By on August 20, 2019

All 2019 Minivans Available: Odyssey, Sienna, Pacifica, Grand Caravan, Sedona - Images: ManufacturersThe minivan as we know it is not dead. Credit for the minivan segment’s still-beating heart belongs in large part to the disappearance of most contenders – so few competitors remain that a handful of remaining minivan nameplates may well still sell in six figures in the United States in 2019.

Most automakers determined years ago that sticking their forks into this pie isn’t worth it; the pie was just too small. The absence of GM, Ford, Hyundai, and Volkswagen, along with the steady rise of the family-oriented crossover, caused the pie’s shrinkage to continue. Nissan and Mazda left, too, and the pie kept shrinking.

In fact, the rate at which the minivan pie is shrinking has picked up speed. Auto sales are slowing, to be fair, but U.S. minivan sales volume in 2019 is slowing nearly seven times faster. And no, for FCA and Toyota and Honda and Kia, the whole “bigger slice of a smaller pie” argument just isn’t holding water these days.  (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2018

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. (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2018

2018 Honda Odyssey Cape Tryon copy - Image: © Timothy Cain

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? (Read More…)

By on June 21, 2018

2015 Honda Odyssey EX - Image: © Timothy Cain

We weren’t the typical minivan buyers. Yet with only one child (at the time), and desirous of full-size pickups, and frequent travellers of off-road paths not designed for an especially low-slung vehicle, we acquired a new 2015 Honda Odyssey EX in June 2015.

Three years and 37,000 miles later, after mountains of dog hair and many pounds of cracker crumbs and sand from a couple dozen beaches proved the merit of the OEM floor mats, our Odyssey’s odyssey is complete.

Do minivans still make sense in 2018? Do Odysseys hold up to the rigors of a young family’s life? And was it worth paying a premium for America’s favorite (retail) van? (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2018

2004 Honda Odyssey

A 16-year-old boy was killed last week after being trapped behind the third-row seat of a 2004 Honda Odyssey.

The incident happened Tuesday in Cincinnati. Initial reports indicate that Kyle Plush was trying to retrieve tennis equipment from the cargo area of his family’s van when the third-row bench seat, which he was reaching over, unexpectedly folded. He was turned upside-down and stuck beneath the seat.

He managed to make two calls to 911, but died of asphyxia by chest compression before authorities arrived.

(Read More…)

By on April 12, 2018

2018 Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package, Image: FCA

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. (Read More…)

By on March 6, 2018

Image: 1994 Toyota PreviaIn the first van edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we inquired which luxurious minivan from 1994 you’d relegate to each category. Using typical One Simple Trick methodology, I lured everyone in with a picture of the Previa (above). Then, when the Previa was not a choice in the transportation trio, you all doused me in Haterade.

Well, here you go. Import vans — including the Toyota Previa. Douse me in clicks!

(Read More…)

By on November 19, 2017

2017 Honda Odyssey

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.  (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2017

Minivan collage - Sienna Odyssey Pacifiica - Images: FCA/Honda/ToyotaIt 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. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited - Image: ChryslerEight 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. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey Touring – Image: © Timothy CainIn 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. (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey LX

Just about every sporting event I’ve ever attended – whether it’s hockey, baseball, or car racing – has been enjoyed from the cheap seats. Boiling it down to one or two reasons, I was either too cheap or too tardy to secure tickets closer to the action. Nevertheless, I always enjoyed it.

Honda’s newest take on the family hauler, and Tim Cain’s favorite topic, also has a set of cheap seats. It’s called the LX. Let’s see if they are closer to the sky lounge or penalty box.

(Read More…)

By on July 18, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey - Image: © Timothy CainYou 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. (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S paddle shifter - Image: Mercedes-BenzMany new automatic transmissions are capable of shifting with a level of enthusiasm foreign to owners of cars that are only moderately old. Like, say, from 2009.

Many new automatic transmissions also shift faster and more intelligently and more consistently than you or I could ever hope to with a manual transmission.

And with manual transmissions dropping like flies, the quality of a these intelligent, consistent, rapid-fire automatic transmissions’ shifts should theoretically matter more than ever. Yet automakers are increasingly turning to paddle shifters as a means of giving control back to the driver. According to Edmunds, 186-percent more new vehicles feature paddle shifters in 2017 than in 2007.

Despite the fact that drivers don’t want the control. (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey Touring – Image: © Timothy CainThis 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. (Read More…)

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