2010 Lemon Aid Minivans

MINIVANS 

 


Chrysler Town & Country

Kia Sedona

 
Dodge Grand Caravan Toyota 2011 Sienna

 

Honda Odyssey Volkswagen Routan

 


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 six nameplates covered this year.
Changes in the minivan segment this year are limited to the demise of the Nissan Quest and the release of an all-new 2011 Toyota Sienna.
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 offer backup cameras as well.


 


 

 

 

Dodge Grand Caravan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVERAGE

CHRYSLER

CHRYSLER Town & Country, DODGE Grand Caravan, VOLKSWAGEN Routan (FWD)

Body Style: 4SW

Engines: 3.3L-V6 175 HP, 4L-V6* 251 HP

Transmission: 4A, 6A*

City fuel economy: 12.2L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new

Town & Country: a visual alert has been added to the parking sonar system. Grand Caravan: new Plus packages. Both: fuel shut-off on deceleration is now offered with the 4L V6. 

 

Performance

The 4L V6 in the Town and Country accelerates strongly and mates well with a six-speed automatic transmission that upshifts unobtrusively under light load, but shifts crisply, keeping the engine in a defined power band, under eager acceleration. While lacking the silken smoothness of the V6s that power the Honda Odyssey or the Kia Sedona, Chrysler’s 4L engine sounds enthusiastic while working hard and is quiet at highway speeds. The 3.3L V6 produces sprightly acceleration at town speeds but generates little but extra noise when asked to gain speed on the highway.  These vans ride well, except over short, sharp, bumps, which the rear beam axle doesn’t cope well with. Handling, aided by nicely weighted and geared steering, is confident and wieldy for such a big bus. Good directional stability. Small turning circle. The brakes stop the van well, but aren’t the last word in precision. Clear instrumentation and generally logical controls. However, when equipped with a DVD player and a navigation system, there are a lot of buttons to get used to. The dash-mounted transmission selector is a bit of a reach and feels gritty as it moves through its gate. Large, comfortable front seats and comfortable second row (Swivel ‘N Go) seats. If the Swivel ‘N Go seats are rotated to face the rear, the result is a tangle of legs. There is a deep cargo well when the third seat is arrayed to accept passengers. Fit and finish are quite good. The audio, DVD player and navigation systems work well. The seat heaters featured on some models warm up swiftly.

 

Reliability

New model, insufficient data. The air conditioner and electrical circuits were weak points on the previous model. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain. The front bumpers are vulnerable to damage in minor impacts. Purchase of an extended bumper to bumper warranty is recommended, particularly if you opt for a luxury model with lots of power accessories. APA members may be eligible for a discount, check with the Association.

 

Comments

Stow ‘N Go third-row seating is standard on all models. The Swivel N’Go seats are optional on fancier models. The ancient 3.3L V6, hooked to the old-tech four-speed automatic transmission, is standard on the base van, with the 4L-V6/six-speed automatic powertrain optional on the Grand Caravan and standard on the Town & Country. The Routan is a Chrysler built Volkswagen-badged version of this vehicle. Equipped with a 4L V6 and a towing package, this van can tow up to 1727 kg (3800 lbs). The maximum towing capacity for the 3.3L Grand Caravan is 818 kg (1800 lbs). Made in Canada and the United States.

 

Pricing

The optional 4L-V6 and six-speed automatic transmission combination is priced at $1600. The Town & Country Limited is a better deal than a loaded Touring. The Plus packages and moving up to the SXT trim level are very good value. Very expensive SXT Stow ‘N Go upgrade. Heavy depreciation predicted. Chrysler are not offering leasing; but really long-term financing is available. Town & Country sales dropped about 35 percent last year, but Grand Caravan sales held steady in a down market.     

 

Safety

Standard side-curtain airbags on all models. The Grand Caravan/Town & Country was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests (on vans built after March 10, 2010). Ranked first of the 4 different designs in this segment. Standard ABS and ESC. 


 

Honda Odyssey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE

HONDA Odyssey (FWD)

Body Style: 4SW

Engine: 3.5L-V6* 244 HP

Transmission: 5A

City fuel economy: 13.3L/100 km (DX, SE), 12.3L/100 km ), EX-L, Touring)

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

 

What’s new

The LX trim level has been discontinued. The SE trim level replaces the EX. Revised exterior colours. Last year for the Odyssey in its current form. 

 

Performance

The Odyssey’s powertrain delivers a polished performance combining speed and serenity with an infectious metallic bark as the engine heads for the redline. The complex cylinder shut-off system works well but some drivers find the cylinder shuffling annoying. The splendid powertrain is nestled in a chassis that melds communicative, perfectly-weighted steering, predictable, slop-free handling, and an absorbent ride that is disturbed only by large transverse ridges. Wind noise is subdued and road noise is better suppressed than in most Hondas. The Odyssey has large, comfortable seats, and occupants in all three rows have plenty of space. Large bumps excite more squeaks and rattles from the Odyssey’s structure than expected. The backup camera is cleverly integrated into the rearview mirror on the EX-L model.

 

Reliability

Above average reliability is predicted. Predicted troubles spots include the transmission and the power sliding doors. A Honda extended warranty is recommended if your van has the power sliding doors. Three-year bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

 

Comments

The Odyssey’s third-row seats fold neatly into the floor, but the second-row seats can’t be folded into the floor or tumbled forward. The Odyssey’s interior is fronted by an attractive dashboard that contains large crisp instrumentation, logical controls, space for a navigation system, and a handy dash-mounted transmission selector. The matte-finish cabin trim pieces look great, but they are just unpadded hard plastic, which is disappointing at this price. Good exterior paint and panel fit. Honda offers DX, SE, EX-L and Touring trim levels. The EX-L and Touring models have the Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system, as well as Active Control (engine) Mounts (ACM). These three features work together to improve the  city fuel economy rating of the fancier Odysseys by 1L/100 km (2 mpg). The VCM turns the V6 into a V4 or an inline three to save fuel under light loads. The ACM, controlled by the electronic control module (ECM), actually adjusts the engine mounts to counteract engine vibrations when running in three-cylinder or V4 modes. In addition, an Active Noise Control (ANC) device sonically suppresses the booming sound characteristics of the engine while in three-cylinder mode by playing “white noise” through the van’s audio system. Properly equipped, maximum towing capacity is 1588 kg (3500 lbs.). Made in the United States.

 

Pricing

Upgrading from the LX to the SE trim level represents good value. The EX-L and the Touring packages lack content for the additional outlay requested.  Whether you finance (60 months $0. down) or lease (48 months, $0. down), there is no real difference in monthly payments between an Odyssey DX and a base 2011 V6 Toyota Sienna. Payments for the range topping Odyssey Touring are about $100 less per month if you lease (48 months, $0. down), and roughly $30 less if you finance (60 months, $0. down), than they are for the Sienna XLE with the Limited package. Good resale value. A down market and Honda’s haphazard incentives programmes combined to reduce Odyssey sales by 40 percent last year.

 

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain. The Odyssey was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked 2nd of the 4 different designs in this segment. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

Kia Sedona 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE

KIA Sedona (FWD)

Body Style: 4SW

Engine: 3.8L-V6 250 HP (Kia

Transmission: 5A

City fuel economy: 12.6L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new

A navigation system is a new option for 2010. 

 

Comments

Like all Kias, the Sedona is spun off a Hyundai product, in this case, the large-vehicle platform that underpins the Santa Fe and Veracruz. The van is conventionally attractive, with clean lines and good paint and panel fit. Power stems from a 3.8L V6 that sends power to the front wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission. The engine is smooth, eager, and delivers a precision snarl at high revs. The five-speed automatic works unobtrusively. An absorbent ride combines with predictable handling and good directional stability. Nicely weighted and geared steering, with a good turning circle. Interior design and fit and finish match the best in this segment. Comfortable seats and plenty of space in all three rows. The sophisticated rear climate control can direct air to the face, feet or both. Properly equipped, the maximum towing capacity is 1587 kg (3500 lbs.). Made in South Korea.

 

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data due to limited sales. Five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.

 

Pricing

The LX Convenience, EX and EX Luxury packages balance price and content exactly. The EX Power upgrade is overpriced. With lease payments (48 months, $0. down) higher than finance payments (60 months, $0. down), few people will lease a Sedona this year. A Sedona LX Convenience is priced roughly $2000 higher than a 2011 Toyota Sienna CE seven passenger. Monthly lease payments (48 months $0. down) for the Kia are about $70 higher than for the Toyota, but the Kia is roughly $70 cheaper per month (60 months $0. down) if you are financing. Sedona sales dipped about 40 percent last year. 

 

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The Sedona was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked 3rd of the 4 different designs in this segment. Standard ABS. ESC is standard on the EX, EX Power and EX Luxury models, but is not available on the LX and LX Conveniences trim levels, an oversight in this segment.


 Toyota 2011 Sienna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 NEW

 

TOYOTA
2011 Sienna (FWD*, AWD)
Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 2.7L-4 187 HP, 3.5L-V6 266 HP
Transmission: 6A
City fuel economy: 11.5L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new

Early release third-generation model.

 

Comments

The new Sienna is built on the same wheelbase and is virtually a dimensional doppelganger of its predecessor. The new van is instantly recognizable as a Sienna, but one that looks lower, sleeker, and bearing Toyota’s latest styling themes, more contemporary. Following Toyota’s current practice, the cabin is fronted by a visually-calming elegantly-spare dashboard. Clear instruments and logical, easily-manipulated controls make life easy for the driver. The rest of the cabin design is undermined by prosaic fabrics and uninspired colour combinations. The new van abounds with clever storage solutions, including two massive gloveboxes, and cargo area storage recesses. Seven or eight seater versions are available. The V6 engine continues; joined by a 2.7L four that produces 187 horsepower. Power reaches the wheels vie a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel is optional on V6 Siennas. Made in the United States.

 

Reliability

New model, not rated. The launches of recently released Toyotas have not been trouble free. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

 

Pricing

The new four-cylinder Sienna is priced only $1000 less than the base V6 van. The various option packages offer reasonable value except for the SE, with costs roughly twice the value of its additional equipment. All-wheel drive costs only $1000 more on vans equipped with the Limited package, but the spread grows to just under $3000 when the LE trim level is chosen. A 2011 Toyota Sienna V6 seven seater bears an MSRP roughly $2000 less than a Kia Sedona LX Convenience. Monthly lease payments (48 months $0. down) for the Toyota are about $70 lower less than they are for the Kia, but finance payments for the Kia are roughly $70 less per month (60 months $0. down) than they are for the Toyota. Whether you finance (60 months $0. down) or lease (48 months, $0. down), there is no real difference in monthly payments between a Sienna CE V6 and a Honda Odyssey DX. Payments for the range topping Odyssey Touring are about $100 less per month if you lease (48 month, $0. down), and roughly $30 less if you finance (60 months, $0. down), than they are for the Sienna XLE with the Limited package.

 

Safety

Standard seat-mounted front airbags and side-curtains airbags on all models. The Sienna is rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests and Poor in the IIHS rear impact test. Ranked last of the 4 different designs in this segment.