The once-popular minivan started to fall out of favor when sports utility vehicles drove onto the automotive market. However, the minivan is starting to become a popular choice for families yet again; in fact, sales for minivans surged more than 80 percent for the second quarter of 2021.
What is the best looking minivan? The model with the best design might be a matter of opinion, but buyers have four models from which to choose:
- Chrysler Pacifica
- Honda Odyssey
- Toyota Sienna
- Kia Carnival
Two models—the Pacifica and the Sienna—are available as hybrids. While the Sienna is only available as a hybrid, consumers looking at the Pacifica could choose a standard model or a hybrid Pacifica.
The Four Models Compared
The four minivan models remaining on the market are quite comparable in price and safety. The Pacifica, Sienna and Odyssey all received a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Kia Carnival received a Top Safety Pick (for models built after March 2021 and equipped with specific headlights) from the IIHS.
All four models also are comparable in price. The Kia Carnival is the least expensive option among the four; the Carnival has a base price of $32,300. The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the most expensive minivan model, with a base price of $48,478.
In addition, the Sienna and the Pacifica Hybrid offer the best fuel efficiency. The Sienna offers an estimated 36 MPG (combined). The Pacifica Hybrid can get an estimated 84 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). In addition, the Pacifica Hybrid is the only plug-in hybrid on the market.
What’s the Best Looking Minivan?
The preference for a car’s design might be a matter of personal opinion. Gear Patrol picked the 2022 Toyota Sienna as the best looking minivan for 2022. The site noted that the choices were focused on two models: the Sienna and the Carnival.
The Sienna was chosen for “its sex appeal” as it embraced the van life with a massive grille. Can a minivan really be “sexy?” Compared to the other options, the Sienna might just be the best design. Gear Patrol posited that the Carnival had a design that tried to embrace more of an SUV aesthetic.
The Best Looking Minivans of the Past
Unfortunately, buyers don’t have many new minivan models from which to choose. Through the years, the options have whittled down as many manufacturers discontinued the minivan from their lineup.
What’s the coolest minivan of the past? Again, this could be a matter of opinion. However, consumers might look at the humble beginnings of the minivan. While the ‘van’ technically drove onto the scene in the ‘80s, the minivan really surged in the ‘90s.
The minivan had an earlier ancestor, too: the microbus. Volkswagen’s iconic microbus eventually became synonymous with the summer of love, hippies and a nomadic lifestyle. Some consumers might consider the microbus as the coolest design for a bus or van.
As more individuals have embraced the van life, the microbus and minivan might have become more intriguing options. Families convert these vehicles to include a bed and other amenities that make them conducive for life on the road.
Are there New Minivan Models?
Choices for new minivan models might be limited now, but the future could hold some new models for consumers. For example, Volkswagen is set to debut an updated microbus called the VW ID. Buzz. The new bus will be an electric model with an estimated range of about 260 miles.
Car and Driver notes that the new ID.Buzz should debut in 2024. While buyers might have a few years to wait for this new van option, it could be a nostalgic and popular model. Car and Driver estimates that buyers might expect to pay around $40,000 for the new bus. This price point would make the model one of the more expensive bus/van options on the market.
The Design of a Minivan vs. an SUV
Gear Patrol compared the design of the Carnival to an SUV, and consumers might wonder how these two vehicles differ in design. An SUV is built on a truck chassis, and this design makes the SUV heavier. Some consumers like the heft of the SUV as it makes them feel safer on the road.
Minivans are not built on a truck chassis. They also typically feature sliding side doors; buyers can often opt to purchase automatic sliding doors as an option. Hit a button on the key fob, and the doors conveniently slide open. This is a great feature for parents who need to place a sleeping child into the minivan or drivers whose hands are full.
While some buyers might assume that SUVs are the most spacious option, the minivan actually offers the most cargo space. Minivan models might include seats that can be removed or folded down to open up the back space.
Drivers who need a vehicle for towing, though, might be better suited for an SUV. Some larger SUVs can tow more than 8,000 pounds. Most minivan models, though, have towing capacities limited to about 3,500 pounds; the Pacifica offers the highest towing capacity (3,600 pounds).
Used Minivans Present Possibilities
As buyers have only a handful of minivan models from which to choose, some might decide to shop for a pre-owned or used model. Pre-owned minivans also could be more budget-friendly.
When shopping for a used minivan, though, buyers also might want to have more details about the safety ratings of the older options. Buyers can visit the IIHS website to research older minivan models; the site provides a search query tool that lets buyers search by make and model. Once buyers enter the make/model, they can select the model year to review the safety scorecard of earlier models.
Those who are looking at older minivans also can research the dependability of a particular model. J.D. Power releases its yearly Dependability Award winners; winners are always models from three years prior. The 2021 Dependability Award winner for the minivan category was the 2018 Toyota Sienna.
For each individual category, buyers can click on a link to see the scores of all the other models. All models are reviewed from ‘verified owners,’ and J.D. Power reviewed vehicle data from more than 80,000 owners.
The 2021 awards reviewed 2018 models, and there were several minivan models that have since been discontinued. For example, the 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan came in at second place (behind the Sienna). The list also included the now discontinued Kia Sedona (which ranked last among the models).
Research Minivans Using RelayCars
Car buyers looking for a new minivan can explore all their options by downloading the RelayCars app or using the RelayCars mobile site. The RelayCars app lets buyers preview minivan models in virtual reality (if they have access to Google Cardboard) or by using 3D imagery.
The RelayCars mobile website includes explorative preview options that integrate augmented reality. However, consumers also can explore models on the screen via interactive 3D car models.
With 3D imagery, app or site visitors can use their finger to interact with the photo of a selected vehicle. The immersive model can be turned around and viewed from any angle. Consumers also can explore the interior.
The RelayCars mobile website also provides users with an augmented reality showroom experience. Using a camera from a smartphone or tablet, consumers can select a vehicle model that can be transported into their own environment. The car, minivan, SUV or truck appears as a 3D model and can be dropped anywhere—view the vehicle in a garage, on the front lawn or in the driveway.
RelayCars also gives consumers the option to switch out the paint hue of any vehicle. For every model in the inventory, RelayCars includes all the available color options offered by the manufacturer. Preview the vehicle in every color to find the best hue.
Consumers also can use RelayCars to gather more information about a particular model. The app and the website provide data on every vehicle’s base price and specs. Use RelayCars to compare multiple models or just to find out more information on a favorite model.
When an individual is ready to purchase their car, the RelayCars app also provides a portal to Carsavers.com; consumers can explore a vehicle in an interactive 3D vehicle showroom. They can even explore the interior of different models and look around each vehicle. Navigating to Carsaver.com transports the buyer to a site that allows them to browse available vehicles and find the best prices on a new car.
Finding a new minivan is an immersive and interactive experience with RelayCars. Buyers can use the site as their one-stop destination to explore different older and newer minivan models. Change out the paint hues, look inside the van and even preview different models in the real world with augmented reality. RelayCars links up to Carsaver.com so buyers can find the best prices for the vehicle they want after comparing and previewing their favorite options via RelayCars.