Tag: Vans

By on August 12, 2018


While the United States seems intent on pushing vans into the work-vehicle category, Europe continues to enjoy them for leisure activities. That’s a shame because there’s a chance some of that interesting van culture would have trickled over the ocean were it not for the chicken tax and unwarranted prejudice.

Volkswagen has several such lifestyle units, with the California being arguably the best in its fleet. Funnily enough, the model isn’t sold in California — nor anywhere else in the U.S. — but a recent update could hint at the direction VW will be taking with the I.D. Buzz. Based on the Transporter and outfitted as a camper van, the California is the true spiritual successor to the microbus. It can certainly trace its linage back to the Type 2 via the Transporter, while its motorhome amenities and optional paint schemes help to finish the job.  (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2018

It was one of those make or break moments. A company teetering on the financial verge which threw a Hail Mary at the right time — and at the right target. The company in question was Chrysler, and the Hail Mary was the K-car platform.

Today we ask you: What was peak K?

(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 July 19, 2018

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

There was an odd bit of PR posted to Ford’s media site this week — something that’s not altogether surprising, given the current socio-economic climate. You know about vans, right? Thought so. While the Econoline van is gone and the Windstar/Freestar a distant memory, Ford still has two boxes on wheels ready for the taking.

How’d you like to live in one? (Read More…)

By on June 27, 2018

Image: FCA

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. (Read More…)

By on June 27, 2018

Image: GMC Safari GTIn last week’s Crapwagon Garage QOTD, we combined truck and station wagon to create an SUV, picking five winners. In part VII of the series, we’ll combine truck and station wagon a bit differently and end up with a van.

That’s right, it’s time for some #vanlife (ugh). Car-based minivans also apply, so we’re not limited to things like the sweet Safari GT above.

(Read More…)

By on June 26, 2018

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid front quarter

For those of you voyeurs who enjoy peering at perfectly curated photos of strangers’ lives, do me a favor and click over to Instagram and search the “Vanlife” hashtag. It’s a seemingly endless parade of young folk who have eschewed traditional housing for a thoroughly modified full-size van — typically a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Ram ProMaster, kitted with beds, kitchens, and storage for implements of extreme living such as mountain bikes or kayaks.

The thing you’ll notice about nearly all of these vanlifers: no kids. It’s hard to get the little ones to hockey practice when you’re living life to the extreme.

I live a very different kind of vanlife here in suburbia. While certainly there are times when I’m hauling an empty box behind me, more often than not I have two kids and their assorted crap to haul. Other times, my van doubles as a truck, with a few sheets of OSB or 10 bags of mulch. I’ve even hauled a spare Miata engine to a race track for a friend who’d popped one in an early race session.

For those of us who need to get back and forth to the office, rather than to or from a trailhead, a traditional minivan is nearly perfect. The only downside? Fuel economy isn’t great, as you’re pushing a big, heavy box through the air. Chrysler recognized this with the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, offering a good bit more efficiency in a familiar package. Does it make #DadVanLife more palatable?

(Read More…)

By on June 20, 2018

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. (Read More…)

By on April 25, 2018

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.  (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 29, 2018

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: (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2018

Image: GM

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. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2018

2018 Ford Expedition, Image: [Ford Motor Company]

The future is electric, industry leaders tell us, but it will also have room for cargo. Lots and lots of it.

In announcing its near-future product plans on Thursday, Ford Motor Company promised the replacement of “more than 75 percent of its current portfolio” by 2020, with sport utility vehicles filling the sales void created by declining car volume. By the start of the next decade, only 14 percent of sales will come from cars, Ford predicts.

Meanwhile, at Lincoln, there’s good reason to believe the automaker’s luxury brand might enter the coming decade completely carless. (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 February 26, 2018

Image: 1994 Toyota PreviaWhen the Picture Time post for the Villager Nautica went up on these pages last year, the idea for this particular edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was already on my mind. In fact, in the big list of trios I keep for this series, this one has always been at the top of the list.

The year is 1994, and you’ve got a luxury minivan to set alight.

(Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • ryanwm80: To this day I can still remember when I was about 4 years old – about 35 years ago – when I got...
  • Roadranger: Looking forward to see what this looks like. Between this and that little throwback Honda there’s...
  • Peter Gazis: My guess is Nissan will kill its Mitsubishi brand in the U.S.
  • James Charles: Luke, Interesting, your comment. I’m currently working as a modeller and analyst on a org...
  • Wodehouse: In the mid-80s my best buddy and I went to an auction and bought a 1969 Buick Sport Wagon to use on a road...

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