Tag: minivans

By on August 20, 2019

It would appear that nobody notified Mercedes-Benz that the minivan segment is shrinking faster than male genitals dunked into icy water. Fortunately, while large MPV sales similarly dwindled in Europe by around 30 percent last year, there may be enough positive heat on vans and electric vehicles leftover for the manufacturer to try and bundle both into one package. Enter the Mercedes-Benz EQV — the next arrival for the EQ sub-brand and first non-commercial, electric luxury van offered by an established automaker. Sounds like a niche market.

While not officially scheduled to debut until next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the EQV has already been teased as a near-production prototype at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Daimler’s also felt comfortable enough to showcase the finished vehicle online, saving a handful of details for the German trade show.  (Find Out…)

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.  (Find Out…)

By on August 15, 2019

Home to the Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Pacifica, and now the lower-tier Chrysler Voyager, Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly won’t see an expected shift cut next month. Instead, thanks to an uptick in volume, company brass has decided to ride out the year.

Originally scheduled to shed a shift (and along with it, about 1,500 jobs) at the end of September, Windsor Assembly will continue with its current workforce until at least New Year’s, Driving reports. (Find Out…)

By on August 13, 2019

Image: Honda

Ten speeds, that is. While the 2019 Odyssey only offered a 10-speed automatic in the lofty Touring and Elite trims, for 2020 the tranny becomes standard across the range. What’s the occasion? Well, a quarter century of life, for one, but the continued decline of the once-hot minivan segment can’t be discounted.

For buyers eager to unload an extra $1,500 on their 2020 Odyssey, Honda has a birthday package ready to go for all trims. Minivan ownership is already a special experience, but Honda wants owners to rub it in everyone’s face. (Find Out…)

By on August 7, 2019

fca

It’ll be a different story when the 2020 model year arrives at Chrysler, at which point a large pricing gap will open up between the brand’s Pacifica minivan and the newly-arrived Voyager. The Voyager name, as you may recall, has been dusted off in order to serve as a stepping stone to the Pacifica.

It’s the same vehicle, to be sure, but one which replaces the former Pacifica L and LX at the bottom of the minivan totem pole. Here’s how the pricing breaks down between the two family-friendly siblings. (Find Out…)

By on June 29, 2019

fca

The Dodge Grand Caravan isn’t dead yet, but minivan buyers in the market for a low-end people mover will have a new option come 2020. Earlier this week, FCA announced the reintroduction of the Voyager — a nameplate that began life as a full-size Plymouth van in the 1970s before morphing into a front-drive minivan for 1984.

Following Plymouth’s death, the Chrysler brand fielded a short-wheelbase Voyager model until 2003 in North America, with Grand Voyagers (LWB Town & Countrys) serving overseas until 2016.

While FCA doesn’t intend the new Voyager to be a cheap, bare-bones stripper, it will replace the lower-rung trim levels of the Pacifica, giving fleet operators something to consider once the Grand Caravan shuffles off into the afterlife. (Find Out…)

By on April 7, 2019

Faraday Future is my favorite automaker and it’s not because they build the best cars. With the exception of a few prototypes of the FF91, Faraday hasn’t really built much of anything. But I’ve become enamored with the story of a mysterious automotive company, funded by a controversial Chinese backer, that continues to defy the odds by just surviving — despite a long history of ridiculous mistakes, financial shortfalls, and missed production targets. For me, its been a suitable substitute for soap operas.

The last time we checked in on Faraday, it had just broken ties with its savior-turned-destructor Evergrande.  The company announced in January that it had agreed to restructure its $2 billion investment in FF and that both parties had acquiesced to drop all litigation against each other. Now Faraday is back with a new joint partnership and a new model — a minivan straight out of a late 20th century sci-fi flick.  (Find Out…)

By on April 4, 2019

2019 Ford Transit Connect front quarter

Welcome to the least hip car segment – the minivan. It’s what our parents drove, right? Nobody wants to be as tragically uncool as their parents, even as they themselves become parents.

Might I, an experienced parent, suggest something to the millennials and hipsters who are starting to reproduce? Consider getting back to the minivan genre before it becomes cool again. Be the parent who values utility and comfort over the overstyled, overstuffed crossover that every other new parent rushes out to buy. The moment you ease a rear sliding door open with one hand while swinging the bucket-style baby carrier right into the seat with the other is a revelation, especially after dealing with narrow-opening traditional doors found on sedans and SUVs.

In other words, it’s van time. Be the envy of the other new parents. Be different. And take a good look at all your options, because beyond the usual suspects lies this 2019 Ford Transit Connect Wagon. It has some surprising features that make it stand out.

(Find Out…)

By on March 6, 2019

2018 Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package, Image: FCA

Toyota —er, Fiat Chrysler may add an all-wheel drive version of its Pacifica minivan next year, if a report out of the model’s hometown of Windsor, Ontario pans out.

According to two named — and two unnamed — sources, the automaker wants to take a page from a certain Japanese company known for its hybrid vehicles and sweeten the minivan pot with all-wheel traction, casting a wider net for buyers. In other words: going the extra mile to woo the crossover crowd. (Find Out…)

By on February 5, 2019

At this point in history, minivans have become an acquired taste. Just like fine scotch and the silkiest of smooth jazz, there are those who appreciate the minivan and those who don’t — likely due to some tragic flaw within their genetic makeup.

However, Fiat Chrysler still gets the minivan and, as a reminder to normal people everywhere that they also still sell them, has seen fit to release celebratory editions of the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan. Proud to issue a refresher that Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant gave the world its first modern minivan back in November of 1983, both of FCA’s family haulers receive special 35th Anniversary Edition models for 2019.

Granted, the math isn’t perfect. But you can’t waste time celebrating a segment that’s only slightly healthier than your average retirement home resident.  (Find Out…)

By on January 28, 2019

2018 Toyota Sienna red - Image: Toyota

Twenty-one years after Toyota replaced the alluring Previa with a new, more conventional people mover, the Sienna minivan finds itself falling out of favor among American buyers. SUVs and crossovers now provide virile consumers with a smorgasbord of front-and all-wheel drive, cargo-friendly alternatives, while competition from newer rivals serves to further erode the Sienna’s standing. What to do?

Nothing, at least for now. Much like the brand’s ancient Tundra pickup, Toyota’s Sienna, last redesigned for the 2011 model year, will soldier on relatively unchanged for another couple of years. Toyota isn’t worried. (Find Out…)

By on December 13, 2018

2017 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Blacktop Package - Image: FCA

The only minivans coming out of Detroit these days aren’t actually rolling out of Detroit, but a plant a stone’s throw from the Detroit River, on the Canadian side. Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant, home to the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan, will go dark for two weeks starting on New Year’s Eve, presumably to manage inventories.

Short-lived shutdowns are commonplace at the plant, where workers assemble one of the newest and undoubtedly the oldest minivans on the market. The latter vehicle, while likely not having much of a future, certainly has a fan base. It’s not giving up on the model, and sales figures show it. (Find Out…)

By on August 23, 2018

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited - Image: Chrysler

Let’s not kid ourselves. American demand for minivans is still shrinking. In fact, July sales in particular tumbled as three of the four top-selling minivan nameplates – a trio that accounts for nearly three-quarters of the sector’s volume – combined to lose more than 5,400 sales, year-over-year.

But set aside all of that negativity for just a moment and consider the segment in a more historical context. After more than a decade of collapsing demand, in which minivan volume plunged 54 percent between 2005 and 2015, the first seven months of 2018 reveal a hardy bunch of remaining stalwarts that have very nearly levelled off on an acceptable grade.

2018 is nevertheless on track to be the worst year for U.S. minivan volume since the recession. In this case, however, “worst” is beginning to sound like too strong of a word. (Find Out…)

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. (Find Out…)

By on August 16, 2018

As the Ford Aerostar and Toyota Previa fade from our collective memory, one could be forgiven for thinking minivans were always a front-drive proposition. As for winter-beating all-wheel drive, a laundry list of crossovers and SUV fill that buying space, poaching sales from the once-hot minivan segment.

Still, one model continues offering four-wheel traction for buyers who aren’t scared of being seen in a traditionally uncool minivan. That model, the Toyota Sienna, enters 2019 with more AWD availability. As an underdog in the segment, it seems Toyota wants to sell its offering as the more family-friendly SUV alternative. (Find Out…)

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