At the 2016 Toronto show, Chrysler showed its latest minivan – the Chrysler Pacifica. The the Pacifica name is being reused from its older wagon model not seen since 2008. The good news is that Grand Caravan will continue to be built alongside the Pacifica for the time being. The plan is to phase out […]
At the 2016 Toronto show, Chrysler showed its latest minivan – the Chrysler Pacifica. The the Pacifica name is being reused from its older wagon model not seen since 2008. The good news is that Grand Caravan will continue to be built alongside the Pacifica for the time being. The plan is to phase out the Grand Caravan eventually but no timeline have been given. The vehicles on display where preproduction units as the Pacifica will not be formally introduced until later this spring and will ready for delivery a few months later.
The big news is the addition of a hybrid powertrain – a first for the class, which Chrysler estimates will have the equivalent of 2.9 litres per 100 kilometres in city driving. Gasoline-only versions get an updated 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6. The V-6 gas engine delivers 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque through a 9 speed transmission. The hybrid features an electrically variable automatic transmission. It also features two electric motors, each capable of driving the vehicle’s front wheels.
The design of the exterior with its long wheelbase, wide track and low ground clearance will make the Pacifica the best looking minivan on the market.
Safety features include available Surround View, a 360-degree camera system; adaptive cruise with stop and hold, which maintains a gap in stop-and-go traffic and can stop the van under the right circumstances; active parking assist able to parallel park and back into perpendicular spaces; forward collision warning with active braking, lane departure warning with lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The driver gets a seven-inch touchscreen Uconnect system, while rear passengers get an optional pair of 10-inch, high-definition touchscreens. Letting one of the kids borrow the car? An available programmable key fob configures various settings to the user. It controls predefined speed limits, mutes audio when seatbelts are not attached, prevents disabling safety features such as stability control and can even block certain SiriusXM channels. Six speakers are standard as is active noise cancellation which will surely make for one of the quietest rides in the segment. Also available are two premium audio systems. These include a 13-speaker Alpine system or a audiophile 20-speaker Harmon-Kardon setup.
Standard features include heated seats and keyless proximity entry and pushbutton start. Available features include ventilated front seats and hands-free sliding doors and liftgate, which are operated by a kicking motion under the desired door. The Stow ’n’ Go seating system, which folds second- and third-row seats into the floor, is also available, with an available electric option for stowing the seats. When the seats are not stowed, the floor cavities provide handy storage. The Pacifica will be built in Windsor Ontario and will hit the market in the spring of 2016. Hybrid models will come out in the second half of 2016.
The best minivan depends on your particular needs. The Toyota Sienna is the largest minivan you can buy today. For some, that is all they need to know. But there is more to the story. Toyota has created a refined family hauler with seating for up to eight and for 2015 that interior receives a complete makeover.
As my local furniture store likes to opine – This is the big one. The Toyota Sienna is the largest minivan you can buy today. For some, that is all they need to know. But there is more to the story. Toyota has created a refined family hauler with seating for up to eight and for 2015 that interior receives a complete makeover. Past models were well done with the only real complaint being the over use of large swaths of hard plastics on the outside of the cabin. The 2016 model sports a much upgraded interior with soft touch material throughout and revamped dash layout.
The Sienna comes with a single power train – a 3.5 Litre V6. It is smooth and delivers 266 horsepower to either the front wheels or in case of the all wheel drive version – all four wheels. This is a great option for Canadians when you have to get where your going no matter the weather and it is the only minivan that offers it.
Ride quality is close the top of the class. Bested only slightly by the Honda Odyssey. The rear two seating rows can be adjusted to allow for one large cargo area as the 3rd row folds neatly into the floor but the second row must be removed for maximum loading capacity. A simple process but not as elegant as the available fold away seats on the Dodge Caravan.
As well as being the largest minivan on the market – it is also the priciest starting at $31,040. This premium is easily offset by its larger size, legendary reliability and tremendous resale value. The premium trim levels offer all the comforts your living room. Blu-Ray and DVD video playback, split screens for the younger set, remote control, wireless headphones, 115 volt power outlet and surround sound.
On the outside the Sienna has a more sporty look which is no small feat for a vehicle of this size. I have always felt it looked the best by far of all its competitors.
The Sienna is a fine family hauler which appeals to a wide range of families. It’s roomy, comfortable, refined and with its upgraded cabin, the 2015 iteration is the best yet.
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The Odyssey an all-around favourite of Canadians in the minivan class. It is filled with features any family would appreciate and has great driving dynamics and the best fuel economy in its class. The Odyssey is notable for its excellent build quality, comfortable seating and predicable driving dynamics.
The Honda Odyssey has been on the market for 21 years and now in its 4th generation, it continues to be one of the best vehicles in the category. The 2016 Honda Odyssey is is basically a carry over from the 2015 version. Some say it is the best technically upon which all others are compared. The odyssey’s size is just a hair shy of its Toyota Sienna rival and seats up to eight across its three seating rows. The rearmost folds neatly into the floor where the second row must be removed for maximum space behind the from two seats. Interior volume in this configuration is 4,205 litres, just shy of the Sienna’s 4250 litres but still large enough to easily carry 4×8 sheets of plywood.
The interior is very airy with lots of room to easily move around the cabin. The seating position is high with excellent view of the road and surroundings. Honda provides a single power train in all trim levels. The six speed, 3.5 litre VTEC V6 engine generates 248 horsepower running on regular gas. This yields the best in-class fuel economy of 12.3 L/100km city and 8.5 L/100km highway.
The Odyssey’s ride is supple resulting in a fairly quiet interior even though some road noise does intrude into the cabin. Handling is good though steering input is a little vague and very light.
I must add that the Odyssey is the only minivan that includes a vacuum on it’s top end model (HondaVAC™) to make interior cleanup a snap no matter where you are. It also offers a beverage cool box on its upper end models similar to that of the Kia Sedona but not available on the the Sienna or Caravan.
The only troubling area are past owners experiencing transmission and engine problems after approximately 5 years of use. Just around the time your warranty runs out.
Be aware that the 2017 model will be all new. Over the years, the Honda Odyssey has been our favorite minivan, blending good driving dynamics with a well-built interior and plenty of usable space. But with Kia’s refreshed and handsome new Sedona, Toyota tweaking of its Sienna, and Chrysler vowing to bring a all new Town & Country minivan for 2017, Honda remains in the hunt for minivan supremecy.
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The Kia Sedona is all new for 2015 sporting an all new platform and a bolder look. As the newest entry in the minivan segment, it sports a spacious interior and a wealth of technologically advanced features. This makes the Sedona a remarkably comfortable and versatile family ride.
The Kia Sedona was all new for 2015 sporting an all new platform and a bolder look both inside and out. This flows from its large grill, sweeping front lights, muscular body and premium interior with intuitive clean design. The 2016 model is mostly a carryover.
Kia offers a single powertrain for all Sedona models, the 276 HP V6 mated to a six speed automatic transmission. The main differentiator is the shifter which is mounted on the floor between the front row seats unlike its competitors where it resides on the dash. Each suits me fine, but the dash location allows more storage room between the front seats whereas the floor shifter is more SUV like thereby decluttering the dash.
Ride and handling are tuned to the soft end of the scale with slow response to steering wheel input. Three steering modes are available (Normal, Comfort and Eco) but the differences are minor. Performance is on par with other minivans with adequate power for smooth freeway entry and plenty of power for around town motoring.
The interior is the most sumptuous of all its competitors. Inside Kia has created a second row seat that compresses to just 12 inches allowing rear passengers easy entry and maximum cargo area without having to remove the seats. Also available are second row lounge seating with foot rests similar to airline first class seating. Though appealing and similar to those offered on the top line Sienna, they unfortunately are not removable. The Sedona sports the ubiquitous 3rd row seating that disappears into the floor as well as lots of nooks and crannies for storage throughout the cabin.
The Sedona has one of the longest warranties of all its competitors at 5 years/100 km covering virtually the entire vehicle and includes roadside assistance for its duration.
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The Dodge Caravan is the one that started it all in the minivan arena. The latest Caravan is a great example of the versatility, safety and affordability that have made the Grand Caravan Canada’s favourite minivan for over 3 decades.
The Dodge Caravan is the one that started it all in the minivan arena. Even though that arena has been slowly shrinking due to the popularity of the SUV market, it still holds the most practicality for families that need to haul large amounts of people and cargo in relative comfort. The 2015 iteration now known as the Grand Caravan, will be the last of the current generation which took flight in 2008. Over the years Dodge has managed to upgrade and enhance various components that has resulted in it continually being the sales leader in this segment. The Caravan is just right in many categories. I call it the goldilocks van – Not too big on the outside so it is easy to drive and maneuver whilst roomy enough on the inside for everyone in your crew.
The interior in my opinion is the best among all its competitors. It has a great understated look without the flashy distractions of some other designs. The chassis is capable but does not have the refinement of it’s newer competitors. On the plus side the Caravan does feature its exclusive Stow and Go second row seating. A marvel even now that allows the area behind the front row seats to be made one with the floor. To achieve this miracle that its competitors can’t seem to replicate, has resulted in slimming down the seating surfaces which are not quite as plush as the alternatives. Keep in mind that these seats will primarily be used by the smaller folks of the family that don’t require as much padding in the first place. The Caravan seats seven (one less than all its competitors) with the addition of three spots in the rear third row which also neatly folds into the floor when not needed. Overall in our testing we found it a great family and cottage hauler. The award winning V6 engine is strong and mated to a 6 speed automatic transmission. Milage from Canada’s updated 2015 testing comes in at 11.8/100 KM combined which works out to about 24 miles per imperial gallon.
The popularity of the Caravan is born out its tremendous value. It’s really impressive what you get for the $19,895 in with the Canada Value Package. It comes nicely equipped with V6 engine, air conditioning, power locks, adjustable steering wheel, tinted windows and seven air bags. At this price it does not include the stow and go second row seats but if you can stay away from the impressive options list, it is by far the most bang for your buck. As if this was not good enough, many GTA dealers regularly advertise $17,999 for the CVP model. This works out to just a bit over $20,000 out the door. Prices for 2017 have been bumped up slightly but it remains the sales leader for a reason. Like I said nothing else comes close as all its competitors have list prices starting around $10,000 more. If you are looking for a proven, low cost minivan – look no further. If you want to partake of the pricey options list and move into $30K territory, I suggest you take a look at the competition as they are more comparable beginning at that price point.
One last note. Be aware that next year Chrysler is unveiling an all-new 2017 Pacifica to replace the Chrysler Town and Country. This sixth generation minivan will be the latest major update to its long lineage that began back in 1984. Checkout our review and you may want to delay your purchase till later this year and see what the new generation has to offer. Both the old and new models will be offered for the coming year. Here are some links to what we know so far. 2016 Dodge Caravan, 2016 Town and Country, Windsor Star
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