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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know, I know - a minivan. But...I looked at one today (did not test drive)

Sienna pros:
  • It's huge. If space is what you are looking for, the Sienna is the answer to your prayers. It's so much roomier on the inside - wow.
  • The rear seats fold down into the rear cargo area, providing a huge (and low / flat) storage area behind the middle row.
  • The cargo area behind the 3rd row is big even when the seats are up. (very tall/deep, in particular)
  • Just generally roomy on the inside - getting in and out of the back row is easier than any "mid sized crossover" I have seen.
  • Sliding doors - why, oh why, don't crossovers have sliding doors? They are 1. huge 2. great in tight spaces.
  • Sun shades in most (all) rear seating positions.


Cons:
  • It looks like a minivan. It (probably) drives like a minivan. It's as exciting as a minivan.
  • Slightly lower fuel economy.
  • Run flat tires (on the AWD versions) - which would mean some work (and expense) on my part to be OK with.
  • Interior (on the lower trim) felt fairly cheap.
  • Seats weren't very impressive.
  • Arm rests in the second row were not height adjustable (maybe only the driver has an adjustable arm rest)

In all, it's so much more practical than a crossover that it made the list. It's worth noting that the AWD system gets mixed reviews. From what I can tell the consensus is:
1. The run flat tires are so terrible that they aren't worth keeping even for summer driving.
2. A set of snow tires is a must for areas that experience "real" winter conditions.
3. A true spare tire is a must (once you ditch the run flats, or are using winter tires) - a full sized spare carried in a roof box seems to be a common suggestion.

So the tire / AWD issue isn't a small deal, but I might be willing to go through the contortions to get the benefits of the minivan.
 

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I know, I know - a minivan. But...I looked at one today (did not test drive)

Sienna pros:
  • It's huge. If space is what you are looking for, the Sienna is the answer to your prayers. It's so much roomier on the inside - wow.
  • The rear seats fold down into the rear cargo area, providing a huge (and low / flat) storage area behind the middle row.
  • The cargo area behind the 3rd row is big even when the seats are up. (very tall/deep, in particular)
  • Just generally roomy on the inside - getting in and out of the back row is easier than any "mid sized crossover" I have seen.
  • Sliding doors - why, oh why, don't crossovers have sliding doors? They are 1. huge 2. great in tight spaces.
  • Sun shades in most (all) rear seating positions.


Cons:
  • It looks like a minivan. It (probably) drives like a minivan. It's as exciting as a minivan.
  • Slightly lower fuel economy.
  • Run flat tires (on the AWD versions) - which would mean some work (and expense) on my part to be OK with.
  • Interior (on the lower trim) felt fairly cheap.
  • Seats weren't very impressive.
  • Arm rests in the second row were not height adjustable (maybe only the driver has an adjustable arm rest)

In all, it's so much more practical than a crossover that it made the list. It's worth noting that the AWD system gets mixed reviews. From what I can tell the consensus is:
1. The run flat tires are so terrible that they aren't worth keeping even for summer driving.
2. A set of snow tires is a must for areas that experience "real" winter conditions.
3. A true spare tire is a must (once you ditch the run flats, or are using winter tires) - a full sized spare carried in a roof box seems to be a common suggestion.

So the tire / AWD issue isn't a small deal, but I might be willing to go through the contortions to get the benefits of the minivan.

My dad had one AWD loaded to the 9’s. The 2nd row Captains chairs I noticed are more child sized than adult sized and I’m not large. I feel like I’m sitting on a high backed stool with a cushy seat pad. I have not sat in a CC Ascent chair yet. But if they have a similar feel its the last nail in the idea of buying a Touring Ascent for me.

Spare tire yeah about that. My dad sold the sienna with a bitter hate for it. Only got 2yrs on the lousy run flats, replaced them and then got stranded for a day during a road trip because of a flat and no replacement tire in the region to be found. No joke the 1999 Ford Explorer he still had with at that time 180,000 on it was his preferred vehicle after the Sienna disaster.

Yes he was hauling 3 kids. That 99 Explorer is still used! 320,000 but a local in town car only these days.

Carrying a spare tire. Only safe way is a hitch mounted carrier.
 

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Why not a roof top carrier?
I’ve never seen a roof mounted tire stay on the roof unless it was bolted to a roll cage. The Ascent crash testing isn’t posted yet but the Sienna or any other mini van don’t have crash performance as good as the modern top SUVs either. Its kinda a sore topic with some local soccer moms these days. Are they safe? Oh heck yes. But they aren’t performing as well as 4 dr SUVs these days
 

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I sold limited awd 2008 sienna for Ascent touring. Sienna is a great car, it had electronically folding mirrors with memory and TV systems for kids with wireless headsets. Ascent does not have either. It had front sonar unlike Ascent. I miss all these features on Ascent (but thankfully side mirrors are smaller)

It’s a great car if you have kids and don’t mind uncool minivan :), side doors are great to put child seats in. Lots of space.

Kids however no longer need child seats and use iPhones and I got tired of the van. It also took lots of gas. Ascent still breaking in so gas is not any better yet :)

Sienna did come with run flats. I replaced them at 18k with normal tires and bought a spare tire and kit on eBay. Only installed spare with proper kit (so it won’t fly out and kill us in the acsedent ) on longer trips. In town just used pump kit with goop.
 

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I know, I know - a minivan. But...I looked at one today (did not test drive)

Sienna pros:
  • It's huge. If space is what you are looking for, the Sienna is the answer to your prayers. It's so much roomier on the inside - wow.
  • The rear seats fold down into the rear cargo area, providing a huge (and low / flat) storage area behind the middle row.
  • The cargo area behind the 3rd row is big even when the seats are up. (very tall/deep, in particular)
  • Just generally roomy on the inside - getting in and out of the back row is easier than any "mid sized crossover" I have seen.
  • Sliding doors - why, oh why, don't crossovers have sliding doors? They are 1. huge 2. great in tight spaces.
  • Sun shades in most (all) rear seating positions.


Cons:
  • It looks like a minivan. It (probably) drives like a minivan. It's as exciting as a minivan.
  • Slightly lower fuel economy.
  • Run flat tires (on the AWD versions) - which would mean some work (and expense) on my part to be OK with.
  • Interior (on the lower trim) felt fairly cheap.
  • Seats weren't very impressive.
  • Arm rests in the second row were not height adjustable (maybe only the driver has an adjustable arm rest)

In all, it's so much more practical than a crossover that it made the list. It's worth noting that the AWD system gets mixed reviews. From what I can tell the consensus is:
1. The run flat tires are so terrible that they aren't worth keeping even for summer driving.
2. A set of snow tires is a must for areas that experience "real" winter conditions.
3. A true spare tire is a must (once you ditch the run flats, or are using winter tires) - a full sized spare carried in a roof box seems to be a common suggestion.

So the tire / AWD issue isn't a small deal, but I might be willing to go through the contortions to get the benefits of the minivan.
We are waiting for the delivery of our Touring Ascent and are selling our 2010 Limited AWD Sienna. When our five grandchildren were young the van was very accommodating when we made trips in the summer with all of the kids. Lots of room. The run flat tires are a real downer. Even though you are supposed to be able drive fifty or so miles on flat tire... after patching a flat tire they are never ate the same. Several times after a flat we ended up buying a new tire. We were considering the purchase of a 2019 Sienna and decided against it. We are banking that the Ascent will receive the highest rating from the IIHS just like the Outback. We are very much looking forward to the EyeSight features.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
We are waiting for the delivery of our Touring Ascent and are selling our 2010 Limited AWD Sienna. When our five grandchildren were young the van was very accommodating when we made trips in the summer with all of the kids. Lots of room. The run flat tires are a real downer. Even though you are supposed to be able drive fifty or so miles on flat tire... after patching a flat tire they are never ate the same. Several times after a flat we ended up buying a new tire. We were considering the purchase of a 2019 Sienna and decided against it. We are banking that the Ascent will receive the highest rating from the IIHS just like the Outback. We are very much looking forward to the EyeSight features.
I have lived with EyeSight for 3 years now, and I have come to love it. The Sienna I test drove today had the adaptive cruise control (I think they all do now) and it was pretty good, but I think EyeSight is better.

After test driving the Sienna and having my wife look into pros and cons of the minivan, we have come to the conclusion that the downsides (the run flats being the biggest, followed by fuel economy) are outweighed by the upsides (interior volume being the most significant). Looks like we are headed down minivan road.

Here are a few eye popping numbers that helped make the decision:

Sienna has nearly twice the cargo volume behind the third row compared to Ascent. (39 vs 17.8 cf)
Sienna has more cargo with the third row folded than Ascent with both rows folded. (87 vs 86.5 cf)
Sienna can fit full sheets of drywall/plywood in the cargo compartment (tailgate closed)
The exterior dimensions of the Sienna are *nearly identical* to the CX-9
Sienna: 200″ L x 78″ W x 69-71″ H (cavernous inside)
CX-9: 199″ L x 78″ W x 69″ H (cramped inside)

Another huge feature that convinced us was the sliding doors. Anyone with kids understands this, or will soon.

Upon reflection, I think that the crossover segment has worked so hard to be the un-minivan, that it has hobbled itself in some ways. What distinguishes a minivan? Sliding doors, shorter sloping hood...so crossovers avoid these great practical features. Oh, well, I guess.

Another thing I came to know with all of the test drives is that I really like our 2016 outback (which is what I will inherit), so I'm thrilled about that.

Now I just need to determine how to get the best deal...I have no time pressure and don't need financing. Any suggestions?
 

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I’m surprised you didn’t include safety as one of your main pros/cons criteria. I know the crash test ratings aren’t out for the Ascent yet, but Subaru tends to try and get the Top Safety Pick+. The Sienna didn’t even get the Top Safety Pick rating. That was the most important criteria for me and my wife, for us and our kids.

I know the minivans have a lot of room, but after test driving some minivans and being completely underwhelmed (and along with other factors like the aforementioned safety criteria), we decided we really didn’t need that much room. It would be very rare for us to use all of the space.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Good point about the safety considerations - definitely a big factor for us, too. In fact a full suite of "advanced safety" features was a must have for us and one of the great things about Subaru.

The sienna we got has all the auto braking, blind spot monitoring etc, but one thing we did give up compared to the ascent is crash test performance (I'm assuming the ascent will be phenomenal, probably a safe assumption). The sienna did pretty well overall, though, with the small overlap test only getting "acceptable" and the safety cage getting marginal for that test). I would definitely prefer better performance in that test, but I still think it's a very safe vehicle overall. The small overlap performance probably translates generally to better performance overall, but it doesn't seem like real life crash type to me. Thoughts, anyone?

So, yes we did have to compromise on safety some, but at the end of the day it was pretty much the only vehicle that met our requirements. I think if we had 2 kids instead of 3, (or maybe if we didn't have a dog) we would have ended up with a 3 row crossover (most likely Ascent limited). We will definitely use the space and almost certainly would have been disappointed with a 3 row crossover in the space department.

In all we are thrilled with the Sienna and got a smoking deal (15% below MSRP). And now I get to drive the 2016 outback, which is a great vehicle, too.
 

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Thanks for your thoughtful and well laid out feedback. I think your posts highlight the fact that minivans are the most space efficient vehicles on the market. If interior space is your #1 concern, a minivan will always win that comparison vs similarly sized SUV's. However, as you mentioned there are other drawbacks that one must consider when making a purchase. I think your thread will be useful to others when making a decision between a minivan and the Ascent. Enjoy your Sienna!
 

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each has its own merits and cannot be compared. Pick and choose what works for you and buy it. If you don't like it, sell it. Move on to the next thing that works for you.
 

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I definitely understand where the OP is coming from. We have 3 kids and if my wife didn't already have a minivan I would not have purchased the Ascent (premium 8 seat). The minivan is our primary vehicle for transporting the family and our stuff; the cargo space and utility (power sliding doors) are fantastic. I had an old Accord and I just wanted a vehicle to use a backup in case the minivan wasn't available or for when I do school pickup/dropoff or transport to activities where I don't necessarily need the cargo space. I also wanted 3 rows to physically separate the kids better to minimize the backseat shenanigans that can occur as well (which is how we use minivan).
 

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When I was a kid, my family had a full size conversion van. Boy was that fantastic for long road trips. Too bad those vans are expensive and don’t get great gas mileage these days (and who knows about safety).

I can definitely see how having the extra space in a minivan (vs SUV) might be desirable.
 

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The only current SUV (crossover-SUV) that can be compared to a minivan is the Tesla X in terms of features. The biggest distinction between a minivan and an SUV is the accessibility (entering and exiting). While the Tesla do not have sliding door, the falcon door function the same way, allowing everyone to enter and exit at the same time (assuming you're parked between cars).
 

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With 3 children, we got a lot of use out of our minivans. They are easy to get in/out, easy to see out of, gobs of room and we found them easier to clean & keep up. The Sienna and Odyssey also sell to a lot of seniors due to ease of entry & exit. Many have rear DVD entertainment, essential for kids on long trips. Most current models ride well and are relatively quiet. Reasonable to insure.

When people don’t need all the room, the SUV’s and CUV’s seem to fit the bill. But many requirements for SUV’s appear to have been founded in minivans. Lastly many SUV’s do better in snow and inclement whether than minivans do.
 

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I briefly looked at a sienna before going with the Ascent... the space was great and I don't know why EVERY car does not have sliding doors. But I think the towing capacity was a big factor, and for other reasons, the van just did not excite me like the Ascent did.
 

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I briefly looked at a sienna before going with the Ascent... the space was great and I don't know why EVERY car does not have sliding doors. But I think the towing capacity was a big factor, and for other reasons, the van just did not excite me like the Ascent did.
I am giving up my AWD Sienna for an Ascent. My wife and I bought the Sienna for transporting five grand children... the van worked great, lots of room. The kids loved the DVD player on long trips. Now that the grandchildren are older and some are driving we do need need the space. We like AWD and the Sienna has run flat tires... awful. The Ascent has three row seating with AWD without a built-in DVD player, yea! One of the main reasons considering the Ascent... SAFETY FEATURES! We will miss the sliding doors and the reliability of the Sienna. Hopefully the Ascent will also be trouble free.
 
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