I’ve had the following conversation at least 10 times in the past few months.
Friend: Hey Travis, I’m looking for a new vehicle for the family. I need enough room for a couple of car seats—with adequate space as the kids get older—and enough room for road trips and day-to-day hauling of life. Oh, and it needs to be decent on fuel efficiency. What do you suggest?
Me: You should definitely consider a minivan!
Friend: Not happening.
Me: OK. What’s your budget, and are you buying new or used?
Friend: We want to buy new if we can. We’re in the $35,000 range, give or take a few thousand.
Me: Great. Get a minivan.
Friend: I told you already, we don’t want a minivan.
Me: I know what you said, but a minivan delivers on everything you said you need. Just suck it up and get a minivan. You won’t regret it.
Sadly, there are too many people with that type of thinking. Yes, I know what I said here, but minivans are awesome. Especially if you have these specific requirements.
Of course, the price point of newer models can get pretty high, but the minivan game has changed considerably since the days of wood panels.
Here we take a look at five minivans that should be on your to-drive list when looking for a new family hauler.
Chrysler has slimmed down its lineup considerably. With so many varied nameplates within the FCA family (Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo), it makes sense for each to take on a specific look and feel. For Chrysler, that meant keeping the badass 300 sedan and reinventing the Pacifica into a luxury minivan.
The latter was a gutsy move—and one that has delivered. Step inside the all-new Pacifica and you’re transported into beautiful, modern space that borders on futuristic. I don’t think any of those words have been used to describe a minivan. Ever.
The Pacifica also boasts a hybrid version and nine-speed transmission—both are firsts.
Starts from $36,095
The Kia Sedona is like that unassuming new kid in school. The other kids aren’t sure whether to pick him for their hockey team, yet when he gets a chance to play he rises to the top.
I find that many people are still hesitant to put Kia on their to-buy list. Well, that’s their loss. The Sedona has quietly become one of my favourites in the segment. Its stately styling is modern and fresh, but doesn’t scream out to passerbys.
In typical Kia fashion, the entry-level trim comes with enough standard features to make it worth considering, and there are plenty of options and add-ons to turn the Sedona into a premium ride. And it drives like a sedan—you don’t feel the extra size and weight in the way you might expect.
Starts from $27,995
A stalwart in this segment, the Toyota Sienna continues to be a top choice for anyone looking to buy a minivan.
The updated 2018 Sienna takes on a much more aggressive appearance with a lower, wider mesh grille, and sharper body lines that give it a sporty look. It’s a bold departure from previous Sienna models that were a bit plain and appealed to the masses. It’s a smart move for Toyota, who will definitely turn some heads…with a minivan.
Expect all the same goodness from previous models, including the title as the only vehicle in this category to offer AWD.
Starts from $33,690
Another longstanding member of the minivan club, the Honda Odyssey also gets a full makeover for the 2018 model year.
Honda has shown that it’s capable of harnessing technology for good—and it appears they’ve hit that perfect balance with the Odyssey. The infotainment system is sleek and modern, but without an over indulgence of touch-everything. Thank goodness.
The sculpted bodylines give it that extra pop it was previously missing and, inside, Honda has created their most serene Odyssey cabin to date.
Starts from $34,890
Mercedes-Benz Metris Passenger
To some, this might be the thing that doesn’t belong.
Sure, the Metris Passenger van is definitely a fleet-oriented vehicle for businesses and shuttles, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t fit. Plus, for anyone who has a small business and family, it could be a the best two-for-one purchase available.
It seats eight, drives surprisingly quiet and feels like it can take a beating from constant passengers jumping in and out. And, while it does have a bevy of safety tech features, it comes with a very straightforward interior setup for those who could care less about big screens and other such newfangled things.
Starts from $42,100
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