You’re probably wondering why on earth there’s a minivan review on PaddockTalk.com “- not just one, but three articles in a row! Well, as explained in my review of the Dodge Grand Caravan, I’m not a van person, but most of my friends/family/neighbours are unfortunate individuals that have families, so they need to have minivans. Falling on the sword, I’ve buckled to their requests – nay demands – for Road Test to featuring minivans. Not only that, but I’ve arranged for a head to head, one-day minivan challenge, and I’ve included some of my friends’ opinions in the results.
Check out the Road Test Extra! Section for our first-ever MiniVan comparison test – Not now!! …wait until you’ve read my two minivan reviews first!
Ever since Chrysler launched and created the minivan segment in 1984, the rest of the world’s manufacturers have been falling over themselves to play catch up, and in many cases surpass the original. Other than the luxury brands, I can’t think of any manufacturer that has not produced a minivan of some type, size or shape.
Hyundai are the last of the main manufacturers to bring a minivan to these shores. They’ve produced minivans for the European and Asian markets for years, but this is their first attempt for North America. That being said, with their experience, there is no excuse for getting it wrong. They’ve had ample time to watch the good ones come to fruition such as the Honda Odyssey, Grand Caravan, and Ford Windstar, not to mention the rubbish people carriers, the Pontiac Transport and Chevy Astro. Was the Entourage worth the wait, or do we have a “Nice try – come-back-when-it’s-closer-to-being-done” type of van? Let’s find out:
The Entourage is a large minivan, about the same size as the Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest. Personally I think it’s one of the best looking minivans available today. It has just enough chrome to look classy without looking gaudy and overdone. The test vehicle was a pleasing Crystal Blue color that suited the van perfectly. The deep-tinted side and rear glass is very dark from the outside, but from the inside it’s not even noticeable. The key fob is covered in buttons, among them are; the lock and unlock for the entire van, buttons for the two power sliding back doors, the rear tailgate and the panic button, bringing the count to a grand total of 6 buttons. Thankfully they are all very clearly marked and easy to use.
When I first saw power-operated doors become available on mini vans a few years ago I thought they were a dumb idea – who would ever want to wait for the door to open and close by its self? When I picked up the Entourage I still felt the same way, but after living with it for just a day or two I have to say they’re a brilliant idea.
The V-6 engine offers plenty of power for this size of vehicle; in fact I was caught off guard by how much power this minivan had when I first drove off. I was expecting the usual minivan response: push the pedal, wait, wait, lots of sound coming from the engine, wait, there we go! Instead, what I got was: push the pedal – Woooow! I’ve driven a few vans and minivans over the years, and I must say that speed and enthusiasm are never an expectation when I climb behind the wheel. However, now that I’ve experienced the Entourage, my expectations have changed. The 3.8 litre V-6 with 242 hp and 251 lb/ft of torque has changed my perception of minivans forever. Hyundai has proven that yes, you can win drag races in a minivan!!
Getting in and out of the Entourage is effortless thanks to the large doors and the perfectly placed seats. The large leather-wrapped steering wheel is tilt but not telescopic adjustable, not that it mattered because the seating position in relation to the steering wheel and pedals is perfect. There’s a huge dead pedal perfectly placed to the left that helps considerably on the long test drives we put the Entourage through. We don’t have any kids, but my wife and her girlfriend act like them when they get together, so they rose to the challenge of trying out the rear seats, climbing in and out and using the DVD system – it was a big hit!
The seats in the Entourage are extremely comfortable. We spent long hours driving without pit stops, and not once did anyone complain about being tired, fatigued or glad to get out for a stretch. Even the most comfortable seats get a little tiring for me after a couple of hours, but these seats are unbelievable and if it wasn’t for the fact we’d reached our destination I’d have been perfectly happy sitting in them for another two hours! The second-row seats are just as comfortable according to my wife. Her only complaint about sitting back there was that the DVD screen was a little too close for the second-row passengers and should be moved further forward in the cabin. Even with the seats pushed all the way back, it was still too close. However, if the DVD unit was just six inches closer to the front of the van it would have been perfect. The sound and picture quality from the Clarion unit was very good. The cordless headphones did an excellent job of drowning out the music from the stereo system while watching a movie. For the rear passengers, the captain’s chairs are very much like the front seats, offering high backs, adjustable headrests and dual folding armrests to making journeys very comfortable. The rear seating is limousine-like thanks to the seats ability to slide fore and aft as well as recline. Leg, foot, hip, shoulder and headroom are abundant for adults and kids alike.
The speed-sensitive rack and pinion steering is perfectly weighted for this size of vehicle. Too many times a van or truck has a very numb or uncommunicative steering feel, but Hyundai have done a very nice job of balancing this issue. The steering wheel itself incorporates limited audio controls (volume up/down/mute/mode) and very user-friendly cruise control buttons, all of which light up at night. The instrument display is clean and basic, with the speedometer in the center, flanked by the tachometer on the left and the fuel/temperature gauges to the right. There is a mini information centre on the ceiling above the mirror that toggles between the outside temperature, average mpg, compass and clock. In the same location are the map lights and power door buttons for the tailgate and rear passenger doors. An additional feature worth mentioning is the “conversation mirror” for the driver and front passenger to see what the “Rugrats” are getting up to in the back seats. Because this mirror resides where the sunglasses holder is usually located, Hyundai saw fit to give the driver his/her very own sunglasses holder just above the door – a very nice touch.
The centre console stack is very easy on the eyes and everything is logically laid out. Starting from the top is the clock, then the audio system that has an AM/FM/CD/MP3 and cassette player. Beneath that is the automatic climate control system with very legible icons and buttons that make adjustments at a glance a complete snap! Regarding the automatic climate control, I must mention that I liked very much that the system always defaulted to have fresh air coming into the cabin; too many times these automatic systems default to re-circulate stale interior air. Below the HVAC are the rotary dials for the 5-level seat heaters and the rear wiper button. Following that is a good-sized “garage door” type covered storage area and then the gear shifter and two power outlets. Rounding out the centre console is a drawer that houses two very well designed cup holders and finally, a covered compartment that hides your CD/DVD collection. The centre console in the Entourage is an all-around very usable space (something that is all too often overlooked and under-utilized by many manufacturers), even including a purse hook for the ladies on the passenger side. Most noteworthy for me on the centre stack, would be the location of the shifter which made it very easy to take full advantage of the Shiftronic transmission feature.
On the dash, in front of the passenger are not one, but two usable glove boxes. The top compartment is ideal for gloves, sunglasses, pop cans etc., and the bottom unit has two shelves in addition to the typical deep box. The shelves are great for storing things you wouldn’t want to get lost like pens, your insurance papers, etc. Moving on to beverage compartments, there are bottle holders located in the front and rear sliding doors, and a total of four cupholders (two front, two back) in the folding and adjustable tray that sits between the front seats. Driving the cupholder count up further are the three located in the far back for third-row passengers.
The GLS models get automatic climate control with his and her zones. The automatic climate control in the Entourage is one of the better systems I’ve encountered. As you know, I prefer the simplest dials and switches, and even though the Entourage’s was fully automatic it was quite easy to use. In addition to the usual climate controls, there is also a separate second-row control for not only the temperature but also the fan speed. This was a very welcome feature on our longer journeys when the men in front were hot and had the air vents open, while the frozen women in the back had the heat on! Vents for second and third-row seating are located on the ceiling and can be closed flush, offering a nice finished look to the van.
The audio system by Clarion is very good, with six speakers throughout the cabin, and operation was simple and intuitive. I wasn’t really expecting much in the way of quality sound – after all – it is a minivan – but once again Hyundai surprised me with a sound system in the Entourage that surpasses many cars. The only surprise is the fact that the unit only includes a single-disc CD and not a 6-disc unit that is quickly becoming the norm.
All but the base model offers power dual-sliding rear doors and power windows for second-row passengers. The huge windows go down approximately 90% of the way – something truly unique in minivan territory. Additionally, the rearmost passengers as well as the driver have power window buttons to operate the rear quarter windows.
Unlike some vans, third-row seating isn’t an option in the Entourage – it’s standard. Thankfully, access to the third-row seats is quite easy, it’s as simple as flipping a lever and the seat tumbles forward leaving plenty of room to squeeze between it and the third-row seat. Alternately you can just walk between the two second-row seats. Noteworthy too is the fact that the second-row seat belts are perfectly placed so as not to wrap around the necks of passengers climbing into the rearmost seats – unfortunately, this is not the case in most vans where a choking sound almost always accompanies entry/exit to the third row.
The third-row seats sit a little lower than the second row, but it is notable that the view to the DVD screen is actually better than that in the second row. Exiting the rearmost seats without assistance from anyone outside the vehicle is very easy for children and adults alike. You simply pull a strap and push the seat forward, reach for the power door button on the B pillar or pull and release the lever – that’s it.
Even though there is ample legroom in the third-row seats, having the middle row seats moved forward all the way allows even the longest of legs to stretch out without touching the seat in front, while continuing to give second-row passengers plenty of leg and knee room. When comparing passenger space as well as ease of entry and exit to the third-row seating area, I can’t understand why SUVs have begun to offer seven-passenger seating. I think of the Toyota Highlander that I tested a few months back, and there really is no way they can compete – there’s no way that SUVs can offer the real space necessary for three rows of seating.
Stowing the third-row seats is very easy. With the pull of a couple of straps, the seats tumble forward and you simply push them into the huge hole in the cargo floor where they are stored completely flush with the floor. It’s not difficult or complicated in any way and pulling the seats out for use again is just as effortless. With the convenience of a 60/40 third-row seating configuration, the seats can be stowed independently of each other, offering flexible options for cargo/passengers.
The rear cargo area is quite large. With the third-row seats up, there is 32.2 cu/ft. of cargo space (I measured: 46” x 20” x 49”) behind them, and 80.2 cu/ft with them stowed away (I measured: 49” x 57” x 37”) while the second row of seats remain available for use. To increase cargo capacity further, the second-row captain’s chairs fold and tumble forward, resting near the front seats, giving you plenty of usable space (I measured 69” x 57” x 37” with the van set up to the maximum cargo capacity without removing the seats). If you remove the second-row captain’s chairs you are left with a very impressive 141.5 cu/ft of total storage space.
There are two power outlets in the back – one for third-row passengers and another in the rear cargo area.
The tailgate is easy to lift and offers a number of options for gaining access; a button on the key fob, a button on the ceiling by the driver and a latch release just above the license plate. It can be closed using either of the aforementioned buttons or there’s also a third button located on the tailgate itself – in any of these cases, it’s simply a matter of pressing a button and waiting for the tailgate to open or close. If you so desire, you can still operate the gate manually.
On the highways and byways, the Entourage was exceptionally well behaved. Thanks to the long wheelbase there were virtually no unpleasant bumps transferred to the cabin. Getting up to 60+ mph was effortless and silent. Driving for long distances gave me the opportunity to truly appreciate the luxury side of the vehicle, and I can’t imagine a better choice of vehicle – car, van or SUV – for long drives. The steering and suspension are reasonably tight, giving a sense of substance, quality and luxury. The 5-Speed automatic transmission works flawlessly, and gear shifts are so smooth they’re almost undetectable. The Sportronic transmission and the location of the gear shifter made hill climbs and descents easy, unlike many vans where the shifter is on the steering column and it’s often too easy to shift to a lower gear than you intended. When you use the Sportronic mode, the transmission will shift down for you in the case of coming to a stop sign ““ even though you may have it in third gear before stopping, but won’t up-shift until you decide to do it
The Entourage’s 3.8 litre V-6 engine is more horsepower than the Ford Freestar, Chevy Uplander, Dodge Grand Caravan and Toyota Sienna, while also having more lb/ft of torque than the Honda Odyssey, Chevy Uplander, Dodge Grand Caravan and the Toyota Sienna. It also features timing chains with no scheduled maintenance instead of belts that have to be replaced periodically (usually every 60,000 miles /100,000 kms). In addition, this vehicle is certified as an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle.
The Entourage is available in three trim levels in the U.S. and four in Canada.
U.S. trim levels are: GLS ($23,795), SE ($26,295) and Limited ($28,795). Canadian Entourage levels are: The GL ($29,995), GL Comfort ($31,995), GLS ($35,695) and Entourage Premium ($37,195). The Canadian base GL and the GL Comfort models are equal to the GLS in the United States.
All models come with a 3.8 litre V-6 engine with CCVT (Continuously Variable Valve Timing), 5-speed automatic with Shiftronic manumatic, anti-whiplash active front head restraints, six air bags (including full three-row curtain airbags), 4-wheel disc brakes with 4-channel ABS and EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution), air conditioning, keyless entry with alarm and immobilizer system, cruise control, power windows and door locks, AM/FM/CD audio system, tilt steering, fold into the floor third-row seating and front wiper de-icer.
The GLS (GL Comfort in Canada) adds: power operated rear quarter windows, dual power sliding rear side doors and 16” alloy wheels. The SE (GLS in Canada) adds: 17” alloy wheels, AM/FMCD/Cassette/MP3 audio system, 8-way power driver’s seat, TCS (Traction Control), ESC (Electronic Stability Control), electro-chromatic rear view mirror, front seat heaters, fog lights, steering wheel audio controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel, back up warning system, removable centre console, chrome exterior handles and dual-zone automatic climate control. The Limited (Entourage Premium) adds: leather seating, 8-way power seats for driver and 4-way passenger with power lumbar adjustment, trip computer and power tailgate to the already long list of features.
The Entourage is one of the safest minivans on the road today, and is expected to earn the NHTSA’s top 5-star crash test rating for front and side impacts. It has won the gold “Top Safety Pick” award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ““ their highest honor ““ and is the best rated ever for any minivan. In addition to the usual dual front airbags, the Entourage also comes with the following standard safety features: 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution), ESC (Electronic Stability Control), front seat-mounted side airbags, anti-whiplash active front head restraints, full three-row curtain air bags, keyless entry with alarm and immobilizer system. Additionally, all three rows of seats have adjustable head restraints and ALL seating positions enjoy three-point seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters! The GLS models have ESP (Electronic Stability Control) added to the above safety features. There are LATCH system points incorporated in the second and third-row seats.
The warranty is a comprehensive Bumper-To-Bumper 5 years/60,000 miles [100,000 kms] that includes a 5 year/60,000 miles [100,000 kms] powertrain warranty. Roadside Assistance is unlimited for three years.
Towing capacity is a maximum of 3,500 lbs.
Hyundai haven’t so much as hit a home run, but they’ve knocked the ball clear out of the stadium with the Entourage! The Entourage is exceptional in so many ways (but especially in power) that it’s changed my outlook toward the once “dreaded” mini-van. I’ve always considered the mini-van to be a far superior vehicle to any SUV for families of any size, and with all that Hyundai has stuffed into the Entourage; the equipment, safety features, interior space, quality materials and a bargain price you really have to think long and hard to find anything that offers value like the Entourage. I’m still not going to run out and buy a mini-van, but I firmly believe this has to be the new benchmark.
Update on this Road Test
“… like your testers, Hyundai Auto Canada was not satisfied with the placement of the DVD entertainment centre for the rear compartment. The vehicle you tested was an early production model having been placed on the road last summer. Current models have a revised, improved DVD system with the placement altered so that it is not so close to rear-seat viewers. I believe that you would find this significantly improved and more satisfactory.”
Manager – Public Relations, Hyundai Auto Canada
Related Article: Mini Van Showdown
Pricing for the 2007 Hyundai Entourage GLS Premium:
As tested: $30,995 [$37,195 Cdn]
Base price of the Entourage GL starts at: $23,795 [$29,995 Cdn]
Fuel Consumption: [Regular Fuel]
The V-6 Entourage is listed at 18.4 mpg City [13.2 L/100 km] and 27 mpg Highway [8.8 L/100 km]
I averaged 20.2 mpg [12 L/100km] in highway driving, 19 mpg [12.8 L/100km] combined
Outstanding quality fit and finish with many unique and useful features
Bargain-priced with first-class accommodations
More than enough power to satisfy anyone’s need for speed
The driver’s window is one-touch down, but not up
Would I Spend My Money On It?:
Absolutely positively – Yes!
Back Seat Driver Test: 10 out of 10
“Very easy to get in and out!”, “Plenty of room for adults to move between the seats and on into the back seat too.”, “Third-row seat is quite comfortable, even for an adult.”, “Because the middle seats can be moved forward, it provides tons of room to stretch out your legs.”
Buick Terraza, Chevy Uplander, Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Ford Freestar, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Nissan Quest, Pontiac Montana, Saturn Relay and Toyota Sienna.
By The Numbers:
Horsepower: 242 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 251 @ 3,500 rpm
Wheelbase: 118.9“ / Overall Length: 202” / Overall Width: 78.3” / Ground Clearance: 6.6” / Curb Weight: 4,385 lbs
10 – Quality
10 – Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
10 – Cargo Area/Trunk Space
10 – Special Features (Climate Control etc)
10 – Ease of Entry/Exit
10 – Front Roominess
10 – Rear Roominess
10 – Driving Position/Controls
9 – Drool Factor
10 – Fit & Finish
10 – Engine
10 – Transmission
10 – Ride & Handling
10 – Bang for the $$
9 – Fuel Economy
148 Total / 150
Copyright © 2007 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text / Images: Iain Shankland
Also Published at: PaddockTalk