This review is only my "one week rental van" perspective, so please disregard it if you're looking for information on reliability. However, I was so impressed by this van based on our one week of use, that I had to write about it here. Wow, what a great van!
We picked it up at Logan Airport in Boston, drove up to Fredericton, NB (across New Hampshire and the length of Maine), used it there for a week, and then drove back to Boston just this morning (and I'm writing this review from my home in Lynden, WA).
I'd had an Uplander rental a year ago, and so I figured this would fit our bill quite nicely (my wife and I and our four kids, and all our luggage). Last year's had been after renting a Chevy Impala earlier, and also being impressed by the GM Transverse V6 / FWD platform.
This Uplander was also very impressive in its powertrain department... smooth startup (for comparison's sake, we usually drive a 2003 Astro, and I have a 1994 Caprice that I've modified considerably). The silky smooth sound of new GM starters is terrific... smooth operation of the transmission is also notable.
The tactile feeling of the controls was also very nice... the leather steering wheel felt tight and direct. I didn't crawl underneath to confirm, but I expect this van has rack and pinion steering... it sure felt like it. The steering wheel also had the firm feel of a typical GM tilt steering, which I've come to know and love.
Seats were comfy, pedals well placed. Driving was a real pleasure. No surprises. Exceedingly smooth, and very quiet.
The radio controls were a bit confusing... could have had the knobs more clearly identified.
Brakes felt terrific, with no wobble, fade, etc. (Mind you, the van only had 3200 miles on it when we got it).
I'd come to consider myself a RWD GM ONLY guy, but I was still very impressed by the performance of this machine.
A couple of very nice features:
- Electric sliding doors on both sides proved to be super convenient... not sure if that's standard equipment or not, but it sure was handy to open the doors with a press of a button on the keyfob!
- DVD player. Can't say enough about this superb feature. Our kids were mesmerized the entire trip. We could have been driving by the Grand Canyon, the Empire State Building, or a raging forest fire... it didn't matter, since the kids were captivated by the DVD player. Maybe not the best thing for your kids' upbringing or education, but if you've traveled a long distance with kids, you'll appreciate what I mean! The DVD player was easy to operate, and sounded great.
One question for auto designers (and this has nothing to do with the Uplander per se, but with most cars in general) : Why use such light colors on the carpet and upholstery? It seems that this is what most cars have these days, but I sure prefer dark carpet and upholstery, since they seem much better equipped to hide stains. We used the van for a week, and went to the beach and such. I'm not sure if the stains in the carpet were from us, but I sure wouldn't be surprised if they were. Our kids were reasonably well behaved, but I'm sure a potato chip or two made it's way onto the carpet, leaving grease stains quite easy to see. I can only imagine what that would look like after 100,000 miles! (our previous 1988 Astro had 250,000 miles on it with Burgundy carpet, and it looked very presentable when we sold it).
Back to the Uplander: a very impressive vehicle. Highly recommended, assuming GM has incorporated it's same drivetrain reliability as other vehicles.