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RICK KRANZ

Toyota Sienna holds narrow lead in U.S. minivan race

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.

The minivan sales race has turned into a real nail-biter.

Through April, the top three contenders are separated by a mere 754 units, with the Toyota Sienna holding on to the No. 1 spot with sales of 37,060 units.

Dodge Caravan is second with 36,721 vehicles, just 339 minivans behind, and the Honda Odyssey is cruising in third place with 36,306 sales.

However, the final rankings might be considerably different at the end of the year.

The popularity of the Honda and Sienna minivans likely is due to last year’s redesigns.

Interestingly, last year’s overall No. 1 seller, the Chrysler Town & Country, is trailing in fourth, with sales of 32,769 units. The Caravan and T&C received a freshening for the 2011 model year.

This year, parts shortages likely will have a bigger impact on minivan sales than buyer preferences as a result of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

For the time being, Honda and Toyota have both dialed back overall vehicle production.

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