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New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids 205

An anonymous reader writes If you're tired of yelling at the kids without the help of technology, Toyota has a van for you. From the article: "The latest version of the company's Sienna minivan has a feature called 'Driver Easy Speak.' It uses a built-in microphone to amplify a parent's voice through speakers in the back seats. Toyota says it added Easy Speak 'so parents don't have to shout to passengers in the back.' But chances are many parents will yell into the microphone anyway. And the feature only works one way, so the kids can't talk back. At least not with amplified voices. The feature is an option on the 2015 Sienna, which is being refreshed with a totally new interior. It also has an optional 'pull-down conversation mirror' that lets drivers check on kids without turning around."
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New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

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  • Re: Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @10:34AM (#47500421)

    Not good enough... we also traded in the minivan when the kids were a bit older, but our small SUVs only get around 23MPG... I'd traded in my 93 Civic that routinely got over 35MPG, now you don't even get that in a Civic or other small car without it being a hybrid or something... with very few exceptions. I may get a Mazda 3 or 6, though. They get upwards of 35.

    I will say this, though, to actually contribute to the conversation about minivans... I had no problem driving one, and felt no stigma about it. All the people buying giant SUVs and justifying it because hey, once or twice a year they may buy a big box item and save on delivery! Or they need to carry a lot of passengers... Our Honda Odyssey carried 7 people a lot more comfortably than any SUV I've been in, and when you needed cargo space it was right up there with the big boys when you folded the rear seat down... even more than a lot of big SUVs; add decent towing capacity and overall better mileage, and the only reason for most people not to get one was the "stigma." Unless you're towing a yacht, or need to go off roading, a good (200hp+) minivan is a much more logical choice.

  • Re: Minivans useful (Score:5, Informative)

    by quintessentialk ( 926161 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:00AM (#47500611)

    I've rented minivans on business trips (particularly for outdoor field tests of equipment my employer develops). They work very well for our use: surprisingly large cargo capacity in a weather proof bay, flexible reconfiguration to carry either people or equipment between test sites, low floors and true fold-flat seats (compared to many of the SUVs we've rented) making loading easy, car-like handling to suit drivers without large vehicle experience; and wide availability at car rental companies both large and small.

    Now, we are talking about renting for a specific purpose for only the duration of that purpose, which is a completely different economic calculation than buying a car for daily use.Nonetheless, I've been convinced that when I do have kids (young children seem to require a frighteningly large amount of support equipment) a minivan will be the way to go. (Certainly compared to an SUV, which would offer similar features in a less convenient shape, or a small car, which lacks cargo.) Of course, this all depends on my finances at that point in time.... I'm not so well off that I can purchase vehicles arbitrarily.

  • Re: minivan dead? (Score:5, Informative)

    by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:01AM (#47500615)
    The Odyssey (best selling single model of minivan) has a higher safety rating than almost all SUVs. It gets better gas mileage (28mpg) than almost all SUVs, and absolutely all vehicles with similar passenger capacity (7 or 8 passengers)... Not to mention resale value and reliability rating.

    The Minivan is the practical and logical choice... Not to mention, with seats down/out, the cargo capacity is laughably better than an Explorer or other "large" suvs. I can (and have) move a washer and dryer in mine... which is my litmus test for "cargo capacity". (Explorer and Tahoe, which are "large" suvs, cannot fit a washer/dryer, even with all seats folded).

    It is fine to hate Minivans, but to pretend they are somehow less practical than an SUV is kind of laughable.
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:06AM (#47500649)

    Childbirth is far more dangerous than the risk from any of those things.

  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:34AM (#47500887) Homepage

    Finally, the American standard of social discourse, "I'm right because I'm yelling louder", can be brought to the homey confines of the minivan and ingrained on the little darlings early on.

    Have you ever tried to reason with a 3-year old? There are times when the "Argument from Because I Said So" is literally the only option left. Finer points of logic are completely lost on a person with an undeveloped frontal lobe who is in the middle of a temper tantrum.

  • Re: Hmmm (Score:4, Informative)

    by bmajik ( 96670 ) <matt@mattevans.org> on Monday July 21, 2014 @12:05PM (#47501143) Homepage Journal

    We have 3 kids in car seats, and an Odyssey.

    When we lived in town, it was great. Back then, my only serious gripe with the Odyssey is that if you are running a second set of wheels (e.g. for permanently mounted snow tires), and don't fit a 2nd set of expensive TPMS sensors to those wheels, the VSA (stability control) cannot be defeated via the console switch.

    This is a problem because the VSA implementation sucks and is frankly unsafe when accelerating on surface transitions - for instance, when you are waiting on a gravel road and are about to pull onto a paved highway, the VSA system senses differing levels of wheel grip between the wheel on pavement and the wheel still on gravel, and cuts power, precisely when you need maximum power to quickly get to highway speed.

    Last fall we moved to a rural area, and now poorly maintained roads (deep snow in the winters until I clear it, deep ruts whenever there are rains) has really shown me the shortcomings of the vehicle. My wife has gotten it stuck 4 times in our first winter.

    The Odyssey needs 2 things to be superlative. Air suspension with adjustable ride height (it is a very low vehicle, for ease of entry/exit for small kids), and a proper AWD system.

    My wife is now desperately wanting an AWD vehicle. But to get a proper AWD system (e.g. locking transfer case or at least a torsen differential), and the useful seating capacity of a minivan, you need to be looking at full-size truck based SUVs, like the Excursion or Sequoia.

    I'm aware that the Sienna comes in an AWD version, but its particular AWD system and ride height doesn't inspire me that they will be foolproof enough to want to make the switch.

    Sadly, my wife also refuses to drive a Mercedes G-wagen :)

    As an aside, the Odyssey towing capacity isn't really sufficient. It's 3500lbs, and it requires upfitting the vehicle considerably with things that don't come factory - PS cooler, ATF cooler, hitch wiring, etc. (In addition to the actual hitch receiver).

    When we were considering camping options, essentially nothing that had enough floor space for a family of 5 could be towed behind an Odyssey.

  • Listen in (Score:5, Informative)

    by GlobalEcho ( 26240 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @12:07PM (#47501161)

    Among the advantages of owning a minivan is that it becomes easy to carry your own children, plus a few of their friends. You get to know those friends, and listen to your kids' conversations with them. Often, the kids sort of forget you are there and converse "normally". You gain a window into their lives at school you otherwise would never have enjoyed.

    Sneaky trick: if you turn on the radio with the fader balanced toward the rear seats, the kids will speak louder without even realizing it.

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.