Looking for a minivan in 2010 or 2011

Being a lifetime resident of the Detroit Metro area, I am disappointed that GM & Ford have completely discounted the “minivan Mom” segment of their market. I am a GM child and a Ford wife - now I am forced to drive a foreign minivan or Chrysler’s Town & Country. My husband is very concerned about fuel efficiency and the kids want a DVD. I love my Olds Silhouette and need to be able to carry 5 kids at any given time to a soccer game. What would you recommend?

I have the same problem. I don’t understand why Ford and GM chose to abandon this segment of the market. I need a minivan to transport musical instruments (string bass, tympani) and the musicians that play them. I’ve had a Ford Aerostar, a Ford Windstar and presently own a Chevrolet Uplander. The Chevrolet Uplander cost me about $10,000 less than a Toyota or Honda minivan. I suppose if I were forced to replace my Uplander tomorrow I would go with the Chrysler Town and Country, assuming that there would be a savings over the Toyota or Honda.

You won’t be happy with the fuel economy of the Chrysler products. Their mini-vans are gas hogs compared to your current Silhouette. You’d do better getting used Uplander in the best condition you can find. My daughter went from a Chevy Lumina APV '96 to an Uplander. The Uplander isn’t as good as the APV on mpg but not too bad. A 2wd Ford Flex with the smallest available motor might work.

The Silhouette and APV were kind of ugly, but they got very good mpg for a mini-van. On highway trips the APV would get between 26 and 28 mpg at 70 mph speeds. No Chrysler mini van will get close to that IMO.

Take a look at the Ford Flex and the GM equivalent, such as the Chevrolet Traverse. They offer much of the benefits of vans, just no sliding doors. The Flex has been particularly well-received.

A redesigned Toyota Sienna is coming out for the 2011 model year, and a 4-cylinder engine will be standard.

All everyone is talking about is American vans and Honda and Toyota what about the Hyundai minivan and the Nisan quest? Both are pretty good vans Nissan has good styling and Hyundai is good in value,.

I agree that there are options out there from GM that do not directly compete in the minivan class. Car makers make financial decisions about where and where not they can compete. The seldom try directly as the Accord/Camry competition has shown as they leap frog model changes, giving up one year of prosperity for another.

The buying public has chosen…what’s left for the large capacity minivan are the remaining …from Chrysler, Honda,Toyota and others mentioned that are worth considering most. Fuel efficiency is relative to passenger mpg and not actual mpg, so give up on great mileage.

Much can be said by all of the advantages of each…so read Consumer Report’s opinions as well as all other car test and take from each what you will; Then test drive each extensively as you would use it as well as taking a hard look at your bank account before making a decision. Take your kids with you on those test drives…and have at it.
Best of luck.

If the kids want a DVD, you can buy a portable DVD player. You don’t have to buy a vehicle with one.

Although Ford and GM have abandoned their minivan models, their crossover vehicles are basically minivans with front ends similar to SUVs. Don’t write them off without checking them out.

Chrysler has done a pretty good job of dominating the so-called domestic minivan market. They make a pretty good product.

Ford and GM abandoned their minivan lines for a good reason; because they realized that, unlike Chrysler, they can’t compete with the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna anymore. The decision makes sense from a business perspective.

For my purposes the GM and Ford crossover vehicles are worthless. I need the sliding doors to load in tympani and on occasion, a harp. It seems odd to me that GM and Ford can’t compete with the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna. When you’ve driven one minivan, you’ve driven them all. When I bought an Uplander minivan in 2006 it was a lot less than either the Odyssey or the Sienna. In 2000 when I bought a minivan, I think I was better off with the Windstar than the Odyssey with all the problems the Odyssey had at that time with the transmissions.

When you’ve driven one minivan, you’ve driven them all.

I couldn’t possibly disagree more with that statement. Having driven my brother’s and sister’s Chrysler minivans, and my mother’s Sienna, I can hear and feel the difference in quality. Just in engine noise and smoothness, I know there is a difference.

How is your Windstar running now?

I wouldn’t expect the 4 cylinder to get much better mileage than the V6 in this application. Today’s minivans are much larger than the minivan of 25 years ago. I think even a modern 4 cylinder would have to work hard to get a 4500 pound minivan up to speed in a timely fashion.

Here’s a breakdown of Windstars in my family

1995 Windstar, blown head gasket @36k miles, transmission failed @ 70k
1995.5 Windstar, blown head gasket @55k and again at 90k , transmission failed 80k, and then again at 120k, it was junked after that
1998 Windstar, transmission failed at 87k
2001 Windstar, transmission failed at 90k
2003 Winsdtar, manged to get to 100k without incident

It should be noted that all expect the 1995.5 model were company cars and were replaced at 100k miles with another vehicle. The 1995.5 was a family car.

I guess I was on the right side of the repair curve with my 2000 Windstar. I did have the transmission fluid and filter changed every 30,000 miles. I bought the Windstar because the seats were more comfortable for me than the other minivans I tested.

I would rather drive the 2003 Toyota 4Runner we own, but my wife drives that car. The fit and finish of the 4Runner is better than the Uplander, so I assume the same would be true for the Sienna. I use the Uplander as a utility vehicle to move musical instruments and musicians for trips less than 50 miles each way, so it really doesn’t matter much to me what kind of minivan I have as long as it has the sliding doors. The 4Runner is our traveling car–for us it is very comfortable. If I were to use the minivan for long distance trips, I might make a purchase on something other than price. However, since the car I would really like to drive is a Mazda Miata and I don’t think any minivan matches the Miata handling, I’ll stick to the minivan I can get at the best price.
If I have to replace the Uplander, I would probably first consider moving to a full size van like a Ford E-150. Of the three minivans that I have owned–a Ford Aerostar, a Ford Windstar and a Chevrolet Uplander, I liked the Aerostar better than the other 2. Unfortunately, Ford quit making the Aerostar so I went to the Windstar. Then Ford quit making the Windstar so I went to the Uplander.
I’ve seen enough Aerostar, Upalnder, Windstar and Chevrolet Astro minivans used by businesses as well as for family transportation that there must be market for these vehicles.

Check out the Mazda 5. It’s got an optional DVD system available from the factory. No frills other than the DVD system you can get it for about $22k new

If enough people bought minivans, GM and Ford would still build them. There are far fewer than there were 10-15 years ago when they were at the height of their popularity. If you want to look at GM and Ford, I suggest you look at the Chevy Traverse and Ford Flex. There are no sliding doors, but the Traverse seats 8 and the Flex seats 7. Or just keep the Olds and see what pops up in the next couple of years. BTW, we like our 2003 Silhouette Premier, too.