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New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the scream-better dept.

Transportation 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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Hmmm (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 months ago | (#47500065)

It seems that in the US at least, the minivan is quite nearly dead. How many companies other than Chrysler are still making them for the US market at all? Not many.

As for the "pull down mirror", that isn't even remotely new technology. Other vehicles have had those for a decade or more. But of course because America - and the American media especially - love Toyota with a great passion, we regard it as a technological marvel.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500119)

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

[Citation Needed]

Re:Hmmm (5, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 months ago | (#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:Hmmm (1)

darylb (10898) | about 2 months ago | (#47500289)

Kia killed theirs off for one year, but a brand new Sedona model has just been introduced.

Re:Hmmm (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 months ago | (#47500599)

Yeah, I lumped them together since they are the same company. Sort of like the old Plymouth/Dodge/Chrysler, Mercury/Ford, or Pontiac/Chevy/Oldsmobile minivans.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47501059)

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.

What is new is a microphone the driver can use to carry his / her voice to the back bench(es).

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47501545)

My 2008 Hyundai Entourage has a conversation mirror.

Re: Hmmm (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 2 months ago | (#47500171)

We have a minivan. We got it just before our first child was born 11 years ago. It was quite handy during the years when the kids required a ton of stuff for trips (stroller, seat to eat in, portable crib, ton of diapers, etc). Now it is overkill and the low mileage makes it expensive to drive on long trips. When the time comes to replace it, we're definitely getting something with better mpg.

Re: Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500281)

get mazda 5 sport handles like a car but you can fit 6 people 2 grown ups and 4 kids with child seats. 24mph versus about 15mph for my wife dodge caravan.

Re: Hmmm (5, Informative)

gfxguy (98788) | about 2 months ago | (#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: Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500847)

Yeah, I got my 03 Odyssey new and it's still going strong - they are really the best vehicle out there for families. I've started running snow tires in the winter because we go up into the mountains pretty regularly, and with those on I can get up pretty much any road a 4 wheel drive with all seasons can.
Having said that, in a couple of years I may be looking at a Suburban because I'll be doing some more serious towing, but otherwise I'd certainly be looking at another minivan. The Odyssey handles a 3000+ lb travel trailer ok, but I wouldn't want to try taking it up any serious hills with that type of load - the tranny isn't made for it.

Re: Hmmm (3, Informative)

bmajik (96670) | about 2 months ago | (#47501143)

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.

Re: Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47501381)

My parents have leased a minvan as their second vehicle for about 15 years, trying out many, many models. While the Honda Odyssey is their second-favorite (for many of the reasons you mentioned -- they live in a rural area that recieves heavy snow), their all-time-favorite was the Oldsmobile Sillouette, back in the late 90s. Among other things, it was a true 4WD vehicle and there hasn't been anything quite like it since.

Re: Minivans useful (5, Informative)

quintessentialk (926161) | about 2 months ago | (#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: Minivans useful (3, Interesting)

pnutjam (523990) | about 2 months ago | (#47500839)

The hardest part is multiple kids in car seats, even one rear facing car seat can be difficult to get into many sedans.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500215)

It seems that in the US at least, the minivan is quite nearly dead. How many companies other than Chrysler are still making them for the US market at all? Not many.

Chrysler Town & Countery / Dodge Caravan
Toyota Sienna
Honda Odyssey
Kia Sedona
Mazda 5
Nissan Quest

So plenty of makers for them. It's just GM & Ford that have given up on them.

As for conversation mirrors, I don't understand the point of them. We have one in our 2011 Sienna (and it wasn't even an option I think...just a standard part of every package except the stripped down, bare bones model). Yes, it allows you to see the presence of everyone, but it's not like you can make out a whole lot of details in that tiny convex mirror. I find the thing absolutely useless.

re: minivan dead? (5, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | about 2 months ago | (#47500251)

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.

The Station Wagon Was Killed by CAFE Standards (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500331)

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

"Stigma" had nothing to do with it.

Re: minivan dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500383)

I'd say the problem with the minivan is it typically gets just as poor, if not worse gas mileage than an SUV. They're also priced as high as an SUV (excepting the soon to go away Caravan). The towing capacity of minivans (rather than full size vans) is worse than an SUV, as is handling on rough roads.

So, unless you have more than 4 people in the vehicle at a time, why bother with a minivan? The only market for them are families with 3 or more children who want to get slightly better gas mileage than you'd see in the size of SUV that offers a 3rd row seat (the 3rd row seat is also more difficult to get infants/toddlers in and out of).

Your argument about what they say about the driver also holds as another reason.

Re: minivan dead? (4, Informative)

netsavior (627338) | about 2 months ago | (#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.

Re: minivan dead? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500771)

>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):

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/byclass/Small_SUV_4WD2014.shtml

> and absolutely all vehicles with similar passenger capacity (7 or 8 passengers)...

Well, there's the rub.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_fertility_rate#United_States

The average family doesn't need to seat more than 4.

>Not to mention resale value and reliability rating.

They sell at far below SUV values.

http://www.vmrcanada.com/value_menus/canprices/08hoodey.html
http://www.vmrcanada.com/value_menus/canprices/08jegree.html

>The Minivan is the practical and logical choice...

If you ignore fuel economy and the number of passengers in the average North American family.

>Not to mention, with seats down/out, the cargo capacity is laughably better than an Explorer or other "large" suvs.

Few families seem to care. Also, small SUVs can fit the largest thing the average family is likely to put in them (a dishwasher, in my case). Just about anything else gets delivered nowadays.

>(Explorer and Tahoe, which are "large" suvs, cannot fit a washer/dryer, even with all seats folded)

Really? The Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is a "medium" SUV, fits that, because I moved one. You have found a very poorly designed SUV, sir, considering it's bigger than mine! Or a very large washer/dryer.

>It is fine to hate Minivans, but to pretend they are somehow less practical than an SUV is kind of laughable.

It's laughable that you believe the average family needs seating for 7, or that the average family spends most of their time carting about major appliances. One can rent a van for $20 if their SUV can't hold a washer/dryer. Considering they'll need to do so perhaps twice over the life of the vehicle, the mpg savings alone pay the difference.

Of course, personally, I am planning to get a car as my other vehicle, because the SUV, like a minivan, is a gas hog.

Re: minivan dead? (3, Interesting)

rhodium_mir (2876919) | about 2 months ago | (#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):

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/byclass/Small_SUV_4WD2014.shtml

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

Re: minivan dead? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47501151)

It's laughable that you believe the average family needs seating for 7, or that the average family spends most of their time carting about major appliances. One can rent a van for $20 if their SUV can't hold a washer/dryer. Considering they'll need to do so perhaps twice over the life of the vehicle, the mpg savings alone pay the difference.

There's the rub - there is no "average" driver. We all look for a vehicle which meets our particular needs / wants. The average family in the US may have 2 or 3 children, but several have five (my own parents had seven). Then consider the young family stage where you must tote around car seat, stroller, play-pen, toys, diapers, change of clothes, etc. Or the family who goes on extended road trips or camping outings. There always will be outliers.

Why minivans have a bad reputation (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 2 months ago | (#47500489)

Honestly though, I think the minivan could enjoy a resurgence in popularity if it was approached from a slightly different angle.

Perhaps. Minivans are undeniably practical for many uses but they are hard to make sexy. Of course it doesn't help that they have ugly styling, bad fuel economy and handle like a river barge for the most part.

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!

The problem is how to do that economically. There are all sorts of cool things you can do if money is no object. I think you'd have more luck with them if you started with solving the styling and fuel economy problems, then work your way to fixing the handling and then get into nifty features like what you describe. A minivan would seem to be the ideal place for a hybrid powertrain and I'm surprised there are basically no 4WD/AWD options out there.

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

That is the reason I have a folding tonneau cover on mine. Solves that problem for the majority of cases and even improves gas mileage slightly.

Re: minivan dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500519)

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)

You mean, like an MPV?

Listen in (5, Informative)

GlobalEcho (26240) | about 2 months ago | (#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.

Re: minivan dead? (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 2 months ago | (#47501313)

TO be honest, I like the idea (and I'm a grown up man) of a minivan. I see the Sienna, and seems to have aggressive looks. But never as the SUVs.

I'd go for the minivan if they had more aggressive/sporty looks. As you said, it's the stigma it's for moms, and therefore, for some reason they look like cute cars rather than sporty cars. Make them look sporty like the new Siennas, and they will win some market back (unless people actually need AWD).

Re:Hmmm (1, Interesting)

netsavior (627338) | about 2 months ago | (#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 [goodcarbadcar.net]

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...

Re:Hmmm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500773)

You might want to get them tubes tied, horn dog.

Re:Hmmm (2)

netsavior (627338) | about 2 months ago | (#47501307)

this is more funny than you know. I have had 2 vasectomies...

Forgetting about full sized vans? (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 2 months ago | (#47501597)

My reality is that they only sell $45,000 suvs or much cheaper minivans that can fit my whole family

You can buy a Ford E-Series [ford.com] van or Ford Transit [ford.com] van that will seat more than any minivan, tow more and is available for as little as $30,000. Only real downside is that the MPG kind of sucks.

The death is greatly exaggerated (4, Interesting)

darylb (10898) | about 2 months ago | (#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.

Minivans are practical but ignored (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 2 months ago | (#47500701)

While there were 14 manufacturers of minivans 15-20 years ago, there are only five today

7 actually (Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Kia, Nissan, Mazda, VW) though I think VW might contract the actual manufacturing to Chrysler.

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.

A Jeep Grand Cherokee with the diesel option will get around 30mpg on the highway and seat up to 7. The current Dodge Grand Caravan gets 17 city, 25 highway which is roughly the same as a full sized pickup truck with a boosted V6 engine. There really is no excuse for minivans to not be able to get mpg over 30mpg appropriately configured.

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

It won't. It might not be sexy but as you point out there is nothing else out there with the capabilities of one. Sometimes practicality just rules the day.

I think the main problem with minivans is that the car companies have focused too much attention on SUVs and not progressed the category as much as they could have. Minivan gas mileage is better than big SUVs but what isn't? And it's not as good as it could be. I can get a big pickup with a 400HP engine that isn't much worse on gas mileage than your typical minivan. No way that should be possible. I have to believe there probably is a market for a hybrid powertrain minivan. Minivan handling is pathetic even by truck standards for the most part (except for Mazda's offering). They generally lack options like 4WD. They are used for hauling kids and stuff and yet they have cloth interiors that cannot be easily cleaned. I have a Nissan Xterra and I can literally hose out the interior of that car which I occasionally need to after toting my dogs or mountain bike around. I haven't been in a minivan used by kids that couldn't use a good hosing down. Minivan styling is horrendous. Nobody buys one because they think it looks nice.

Re:Minivans are practical but ignored (1)

bmajik (96670) | about 2 months ago | (#47501367)

I think VW might contract the actual manufacturing to Chrysler.

Indeed. The VW Routan was a Chrysler Town and Country with some different skins on the inside and out. It was so much not a VW product that the VCDS system (the thing you can use to do vehicle diagnostics on any VW, Audi, Seat, or Skoda product since the early 90s) doesn't even talk to it.

In the German market, VW sells Vans of all different sizes. None of them are currently imported to the US; the Eurovan was the last rest-of-world van that was available in North America.

Re:The death is greatly exaggerated (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about 2 months ago | (#47500891)

Ford's getting back in the game with the transit. It looks pretty good, although ford has a poor track record with minivans. Their villager (quest) was the last good one they made.

Minivan death greatly exagerated (1, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | about 2 months ago | (#47500407)

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

Not even remotely [goodcarbadcar.net] . 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.

Re:Hmmm (1)

b0r0din (304712) | about 2 months ago | (#47500475)

Let me guess, you live in the city?

Crossovers and SUVs have definitely taken from the minivan market but there's no question that minivans are going to be here for a while. They are very convenient and IMO more comfortable than the SUVs we tried, especially at the price. The minivan we got was at least 10-15k less than a comparable SUV, plus fuel economy is better and IMO the interior is so much more comfortable for long trips than other vehicles.

The biggest disappointment has been fuel effiency. The minivans in general have done very little in the Hybrid space, you don't really get your money's worth if you want a Hybrid minivan. Guess what? The vast majority of SUVs have worse fuel efficiency.

I've got a Sienna with a V6, it has some sweet power and acceleration. Not to mention the car has been around forever so there are very few major issues with it. My only major concern is front passenger side safety, which is not as good as the rest of the car.

I'm not bothered by that soccer mom bullsh*t. In fact I typically drive an older Camry and I'd gladly get in the minivan over that thing.

If you live or work in the city though, minivans are far less convenient - they are big, hard to park, and not hipster enough for you. In the suburbs, they are perfect.

Re: Hmmm (1)

Dean Woodyatt (3409097) | about 2 months ago | (#47500841)

Now they just need active noise canceling microphones in the back so when the kids do try to shout back, it's phase cancelled and their voices are diminished :-p

Wiffle ball bat holder too? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 2 months ago | (#47500081)

Now, if only there was a convenient place to store my wiffle ball bat too. At least they already have a "mean look" mirror (http://blogs.cars.com/.a/6a00d83451b3c669e2017d41511f46970c-800wi).

Re:Wiffle ball bat holder too? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500223)

Every parent needs to kick their kids ass (spank) at least once and only when they really fuck up.
Problem solved for the rest of your fkn life and you probably never need to scream at them, unless your kids are sociopaths or have other mental illnesses.
ADHD is bull shit excuse and is usually caused by crappy parenting (TV, iPad nanny etc) and too much sugar in kids diet.

Soccer moms at slashdit? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500117)

Did not know. Did not know.

kids can't talk back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500125)

can they make something for the home, too? maybe classroom?

Re:kids can't talk back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47501299)

NTY, this is spyware technology similar to onstar, to spy on passenger voices inside cars. They dangle some lame benefit like talking to your kids in the back seat so you will willingly accept this eeevil tech. Say no to spyware inside cars.

Moms have been doing this for years. (3, Funny)

axl917 (1542205) | about 2 months ago | (#47500135)

> ...'pull-down conversation mirror' that lets drivers check on kids without turning around."

Back in the 70's, those mysterious "eyes in the back of the head" that'd always catch you when you were about to yank your sister's pigtails.

This would actually be useful the other way around (1)

s0nicfreak (615390) | about 2 months ago | (#47500179)

! Not so that the kids can yell at me, but so that I can actually HEAR them over the wind blowing through the windows and the cars outside. I know how to project my voice, so the kids hear me fine, but I can't hear them at all. And I'm just in a car.

But just no, to the conversation mirror - most parents already don't keep their eyes on the road, we don't need to give them another excuse.

Re:This would actually be useful the other way aro (2)

gunner_von_diamond (3461783) | about 2 months ago | (#47500219)

I agree, it would be more useful the other way around. Turn the van into a "Driver Speak Easy". That would really be helpful to parents.

Re:This would actually be useful the other way aro (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#47500391)

If you don't mind looking ridiculous, the helicopter market has had this for ages (since there's nothing quite like sitting under a propeller going fast enough to keep you in the air when it comes to noise...) Nice, sturdy, over-the-ear headphones with substantial protection from outside noise, along with a mic which gets piped to everyone else's headphones so they can hear you as though you were speaking in a more normal environment(the ability to mute individual users would, of course, be vital in broad application).

Re:This would actually be useful the other way aro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500401)

I agree, it would be more useful the other way around. Turn the van into a "Driver Speak Easy". That would really be helpful to parents.

...as long as that's not an option for all the Siennas that are used as Taxis.

Re:This would actually be useful the other way aro (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 2 months ago | (#47501215)

But just no, to the conversation mirror - most parents already don't keep their eyes on the road, we don't need to give them another excuse.

Ah, memories of my childhood. Things like my father flying down the freeway at 60 turning around in his seat and screaming "You look at me when I'm talking to you boy!" while everyone else screamed about oncoming traffic.

At the time I learned to drive, I considered my greatest achievement was being able to hold a conversation without looking at the person I'm speaking with.

*Facepalm* (3, Funny)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 2 months ago | (#47500195)

This ranks right up there with the dedicated chicken nuggets button on some ovens.

Re:*Facepalm* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500817)

That is a delicious button, sir

Re:*Facepalm* (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 months ago | (#47500915)

If only they mic'd up the whole car, instead of just the front. Then it would allow passengers in the rear to participate in cellphone calls, and make having a conversation throughout the vehicle much easier. It would make the middle and rear space less second class. But being one-way, it really does come across as a "yell at the kids" feature.

Reminds me of the line from "Chicken Little" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47501413)

"Awww, but I don't get to use the BIG VOICE very much"

I have an idea (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 months ago | (#47500207)

They should implement voice-changing methods. Then you could make your voice super low and booming and be like "THIS IS GOD. STOP FIGHTING."

Darth Vader (4, Funny)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 2 months ago | (#47500345)

A Darth Vader voice would be more fun for misbehaving kids:

"I find your lack of behaviour disturbing"

"I am your father"

"That was before you misbehaved, now I am altering the deal...pray I do not alter it any further."

"I hope so for your sake, your mother is not as forgiving as I am”

Re:Darth Vader (1)

pavon (30274) | about 2 months ago | (#47501081)

Bat Dad [youtube.com]

Re:I have an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500911)

And a mode that uses noise cancellation to make it eerily quiet, the multi-zone climate control to introduce a sudden chill (even better if the seats can send a chill up the spine), and a creepy voice that can come from a different area of the car every time or phase-inverted so it seems to come from everywhere and nowhere.

Enabling Dysfunctionality (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500227)

This must be part of a Japanese plot to help subvert American society in the long run (not that we need any help!). Here's a hint, parents: exercise a little discipline and control over your childrens' lives. Then when you put them in the car and go for a drive, they won't be brats that require your constant attention and cause you to rear-end someone at the next red light. They'll also grow happier and mentally healthier and become responsible, functioning adult members of society someday, instead of 30-something basement dwellers still living on Mom's income and playing video games.

Re:Enabling Dysfunctionality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500889)

I was grilling some chicken in my back yard yesterday evening and could not believe the dysfunctionality of my neighbors two doors down. The were not arguing or fighting, but every verbal exchange was really loud and aggressive. Two fat fuck parents and their moron children having an average summer evening and oblivious to the fact that they could be heard a block away. This is also the brain donor who fires up his leaf blower at 9.00am on a Sunday. Just pure brain dead american filth.

I just got married (0)

Sam36 (1065410) | about 2 months ago | (#47500239)

and I don't agree with birth control. So I'll be in the market soon.

Re:I just got married (0)

hey! (33014) | about 2 months ago | (#47500389)

I'm pretty sure birth control exists.

Re:I just got married (0)

Sam36 (1065410) | about 2 months ago | (#47500541)

I'd rather have more kids than risk my wife having adverse side effects to birth control (stroke, death, blindness, infertility)

Re:I just got married (2, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 months ago | (#47500649)

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

Re:I just got married (1)

Scottingham (2036128) | about 2 months ago | (#47500681)

You do realize that those risks are miniscule compared to the health complications from pregnancy and birth, right? There are also multiple non-hormonal methods to birth control as well.

It's all well and good to not be into BC, but don't pretend its primarily for health reasons.

Re:I just got married (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47501179)

Ain't letting nobody wave no knife around my manly bits. They be too manly for that!

Re:I just got married (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47501451)

Your wife can have adverse side effects from you wearing a condom?

Re:I just got married (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500647)

I remain unconvinced! I am also unconvinced being pregnant and/or giving birth has any side effects on one's body!

Re:I just got married (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500467)

I don't agree with birth control

Could you be more specific? Which opinions of which birth control methods do you refute?

What Could Go Wrong? (1)

Irate Engineer (2814313) | about 2 months ago | (#47500261)

Hmm, adding technology that allows the driver to focus their attention on what is going on in the back seat rather than the road? What could go wrong?

They need a "Sit Down and Shut-Up" package - 5 point restraints and ball-gags for the kids in the back seat.

Re:What Could Go Wrong? (1)

Timothy Hartman (2905293) | about 2 months ago | (#47500361)

The ball gags would be nice for some adults too. They could sell quite a few of these fetishmobiles.

Re:What Could Go Wrong? (1)

b0r0din (304712) | about 2 months ago | (#47500591)

They already do. They are called white Dodge vans without back windows.

I'd much rather have the option ... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 2 months ago | (#47500267)

... to separate the rear into two passenger compartments that are isolated from each other. This would remove most of the reasons for chewing out the passengers there.

News that matters? (2)

snoig (535665) | about 2 months ago | (#47500287)

So this is 'news that matters' now? It looks more like astro-turfing for Toyota?

How about some compelling features like 40 MPG (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#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:

http://green.autoblog.com/2013/11/07/toyota-estima-hybrid-minivan/ [autoblog.com]

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.

Old is new (5, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | about 2 months ago | (#47500301)

My Aunt had a car back in the '50s that had a speed alert buzzer - she'd set it and teld the kids the car could tell when someone was misbehaving - whenever the kids in the back seat started in on each other she'd speed up so it went off. Spooky car that one...

Worked on similar concept (2)

bigonese (1606593) | about 2 months ago | (#47500315)

We worked on something just like this years ago (over 10 years ago) at an engineering internship I had at an automotive supplier in Michigan. We had a whole mock-up for an auto show. We put directional microphones in a rear-view mirror and sent the signal through an amplifier to the car speakers. The biggest problem we had to overcome was feedback. It is really hard to amplify someones voice in such a small, enclosed space without horrendous feedback, and feedback at all kinds of audio frequencies. I remember we bought this off-the-shelf commercial feedback killer and mounted it under the dash just for the demo and it even had a hard time killing all the feedback.

Re:Worked on similar concept (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 2 months ago | (#47501331)

Amplify it and call it a feature. A deafening blast of screeching feedback noise every time the kids misbehave would be a hell of a deterrent.

Optional: electrical shocks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500327)

Optional: electrical shocks.

I know at leat three people driving Sienna's (1)

pecosdave (536896) | about 2 months ago | (#47500423)

each of them over ten years old.

I'm not a Mini-van fan, but those things, even at 10+ years are nice on the inside and you can't kill them. They just keep going. Also, the years they were built they were more American than the Mustang of the same year model, actually passing it up in parts manufactured in the U.S./ Canada. I don't know if the whole "Sienna is more American than the Mustang" thing is still true or not, but a little over ten years ago it was.

Insensitive... (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 2 months ago | (#47500433)

Slashdotters don't have wives let alone kids, you insensitive clod.

Sounds good to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500437)

Speaking as someone who is a regular passenger in a Toyota Sienna (and an occasional passenger in other makes/models of minivan) for work carpools and extended family trips, I welcome this feature. The modern minivan is hardly designed with acoustics in mind and it is very hard to have a conversation between the front row and the second row.

Conditioning? (1)

Shark (78448) | about 2 months ago | (#47500447)

Yes kids, learn early that authority comes out of a loudspeaker, that's a useful trait for the future you are headed to. Next stop, Dystopia City.

Another high point is achieved ... (3, Interesting)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | about 2 months ago | (#47500559)

... 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:Another high point is achieved ... (4, Informative)

Jeremi (14640) | about 2 months ago | (#47500887)

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:Another high point is achieved ... (4, Funny)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | about 2 months ago | (#47501241)

Which is precisely why I advocate the use of shock collars. The rest of this stuff is just sissy nonsense.

Re:Another high point is achieved ... (2)

BitZtream (692029) | about 2 months ago | (#47501437)

Everytime you see someone talk about parents doing something like this being 'wrong' you can rest assured that they've never had any children or taken care of them for any length of time.

but does it have a feedback loop eliminator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500595)

would certaily come in useful for those singing-in-the-car-[LOUDLY]-to-ones-self moments... maybe an aftermarket reverb unit to make it even more obnoxious, rewired to patch through the car's entire audio system... just because

actually not a bad idea (2)

dominux (731134) | about 2 months ago | (#47500597)

People in cars face forward, in the front I can hear the kids just fine, no problem at all. It really is quite difficult to hear forward facing people in the front from the back. Of course there is a further difference between hearing and listening, but this doesn't sound like the most crazy thing I have ever heard of.

Re:actually not a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47500777)

If there's plenty noise in the car I can't hear the back when sitting in the front either. Then again, at certain noise levels I have a hard time decoding voice at all, where other people can follow conversations held at the other end of the room. Had it since at least highschool, so probably not hearing damage.

Anyhow, if we're going to put that tech in cars, why not take it up to general usefulness? Add directional microphones in the back too, add noise suppression and feedback prevention, hook it up to the car kit with a selector. It seems so obvious to me, but apparently it isn't.

I was a kid once ... (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 2 months ago | (#47500739)

... before I was let go.

Amplified parenting is trumped by ear buds.

Drown out the wheezing rhinos (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 months ago | (#47500815)

And the hum of their Rascal scooters.

Slashdot reports on installation of PA in car (2)

bad-badtz-maru (119524) | about 2 months ago | (#47500819)

I'm sure I saw at least three dozen other commercials last night, anyone want to post an article about those?

my vehicle... (1)

davethomask (3685523) | about 2 months ago | (#47500843)

ah, my subaru 4wd

Not new at all (1)

neo-mkrey (948389) | about 2 months ago | (#47500927)

My wife's 2014 Highlander has both of these features. Also built-in pull down sunsceeens for the passengers.

Parent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47501173)

As much as I hate parenting threads on slashdot, because you generally crap on the parents for being concerned about their kids, taking an active interest, or trying to solve a problem . . . this is just stupid.

If you don't know the kids in your vehicle well enough to know what's going on without turning around AND/OR you can't raise your voice in a non-abusive, yet thoroughly effective way, then technology isn't going to help you.

Stupid article (1)

RobinH (124750) | about 2 months ago | (#47501335)

Why is anyone complaining about this? It's a well-known problem, even in smaller cars but especially in minivans, that the people in the rear seat can't easily hear the people in the front seat, so the people in front typically have to raise their voice. This is simply because they're facing forwards. People in the front have no problem hearing the people in the back. So this new feature certainly makes sense as it amplifies the front seated person's voice but not the people in the back. This will actually prevent people from shouting. The parents don't start by shouting... it's more like:

Child: why do they paint road signs yellow?

Mother: so they stand out better and you can see...

Child: Mommy, why do they paint road signs yellow?

Mother: SO YOU CAN SEE THEM EASIER!

Re:Stupid article (1)

turning in circles (2882659) | about 2 months ago | (#47501561)

Another shortcoming of the article is that this feature could be quite useful for more than parents; tour guides for small personalized tours could also use minivans with a microphone they don't have to separately install.

Law of Unintended Consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47501359)

So is the microphone going to mute itself in the event of another Sudden Unintended Acceleration, so that the poor kids don't have to hear an amplified version of mommy's screaming as the vehicle is accelerating through an intersection? (Disclaimer: a cousin of mine who is semi-professional race car driver has experienced SUA in a parking lot... I'm not buying Toyota's story about it always being driver error).

Pandering to Idiots (1)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | about 2 months ago | (#47501375)

It is the mirror that attracted my attention. Someone who cannot keep his attention on the road while he is driving shouldn't be driving, let alone raising kids.

 

If I had a Driver's License and kids... (1)

Urian Dang (3744199) | about 2 months ago | (#47501403)

I would have some serious fun with that bad boy. Maybe spook them enough so that they will behave.
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