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Hard to tell how the interior will really look like from the small pictures. The videos of the Saturn RELAY are better at:

http://www.saturn.com/aboutus2/news/webcas...t.jsp?movie=200

Looks good, but certainly really need to see and touch it in person.

However, there are obvious fundamental flaws in these new GM minivans.

In order to give it the SUV look (vertical front end) in the front, the profile looks really heavy and long. It does not look SUV like in profile because the nose sticks out WAY too far. SUVs have short overhangs to have better approach angles. This van makes no real effort to look really SUV like except when seen from the front.

The sliding windows look like they do not have movable windows in them like the Mazda MPV and Toyota Sienna. I did not see middle power windows switches driver door on the RELAY video. In fact, the doors look like a complete carry over from the previous minivans except the interior plastic looks new.

The sheet metal in the back, including the rear hatch appear to be complete carry overs from the current minivans. If you carefully compare a rear angle shot of a Venture to the new RELAY in the video, it appears the same. The glass, the door, the sliding door "slot" in the rear all look the same. The bumpers and side trim are the only thing that looks different. If the sheet metal IS somehow different, GM wasted its money, because they did not get gain any styling points in the back.

No one seemed to noticed that the third row seat does not fold back into the floor. This is a big "gotta have it feature" in minivans. The GM vans rear seat fold flat by folding foward, but this means the floor is not flush with the seats down. GM tried to cover this problem up by installing some extra plastic organizing unit behind the third row sear. This is how th current GM minivans work too with the fold down rear bench. This means the 3rd row seats will probably be thin (out of necessity to keep the fold down height as low as possible) and unformfortable like the current GM vans or in other similar arrangements like in the Ford Explorer.

Since the rear seats look essentially the same, it probably means GM did not change the bottom floor sheetmetal of the van. It also means the loading height from the back is higher than a Honda, Toyota, Ford, or Mazda where the rear bench fold back and down and into the floor. I guess higher load height make it more SUV like, but for the wrong reasons.

All the part stealing/sharing going on, there is little but the grills to differentiate these vans. Looks like GM is treating their brands like Ford does Mercury or Chrysler did with Plymouth. Different grills, trim, but no unique sheetmetal.

It's unclear if the rear hatch will be powered like the Toyota or Dodge. The RELAY video did not have it, so I doubt we will see this even as an option.

I'm sure GM must have done something with the structure to get better crash ratings. Since it looks like the sheet metal is much the same, this means they probably will bolt on a bunch of steel members like Kia did with their minivans to get better crash results, but this will add weight.

Since they are using the "new" 3.5 OHV engine, I'm guessing they will use the same 4 speed auto from the Malibu.

If we recap the changes we are seeing here:

o The new interior looks promising up at the front seats. The rear interior looks compromised in the rear seats with an inferior fold forward design.

o The exterior is only new in the front fenders. The drive to look SUV like makes the front look ungainly in profile. The rest of the sheetmetal looks carried over from the current generation.

o The engine is outdated and not competitive in HP. The transmission will probably be missing an gear compared to much of the competition.

Faced with these facts I fail to see how anyone here can get excited about these products. I hope GM didn't waste too many development dollars on them, because there isn't much really new here. I feel sorry for the GM guys in the videos trying to pump these things up.

Ford got rightly blasted for is new Freestar as being disappointing since they just updated the old Windstar. At least Ford did the rear seat right and can claim the most torque in its class. I see GM getting similar poor treatment for its new minivans.

Mark
 

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Originally posted by Ming@Dec 5 2003, 09:52 PM
I've read the "not completely fold flat" criticism, but I think this was innovative (well, creative at least) and like this a lot more than the deep plasto-pit in the Honda Odyssey when the seats are up:
This is a valid point, but I feel it it outweighed by the fact that the well is good at keeping things like groceries from falling out the back when you open the hatch after driving home. The new GM vans don't have any grocery bag hooks built into the rear seats in like the Dodge and Honda, so I see this being a problem. Also, you can get a plastic liner for the Odyssey's seat "well", so if you have a milk carton spring a leak on the drive home, the milk get captured for easy clean up. The GM has a removable (optional?) storage unit that should help this though, I'm just not familiar with how effective it is.

Mark
 
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