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minivans vans

minivans vans

  Minivans are affordable people carriers. They appeared in the late 70's with the Chrysler Voyager and the Renault Espace. Crossover slowly but surely taking over the minivan segment.

Ford’s S-Max MPV is widely regarded as one of the Blue Oval’s most popular and successful models. Back in 2007, it even won the prestigious Car of the Year award in Europe, which goes to show that the reach of the S-Max knows no geography.

Now that the current model is long in the tooth, Ford is ready to unveil a successor at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show .

Called the S MAX Concept , the vehicle is less of an actual concept than it is a preview of the future production S-Max model. Not that there’s anything wrong with that because one look at the concept and you’re immediately pining for the production version to come out sooner than later.

In addition to adopting the modern global design language of Ford, the S Max Concept also makes use of new some nifty new features from Ford’s SYNC system while also boasting of an interior that should make its customers happy.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Ford S MAX Concept

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The sporty Mazda5 van brings its unique blend of hauling space, double sliding doors and low-dollar fuel bills into this year intact. The Mazda5 does without the latest touchscreen technology in its versatile cabin, but has a stellar driving position and balanced handling to make up for any missing trendy items.

There are real tradeoffs for the Mazda ’s eager handling and great mileage ratings. A slippery drag coefficient isn’t enough to silence the roars inside this boomy machine at 80 mph, but for some the car’s $20,000 entry price will mean accepting these shortcomings.

Where the Mazda is happiest is in the smart and practical small family car market, where not even larger crossovers can touch its skillful blend of attributes like easy city driving, amble rear-seat access for loading and unloading, and the hauling flexibility of the compact van’s capacious rear cabin (especially with the second row of seats removed).

The unique small minivan market position occupied by the Mazda5 is more crowded than before, with competition from seven-passenger haulers like the Mitsubishi Outlander and Dodge Journey a real threat despite the crossover models’ less-practical, SUV-style rear doors.

The crossover squad is also nowhere near as fuel efficient in daily driving as the Mazda5. While lacking the newest direct injection from the SkyActiv engines, the Mazda5’s 2.5-liter engine is rarely underpowered in the car’s family mission.

Click past the jump for the full review of the Mazda5, with highlights on all the latest updates and changes.

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Ford ’s little commercial vehicle that could, the Transit Connect, is completely fresh for 2014 with new styling, multiple length and roof sizes, and a new EcoBoost option. Another first is a seven-passenger MPV variant called the Transit Connect Wagon. The passenger model will be offered in short or long wheelbase configuration, arriving in U.S. dealers in October with prices expected to start in the $24,000 ballpark.

As useful as full-size vans are, even Ford ’s brand-new, enormous 2014 Transit cargo van is not ideal for light commercial duties like doggie daycare pickup or flower delivery. Ford ’s elderly E-series vans are equally unsuitable for dropping kids off at school - so the latest Transit Connect Wagon has a willing market among van-deprived Ford loyalists.

The Transit Connect Wagon is a five-seater in the short-wheelbase configuration, and up to a seven-seater on the longer length option. This is no compact car - the larger TC Wagon has a 121-inch wheelbase.

Both vans come with dual sliding doors and an available one-piece power tailgate preferred by moms. How does this hot new Ford stack up versus the Mazda5 or Nissan Quest ?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon, with a full image gallery of the exterior design and interior layouts.

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The Chrysler Town & Country is just about the finest minivan it has ever been, with class-leading performance and economy stats from its 3.6-liter V-6 paired to a six-speed automatic.

The exterior style of the new-for-2013 Town & Country S looks mean and lean wearing a black chrome grille and dark alloy wheels. Inside, the T&C is also better than ever, with standard leather seats and dual 9-inch overhead screens for the back seat’s built-in Blu-ray DVD player.

Rumors and speculation about the Town & Country’s future have been rampant in the Chrysler -Fiat era, with most bets on a big refresh for 2015 or 2016 that will bring crossover styling and perhaps a new name to the much-loved minivan king’s loyal buyers.

The core attributes of this year’s T&C are therefore extra special: flexible hauling space that can go from packing seven people, to 140-plus cubic-feet of stuff - and back - without unbolting or removing any seats.

Stow ‘n’ Go is still a masterful party trick for the Chrysler van twins, but the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna are firmly established as winning the back-seat comfort contest. Thicker padding is available on fixed second-row buckets as an option to replace the tumbling chairs, but other comfort and drive quality issues remain for minivan shoppers.

The T&C finally has enough power to move confidently while carrying a full load, but still suffers from some old-fashioned harshness in the suspension, and little handling confidence on twisty highways.
Of course, families are the prime market for minivans, meaning prioritizing comfort, safety and technology first.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Chrysler Town & Country, with special details on the cool new S model that is priced at just $32,000.

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The Sedona minivan sat out the 2013 model year without joining the official Kia lineup. Even so, the practical seven-seater notched up nearly 15,000 sales of old stock to families seeking the upmarket style of the Honda Odyssey but the value pricing of the Dodge Grand Caravan .

Value is the Sedona’s key niche as it languishes without the chassis and tech overhauls that have done wonders for the Optima and Sportage. There are many benefits to the Sedona offering and the core model is refreshed in reintroduced for 2014 with a new grille design, new LED running lights in front and a new taillight design out back.

The space and features in this V-6 Kia minivan are beyond criticism – this wide and airy cabin makes full-size SUVs like the Chevy Suburban seem like a foolish extravagance that puts image ahead of actual vehicle priorities of kid and family transport. The Sedona’s 24 mpg on the highway will also shame any SUV and most large crossovers.

With all these benefits and a $32,000 loaded price, the Sedona is more than $12,000 cheaper than the fanciest Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Town & Country models.

Inevitably, there are big compromises to be made. The Kia ’s sloppy driving experience and interior design are a relic of the bad old Kia days. Do the new grille and LED accent lights turn the also-ran 2014 Kia Sedona into a real player in the minivan segment?

Click past the jump for the full review with highlights on the new features and desirable options.

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Next summer’s new small commercial van from Chevy leverages the Nissan NV200 ’s tough-but-cheap new platform with hopes that the powerhouse Chevrolet fleet network can work its magic in delivering significant commercial sales volume.

Called the Chevy City Express, the new small van has twin sliding doors and a massive load bay – all while driving the front wheels and offering an overall 24 mpg.

The small commercial van segment is heating up since the arrival of the Ford Transit Connect . Despite the Transit Connect ’s popularity and niche-filling role in the Ford empire, bringing it to America from Europe has been a labor-intensive process that also means the vehicle offers much slimmer profit margins than the old-school Econolines that were previously Ford’s only answer for van shoppers.

The Chevy City Express path is a shortcut to gain access to this growing market segment without a huge investment in a new platform or assembly line. Nissan’s NV200 is the ideal candidate for a shared model because it offers federalized engines and crash structures, yet can also be sold globally with a variety of tiny gasoline and diesel engines.

As catchy as the old ‘badge engineering’ description is, it does not really apply in this case across the two unrelated companies. This is more like R&D engineering, or supply chain engineering – a rapid way to get this car into dealers with a Chevy badge without any of the risks associated with a years-long, multi-billion-dollar engineering program to build one from scratch.

Will adding some bow-tie grilles and Chevy’s huge network of existing fleet customers to the Nissan package be enough to deliver results for American businesses? Does the new City Express’s efficiency and maneuverability outweigh its lack of towing, off-road or heavy hauling stats?

Click past the jump for the full preview of the 2015 Chevrolet City Express, including full specs on the shared platform dimensions, features and mechanicals.

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Fiat has unveiled the seven-seat MPV version of its mini car with the official 500L Living name badge for the European market. This model is not yet on U.S. Fiat price lists, but it is expected in spring 2014 under the 500XL badge with a larger engine and optional automatic gearbox.

Much about the new 500L Living is directly derived from the successful 500L series, but a few key additions join the length stretch that puts two mini seats in the third row for the first time. The most notable are the multiple two-tone pastel plus white or black paint schemes and an in-dash espresso machine for fresh coffee.

The Lavazza coffee-maker promises individualized lattes, using a similar one-cup system best known from the Keurig K-cup series. The Fiat’s coffee maker reclaims some of Italy’s pride for inventing modern coffee practices… but then largely missing the boom in café culture epitomized by Starbuck’s global rise.

The expanding Fiat 500 line wants to avoid the same mistake of letting the premium city car segment — a long-time Fiat specialty — fall into the hands of BMW’s MINI brand.

The 500L Living beats the expected MINI Countryman Traveler "Spacebox" to market by more than year but will also face competition in American dealers from the upcoming passenger version of Ford Transit Connect as well as the existing Mazda5 . Secondary competition comes from base-model Dodge Grand Caravans from just $20,000 and some base seven-seat crossovers from $25,000.

Fiat is betting these competitors cannot match its quirky flair, brand image and unique European styling.

Click past the jump for the full preview of the Fiat 500L Living ahead of its anticipated U.S. arrival next year as the 500XL.

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For 2014, Honda is refreshing the Odyssey with some mild exterior tweaks, new safety systems, a new center stack design for the infotainment options and offers the world’s first built-in shop vacuum on top-spec Touring Elite trim. Many of the other cool benefits are limited to the Touring Elite spec as well, but the core package of responsive performance, extreme durability and family friendliness continues unchanged for 2014.

The Honda Odyssey is one of the top two minivans in the sales charts, often jostling for position in this declining market segment with the Toyota Sienna . Both the Honda and Toyota vans are actually pretty pricey in their top configurations, leaving the value segment to the Dodge and Chrysler vans, whose combined sales dwarf the Honda and Toyota.

For people who’ve accepted that they need a van, there’s little loyalty at play and these family audiences are happy to jump ship when a better entry comes along. So far, no one has topped the Honda Odyssey since 1999 in terms of total feature count or buyer satisfaction. One could even say that the Honda is the most premium player in the segment, following the discontinuation of the Mercedes-Benz R-class .

The exterior tweaks are not going to cause a rush on showrooms, but are enough to subtly refine the Odyssey’s style in the face of the more-flamboyant Toyota Sienna design. The new 2014 models arrive in July at Honda dealers nationwide.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Honda Odyssey, including the new HondaVac and HondaHair system on the top Odyssey Touring Elite models.

Posted on by Simona  

This year at the Shanghai Motor Show, Toyota came with two concept cars designed exclusively for the Japanese market: one is the Yundong Shuangqing II - a preview version of a vehicle set to be offered exclusively in China. The second one is the FT-HT Yuejia concept - a six-seat car aimed at younger customers.

The FT-HT Concept comes with three rows of two individual seats and was developed on a wheelbase measuring 2,900 mm (114.17 inches). The concept measures 4,770 mm (187.79 inches) in length, 1,920 mm (75.59 inches) in width and 1,840 mm (72.44) in height, making it the perfect car for a big family.

Toyota said the concept features a hybrid powertrain, and while it reveals nothing on this powertrain, we expect it to be the same one as we have seen in Toyota’s production cars: a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle petrol engine that delivers 98 horsepower combined with an electric motor for a total output of 134 horsepower.

The new FT-HT Yuejia concept is expected to be put into production exclusively for the Chinese market.

Click past the jump to learn about other China-only concepts displayed in Shanghai.

We knew that Honda was going to present a concept at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show . What we didn’t prepare for was what the Japanese automaker actually showed.

The vehicle, called the Concept M, is an MPV prototype that sure looks like it’s pissed off at the rest of the world. We can’t even begin to tell you just how bad we want to see this concept hit production in the future while keeping the design qualities that made it look completely incredible.

The front profile of the Concept M is the complete achievement in this design. Check out the headlight design and you’ll notice that it’s the same configuration Honda used on the 2012 NSX Concept supercar . That, in itself, is already a winner in our books.

Then you move on to the enormous front grille, which by the looks of it, was designed to terrorize the rear view mirrors of cars in front of it. The intakes are equally imposing and provide even more aggression to one of the most radically designed concept MPVs we’ve seen in quite some time. The rear, meanwhile, is a little more subdued but still has some aggressive details of its own, particularly what looks like a huge chrome bumper guards.

Honda says that the Concept M is a preview concept of a future MPV that will be launched in China soon, "offering the attributes of a passenger car while adding new value through the realization of a comfortable and spacious cabin".

To that, we say "can’t wait!"

Click past the jump to read Honda’s short press release about the Concept M


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