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When minivans were first introduced in late 1983, they were a welcome change in a sea of station wagons. People loved the roomy interior, with a low floor and high roof, accessible from rear doors that *gasp* slid open. And the cargo space? It may or may not be a coincidence the first warehouse with the Costco name opened in the same year. Sales skyrocketed and eventually peaked in 2000. Enter the SUV … now there are only a handful of new 2022 models in the minivan segment to choose from.

Blurred Lines

Though sales have slowed in favor of SUVs or crossovers, the lines between minivans and SUVs aren’t as solid as one might think. Honda’s Odyssey is built on the same chassis as its SUV counterpart, the Pilot. Both the Toyota Sienna and the Chrysler Pacifica have all-wheel drive. And all of the models in the minivan segment have limited towing capabilities. Just because you’re living the #minivanlife doesn’t mean you can’t continue to do all the outdoorsy things you love. You can still transport your crew of eight (friends or family) and all of their bikes to the trailhead for the day, or pull a pop-up trailer to the campsite for a weekend adventure.

2021 Honda Odyssey

Photo Credit: Honda Auto News

Clear Advantages

Still, the stigma of driving a minivan remains. So much so that Kia has branded its Carnival as a multi-purpose vehicle rather than a minivan. Whatever you call them, modern minivans tend to have more family-friendly features — for both toddlers and teenagers alike — than certain SUVs.

Comfort 

Most minivans have more legroom in the back row than three-row SUVs. Some minivans also have reclining captain seats with leg rests in the middle row. Throw in a sweet infotainment system and USB ports aplenty and it’s as if you put wheels on your living room. How chill is that?

Sliding Doors

Kids carefully opening doors is the ultimate oxymoron. They inevitably fling regular car doors open, dinging your vehicle or the car parked next to yours. Sliding doors mean there’s no need to give up a rockstar parking space and circle the lot looking for a spot that isn’t next to a Porsche Cayenne. Some minivans are also equipped with kick sensors that allow you to open the sliding door by waving your foot under the vehicle. Perfect for days when you’ve got an infant carrier car seat in one hand and a large drink in the other. 

Easy Entry

Low floors are defining features of minivans. This makes it easier for grandparents, young children and small pets to get in and out of the vehicle. It’s also easier to load and unload your garage band’s instruments when you’ve got a gig.

Versatility

The same seats that offer so much comfort also make the minivan a versatile vehicle. Some can be removed, while others fold completely into the floor. You can slide that flat screen you scored for the Super Bowl in the back as effortlessly as you can the sheets of plywood you picked up to finish your latest project. You might even be able to fit a couple of whitewater kayaks inside, if that’s how you row. Nothing mini about that — sounds more like sport and utility. 

toyota sienna minivan

Photo Credit: Toyota Newsroom

Best Minivan to Buy

As with any type of vehicle, there isn’t a single minivan model that is the best. Consider your lifestyle and make a list of the features that are most important to you. For instance, a minivan with a built-in vacuum is often a must for families with younger children or multiple pets, but not necessary for a team of teens. Legroom and seat comfort are usually more important in the latter scenario. 

Your location also factors into your purchase decision. A minivan with AWD and/or heated seats is going to be more desirable in snowy regions (Hello, Salt Lake City!), while desert drivers (Looking at you, St. George!) may prefer a model that also has cooled front seats and built-in rear window sunshades. 

Our advice? Take two test drives. The first with adults only, the second with others who will be in the vehicle with you most often. Everyone should try out the different features to help determine which make and model is the best minivan to buy. 

New or used, there are more than a thousand minivans for sale on KSL Cars. It’s easy to filter your search by drive type, year, make, model, location or other buying criteria using the KSL Classifieds app or our website. Start shopping today!