2014 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 five nameplates covered this year.

Product news for this year includes the demise of both the Kia Sedona and the Volkswagen's spin on the Grand Caravan, the Routan, as well as an early release mid-cycle remake of the Honda Odyssey.

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 2014 differ from those published by the Canada EnerGuide. Beginning in 2012, the APA started 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 Toyota Sienna  
Dodge Grand Caravan Nissan Quest     

Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Thirtieth Anniversary Grand Caravan.
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 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. With combined sales of over 55,000 units in 2013, these Chrysler minivans are the dominant players in the segment.

Pricing
Grand Caravan: poor value SXT and R/T trim upgrades. The Crew package is priced to reflect its extra contents and the Crew Plus upgrade is very good value. It is better to buy high-end models used as depreciation can be harsh on new examples. A base Grand Caravan offers a lot of vehicle for the money but can become expensive by adding just a few features. If you add rear heat and air conditioning and middle row bucket seat you can push prices past those of the base models of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. The Town & Country is priced considerably higher than the Grand Caravan. The Town & Country  L package is priced to reflect its extra content but the Limited package is very good value. Some very good incentives are offered by Chrysler on both these nameplates. Rapid depreciation will eliminate any initial price saving compared with the Odyssey or Sienna if you have to sell or trade in your Grand Caravan or Town & Country before the five year mark.  

Reliability
Below average since the current model was released as a 2008. 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
Additional airbags: None

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

Country of Origin:  Canada, United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: N/R

NHTSA Rating: 



Honda Odyssey

Specifications


 

What’s new
Surprisingly thorough mid-cycle remake of the Odyssey went on sale in the summer of 2013.

Performance
The 3.5L V6 is smooth, quick and sounds great when pushed hard. The six-speed automatic transmission upshifts smoothly but can hesitate when asked for a lower gear. Cylinder shut-off (6-4-3), works imperceptibly and uses a bit less fuel than the Toyota Sienna. 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 instruments. Though the dash centre stack houses a lot of buttons, they are better organized than in previous 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 Chrysler Town & Country, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna.

Comments 
All Odyssey Touring models will have Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW) as standard equipment. The 3.5L V6 is hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission. Odyssey sales held steady last year. Properly equipped, maximum towing capacity is 1588 kg (3500 lbs.).

Pricing

The LX model is comprehensively equipped and unless you are looking for luxury features there is no real reason to venture further. The SE trim upgrade lacks value for the money asked, the EX and Touring trims are priced to reflect their additional contents. Both versions or of the EX-L represent very good value compared with the EX. Good resale value. Very tempting lease 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: 6A 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  12.4L/100 km

ESC: Standard
Additional airbags: None

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

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: G

NHTSA Rating: 



Nissan Quest

Specifications


What’s new
With fewer than 700 units sold in 2013, Quests are only available on a confirmed order basis for 2014.

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 driving particularly serene. Only large undulations, which cause excessive bouncing from the rear suspension, upset the Quest's composure. Nicely-weighted steering. Progressive braking rounds out the Quest's attributes 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 children. 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. Annual sales of about 700 units in each of the last two years has led Nissan to essentially suspend the model unless someone is waving cash and a confirmed order.    

Pricing
No pricing or price-value details available.

Reliability
Not rated due to insufficient data on this slow-selling model. Average reliability predicted. 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
Additional Airbags: None

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

Country of Origin:  Japan

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: A

Rear: G

Sml. Front: NR

NHTSA Rating: 



Toyota Sienna

Specifications


What’s new
The 2.7L four-cylinder engine was discontinued.    
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 sounds rough when pushed. Well-judged ride-handling compromise. Light steering lacks feel and has a "dead" sector when driving straight. Prominent 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 squiggly line 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 glove boxes. 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
With the previous 2.7L four discontinued, all Siennas are powered by a 3.5L V6 this year. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. Seven and eight seater versions of the Sienna are available. Properly equipped, the Sienna can tow up to 1585 kg (3500 lbs.).

Pricing
All-wheel drive, a $1685 supplement on the XLE, costs $2825 extra on the LE trim variant and is not offered on the base or SE models. The SE and XLE trim upgrades are overpriced but the massive supplement demanded for the XLE Limited package leaves potential buyers incredulous. Good value leasing.

Reliability
Above average reliability predicted.


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

Engines:
3.5L-V6 (266 HP) 

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

City Fuel Economy:  13.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additional airbags: Driver's side knee airbag.

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

Country of Origin:  United States 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: NR

NHTSA Rating: