Not so long ago I blogged on GM and Ford’s mediocre minivans. It’s a huge market segment and GM and Ford have failed to deliver an appealing product. Chrysler owns the market. Honda tried to enter the market with an Accord based mini-minvan that went nowhere. They came back with the Odyssey, designed from scratch, and had a hit. Toyota followed a similar path. Ford and GM have stumbled badly. How badly? Check out this review of the Chevrolet Uplander minvan:

The Uplander’s exterior could have been penned twenty-five years ago. The awkward yet infinitely bland exterior displays all the styling finesse and surface excitement of a 1981 Chevy Malibu– with none of the stalwart sedan’s balanced proportions. You can see how GM’s designers tried to transform their plane Jane minivan into a “Crossover Sport Van”: a longer than needed snout, big-ass B-pillars, slightly larger wheels and faux skid plates. It’s an entirely unconvincing effort that somehow manages to capture the worst of both the SUV and minivan genres.

Needless to say, the Uplander is as dreadful to drive as it is to inhabit. The loose steering requires constant tending at anything other than a dead stop. The suspension crashes more often than a demolition derby driver. The long wheelbase and epic turning circle make parking lot maneuvering a seemingly endless chore. It leans excessively in corners. But wait! There’s less!

The CSV’s 3.9-liter V6 pushrod powerplant boasts (in the ironic sense of the word) a cast iron block with cast aluminum heads, hooked-up to Ye Olde Four Speed. With constant aural reminders that it would much rather be switched off, the ancient, rough-revving mill delivers a class-leading 240hp @ 6000rpm. But it’s not enough to motivate the ponderous beast into a jog. In short, the Uplander’s performance doesn’t even deserve the noun.

Surely the company that builds the Corvette could do better. Its Cadillac brand has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past few years but bread-and-butter Chevrolets trail the market leaders on just about every criteria except rental fleet volume.

GM needs a Carlos Ghosn, the man who turned Nissan around in no time flat. Crappy, boring cars like the Altima became competive with the market leaders in one product cycle. Nissan and Infiniti started pumping out products with flair and consumer appeal and profits followed.

GM hired Chrsler’s Bob Lutz to revamp GM’s product range. Reviews to date are mixed. With the possible exception of the Cobalt, Chevrolet volume products show no sign of Lutz glitz. That’s a big problem for GM.

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