Originally published Jun 12, 2015
Review by Jacob Black and Jeff Wilson, photos by Jeff Wilson
Introduction, Jeff Wilson
Minivans are the Swiss Army knife of the automotive world. It’s a market that may be small in model choices but big both in on-road presence and practicality. We at Autos.ca have a lot of secret love for minivans, and so decided to gather a herd of them. For science.
The chief reason we have called for this assembly of people-movers is because Kia, the company known for giving lots of kit for little money (and having great styling thanks to stealing away Audi’s chief designer years ago) has given us a new offering. Having long marketed the Sedona van, a twin to Hyundai’s Entourage (no longer for sale), Kia still believes in the usefulness and sales revenue of minivans in this crossover-crazed era. This year’s all-new Sedona approaches the North American minivan market with a rather new approach, but is it enough to make us choose it over the established Japanese brand competitors?
The Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country continue to hold the top spot for sales volume in the segment, but their popularity is waning. Dodge is curiously ending production of the value-leading Caravan while the Town & Country will soldier on in the future. Toyota and Honda continue to do well, selling plenty of Siennas and Odysseys to North American buyers and since these two snatched the top two spots in our last minivan comparison test, they’ve been invited back for this test. The Nissan Quest? Do they even sell that space oddity anymore?
Let’s face it, minivans are about as popular as the kid with the body-odour problem after gym class. But just as that kid has many redeeming qualities, more than just moms love the practical boxes-on-wheels thanks to the solid value and uncompromising practicality these rigs present.
And so, with unbridled enthusiasm, Senior Editor Jonathan Yarkony, Editor Jacob Black and I gathered our cameras and clipboards and set out for a day of intense evaluation, leveraging all our collective wisdom and experience as dads. And although the amount of actual driving was a little less than we’d normally do for a comparison test, these three vans endured much greater scrutiny where it really counts for them – the usefulness of the interiors.
We flipped, folded and slid the seats around. We crawled into the first, second and third rows to test access and comfort. We watched a strange French-speaking animated bear on the on-board entertainment system (thanks to a DVD left in one of the vans). And we lifted Yarkony’s giant, but surprisingly light hockey bag (filled with his knitting supplies? I dared not open it) into and out of each of the vans, repeatedly.
We even raced them – in a fashion.
All of this to ensure we are giving you, kind reader, the thorough evaluation you deserve before making your own brave minivan purchase and not bowing to the social pressures of buying a less-sensible seven-seat SUV.
In the end, less than half a point in the total tally separated the three vans.