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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, Interesting)

    by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @09:53AM (#47500129)

    Off the top of my head: Nissan, Honda, Chrysler, Toyota, Hyundai/Kia.

    I have one, and the pickup line at school/camp is almost entirely minivan or minivan "crossovers" marketed as SUVs.

    My 2008 Sienna has a "conversation mirror", so I'm not sure why the submitter seems to think they are new.

  • re: minivan dead? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @10:11AM (#47500251) Journal

    The minivan suffers a stigma in America today.... It's viewed as a vehicle for moms who need to shuttle the kids and their things around. That hurts sales because even many of the moms who squarely fit into that category don't want to feel like they're defined by that part of their life. They don't want to drive a vehicle around that tells everyone that's what their purpose is on the planet -- especially when so many families are dual-income and they'd like to look more "professional".

    It seems it's unavoidable though? As soon as enough people buy a functional alternative to avoid the stigma, they begin putting the same stigma on the alternative choice. Not that long ago, the station wagon held this distinction, and yet now -- driving a station wagon is viewed as trendy in a hipster way!

    Honestly though, I think the minivan could enjoy a resurgence in popularity if it was approached from a slightly different angle. Make it *really* easy for all of the seats to fold flat (like "push a button and they all retract into the floor" easy), and market it to the homeowners who currently shop for light trucks! I know I've owned a couple of pickups because they were so darn functional and useful for things like hauling away yard waste or picking up a furniture or appliance purchase, or just helping a buddy move. But their big downside is the lack of any protection from the weather for the cargo, while driving. For 99% of the things I ever hauled around in my truck, I could have used a minivan just as well, if it didn't have seats in the way.

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @10:14AM (#47500271)
    Minivans are not dead. Pretty much every model still tops 100,000+ sales per year. (Mazda 5 being an exception, though it is really a subcompact with sliding doors, not really a minivan) 2013 model year sales ranked by top sellers:

    #31 - Honda Odyssey
    #34 - Dodge Grand Caravan
    #37 - Chrysler Town & Country
    #38 - Toyota Siennav #45 - Kia Sorento

    Link []

    My reality is that they only sell $45,000 suvs or much cheaper minivans that can fit my whole family... So for me, they are here to stay. My minivan seats 8, a suburban seats 8. Most suvs seat 5...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2014 @10:18AM (#47500295)

    In Japan, Toyota sells a hybrid minivan (the Estima) that uses the Prius drivetrain and is based off the (discontinued in the states) Previa styling: []

    Most of these vans get less than 20-25 MPG, so an offering that gets 40 MPG city (or better) would surely be more compelling than a gimmick megaphone. Hey Toyota, about get your act together and bring your superior automotive technology to the USA instead of this kind of stuff.

  • by darylb ( 10898 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @10:21AM (#47500325)

    While there were 14 manufacturers of minivans 15-20 years ago, there are only five today: Chrysler/Dodge, Honda, Toyota, Kia (with a newly reintroduced Sedona), and Nissan. Still, that's five manufacturers all offering competitive products.

    As a father of four minions, I've yet to find an SUV that equals the minivan in its ability to haul six or seven people AND THEIR GEAR in good comfort, all while achieving 25+ mpg. My 2011 Town and Country actually got 27.5 mpg on one tank of gas on a recent 2800 mile trip. My brother's SUV struggles to achieve 18.

    Having rented several SUVs on trips, they can seat everybody, but squeezing in the bags is a real challenge.

    I sure hope the minivan doesn't disappear. Truly, it is without equal for families up to about 7 people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2014 @10:22AM (#47500331)

    Government made them difficult and expensive to buy [] compared to SUV's, which were classified as trucks (hence a lower gas mileage standard).

    "Stigma" had nothing to do with it.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @10:33AM (#47500407)

    It seems that in the US at least, the minivan is quite nearly dead.

    Not even remotely []. 532,357 minivans were sold in the US in 2013.

    How many companies other than Chrysler are still making them for the US market at all?

    Toyota, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Toyota, Nissan and VW all make and sell minivans. Chrysler, Toyota and Honda own about 90% of the market together between their 4 offerings.

  • by Rambo Tribble ( 1273454 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @10:51AM (#47500559) Homepage
    ... in the art of modern parenting. 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.
  • Re: Minivans useful (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pnutjam ( 523990 ) <> on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:30AM (#47500839) Homepage Journal
    The hardest part is multiple kids in car seats, even one rear facing car seat can be difficult to get into many sedans.
  • Re: minivan dead? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rhodium_mir ( 2876919 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @12:03PM (#47501125)

    >It gets better gas mileage (28mpg) than almost all SUVs

    That isn't very good compared to an SUV (Is that really the best that a minivan can get? I thought there would be at least one outlier that could best an SUV):

    Those aren't SUVs. They're passenger cars with lift kits installed.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll