Minivan vs. SUV: the decision has haunted families for nearly a quarter-century. Each vehicle type has its perks and drawbacks, which is why an in-depth analysis of features (both standard and optional) becomes all the more necessary when choosing the best option for you. To help make the decision a little easier, this guide breaks down the main features to consider along with the best vehicle for different types of buyer.
Both vehicles can be comparable for passenger capacity, fuel economy, and comfortability– so what are the major differences?
👉Cheaper on Average
Generally, minivans — especially used models — tend to cost thousands less than SUVs on average. That’s not to say minivans can’t put a bite into your wallet. Fully loaded minivans with options such as an entertainment system, heated driver’s seat, and leather can easily go toe-to-toe with SUVs on pricing. Although the average minivan costs less (at least at the base model), watch out for those expensive features that can make the price skyrocket.
Conversely, SUVs have so many more options that finding one to fit your budget is an easier venture. Although more affordable models may not have the roominess of a minivan, they can still seat seven passengers while offering many of the same interior specs. And with a vast array of engine choices, 4WD or AWD, and perhaps a clear edge in styling, budget SUVs are becoming more popular with consumers.
👉More Cargo Space
If you have to grocery shop for a big family or you’re a perennial do-it-yourself homeowner, the minivan gives you more space for everything. The generous amount of space in a minivan lies not only in the large cargo area behind the third seat but also on the lower floors, which increases the amount of cubic feet you can accommodate. And when you throw in foldable second-row and third-row seats and stow-and-go seating, you have the versatility to fit just about anything, no matter how bulky.
The proverbial icing on the cake is dual sliding doors, which allow you to place cargo just how you want it. Plus, many minivans made within the last five years come with a standard or optional power liftgate. At the touch of a button, you can open the rear even if your hands are full of groceries, home improvement supplies, or kids.
If you don’t see yourself as a minivan owner but still want loads of cargo capacity, look for the Chevy Suburban large SUV. With 144 cubic feet of cargo space, the Suburban’s capacity eclipses even the most sizable minivan — the Chrysler Pacifica.
👉Lower Tow Ratings (on average)
Typically, the most towing power you’ll get out of a minivan is 3,500 pounds. Conversely, the Ford Expedition can tow up to 9,300 pounds, rivaling even heavy-duty trucks.
There are only a few options for minivans available for Canadian drivers right now, The Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Pacifica, Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey and Kia Carnival. Where nearly every manufacturer offers a few options for SUVs- with different specifications to meet your needs.
👉More choices (more models, drivetrains, and engine types available)
Sometimes, front-wheel drive or two-wheel drive just won’t cut it in the harsh Canadian winter, even with excellent winter tires. You need the rugged abilities of four-wheel drive (4WD) or the tough-weather grip of all-wheel drive (AWD). Until 2021, the Toyota Sienna was the only minivan to offer all-wheel drive when it was joined by the Chrysler Pacifica. This ushered in a new era of powertrain options for minivans, but the SUV still reigns supreme.
SUVs offer all three drivetrains on various trims, allowing you to choose between a commuter vehicle or a beast that can overcome insurmountable terrain thanks to either all AWD and 4WD. Moreover, compact, midsize, and large SUVs all tend to offer AWD or 4WD, giving you more choices for your style, needs, and budget.
Additionally, many SUVs now come with hybrid powertrains to appease the planet-saving force within you. The versatile Toyota Highlander Hybrid offers 7.8L/100km while the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV boasts an all-electric range of up to 35 kilometers.
Other SUVs offer numerous gas-powered options that can provide straight-up power, more fuel efficiency, or a balance between the two. Several SUVs offer multiple powertrain options– like the Mistubishi outlander- available with a traditional Internal Combustion Engine, and a Plug-In Hybrid.
👉Better safety features on average
Every new vehicle in Canada has to go through a safety test administered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Rated on a scale from one to five stars, this rating determines how safe a vehicle is. Based on this test, SUVs and minivans — on average — tend to fare the same.
As such, the real comparison comes down to safety features. While both vehicle types offer a comprehensive array of active (via camera and radar) and passive (air bags and traction control) safety features, SUVs typically have more to offer in terms of the breadth of their advanced safety systems.
👉Better Towing capacity on average
Whether you love to go off-road or need a workhorse to tow a camper or trailer, SUVs have the advantage. Unlike minivans, automakers manufacture SUVs to come in more specialized models. For example, the Ford Explorer pairs seven seats with the capability for off-roading thanks to higher ground clearance and larger tires while the Chevrolet Suburban offers brawn and raw power behind a 6.2-liter V-8.
The real advantage that SUVs have over minivans is that nearly all of them (crossovers aside) have superior towing capabilities.
👉Less cargo space on average
As mentioned above, minivans are often better equipped for storage solutions- with a few notable exceptions. If you opt for a minivan- you’ll still have plenty of room for grocery runs, sporting equipment etc. but for camping and longer road trips- you may want to look into additional storage accessories such as a rooftop cargo box, traditional roof racks, or bike racks.
👉Less legroom on average
Until about a decade ago, minivans always had more space for passengers, as they were designed for burgeoning families and practicality. But the popularity of SUVs for families continued to soar. To keep up with demand, manufacturers threw in an additional third row or rear seats.
Although SUVs don’t offer the same amount of legroom, headroom, or shoulder room in their rows of seats, they can reasonably accommodate up to seven or eight passengers. Now, with the added versatility of different luxury features, sales of three-row SUVs continue to grow.
Most standard minivans without any options can haul seven passengers with the base model. But most consumers opt for the slightly nicer trims, which all tend to accommodate eight passengers with the notable exception of the Dodge Grand Caravan. However, most minivans come with second-row captain’s chairs, providing extra comfort for kids and passengers during road trips.
Whether you’re looking for an SUV or a minivan, VIDrives can help you find the best deal for you, your lifestyle, and your budget!
Get pre-approved today at www.vidrives.ca