Evolution. That's the name of the game. Change or go the way of the Aztek. Trucks are bigger and faster, yet more refined. SUVs are morphing into the futuristic vehicles we thought we'd already be driving. Even the humble van is being reinvented for the small business owner/recreation hound to zip around in style. Head spinning? Relax. We sort it out for you, including specs on all the new models. Turn the page to see how far vans and minivans have come.

STAR RATINGS:

Beats Walking *
For Your Neighbors **
Right On The Money ***
Fuel For Your Soul ****
Drive Before You Die *****

2011 Chevrolet Express
2011 Chrysler Town & Country
2011 Dodge Grand Caravan
2011 Ford E-Series
2011 Ford Transit Connect
2011 Honda Odyssey
2011 GMC Savana
2011 Kia Sedona
Mazda5 (2012)
2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class
2011 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Nissan NV200 (2012)
2011 Nissan NV1500/2500/3500
2011 Nissan Quest
2011 Toyota Sienna
2011 Volkswagen Routan

Chevrolet Express

BASE PRICE RANGE: $25,500-$36,000*
BODY TYPE: Full-size Van

WHAT'S NEW: The Duramax diesel is new and available for the first time on 3500 passenger vans. The 4.8L is standard on the 2500 passenger van. StabiliTrak is standard, and locking differential is available on all models. OnStar 9.0 is standard on passenger, available on cargo and some cutaways. Digital radio is optional, with XM and Bluetooth available. Mobile WiFi is a dealer-installed option.

COOL FACT: Duramax V-8 diesel in heavy-duty vans has 660 lb-ft of torque.

SUM UP: Old school cargo/passenger transport.
RATING: ***

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2011 Chevrolet Express
Base Engine 4.3L/195-hp OHV V-6
Optional Engine 4.8L/280-hp OHV V-8; 5.3L/ 310-hp OHV V-8; 6.0L/323-hp OHV V-8; 6.6L/365-hp t-diesel OHV V-8
Drivetrain Front engine, RWD/AWD, 4A/6A
0-60 MPH 9.4-12.0 sec*
Seats/Foldway 8-15/none
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 10-15/16-20 mpg (gas only)
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 2
*Estimated

Chrysler Town & Country

BASE PRICE RANGE: $26,500-$38,000*
BODY TYPE: Midsize Minivan

WHAT'S NEW: Fiat management promises a sheetmetal refresh and better interior materials, fit, and finish for '11. What was supposed to be a face-lift could be as substantial as Ford's 2010 update of its Fusion midsize sedan. Expect a vehicle-specific smartphone app that includes product feature demo videos in addition to general vehicle, warranty, service info.

LOOK FOR: Serious powertrain changes make the minivan more competitive with new entries from Toyota and Honda.

SUM UP: Competent in a shrinking segment.
RATING: ***1/2


2011 Chrysler Town & Country
Base Engine 3.6L/280-hp DOHC V-6*
Optional Engine None
Drivetrain Front engine, FWD, 6A
0-60 MPH 7.6 sec*
Seats/Foldway 7/2nd, 3rd rows
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 18/26 mpg*
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 4
*Estimated

Dodge Grand Caravan

BASE PRICE RANGE: $23,000-$31,000*
BODY TYPE: Midsize Minivan

WHAT'S NEW: A refresh for the 2011 model year is a real possibility; the 2010 model received only four minor tweaks. Active head restraints for front-row occupants are now standard across the line. SE models have three-zone climate control as a standard feature; SXT models with the 4.0L V-6 get a new 3.16 axle ratio; and the Security Group package adds a rear-obstacle detection display.

LOOK FOR: A "man van" variant to attract, well, you get the idea.

SUM UP: Refresh can't come soon enough.
RATING: ***1/2


2011 Dodge Grand Caravan
Base Engine 3.6L/280-hp DOHC V-6*
Optional Engine None
Drivetrain Front engine, FWD, 6A
0-60 MPH 7.6 sec*
Seats/Foldway 7/2nd, 3rd rows
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 18/26 mpg*
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 4
*Estimated

Ford E-Series

BASE PRICE RANGE: $26,955-$35,825
BODY TYPE: Full-size Van

WHAT'S NEW: The rarely revised E-Series received a substantial update for 2009 that included numerous cosmetic tweaks to the interior and a host of comfort, convenience, and technology features. These include a navigation system, rear backup camera, rear-seat entertainment, extra power ports, new glovebox, and Ford's exclusive Work Solutions system. The 2011 model carries over without any major changes.

COOL FACT: The E-Series vans celebrate their 50th year in 2011.

SUM UP: America's workhorse van.
RATING: ***

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2011 Ford E-Series Tech Specs
The source for official specifications, payload, towing capacity, and other information about the 2011 Ford E-Series Vans!


2011 Ford E-Series
Base Engine 4.6L/225-hp SOHC V-8
Optional Engine 5.4L/255-hp SOHC V-8; 6.8L/305-hp SOHC V-10
Drivetrain Front engine, RWD, 4A/5A
0-60 MPH 9.0-15.0 sec*
Seats/Foldway 2-15/none
EPA city/hwy fuel econ Not rated
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 2
*Estimated

Ford Transit Connect

BASE PRICE RANGE: $21,895-$23,745
BODY TYPE: Midsize Van

WHAT'S NEW: Few changes for 2011. A taxi-prep package is available, as is a compressed natural gas- or liquid propane gas-prep package. Further expanding the lineup is the mobility-prep package and the XLT Premium Wagon trim and the option of custom vinyl graphics.

COOL FACT: The available Crew Chief gives a fleet manager constant information about the vehicle's location along with vehicle performance data and information about when maintenance is necessary.

SUM UP: Flexible work van for smaller jobs.
RATING: ***1/2

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2011 Ford Transit Connect, Transit Connect Electric, Transit Connect Taxi Tech Specs
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2011 Ford Transit Connect
Base Engine 2.0L/136-hp DOHC I-4
Optional Engine None
Drivetrain Front engine, FWD, 4A
0-60 MPH 12.3-18.6 sec
Seats/Foldway 2-5/2nd row
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 22/25 mpg
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: O; Trac: O; Airbags: 4

GMC Savana

BASE PRICE RANGE: $25,500-$36,000*
BODY TYPE: Full-size Van

WHAT'S NEW: The Duramax diesel is available on 3500 passenger vans. In 2010, the gas V-8s became E85-capable and a remote-start option was added to the options mix. The 2500 and 3500 models now feature GM's six-speed Hydra-Matic transmission standard, and their axle ratios are revised for improved low-end torque and slightly better highway mpg.

COOL FACT: A Compressed Natural Gas version of the Vortec 6.0L V-8 is now available as a $15,910 option.

SUM UP: Not bad for hauling humans.
RATING: ***


2011 GMC Savana
Base Engine 4.3L/195-hp OHV V-6
Optional Engine 4.8L/280-hp OHV V-8; 5.3L/310-hp OHV V-8; 6.0L/323-hp OHV V-8; 6.6L/365-hp t-diesel OHV V-8
Drivetrain Front engine, RWD/AWD, 4A/6A
0-60 MPH 9.4-12.0 sec*
Seats/Foldway 8-15/none
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 10-15/16-20 mpg (gas only)
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 2
*Estimated

Honda Odyssey

BASE PRICE RANGE: $28,580-$41,535
BODY TYPE: Midsize Minivan

WHAT'S NEW: Odyssey is all new and features a roofline 1.6 in. lower than previous models and a track 1.4 in. wider. The 3.5L V-6 is mated to a 6A on the Touring trim. The new transmission and Honda's variable cylinder-management system help Odyssey achieve class-leading fuel economy numbers. A 5A is standard on the base minivan, which seats seven.

BEST BUY: More efficient and quicker Odyssey Touring if you can afford it.

SUM UP: Leaner, meaner segment leader returns.
RATING: ****

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2011 Honda Odyssey
Base Engine 3.5L/248-hp DOHC V-6
Optional Engine None
Drivetrain Front engine, FWD, 5A/6A
0-60 MPH 8.0-9.0 sec*
Seats/Foldway 7-8/3rd row
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 18-19/27-28 mpg*
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 6*
*Estimated

Kia Sedona

BASE PRICE RANGE: $25,390-$29,990
BODY TYPE: Midsize Minivan

WHAT'S NEW: The 2011 Sedona gets a higher-tech 3.5L V-6 that offers 27 more hp than the 3.8L it replaces. Also, a 6A replaces last year's 5A. The combination helps improve fuel economy by 2 mpg on the highway. New styling cues include the tabbed signature Kia grille and new wheel designs, and the interior adds new technology features.

BEST BUY: A Sedona LX isn't luxuriously equipped, but still has plenty of standard and available features for under $30,000.

SUM UP: Vying to be best in class.
RATING: ****


2011 Kia Sedona
Base Engine 3.5L/271-hp DOHC V-6
Optional Engine None
Drivetrain Front engine, FWD, 6A
0-60 MPH 8.0 sec*
Seats/Foldway 7/3rd row
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 18/25 mpg
Basic warranty 5 yrs/60,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 6
*Estimated

Mazda5 (2012)

BASE PRICE RANGE: $19,500-$24,000*
BODY TYPE: Compact Minivan

WHAT'S NEW: Mazda brings latest-gen small minivan to the U.S. for 2012. Seating six, the Mazda5 will remain a smaller alternative to the larger minivans, but with bolder styling. Hard-to-miss character lines improve aerodynamics. Second-row seats can now be converted into storage space. A 5A and the 2.5L from the Mazda3 could be main powertrain combo.

DRIVER'S CHOICE: Considering a Mazda5 means driving a smaller, more easily maneuverable people-mover.

SUM UP: Bold, small, and on the margins.
RATING: ***1/2

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Mazda5 (2012)
Base Engine 2.5L/167-hp DOHC I-4*
Optional Engine None
Drivetrain Front engine, FWD, 6M/5A
0-60 MPH 8.5 sec*
Seats/Foldway 6/2nd, 3rd row
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 22/28-29 mpg*
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 6
*Estimated

Mercedes-Benz R-Class

BASE PRICE RANGE: $51,115-$52,615
BODY TYPE: Midsize/Luxury Minivan

WHAT'S NEW: A restyle gives the R-Class more crossover-like looks. There's a more rugged-looking grille, restyled hood, fenders, side mirrors, new headlights, and LED taillights. Inside, there is new wood trim, new seat stitching, a 3-D instrument cluster, and "saddle" head restraints. Daytime running lights and blind-spot assist are now available.

COOL FACT: Mercedes originally offered an AMG-tuned version of the R-Class, which was powered by a 503-hp, 6.2L V-8.

SUM UP: Lincoln MKT'S closest competitor.
RATING: ***

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2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class
Base Engine 3.5L/268-hp DOHC V-6
Optional Engine 3.0L/210-hp t-diesel DOHC V-6
Drivetrain Front engine, AWD, 7A
0-60 MPH 8.0-8.6 sec*
Seats/Foldway 6-7/2nd, 3rd rows
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 15-18/19-24 mpg*
Basic warranty 4 yrs/50,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 8
*Estimated

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

BASE PRICE RANGE: $35,500-$73,000*
BODY TYPE: Full-size Van

WHAT'S NEW: The Sprinter now wears the three-pointed Mercedes-Benz star on its grille -- unless, of course, it's sold as a Freightliner (part of the Mercedes family). A Crew Van that seats five is new for 2011. The 2500 receives a restyled instrument cluster. Otherwise, everything remains the same, including the excellent turbodiesel and smooth transmission.

COOL FACT: Standing height inside the Sprinter can be as high as 6 ft, 4 in.

SUM UP: Big, versatile full-size van.
RATING: ****

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2011 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Base Engine 3.0L/188-hp t-diesel DOHC V-6
Optional Engine None
Drivetrain Front engine, RWD, 5A
0-60 MPH N/A
Seats/Foldway 2-16/none
EPA city/hwy fuel econ Not rated
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 2
*Estimated

Nissan NV200 (2012)

BASE PRICE RANGE: $21,000-$23,000*
BODY TYPE: Full-size Van

WHAT'S NEW: The NV200 could finally give the Ford Transit Connect some competition in the small commercial van segment. Nissan still stops short of a confirmation that the van will make it to the U.S. market. Available in different configurations from two to seven seats, the NV200 can hold more than 148 cu-ft of cargo.

COOL FACT: Nissan is considering the introduction of an all-electric NV200 van to follow in the footsteps of the Leaf.

SUM UP: Will Transit Connect get competition?
RATING: (Not rated)

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Nissan NV200 (2012)
Base Engine 1.6L/107-hp DOHC I-4*
Optional Engine None
Drivetrain Front engine, FWD, 5M/CVT*
0-60 MPH 9.5-11.0 sec*
Seats/Foldway 2-7/3rd row
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 23/28 mpg*
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 2*
*Estimated

Nissan NV1500/2500/3500

BASE PRICE RANGE: $27,000-$40,000*
BODY TYPE: Full-size Van

WHAT'S NEW: Nissan's body-on-frame NV van will arrive in the U.S. with a standard or high-roof body. Engine choices are a 4.0L V-6 and a 5.6L V-8, both mated to a 5A. Nissan says it has invested more than five years researching what commercial van owners want, calling the NV a "clean sheet" approach to the segment.

COOL FACT: Magnets on the doors and sidewalls prevent the wind from slamming doors shut while loading cargo into the van.

SUM UP: Could shake up commercial van class.
RATING: (Not rated)

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2011 Nissan NV1500/2500/3500
Base Engine 4.0L/266-hp DOHC V-6*
Optional Engine 5.6L/317-hp DOHC V-8*
Drivetrain Front engine, RWD, 5A
0-60 MPH N/A
Seats/Foldway 2/1st pass
EPA city/hwy fuel econ Not rated
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 2*
*Estimated

Nissan Quest

BASE PRICE RANGE: $27,000-$41,000*
BODY TYPE: Midsize Minivan

WHAT'S NEW: The 2011 Nissan Quest minivan is a completely new entry. The segment may not be growing as it was a decade ago, but Nissan still wants a piece of that pie with the redone Quest. We expect a 3.5L V-6 with about 270 hp and a CVT when the Quest makes its debut at the end of this year.

LOOK FOR: Nissan to offer an easy-to-use, intuitive interior after the last-generation model debuted with a controversial cabin.

SUM UP: Quest for strong-selling minivan.
RATING: (Not rated)

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2011 Nissan Quest
Base Engine 3.5L/270-hp DOHC V-6*
Optional Engine None
Drivetrain Front engine, FWD, CVT*
0-60 MPH 8.2 sec*
Seats/Foldway 7-8/3rd row*
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 18/25 mpg*
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 6*
*Estimated

Toyota Sienna

BASE PRICE RANGE: $25,270-$40,780
BODY TYPE: Midsize Minivan

WHAT'S NEW: The Sienna is new for 2011, with new styling, the addition of a four-cylinder engine option, new 6A, and new trim levels. Interior options include Lounge Seating in the second row, 16.4-in.-wide dual-view entertainment center, and a rearview camera that offers a 180-degree view. Doors are wider and the second row slides as much as 23 in.

COOL FACT: The Limited trim offers second-row seats with a sliding ottoman and adjustable armrests.

SUM UP: May be new minivan standard.
RATING: ****1/2

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2011 Toyota Sienna
Base Engine 2.7L/187-hp DOHC I-4
Optional Engine 3.5L/265-hp DOHC V-6
Drivetrain Front engine, FWD/AWD, 6A
0-60 MPH 8.2-9.5 sec*
Seats/Foldway 7-8/3rd row
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 16-19/22-24 mpg
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 7
*Estimated

Volkswagen Routan

BASE PRICE RANGE: $27,500-$38,000*
BODY TYPE: Midsize Minivan

WHAT'S NEW: The Routan is significantly refreshed for 2011. Expect restyled front and rear fascias along with new wheel designs and minor dynamic improvements. A redo of the interior is also a possibility. For 2010, navigation became standard equipment in SE and SE Premium trim levels, while the latter also got rear-seat entertainment tossed in the package.

LOOK FOR: Volkswagen to continue trying to convince you the Routan has the soul of a VW.

SUM UP: Euro-fan's minivan is here.
RATING: ***

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2011 Volkswagen Routan
Base Engine 3.6L/280-hp DOHC V-6*
Optional Engine None
Drivetrain Front engine, FWD, 6A
0-60 MPH 7.6 sec*
Seats/Foldway 7/3rd row
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 18/26 mpg*
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Safety ABS: S; Stab: S; Trac: S; Airbags: 6*
*Estimated