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Confessions of a Former Mini-Van Hater: The Toyota Sienna XLE 10
Feb
Posted by Chris Brewer in Automotive, Jacksonville, FL, minivan, Test Drives, TOYOTA, Toyota Sienna on 02 10th, 2014
Sienna Side 2

I have always considered myself a car guy. I truly enjoy the smell of gasoline rich exhaust and I am solidly convinced that “new car paint” would make a fantastic air freshener scent. I have a long history with tiny two seat sports cars. When my first daughter was born, I bought what I considered a “family car,” a lowered and heavily modified 1988 300zx with the 2+2 option (that’s car talk for the postage stamp size back seat that helps you get cheaper car insurance and provides a longer wheel base for racing). Shoe horning the car seat back there was a chore, but actually placing the baby in the seat was a combination of two of my favorite childhood games, Twister and Operation. At 40, I guess I have matured a bit. With two kids, one a teenager, the family car is a Sublime 2007 Dodge Charger Daytona with some engine mods, a cold air induction system and modified exhaust. Sure the car stands out in a crowd, but at least it has a massive back seat. The truth is, I have never been a grown up car/van/truck kind of guy. Furthermore, I have a bit of a reputation for teasing my friends who are. Which means when I contacted my friend at Toyota and requested a mini-van to review, he almost did not believe me.

Sienna Forest

My plan was simple, I had a bunch of family coming in for the holiday and I wanted a vehicle that would comfortably fit everyone for some local sight seeing trips. As much as I love the Charger, without using the trunk there is simply no way of fitting more than five people in there. Well you can fit them I guess, but it is illegal and everyone gets cranky.

Sienna Charger

My contact at Toyota, once he made me pinky swear that I really wanted a mini-van, set me up with a nicely equipped eight passenger 2014 Toyota Sienna XLE with a 6-speed automatic. Toyota delivered the van on a Friday afternoon, dropping off the “predawn gray mica” people mover just in time for me to use it to pick up the kids from school. For a moment, when I first sat in the drivers seat, I felt as if I had become the middle age stereotype that I had fought so hard to avoid. What had I done? Maybe I did not think this through. Then it happened…I started the van, drove down the road, and began to realize why people invest hard earned money in these things.

Sienna Open

Sienna Cockpit

The massive leather captain’s chair had me sitting high above traffic and it was rather comfortable. The V6 engine that Toyota is using in the Sienna is quite powerful (266 horsepower) and rather torguey (245 ft-lbs). The transmission was quick to shift and smooth. In full disclosure, I found myself punching the throttle a few times on the way to the elementary school and giggling a bit. It is one thing to chirp the tires in a Hemi powered pony car, but when you are driving an eight-passenger mini-van, you cannot help but smile. The handling, while not a race-car, was responsive and more car-like than I expected.

Sienna Driver

When I pulled into the car pool lane, it took my daughter a while to soak in the shock of seeing her dad in a brownish-gray mini-van. I almost had to show my valid drivers license before she felt comfortable getting in the car. However, once she did it was a little magical. Truth is, I do not think she had ever sat that high up in a vehicle in her life! Suddenly my ten year old was on top of the world, enjoying the comfort of her very own overstuffed leather captain’s chair. The car that we were reviewing for some odd reason did not come equipped with a video entertainment system, but she seemed more than content to stare out the windows and down at the world she had been missing all this time.

Sienna Second Row

As the week progressed, the 2014 Toyota Sienna XLE proved a truly pleasant family friendly driving experience. The road trip that I planned to see the holiday lights turned into two trips, including one with my “Automotive Addicts family.” On both sightseeing trips, everyone truly enjoyed the comfort and convenience of the seating, the dual powered side doors, the individual climate controls, large windows, and ample cargo space. We took the Toyota to church on Sunday; all eight of us, and everyone enjoyed the ride. Gas mileage was about the same as the hemi powered Charger that I normally drive, but for a large family I can see the value. You simply can do more per mile when you have seating for 8 or seating for two and an additional 150 cubic feet of total cargo space.

St Augustine Lights

St Augustine Garden

St. Augustine Garden Circle

In the end, I was a little sad to see the 2014 Toyota Sienna XLE go. I will always be a performance car guy, but I have to admit, the Toyota surprisingly won me over. I get it. Matter of fact, with a contrite heart, I put together a little confessional video. Whether or not I ever purchase a mini-van for myself is a story I still have to write, but if I do, I would feel  comfortable purchasing a new Toyota Sienna. More importantly, my kids and extended family would be happy with the decision. Enjoy the video!

Sienna Side 2
Sienna Front
Sienna Side
Sienna Rear
Sienna Open
Sienna Forest
Sienna Charger
Sienna Cockpit
Sienna Driver
Sienna Second Row
Sienna Second Row
Sienna Passanger
Sienna Stow Away Seat
St Augustine Garden
St. Augustine Garden Circle
St Augustine Lights

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base Sienna XLE $33,645 / As-Tested $35,695
  • Vehicle layout: Front-engine, FWD, 4-door, 8-passanger van
  • Engine: 3.5-liter 24 valve V6 with Dual VVT-i, 266 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm / 245 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/ OD
  • Curb weight: 4,465 lbs.
  • Wheelbase: 119.3 in
  • Length x width x height: 200.2 x 78.1 x 70.7 in
  • Headroom: f/r/rr-39.1 in./39.7 in./38.3 in.
  • Legroom: f/r/rr-40.5 in./37.6 in./36.3 in.
  • Maximum Cargo Capacity: behind front/second-row/third-row seats 150.0 cu.ft./87.1 cu.ft./39.1 cu.ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 7.9 sec
  • EPA city/hwy fuel econ: 18 mpg / 25 mpg
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 20 gallons


2013 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite Review & Test Drive 24
Jul
Posted by Harvey Schwartz in Automotive, honda, Honda Odyssey, minivan, Test Drives on 07 24th, 2013
2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Beauty Left Done Small

2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Beauty Left Done Small

Minivans continue to be a big seller for large active families that can take care of their local personal needs and take them in comfort and safety to their favorite weekend or vacation locations.  It continues to lead its class in fuel economy (19mpg/city/28mpg/highway), safety while giving up to eight passengers a spacious comfortable interior with a refined and fun-to-drive experience.

I tested the ‘top-of-the-line’ Touring Elite Odyssey and was impressed with all of the attributes that makes today’s minivan such a favorite among families.

2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Engine Done Small

All Odyssey models (there are five) are powered by an advanced 3.5 liter, 24-valve, SOHC, all-aluminum V6 engine with i-TEC and variable cylinder management.  It generates 248hp at 5,700rpm and 250lb.ft. of torque at 4,800rpm combining a balanced combination of fuel efficiency and low emissions.  The engine gives excellent responsiveness and acceleration that I really enjoyed while maneuvering around slow city traffic and when merging on the highway.  The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission turning the front wheels.  This Honda six-speed changes gears quickly with no perception of each change.  It pulls strongly all the way up the gears.

2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Beauty Side Done Small

The body of the Odyssey is very rigid utilizing 59% high-strength steel to help isolate noise and to reduce body weight for agile handling and excellent fuel efficiency.  This strong and rigid body structure and long 118.1 inch wheelbase, ensures a comfortable ride and confident driving performance further enhanced with the fully independent suspension.  Up front is a MacPherson strut setup with gas-charged shocks and a 24mm stabilizer bar.  The rear features a unique multi-link double-wishbone setup with gas-charged shocks and a 24mm stabilizer bar.  This suspension keeps body lean to a minimum when traveling on curving roads and flattens out poorly paved road surfaces.  Standard Vehicle Stability Assist and traction control keep you in control when driving on steeply curving roads at speed.  Variable power-assisted rack & pinion steering gave me an excellent feel for the road, good on-center feel and light steering effort when driving slow and heavier steering feel at highway speeds.  It was responsive to all of my steering inputs.  It is one of the best driving minivans that I have tested over the years.

2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Beauty Rear Done Small

Slowing the Odyssey Touring Elite down from speed are large, power-assisted, four-wheel disc brakes.  Up front are 12.6 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers and 13.1 inch solid discs clamped with large single-piston calipers in the rear.  Braking control and power are enhanced with standard ABS, EBD and BA.  Whenever I used the brakes hard the feel was very linear and assuring.

The Honda Odyssey Touring Elite rides on 17X7 inch alloy wheels wrapped with 235/60R18 inch all-season radial tires for excellent grip and a smooth, quiet ride.

2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Beauty Right Done Small

The Odyssey Touring Elite has a distinctive body design with a signature ‘lightning bolt’ side character line that creates a dynamic appearance, and improves the outward view for third-row passengers through a large rear window.  The profile also shows a full-perimeter chrome strip around the greenhouse, chrome door handles and blacked-out aero-styled sideview mirrors.  The front fascia shows the Honda grille with three chrome horizontal bars.  Down below is another air-intake in black with foglamps at the sides.  The cat’s-eye’ HID headlamps of the Touring Elite also feature a full-perimeter chrome strip.  The rear features a flat power liftgate, rear wiper/washer, a step-up bumper with a rubber insert and a black spoiler at the top of the liftgate to help with rear downforce.

2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Dashboard Done Small

The interior of the Odyssey Touring Elite is one of the most spacious, comfortable, luxurious, high-tech and safe of all of today’s minivans.  It offers a range of seating versatility to accommodate child seats, adult passengers and cargo.  The passenger volume is 172.5 cu.ft. and the cargo volume ranges between 38.4 cu.ft. of cargo volume with all seats up, to 148.5 cu.ft. depending on the seating configuration.  With the second-row seats removed, a 4X8 ft. sheet of plywood can fit inside the Odyssey’s cargo bay.  With the available front console removed, 10 ft. long 2X4 studs can fit inside the vehicle.  The Odyssey’s interior provides three rows of comfortable seating with generous legroom in each row.  Up to five LATCH child seats allow parents great flexibility in locating car seats.  The driver’s seat is 10-way power adjustable and the passenger-seat is 4-way power adjustable for maximum comfort.  A three-mode second-row seat design provides the ability to attach up to three child seats across the second row by relocating the outboard seats to alternate positions closer to the doors.  The one-motion, 60/40 split third-row Magic Seat, one of Odyssey’s most versatile features, is easy to operate with one hand.  The instrument panel is made from soft-to-the-touch material and the instrument cluster is easy to see and understand with trip computer readouts seen in the middle.

2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Middle Row Seats Done Small

Standard features in the Odyssey Touring Elite that I tested, not mentioned above includes a leather trimmed interior Honda Navigation system with voice recognition and multi-view rear camera, hard disk drive FM-Traffic, ultra-wide 16.2 inch DVD rear entertainment system with HDMI and wireless headphone, a Dolby 650-watt AM-FM-CD surround-sound audio system with 12 speakers and a subwoofer with MP3/WMA playback, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth hands free phone, Bluetooth audio, MP3/auxiliary input jack, USB audio interface, leather-wrapped/tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio/Bluetooth/cruise control buttons, tri-zone automatic climate control, two-position memory, front express up/down windows, second-row power windows, power door locks, power side-doors/rear liftgate, 115-volt power outlet, locking glove box, cupholders at each seat, storage bin under the center console under the dashboard, and in each door, 12-volt power outlet, exterior temperature gauge, floor mats front/middle/rear, Home-Lind system and a maintenance minder system with the trip computer, heated sideview mirrors, self-dimming rearview mirror, variable-speed windshield wipers/washers, dual map lamps, dual lighted vanity mirrors, remote entry, grab handles above all doors, and middle/rear reading lamps.

2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Cargo Hold Done Small

Standard safety features include 3-point safety belts for all 8-seats with front pretensioners/load limiters, driver/front passenger dual-stage airbags, driver/front passenger side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, active front head restraints, tire pressure monitor, front/rear parking sensors, Blind Spot information system, ACE body structure, and daytime running lamps.

There are many first-class minivans on the market today but the 2013 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite is one of the best with excellent driving characteristics, plenty of seating and cargo carrying versatility, luxury, convenience, connectivity and safety.

2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Beauty Left Done Small
2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Beauty Right Done Small
2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Beauty Side Done Small
2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Beauty Rear Done Small
2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Dashboard Done Small
2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Cluster Small
2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Front Seats Done Small
2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Middle Row Seats Done Small
2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Door Trim Done Small
2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Cargo Hold Done Small
2013 Honda Odyssey MiniVan Engine Done Small

COPYRIGHT: 2013: HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: $43,925.00 as tested
  • Engine: 3.5-liter 24-valve SOHC V6 248 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm / 250 lb.ft. of torque @ 4,800 rpm
  • Total length: 202.9 inches
  • Total width: 70.2 inches
  • Total height: 68.4 inches
  • Track: f/r-68.1/68.2  inches
  • Turning circle: 36.7 ft.
  • Curb weight: 4,541 pounds
  • Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
  • Headroom: f/m/r-38.3/39.4/38 inches
  • Legroom: f/m/r-40.9/40.9/42.4 inches
  • Passenger volume: 170.1 cu.ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 7.8 seconds
  • EPA Fuel mileage estimates: 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway
  • Fuel tank: 21 gallons

 



2012 Nissan Quest LE Minivan Review & Test Drive 14
Mar
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, minivan, nissan, Nissan Quest, Test Drives on 03 14th, 2012

The Minivan segment remains to be quite competitive despite such a steady influx of 7 passenger SUVs and crossover vehicles. One Minivan that remains to stay in the game with a bold approach to styling and available features is the new 2012 Nissan Quest.

For 2012 the new Nissan Quest carries over its redesign, which was first introduced as a 2011 model. The new 2012 Nissan Quest takes a different approach to its exterior styling. Some may argue that the styling is reaching far across the isle when it comes to traditional Minivan styling. I would have to agree with that idea to a degree.

The new 2012 Nissan Quest, with unique exterior styling, takes a different direction to become more noticeable in the Minivan spectrum. That can be a good or bad thing, all depending on if you think the new Nissan Quest looks good or not. To put things mildly, the 2012 Nissan Quest gets people’s attention, but they may not all posses a positive expression on their face at first glance.

Apart from my mixed feelings about the exterior styling of the new 2012 Nissan Quest, it remains to have one of the better interior arrangements out of other Minivan offerings. The new Nissan Quest’s interior is perceived as high-quality with wood trim, plastic and leather trim pieces that all work well together. Moreover, the dashboard controls are all well-placed with a soft touch to each button.

Over the years, Nissan has had room for improvements in the interior department. Having driven many vehicles from the new Nissan lineup, it is clear that they have done wonders to bridge the gap between their over-all interior quality. In some instances the new 2012 Quest reaches an interior quality perception of some luxury vehicles carrying northward price tag. Other notable advancements in the 2012 Quest’s interior are its power folding 3rd row seats, which folds flat into the floor. Driver seating positioning is also a plus for the new Quest, which I find much more versatile than that in the new Honda Odyssey. Even the anti-pinch weather strips (doors automatically reverse when pressure is detected) on the power sliding doors and power rear lift gate assure that your precious little-ones do not get their fingers caught. The 2nd row seating is also among the easiest to adjust for quick 3rd row entry and exit.

Obviously, performance is not the specific attribute to a Minivan that consumers look for, however, it is very relevant considering when you add upwards of 7 passengers you will need some oomph. The new 2012 Nissan Quest utilizes the same 3.5-liter V6 engine found in many other Nissan vehicles. From the redesign in 2011, the Quest continues to mate its 260 horsepower and 240 ft-lbs. of torque V6 engine to a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). I have had my differences with CVT transmissions over the past and I still cannot get over the odd but smooth transitioning of power on CVT equipped vehicles. Nissan has pioneered the CVT and leads the pack for responsiveness, reliability and on-demand-power. The latest versions of Nissan’s CVTs are even better, which shines in the new 2012 Nissan Quest’s performance capabilities.

By now you know that you will never win any races in a Minivan especially in the case of toting around over 4,500 pounds plus any additional precious cargo. The 2012 Nissan Quest stacks up nicely right along-side the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey in terms of performance. Where the 2012 Nissan Quest falls short is its lesser cargo space and a maximum of 7-passenger capacity/configuration instead of offering 8-seating capability. Towing capacity for the new Quest is set at a reserved limit of 3,500 pounds.

Being that I am more of a sports-car kinda guy, I tend to verbally divulge my disposition when having to drive a Minivan in rush-hour traffic. In my endeavor of expressing choice words to other drivers, I found that most of the hoopla was due to the fact that most of the driving public thinks that all Minivan drivers drive slow and reserved. Boy were these folks in for a treat of 2012 Nissan Quest exhaust fumes!

Surprisingly, driving the new 2012 Nissan Quest can be a temporary enjoyable experience for an enthusiast provided you have a straight road to navigate. I say that because, even though the new 2012 Quest has a good passing power, you put it into a hard turn and the 235/55/18-inch all-season tires start barking like a hound dog. In other words, the Nissan Quest’s suspension and vehicle weight has no business being put anywhere near its limits. Although, the 2012 Nissan Quest’s suspension proves to be a bit more sporty than many of its competitors. Of course that does not say much when you are still talking about a Minivan.

Fuel consumption in the new 2012 Nissan Quest, 19mpg city and 24mpg highway, is about on par with other Minivans. The CVT transmission does a good job with locking up the torque converter earlier than expected at low cruising speeds, which helps to improve fuel consumption in the city.

The 2012 Nissan Quest is available in 4 different trim levels, S, SV, SL and LE.  My Quest LE test vehicle comes as-is with just about every option including the DVD entertainment system; the ultimate necessity when you have little ones in the rear passenger seats. The optional dual-pane sunroof was one of the options missing from the equation that I adorned during my last review of the 2011 Nissan Quest.

The new 2012 Nissan Quest, apart from its “different” exterior styling, beckons to reach outside of its current underdog status. Consumers looking for a Minivan backed by not only perceived value, but real quality, may want to consider the all-new 2012 Nissan Quest. My 2012 Nissan Quest LE came to an as-tested price of $42,365. The new 2012 Nissan Quest S, base model, starts at only $25,990 while still offering the strong V6 engine and comfortable 7-seating capacity as standard equipment.

2012-nissan-quest-le
2012-nissan-quest-le-side
2012-nissan-quest-le-front-side
2012-nissan-quest-le-rear
2012-nissan-quest-le-dashboard
2012-nissan-quest-le-dashboard-pass
2012-nissan-quest-le-guage-cluster
2012-nissan-quest-le-front-seats
2012-nissan-quest-le-front-2nd-row-seats
2012-nissan-quest-le-3rd-row-seats
2012-nissan-quest-le-door-trim
2012-nissan-quest-le-dvd-entertainment-rear-hvac-controls
2012-nissan-quest-le-cargo-up
2012-nissan-quest-le-cargo-down
2012-nissan-quest-le-engine

Copyright: 2012 AutomotiveAddicts.com

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base Quest S $25,990 As-Tested Quest LE $42,365
  • Engine: 3.5-liter V6 260 horsepower @ 6000 rpm / 240 ft-lbs. torque @ 4400 rpm
  • Transmission: CVT automatic
  • Drive: FWD
  • Wheelbase: 118.1in.
  • Total length: 200.8in.
  • Total width: 77.6in.
  • Total height: 73.0in.
  • Track: f/r-67.7/67.7in.
  • Ground clearance: 6.6in.
  • Approach angle: 14.0-degrees
  • Departure angle: 17.5-degrees
  • Curb weight: 4,548 lbs.
  • Headroom: f-m-r-42.1/39.9/38.0 (w/ moonroof)
  • Legroom: f-m-r-43.8/36.7/40.5in.
  • Cargo volume: behind front seats-108.4/behind 2nd. row-63.6/behind 3rd. row-27.7cu.ft.
  • Towing: 3,500 lbs.
  • Fuel tank: 20 gallons
  • Turning circle: 36.7ft.
  • 0-60mph: 8.3 seconds
  • EPA mileage: 19mpg city / 24mpg highway


2011 Toyota Sienna LTD Review & Test Drive 24
Oct
Posted by Harvey Schwartz in Automotive, featured, minivan, Test Drives, TOYOTA, Toyota Sienna on 10 24th, 2011

‘FIRST CLASS TRAVEL ANY WAY YOU WANT IT’

Since 1977 the Toyota Sienna has been well know as a transportation solution for moving people and cargo comfortably and efficiently.  The all-new 2011 third-generation Sienna looks and drives more like a sedan, conforms to new ideas about personal comfort, convenience, luxury and can easily accommodate up to 8 persons, and large amounts of cargo.

The 2011 Sienna has been completely redesigned to handle these needs as it shifts to a more expressive and dynamic vehicle with a stronger profile, high shoulder character and responsive handling.  With state-of-the-art features and rewarding driving dynamics, it is a vehicle that current minivan, passenger car and sport utility vehicle owners will find satisfying to drive.  I’ve driven them all and the all-new ‘top-of-the-line Sienna Ltd. cannot be beat for all-around versatility with features not found on any other minivan on the market, besides being the only minivan with an all-wheel-drive option.

The Sienna has a distinctly new visual direction and features.  The sportier profile is complemented with distinctive window shapes and a deliberately hidden door slider within the window graphic.  The strong steeply raked windshield pillars, high shoulder and distinct fender flares visually emphasize the 18X7 inch alloy wheels.  Dimensionally, the new Sienna rides on the same wheelbase as the prior generation, but it is wider and slightly shorter overall.

The front fascia has a new bold design highlighted with the new signatureToyotametallic grille.  Sophisticated HID headlamps are angled higher than the grille lending a more confident presence.  The sculpted rear corner separates the Sienna from boxy minivans as it surrounds the functional yet elegant LED taillights.

Moving you and your passengers forward is a responsive 3.5 liter, DOHC, VVT-i, all-aluminum V6 engine that makes 266hp at 6,200rpm and 245lb.ft. of torque at 4,700rpm.

The potent engine is mated to Sienna’s first state-of-the-art; electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shifting that provides smooth gear-shifting, quite performance and a lightweight, compact size.  On the highway the Sienna gets 24mpg and 18mpg in the city when you use the Eco mode that lowers the rpm’s when you are in stop & go traffic or when accelerating at low rpm’s.

The suspension up front is an independent MacPherson strut setup with a stabilizer bar and a torsion beam setup with a stabilizer bar in the rear.  Combined with the electronic rack & pinion steering system and a wider stance, help to give you a more solid direct on-road feel and a smooth, linear steering feel.  Aerodynamic under-body panels also contribute to Sienna’s dynamic performance that makes it so much fun and easy to drive and maneuver around traffic.

Slowing the all-new Sienna down from speed is no problem given the large, power-assisted steel disc brakes.  Up front are 12.9 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers, while 12.2 inch solid discs clamped with single-piston calipers are found in the rear.  Standard ABS, EBD and BA help further slow the Sienna and give you more control when braking on slick or wet pavement.

It is a pleasure driving the all-new Sienna Ltd. with plenty of power, performance and a smooth ride.  Other minivans might have more power but no other minivan is as pleasurable and simple to drive.

What also makes the new Sienna Ltd. minivan such a pleasure to drive is the long list of standard features including cruise control, 3.5 inch multi-info display with backup camera, two-tone leather 8-way power driver captain’s chair with memory/4-way passenger captain’s chair, heated front seats, ‘industry first’ 2nd row lounge chairs that can be removed, long slide leatherette power 60/40 split and stow 3rd row seats, tri-zone climate control with individual temperature settings, JBL AM-FM-MP3-6-disc CD changer, 10-speakers, XM radio, auxiliary jack, USB port, BT wireless tech, Bluetooth, power windows all express up/down, retained power, dual map lamps, grab handles at each door, power door locks, smart key system with pushbutton start/stop, ‘industry-first’ dual sliding sunroofs, dual power sliding side doors, power liftgate, variable speed intermittent wipers/washer up front, rear wiper/washer, power remote/heated sideview mirrors, three 12-volt outlets, rear window sunshades, self-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, thick cut-pile carpeting, front/rear/cargo floor mats, front/rear sonar parking assist, dual lighted vanity mirrors, center console with dual cupholders/storage bin that can be separated and pushed to the 2nd row with another two cupholders and storage.

My test Sienna Ltd. came with the LTD Convenience package which included HID headlamps with auto-off feature, rain-sensing wipers linked variable intermittent wipers; the LTD Advanced Technology package offered dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system, vehicle dynamics integrated management system (VDIM) and hill assist control; the LTD Premium package offered dual view entertainment center with an 18 inch wide color screen, two wireless headphones, remote control, voice activated touch screen DVD navigation system with panorama camera including integrated backup camera with two views (regular mode and wide angle mode), and on-screen backup guides.  There isn’t a full-size minivan on the market that offers so much luxury, convenience and high-technology.

What a pleasure to drive and this is why-the interior is more than two inches longer, and the seats now have longer ranges of travel, making it possible to comfortably accommodate a wider range of heights and sizes.  The front seats have more rearward travel, and the tilt/telescoping/leather-wrapped steering wheel has a less upright position so you can adopt a more comfortable driving posture.  The instruments and controls are clear and concise, and the greater cabin width helps create extended personal space for both you and your passengers.  Numerous storage bins, cupholders and cargo spaces have been strategically placed in convenient locations.  A conversation mirror, integrated into the sunglass case in the overhead console allows visual contact with your rear seat passengers.  Throughout the cabin there is an open field of view to create an airy, roomy ambiance.  You have unlimited visibility and the rearmost passengers can see forward more easily.

Both seven and eight-seat cabins can be configured for a full contingent of passengers, a load of cargo or a convenient mix of both.  In seven-seat cabins, the 2nd row captain chairs slide 23 inches, moving to the rear to create legroom for the tallest passengers and easier ingress and egress.  They can be moved forward close to the front seats to make it easy to care for a child passenger, while also allowing easy access for 3rd row passengers.

For even more passenger comfort, there is a standard 2nd row ‘industry first’ Lounge Seating which includes leg and foot support, just like a first-class seat on a jetliner.

On eight-passenger models the 2nd row seats offer added versatility and convenience.  The 2nd row center seat can be removed and stowed in the left side of the rear-storage area.  When the center seat is stowed, a cupholder and storage tray is revealed.  The eight-passenger interior can easily be converted for seven passengers and quickly reconfigured back for eight.

The 2nd row seats also feature a Tip Up and Long Slide feature, allowing them to slide forward and back on extended rails, making more room for people or cargo.  All 2nd row seats, regardless of configuration, move out of the way with one touch to gain easy access to the 3rd row seats.

The 60/40 Splitand Stow3rd row seat folds flat with one motion, with the Ltd. front-wheel-drive model receiving a power feature.  The 3rd row has been moved about two inches rearward for enhanced comfort.  With the 3rd row seat in use, there is enough storage for five golf bags, or four large suitcases.  Four handy grocery hooks, with two in the back and two in the 2nd row seatbacks, add storage convenience.

It is easier than ever to load the Sienna, thanks to wider doors and one-touch 2nd row seats.  By sliding the 2nd row seats all the way to the rear, a walk-in aisle is created, making it easier to enter, exit, install a child seat, or place a child in a seat.  The 2nd row seats can be moved forward, behind the front row, to maximize rear cargo capacity, especially with the 3rd row stowed flat.  With the 3rd row seat stowed and the 2nd row seat removed, the cargo area is approximately eight feet long and four feet wide.  The wide back door opening and low floor height make loading and unloading easy.  A cabin air filter is standard along with an A/C system that controls the temperature of three separate zones.  Have it your way, whether you are taking the kids to a soccer game, loading materials for home improvement or just taking care of your daily errands.  The all-new Sienna Ltd. can do it all in style, convenience and luxury.

Safety is important atToyotaand the all-new 2011 Sienna Ltd. comes standard with the Star Safety System with enhanced vehicle stability control/traction control, 3-point safety belts for all 7 or 8 seats with front pretensioners/load limiters, drive/front passenger active head restraints, advanced front airbags, seat-mounted airbags, 3-row curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag, safety connect crash alert, LATCH child seat anchors, front/rear/side crush zones, and child-protector sliding door locks.

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COPYRIGHT:2011:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: $38,800.00-base/$46,731.00 loaded including destination charges
  • Wheelbase: 119.3in.
  • Total length: 200.2in.
  • Total width: 78.2in.
  • Total height: 70.7in. with roof rails
  • Track: f/r-67.7/67.7in.
  • Ground clearance: 6.7in.
  • Headroom: f/m/r-41/39.7/38.3in.
  • Legroom: f/m/r-40.5/37.6/36.3in.
  • Total volume: 2nd row removed/3rd row stowed-150cu.ft.
  • Passenger volume: 164.4cu.ft.
  • Cargo volume behind 2nd row-87.1/behind 3rd row-39.1cu.ft.
  • Gas tank: 20-gallons
  • Towing: 3,500lbs. when properly equipped
  • Curb weight: 4,490lbs.

 



2011 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T Review & Test Drive 24
Aug
Posted by Harvey Schwartz in Automotive, Dodge, Dodge Grand Caravan, Dodge Grand Caravan R/T, featured, minivan, Test Drives on 08 24th, 2011

‘THE MAN VAN’

Dodge, the manufacturer of the first minivan back in 1984, has introduced a special version of their Grand Caravan that is more manly, trying to leave the stigma of the minivan as only a ‘soccer mom’s vehicle.  The all-new 2011 Grand Caravan R/T is certainly more macho under the sheet metal skin, inside the cabin with a more aggressive exterior design including all of the storage tricks and entertainment systems available only from Dodge.

Just because a driver needs the versatility of a minivan doesn’t mean that the experience has to be boring.  Dodge engineers redesigned and retuned virtually every system in the new Grand Caravan’s suspension.  That suspension overhaul, combined with the new V6 engine that delivers best-in-class horsepower, gives Grand Caravan drivers a dynamic driving experience that other minivans in the segment just don’t have.

R/T is where versatility meets performance and attitude.  Uniquely designed both inside and out, the Dodge Grand Caravan R/T proves a driver doesn’t have to give up a spirited driving experience or their identity when they have a family.  The 2011 throws down the gauntlet for a whole new level of cool transportation for families on the go.

Dodge has redesigned the 2011 Grand Caravan to match its new attitude about driving with a sleek and athletic look.  A new front fascia sports the new Dodge signature ‘split crosshair’ grille, a new hood and quad headlamps all combine to give the face of the new 2011 Grand Caravan a more aggressive feel.  A new, more sculpted rear fascia and liftgate, new rear ‘ring of fire’ LED taillamps, a new Dodge badge, a 12mm lower ride height, new premium 225/65R17 inch lower-rolling resistance all-season radial tires , and a new rear spoiler all contribute to the new look and it’s class-leading aerodynamics and excellent fuel economy.

Also new for 2011 is the latest innovation from the minivan leader: the Stow ‘n Place roof rack system that lets you stow the roof bows in the side rails when they are not in use, then snap them easily into place when needed. The ability to stow the roof bows when they’re not being used means less aerodynamic drag and wind buffeting and better overall efficiency.

At the heart of the all-new 2011 Grand Caravan R/T is an all-new powertrain.  The new 3.6 liter Pentastar DOHC, all-aluminum V6 engine is mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transaxle with AutoStick that allows you to shift gears manually when the spirit of higher performance overcomes you.  This potent combination replaces all three of the previous minivan engines.  With the Pentastar engine, the new Grand Caravan delivers best-in-class horsepower, 283hp at 6,400rpm and 260lb.ft. of torque at 4,400rpm without sacrificing fuel economy of 17mpg/city and 25mpg/highway.

The 2011 Grand Caravan also features a new Eco mode which is a driver-selectable fuel economizer mode.  You can change the transaxle shift schedule with the flip of a switch to maximize your fuel economy.

The new suspension system has been re-tuned to give a smoother ride with better road holding capability.  Up front is an independent MacPherson strut setup coil over gas-charged shocks, a stabilizer and an isolated suspension cradle.  The rear setup is a twist beam axle with coil springs, a track bar, gas-charges shocks, or optional ‘self-leveling shocks’, and a stabilizer bar to keep the rear from leaning out when cornering.

The power-assisted rack & pinion steering system is weighed on the heavy side that gives you a better feel for the road, a great on-center feel and quick responses to your inputs when driving around slow city traffic or when cruising along in the mountains.

The brakes have also been re-worked and are larger-11.9 inch vented discs up front clamped with larger, aluminum seated single piston calipers and 12 inch solid discs in the rear also clamped with aluminum seated single piston calipers.  Standard ABS, ESC and all-speed Traction Control work in tandem to help you keep control of your direction during severe braking maneuvers and when you are braking on wet or slick pavement.

The R/T model that I tested rode on 17X6.5 inch cast aluminum wheels and wrapped with the aforementioned 225/65R17 inch Michelin Energy Saver all-season radial tires.

The new more powerful powertrain, re-tuned suspension gives the all-new 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan a ride like no other minivan on the market.  But it is inside that really impresses.

Owners will step into an all-new world-class interior for 2011.  A modern, one-piece instrument panel uses soft materials, is more intuitive with improved ergonomics and larger redesigned gauges.  Aluminum trim is found the center stack and larger aluminum plates are fitted onto the dashboard giving the new Grand Caravan a more luxurious look.

The stick shifter is now located on the dashboard near the instrument cluster for ease of use.  An available new ‘super’ center console provides clever functionality and storage for the active commuter, as well as easy driver/passenger access with a pass-through storage space for larger items, like a purse.  Chrome trim rings in the console glow an ambient blue-green color, allowing passengers to find the items they are looking for at night.  The instrument cluster is trimmed in chrome and easy to see and understand.  All dials, switches and buttons are within easy reach for use day or night.

The new Caravan also features more comfortable, largerStow‘n Go seats with a new, easy to use one-touch fold-down function.  The two center captain’s chairs and the rear 60/40 bench seat can be configured anyway for your cargo storage needs.  The distance between the wheel-housing is 49.1 inches so you can carry plywood sheets as well as host of other cargo good easily.  The front bucket seats are new and feature premium materials and new door trim are soft to the touch.  It is all real luxury in a minivan.

A new Dodge brand steering wheel with integrated controls for audio, navigation and speed control also offers the minivan segment’s first heated steering wheel option.  The best storage in the segment rounds out the improved interior with a dual-tiered glove box, storage rails next to the front seats, and storage in all of the doors.

Safety and security features include standard front seat-mounted side airbags, a new driver-side knee blocker airbag, three-row side-curtain airbags, 3-point safety belts for all seven seats, front/rear crumple zones, steel beams in each door, tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry and the LATCH system for child seats.  The optional Safety Sphere package includes ParkSense rear park assist system, ParkView rear backup camera, Blind-Spot monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection system, rain-sensing wipers, and automatic headlamps.

R/T is where versatility meets performance and attitude.  Uniquely designed both inside and outside, the Dodge Grand Caravan R/T proves a driver doesn’t have to give a spirited driving experience or their identity when they have a family.  The 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T throws down the gauntlet for a whole new level of cool transportation for families on the go.

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COPYRIGHT:2011:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base R/T: $30,595.00/As-Tested $37,790.00 loaded including destination charges
  • Engine: 3.6-liter V6 283 horsepower @ 6400 rpm / 260 ft-lbs. torque @ 4400 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 121.2in.
  • Total length: 202.8in.
  • Total width: 78.7in.
  • Total height: 67.9in.
  • Lift over height: 24.4in.
  • Track: f/r-65.6/64.8in.
  • Fuel tank: 20 gallons
  • Turning circle: 39.1 ft.
  • Towing with trailer tow pack: 3,600lbs.
  • Curb weight: 4,510lbs.
  • Weight distribution: f/r-56/44%
  • Headroom: f/m/r-39.8/39.337.9in.
  • Legroom: f/m/r-40.7/36.5/32.7in.
  • Cargo volume: 143.8 behind front seats/83.8 behind second row/33cu.ft. behind third row
  • 0-60mph: 8.3 seconds
  • EPA mileage: 17mpg/city, 25mpg/highway


Comparison Review: 2011 Toyota Sienna XLE V6 vs. 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring 25
Jan
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, honda, Honda Odyssey, minivan, Test Drives, TOYOTA, Toyota Sienna on 01 25th, 2011

Recently minivan sales have been on the decline overall which is understandable considering how many new SUV and crossover offerings are available for families. Two Japanese minivans that help keep the American ‘van’ segment alive, (alongside of American minivans), are the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey.

In the parking lots of shopping centers, schools and even amusement parks, you see an abundance of minivans intertwined with the dominating numbers of SUVs and crossovers. The minivan still remains to be a viable alternative for large families that do not want to shell out 50 grand or more for a large gas guzzling SUV. Even if it’s only for the sake of comfortable and reliable transportation and this is where vehicles like the new 2011 Toyota Sienna and 2011 Honda Odyssey fill the gaps.

The new 2011 Honda Odyssey is the only minivan whose sales have increased over the past year. That does not mean the 2011 Toyota Sienna is any worse, which is why we spent some time with both vehicles for a comparison test.

The new 2011 Honda Odyssey remains to be at the top of its class offering the sportiest feeling out of any other minivan that I have driven. Honda redesigned the Odyssey for 2011 but didn’t sway too far away from what has worked for them over the past 16 years, including the last generation introduced in 2008. Styling has become a bit sporty over the years easing that ‘shameful’ feeling some pride-stricken fathers may get when seen driving the family van. But don’t let the sportiness fool you, the 2011 Odyssey is still a very functional minivan accommodating for all members of the family.

The new 2011 Toyota Sienna could almost pass as a distant cousin of the new Odyssey where they both offer comparable styling and class. Although Toyota has had their fair share of recalls leading to quality propaganda, they are still the same company the makes best sellers and cater to the average American family with reliable vehicles. Just like the 2011 Odyssey, the 2011 Toyota Sienna has been completely redesigned.

The introduction of the 1998 Sienna proved how an over-seas automotive company can truly compete in America when the segment was dominated by the folks at Chrysler with their minivans. Now for 2011 the Toyota Sienna, just like the new Honda Odyssey, has something for the whole family such as 7 or 8 passenger configurations, power sliding doors, widescreen DVD entertainment system, tri-zone climate controls, 6-speed automatic transmission and a powerful V6 engine.

Were our 2011 Toyota Sienna XLE and 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring test vehicles differentiate is on the inside. The interiors of the two are very different especially when it comes to the dashboard and seating positions. You have to wonder: How different can two comparable Japanese minivans be when it comes to the interior? It is easy, the Toyota Sienna somehow does not use the traditional styling for interiors as found in vehicles such as the Camry. On the other hand, the Honda Odyssey, despite having a more desirable dashboard look and feel than the Sienna, suffers from lack of a comfortable seating position for the front passengers, mainly the driver. What use is it having a minivan if the driver cannot be comfortable?

The 2011 Sienna has cheap-looking plastics all over the dash area that does not live up to what you expect from Toyota. The Honda Odyssey also has a lot of plastic on the dash but it does not look nearly as cheap as the Sienna’s. It could be a balancing act for the front row (driver & front passenger) seats considering a 6-foot tall person will not be comfortable in the driver’s seat of the Odyssey but has more adjustability in the Sienna.

Moving back to the second row seats, the Sienna has a lot of adjustability where kids or adults any size would find a comfortable position. The long seat rails on the floor allow the seats to slide back and forth almost a couple feet where the Honda Odyssey may appear to be more of a challenge for ‘bigger’ adults. You can still find your optimal seating position for the second row in the Odyssey as well as in the third row. As you would expect, the third row seating for both the Sienna and Odyssey tend to be a little thinner with the padding but allows the seats to be folded down in the lower rear storage areas leaving a flat cargo area much larger than most SUVs.

If you have seen the ‘Swagger Wagon’ commercials on TV, then you know that the Sienna is marketed as being a ‘hip’ or ‘cool’ vehicle that any member of the family does not mind being seen in. That can also be said about the Honda Odyssey. I think the Odyssey is probably the best looking minivan on the street with the new Sienna coming in at a strong 2nd place. The Sienna appears to be bigger than the Odyssey, which by cargo volume numbers it is. Strangely enough, the Honda Odyssey is bigger and wider on the outside than the Sienna. Slightly more cargo volume in the Sienna is probably contributed to the longer wheelbase and higher roofline than that of the Odyssey.

Performance in a minivan is not really the first question you ask a salesperson when shopping for one of these family haulers. Even though performance is a secondary factor when looking for a minivan, it is still very relevant especially when it comes to fuel economy. After-all, minivan families tend to actually go places and travel on long trips. In this department both the Sienna and Odyssey have good numbers for city driving. Highway gas mileage is where you will find your larger contrast. The 2011 Sienna XLE V6 gets 18mpg city and 24mpg highway while the 2011 Odyssey Touring Elite edition gets 19mpg city and 28 mpg highway. Keep in mind that both our test minivans had a V6 engine producing only an 18hp difference. For 2011 the Toyota Sienna has an option of a 2.7-liter 4-cyl engine producing 187 horsepower and 186 foot-pounds of torque while our test Sienna XLE vehicle was equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 producing 266 horsepower and 245 foot-pounds of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic. Our 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite edition was fitted with the standard VTEC 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 248 horsepower and 250 foot-pounds of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic. The LX, EX and EXL version of the Odyssey only comes as a 5-speed automatic which may not get as good gas mileage as the Touring and our Touring Elite edition with a standard 6-speed auto tranny.

Both of our test vehicle configurations make for a quick minivan that still reassures your confidence even when you have a full load of 7 other passengers. That probably cannot be said for the 4-cylindar version of the Sienna, which we have not yet tested.

Our 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite edition comes at a premium in terms of price. It is one of the most expensive minivans on the market coming in at a tested price of $44,030. At this price a buyer may want to consider taking a gander at some large SUVs. With the Odyssey Touring Elite edition you do get plenty of options and creature comforts such as an ultrawide 16.2-inch DVD entertainment system, 650-watt stereo system with Bluetooth audio streaming, voice activated GPS navigation, blind spot information system, and a cooling cool-box for keeping sandwiches cold on those long trips. However, a base 2011 Honda Odyssey starts at just $27,800.

Our Toyota Sienna XLE V6 tipped the as-tested price scale to $39,604. This included all of the XLE premium package equipment, which adds voice activated touch-screen GPS navigation, backup camera, a rear widescreen dual view DVD entertainment system, streaming Bluetooth audio, and push-button start. A base 2011 Toyota Sienna starts a low $24,560 for the 4-cyl models.

In all, both the 2011 Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey offer great versatility and quality craftsmanship in a minivan. We would place the new Honda Odyssey in 1st place and the Toyota Sienna in second if the price were not such an important factor. With the Honda Odyssey not offering much ‘more’ than the Sienna, we could not justify the extra $4,426 for a comparably optioned-out minivan. Both vehicles are great but our heart is set on the Toyota Sienna. It has a certain swagger about it that makes us get over the cheap looking dashboard. The Honda Odyssey is a great runner-up offering a sporty gas-saving minivan, something no one else has pulled off so well.

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Copyright: 2011 AutomotiveAddicts.com

SPECIFICATIONS

2011 Toyota Sienna XLE V6

  • Price: Base $24,560 As-Tested $39,604
  • Drivetrain: Front Wheel Drive
  • Curb Weight (lbs) 4,490
  • City (MPG) 18
  • Hwy (MPG) 24
  • Horsepower: 266 @ 6200 rpm
  • Torque (lb-ft) 245 @ 4700 rpm
  • Wheelbase 119.3
  • Length (in.) 200.2
  • Width (in.) 78.2
  • Height (in.) 68.9

2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

  • Price: Base $27,800 As-Tested $44,030
  • Drivetrain: Front Wheel Drive
  • Curb Weight (lbs) 4,560
  • City (MPG) 19
  • Hwy (MPG) 28
  • Horsepower: 248 @ 5700 rpm
  • Torque (lb-ft) 250 @ 4800 rpm
  • Wheelbase 118.1
  • Length (in.) 202.9
  • Width (in.) 79.2
  • Height (in.) 68.4


Toyota Prius Minivan Version Caught on Spy Camera 29
Sep
Posted by Alex Ion in Automotive News, Camry, Highlander, minivan, Prius, Prius Alpha hybrid, TOYOTA, Upcoming Events on 09 29th, 2010

Spy photos of what appears to be the long-anticipated minivan version of the Toyota Prius have surfaced. The hybrid minivan, rumored to be the Prius Alpha, was spotted in California following a new Lexus CT200h with its logos covered. From the picture, it can be clearly seen that the minivan appears to be having a Prius-like front fascia. It is also evident that the windshield, front window line and tail lamps of the minivan are similar in design to that of the Prius.

Earlier reports had suggested that the Prius MPV will be having three rows of seats with space for up to seven passengers and will be powered by lithium-ion batteries (to improve mileage and may even allow for more electric-only propulsion opportunities).

Toyota, which currently sells three hybrids in the U.S. with the Prius, Camry, and Highlander, hopes to launch six new hybrids worldwide by 2012. Look for the Toyota Prius Alpha hybrid to hit the market around 2012.

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(Via Carscoop)







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