t make a go of it. Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 sales are 80-percent lower than they were a decade ago.
And if ever you thought North America’s mini-MPV market could be regenerated based off the strength of Europe’s compact minivan segment, you thought wrong. Even the Europeans — long lovers of small, family-friendly vehicles with affordable price tags, economical engines, and notable space efficiency — are turning away from mini-MPVs. In droves.
Why buy a minivan when you could have a rugged off-roader instead?
I’m back again. Shortly after today’s QOTD about special editions went live, I received an email back from a kind contact at Ford. She provided me with the press photos of the Mercury Villager Nautica I had requested. Since they’re so nice, and you probably haven’t seen them anywhere else, it’s Picture Time.
Feast your eyes on this tasty minivan.
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