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Kia is planning to “raise the bar” in the minivan segment with the 2015 Sedona, which is set to be revealed next week during the 2014 New York Auto Show.
Nothing screams “commitment” or “responsibility” louder than a minivan, well, maybe a saggy pair of elastic-waist mom jeans but who’s counting?
Love ‘em or loathe ‘em these versatile vehicles are designed to excel at hauling, whether it’s taking a passel of kiddies to soccer practice after school or hauling a load of building material home from the lumber yard.
Stylish and sporty they are NOT, but modern minivans are as practical and honest as the week is long. They’re also pretty thrifty, maximizing cargo capacity while minimizing fuel consumption. And that’s a subject on the top of every consumer’s mind these days: efficiency.
But what kind of economy do these versatile vehicles deliver? Here’s a breakdown of some popular models and how far they can stretch a gallon of gasoline.
Congratulations, you’re all grown up! At this point in life you’ve probably made it through college with more than an associate’s degree in the field of interpretive dance; you’ve more than likely claimed a life partner that’s the opposite gender and of breeding age and, consequently, you’ve manufactured a genetic replica or two. You’re going places, and you need a suitable vehicle for this exciting new lifestyle.
Like Mariah Carey’s ancestry, modern crossover vehicles have unusual roots. The award-winning American singer’s family tree is more varied than the flora of a rainforest understory. Her unique blend of nationalities includes African, Venezuelan and Irish. That’s more ingredients than Belorussian variety sausage. Who’s hungry for some lean, finely textured opossum?
The Mercedes-Benz R-Class ranks up there with Communism on the list of things no one else likes but the Chinese. And for that reason the unloved R model will live on.
According to Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche, the R-Class, redesigned in 2011, will soldier on until at least 2015. “We need it for the Chinese market,” confirmed a company insider to the UK’s Autocar.
No decision has been made beyond that point as to whether a second-generation R-Class will be offered. Until then, Chinese Benz lovers with
big families lots of comrades can rest assures the R-Class is sticking around.
10. One Touch Convenience
Thinking of putting down a minivan owner? You may want to think twice. Minivans are among the most useful vehicles on the road. Take a look at some of these reasons why owning a minivan can be a life-enriching experience.
Everyone’s been in front of their car door or trunk, with the same dilemma. With your hands full, how are you going to open the door without dropping everything to get your key? Well, vans like the Nissan Quest require one touch to open the side doors or the back hatch. Thanks to innovations like Nissan’s smart-key technology, you won’t even have to take the key out of your pocket! It’s the next best thing to having your own doorman! (Check out our review of the Nissan Quest here)
10. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Extended Cab: $1,149
Those looking to save a few bucks when buying a new car, might want to take a look at this list from Insure.com of the least expensive cars to insure. They may not be the flashiest vehicles around, but we’re sure your bank account will appreciate the frugal cost of insuring these new cars – listed in cost per year.
Pickup trucks are usually used for work, and that’s probably why the Silverado, not to mention a few other pick-up trucks, are so cheap to insure. This model, with the V6 and Extended Ca,b features some good safety features and Chevrolet‘s OnStar vehicle safety service. The extended cab Silverado starts at $26,340, and comes with a 4.3L V6 with a meager 195 horsepower.
A concept minivan, little information was available on it at the show. All we could get from Chrysler was that the 700C is “a styling exercise, designed to gauge public reaction.”
When Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne toured the Windsor assembly plant which builds the current Dodge Grand Caravan and Town & Country models, he talked about “big plans for the future,” though declined to reveal much more.
With minivan sales still a staple part of the Chrysler’s business in North America, yet the segment for the most part suffering from a lack of new investment, perhaps the time has come to reinvent the concept of what a minivan should be.
And if the Chrysler 700C concept is any indication, that might just result in the most exciting people mover seen in more than a quarter of a century.
GALLERY: Chrysler 700C
With a new look, a new engine, a much improved interior and better ride quality you’d think the folks at Chrysler would be pleased with their new Dodge Grand Caravan? After all, it has even been met with much-improved comments from the automotive media.
It may have started the entire minivan segment, but Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne apparently cares little for history, deciding instead to axe the family hauler from the Chrysler brand lineup some time in 2013. According to a report by Automotive News the van will be replaced (along with the Dodge Avenger) by a single Fiat-based crossover model in 2014.
The Chrysler Town & Country (generally the volume seller and the more expensive model) will continue on as the brand’s only minivan. Of note, however, the Grand Caravan has actually outsold the Chrysler model by roughly 14,000 units so far in 2011. The decision is also a bold move outside U.S. borders where the Dodge Grand Caravan is the top selling minivan in Canada.
GALLERY: 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan
It looks like mom can put her feet up and enjoy a quiet house for a couple of minutes – dads are getting more involved in kid carpooling duties, although they are more likely to drop the kids off at school in a utility vehicle rather than a minivan.
A new survey by Chevrolet shows that men are taking a much more active roll when it comes to dropping off and picking up the kids from school. The survey takes its results from an online survey conducted by Harris Interactive. The results show that 80 percent of American fathers with children aged 17 or younger enjoy an active daily family life and more than 70 percent drive their kids to school, daycare or extracurricular activities.
“According to recent Census data, there are 154,000 stay-at-home dads and more than 25 million dads who have kids under 17. The trend is shifting and men are becoming more involved with family-driving duties. We’re seeing the rise of the ‘Dadmobile,’” said James Bell, head of General Motors Consumer Affairs.
But according to these fathers, they’d much rather pull dad-duty in a utility vehicle. Moms still love their minivans (58 percent really dig them, thanks to features such as sliding doors), but dads think minivans aren’t manly enough. The survey also asked dads how cool their family vehicles were, and they came up with a 6.4 rating on a 10-point scale.
The dads surveyed in the poll went with SUVs and crossovers as their preferred family vehicle, citing they could accomplish all their daily activities in them, whether it be work or personal. Dads want to do everything in their vehicles – from holiday travel (94 percent) to work commutes (63 percent) to household do-it-yourself projects (54 percent). Less than one quarter of those surveyed said they prefer a minivan for these tasks.
The study showed that on the top of fathers’ family vehicle must-have list is a safe, fuel-efficient vehicle. And since they are “kidpooling,” passenger capacity is pretty important to nearly 40 percent of fathers, along with functionality, ample cargo space and comfort. The survey also noted that two of the most stressful things dads had to deal with regarding travel are high fuel prices and traffic jams.
So who performs most of the school drop off and pick up duties in your household? Leave us your two cents in the comments section below.
Are your kids starting to wear on your nerves as summer vacation drags on? Put them to work – by designing and decorating their own 2012 Toyota Sienna.
Kids can win their parents a Toyota Sienna just by watching TV and putting their creative skills to good use. All they need to do is go online to DisneyJunior.ca and customize a Toyota Sienna using elements from Disney Junior shows. In August, you and your kids watch to see if their Sienna rolls across the screen during Disney Junior shows.
If you’re a mom, you can get in on this contest as well – 10 Disney Junior Mom Bloggers will have the chance to road-test the Sienna and blog about their experiences with this minivan.
“This contest is all about kids having fun personalizing their Sienna and for parents, it’s the opportunity to win a vehicle that is about family fun, safety, comfort and convenience,” said Stephen Beatty, Managing Director at Toyota Canada Inc. “The Sienna has received many third-party accolades from safety to reliability and fuel efficiency, but we really can’t wait to hear the real world impressions from Disney Junior Bloggers.”
Kids can decorate their 2012 Toyota Sienna until July 31. Every day between August 1 and 21 on both the English and French-language Disney Junior networks, a new design and the name of the child who submitted it will be aired during shows such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and Stella and Sam. If you or you child sees their design, they need to log DisneyJunior.ca to enter the date, time, and show where they saw it. They will then be entered for a chance to win a new 2012 Toyota Sienna, which will be given away at the end of the contest. The more they spot their design on television, the more they can enter and the more chances they have to win.
Do people still buy minivans? That’s what Polk Research wants to find out.
With a common aversion to minivans that lies somewhere between stubbing a toe on furniture and ebola, it’s interesting to see that from last year, minivan sales have actually gone up. From a nice, even 3 percent of light vehicle sales in 2010, sales of the minivan increased .2%. But then again, this is the tail end of a trend from 2007 that saw a high of 4.3%, and slipped sharply last year.
Manufacturers are well aware of this too. Out of these minivan sales, a whopping 92% come from just four models: the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Caravan. The other 8% consists of the Kia Sedona, Volkswagen Routan and the Nissan Quest.
Those, of course, are the only minivans sold on the market today. Gone are Ford and GM, for example, among others: manufacturers have known that consumers have avoided minivans for years now, and as a result are replacing them in their lineups with SUVs. Polk’s data supports this: last year, over 40% of customers who ditched a minivan replaced it with either a midsize or a compact SUV. 21% went with a midsize car, and given America’s aversion to small cars as well as minivans, only 16% bought one of those instead.
Since 2007, the number of minivans available on the market has dropped from 15 models to 7. Of course, all of this leads to a neat, tidy little Catch-22. If manufacturers decide that consumers aren’t buying minivans, they’ll stop making them. But if consumers can’t find the right minivan to choose from, they won’t buy one. So which came first: the manufacturers who won’t build minivans because nobody’s buying them, or the consumers who can’t find one to buy in the first place?