2012 Lemon Aid New Car Reviews - Minivans


From an equipment, versatility and comfort standpoint, minivans offer better value than similarly-equipped mid-size sedans and SUVs. Despite the value proposition minivans represent, the segment, whether because of fashion or demographics, is losing momentum. The Minivan section of Lemon Aid 2004 mentioned 24 different nameplates compared to the seven nameplates covered this year.

Other than the 2012 Nissan Quest that was introduced early in 2011, there is nothing new in the minivan category for this year. Kia's Sedona, the oldest design in the current minivan crop of vehicles, is in its last year in its current form.

The safety record of minivans is generally very good, a function of their height, large size and usually cautious drivers. With the exception of bumper strength on some models, minivans meet almost all passenger car safety standards. Bulky vans with deep-tinted glass can be challenging to park, especially at night. Proximity parking sensors are optional on most vans now, and several makers now offer backup cameras as well.

A note about mileage: The APA's posted fuel economy figures for 2012 differ from those published by the Canada EnerGuide. For 2012, the APA is using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), numbers for fuel economy, as they better reflect real-world fuel economy. For more information, read APA President George Iny's article regarding the inadequacies of the Canada EnerGuide test cycle.  

Chrysler Town & Country Honda Odyssey Nissan Quest  VW Routan
Dodge Grand Caravan Kia Sedona Toyota Sienna  

Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, VW Routan

Specifications

AVERAGE

 

 

What’s new
No changes of note

Performance
Good performance and refinement from the 3.6L V6 that is a bit lacking in torque at low revs. The main quest of the automatic transmission is to reach the highest gear possible means a lot of downshifting when a bit of extra speed is required. There is no creep function when the vehicle is in gear with the brakes off, making low-speed manoeuvres tiresome. Heavy steering is reassuring on the highway, but combined with the firm throttle, makes the van feel ponderous in town. Strong brakes. The Town and Country's suspension swallows road imperfections on the highway and ably handles all but the biggest urban potholes. Noticeable body movement on sinewy roads. Big, clear gauges. Elegant dash and lots of padded surfaces. Simple, logical controls for a full-featured van. Supportive front seats. Adjustable pedals and telescoping wheel make all drivers comfortable. Enormous, clear, cargo hold. The second and third row seats enjoy good legroom but the Stow N Go seats are mounted too close to the floor to be comfortable for adults. The Grand Caravan accounts for the bulk of sales, with the Town & Country taking less than 10 percent of total sales of the Chrysler-branded models. At just over 800 units sold last year, it is a wonder why VW continues with the Routan. The Town & Country was ranked third in a four van test that also included the Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna.

Comments
Only one powertrain, a 3.6L V6 hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission sending power to the front wheels, is available. Properly equipped, maximum towing capacity is 1633 kg (3600 lbs.). Made in Canada and the United States.

Pricing
Grand Caravan: poor value SXT upgrade. Crew and R/T trim levels priced to reflect content. High value Crew Plus package. It is better to buy high-end models used as depreciation can be harsh on new examples. Check pricing very carefully as a Grand Caravan equipped with rear heat and air conditioning can be as expensive as base models from Honda and Toyota. The Town & Country is priced considerably higher than the Grand Caravan. No leasing is available. 

Reliability
Not rated, insufficient data. Weak points could include air-conditioning, electrical system.  Unproven V6 engine. Rapid brake wear is a possibility.


Body Style:  4SW
Occupants:  2/2/3

Engines:
3.6L-V6 (283 HP) 

Transmissions: 6A 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  13.8L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: n/a

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000 (Routan: 4/80,000, 5/100,000)

Country of Origin:  Canada, United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Good

Side: Good

Rollover: Good

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: 



Honda Odyssey

Specifications

ABOVE AVERAGE

What’s new
No changes of note.

Performance
The 3.5L V6 is smooth, quick and sounds great when pushed hard. The five-speed automatic transmission is well-matched to the V6. The six-speed transmission in the Touring model shifts smoothly, can hesitate on occasion and offers no benefit over the five-speed. Cylinder shut-off (6-4-3), works imperceptably and matches Sienna for fuel economy. Confident handling. Firm ride. Precise, but light steering. The brake pedal on our test car was very firm, making the brakes hard to modulate. BIg, clear intruments. Though the dash centre stack houses a lot of buttons, they are better organized than in other recent Hondas. Comfort is assured by supportive seats and ample cabin space. While the interior looks carefully assembled, some drivers encountered rattles on our test vehicle. Top models lack the luxury appearance expected at the price. Good cargo space. The Odyssey was ranked second in a four van test that also included the Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna.

Comments
The 3.5L V6 is hooked up to a five-speed automatic transmission except for the Touring that uses a six-speed automatic. Odyssey sales dropped abouty five percent in 2011, despite it being a new model.  Properly equipped, maximum towing capacity is 1588 kg (3500 lbs.).

Pricing
Good value EX and Touring trim upgrades. The EX-L trim level includes leather seating and a sunroof, but also forces the $1500 DVD player on the buyer. Good resale value. Good leasing arrangements.

Reliability
Above average reliability predicted. Unproven six-speed automatic transmission. Power sliding door durability could be a trouble spot. 


Body Style:  4SW
Occupants:  2/2/3, 2/3/3

Engines:
3.5L-V6 (248 HP)

Transmissions: 5A*, 6A 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  13.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: Tier 2 Bin 5

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Good

Side: Good

Rollover: Good

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: 



Kia Sedona

Specifications

ABOVE AVERAGE

 

 

 

 

What’s new
A power passenger seat has been added to the EX Luxury trim level. Last year for Sedona in its current form.

Performance
Smooth, powerful, sweet-sounding 3.5L V6. Comfortable ride. Stable, predictable handling. Precise, nicely-weighted steering and a short turning circle. The Sedona lacks the agility and driving pleasure of the Honda Odyssey. Roomy cabin in all three rows. Attractive cabin design and excellent fit and finish.

Comments
The Sedona is in its last year in its current form. Sedona sales dropped about 20 percent in 2011, to just under 1300 units. Properly equipped, the maximum towing capacity is 1587 kg (3500 lbs.).

Pricing
The price supplement for the LX Convenience package reflects the additional content in the package. Overpriced EX upgrade. The EX Power option is a bit too expensive. The EX Luxury and Navigation packages are very good value. Leasing is a non-starter with Sedona. The base Sienna V6 is priced about $1100 more than a Sedona LX but generates a lower lease payment than the Kia.

Reliability
Not rated due to insufficient sales.  


Body Style:  4SW
Occupants:  2/2/3

Engines:
3.5L-V6 (271 HP) 

Transmissions: 6A 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  13.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: n/a

Warranty: 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  South Korea

 

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Not tested

Side: Good

Rollover: Poor

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: 



Nissan Quest

Specifications

AVERAGE

What’s new
Nothing since introduced in the spring of 2011.

Performance
Coarse in other Nissans, the 3.5 L V6 powering the Quest emits only creamy, dulcet tones. The engine's abundant power flows to the front wheels via a perfectly calibrated, ultra-smooth CVT. Supple suspension smothers small bumps and pavement undulations, making urban driviing particularly serene. Only large undulations, which cause excessive bouncing from the rear suspension, upset the Quest's composure. Nicely-weighted steering. Progressive brakiing rounds out the Quest's attribules to make it a great daily driver. Large windshield pillars reduce visibility, particularly at intersections. The dashboard is elegant and nicely finished. Big, clear instruments. While there are lots of buttons on the dash centre stack, they are logically arrayed. Supremely comfortable front seats and driving position. Second-row seats are compromised by a lack of thigh support and tight legroom. Small, narrow and low third row is strictly for small childtren. Good cargo space with the seats folded. A deep compartment behind the third row seats is covered by carpeted lids which can be clipped up against the seatbacks when greater depth is required. Unlike other minivans, the third-row seat does not fold into the floor, but it, and the second-row seats fold down to create a flat load floor. While its exterior dimensions are similar to those of other minivans, poor packaging leads to an interior with little more room than a Mazda 5. The Quest fails to fulfill its primary mission, which is to convey six adults in supreme comfort. The Quest was ranked last in a four van test that included the Chrysler Town & County, the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, in large part due to its cramped cabin. Reasonable lease terms. 

Comments
The Quest is an elegant, luxurious and refined vehicle but its poor space efficiency has hurt it in the market, posting the lowest sales in this segment for 2011.

Pricing
Overpriced SV, LE and divertissement upgrades. Good value SL package. Reasonable lease terms.

Reliability
Not rated due to insufficient data on this slow-selling model. Some 3.5L V6 failures in other Nissan vehicles that use this engine. 


Body Style:  4SW
Occupants:  2/2/3

Engines:
3.5L-V6 (260 HP) 

Transmissions: CVT 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  12.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: Tier 2 Bin 5

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  Japan

 

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Good

Side: Good

Rollover: Acceptable

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: 



Toyota Sienna

Specifications

ABOVE AVERAGE

What’s new
Revised packages.
Performance
The Sienna's 3.5L V6 is powerful, economical and very well matched to its smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. Quiet enough in gentle driving, the V6 gets rough when pushed. Acceptable performance from the big 2.7L four-cylinder engine. Well-judged ride-handling compromise. Light steering lacks feel and has a "dead" sector when driving straight. Prominant torque-steer on strong acceleration. Strong brakes despite spongy initial brake feel. The dashboard is well laid out and features easy to use controls. Big, clear gauges. Incredibly dull seat fabrics. Interesting Zebra-like pattern on the vast expanses of hard, somewhat shiny plastics. Haphazard fit of over-numerous lower dash components. Copious storage cubbies inside the cabin, including two large gloveboxes. Comfortable seats are located in a roomy cabin that can easily handle six large adults and all of their luggage. Ranked first in a four vehicle test against the Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest and Chrysler Town & Country.

Comments
Two engines, a 2.7L four with 184 horsepower and a 266 horsepower V6 are available on the Sienna. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive offerred with the V6 engines. Seven and eight seater versions of the Sienna are available. With nearly 11,000 sold in 2011, the Sienna found nearly 2000 buyers than the Honda Odyssey, but was trounced by Chrysler's minivans, which outsold it nearly five to one. Properly equipped, the Sienna can tow up to 1585 kg (3500 lbs.).

Pricing
The V6 engine is a $1000 option on the CE trim level. All-wheel drive costs from $2825 on the LE to $1685 on the XLE. High value XLE Limited package. Other trim upgrades are light on content for the money. Good value leasing.

Reliability
Above average reliability predicted.


Body Style:  4SW
Occupants:  2/2/3, 2/3/3

Engines:
2.7L-4 (187 HP), 3.5L-V6 (266 HP) 

Transmissions: 6A 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  13.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: n/a

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  United States 

IIHS Ratings:

Front: Good

Side: Good

Rollover: Good

Rear: Good

NHTSA Rating: