8 Best Selling Minivans – We Test ‘Em

Your growing brood demands more room. Maybe you want a sporty ride, or a bit of the luxe factor. How about storage and cargo space? We examine the pros and cons.

By Aaron Gold

Toyota Sienna

Price range: $25,870 – $45,625
EPA fuel economy: 19 MPG city/24 MPG highway

While minivans like the Nissan Quest and Honda Odyssey have tried to bring their own brand of originality to the segment, the Sienna is a bit more rudimentary — and that’s what we like about it. The Sienna has everything we need in a van: Lots of space, flexible seating arrangements, and bulletproof build quality, plus it’s the only van to offer optional all-wheel-drive, a boon if you live in snow country. A wide choice of models, options and prices make it easy to find the perfect Sienna for your family.

LOVE IT: Wide model range, outstanding build quality, huge interior with excellent rear-seat access
LIKE IT: Car-like ride and handling
LEAVE IT: Parking it is like docking the Queen Mary

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Volkswagen Routan

Price range: $27,840 – $45,100
EPA fuel economy: 17 MPG city/25 MPG highway

The results of one of the strangest partnerships in the automotive industry, the Volkswagen Routan is actually a Dodge Grand Caravan that has been mildly Volkswagen-ized: Unique front and rear styling, slightly upgraded materials, and a suspension tuned to make it more fun to drive. The Routan’s stuffer suspension does make it feel more responsive and less bus-like than the Dodge Grand Caravan, but the Routan lacks the Stow-n-Go seats, one of our favorite features of the Dodge. Our biggest complaint? The stratospheric price.

LOVE IT: Agile handling, cool VW styling
LIKE IT: Powerful V6, 3 year of free maintenance
LEAVE IT: Significantly more expensive than other Chrysler-developed vans.


Price range: $20,420 – $26,220
EPA fuel economy: 21 MPG city/25 MPG highway

The Mazda5 is sort of a mini-minivan — it’s about the same length and width as a Honda Civic, yet its tall, boxy body provides seating for six. We like the Mazda5 because it drives like a sporty car (you can even get it with a stick-shift!) and yet it still has sliding doors and plenty of room for the kids (although you’ll need to fold one of the six seats down if you’re hauling a stroller). With prices starting around $20,000, it’s also the most affordable minivan on the market, though it lacks the high-end features found in bigger vans.

LOVE IT: Van convenience with small-car driving dynamics
LIKE IT: Dirt-cheap prices and good fuel economy
LEAVE IT: Short options list; lacks the family-friendly functionality of bigger minivans

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Nissan Quest

Price range: $26,815 – $44,525
EPA fuel economy: 19 MPG city/24 MPG highway

Big and bold, the Nissan Quest is arguably the most lavish minivan on this list, with a posh wood-trim interior and silky-smooth ride that wouldn’t be out of place in a luxury sedan. The Quest’s boxy shape gives lots of head and elbow room, and its second and third-row seats fold flat into the floor, making for easy conversion to a cargo van. On the downside, the second-row seats aren’t as comfortable for adults as those in other minivans.

LOVE IT: Dare-to-be different styling, luxurious interior
LIKE IT: Simple, logical control layout, smooth and quiet ride
LEAVE IT: High base price, low-mounted seats

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Dodge Grand Caravan

Price range: $21,930 – $36,900
EPA fuel economy estimates: 17 MPG city/25 MPG highway

This is the minivan that started it all — Dodge introduced the first Caravan back in 1984, when many of us were still in school. When it comes to family-friendly features, the Dodge still schools the competition: The Caravan is chock full nifty stuff like underfloor storage compartments for muddy boots; Stow-n-Go seats that can be folded into the floor, rather than yanked out and stored in the garage; and a powerful V6 that can haul you, your family, and your stuff up the steepest of hills. Feel free to go crazy on the options, because the Caravan is priced significantly lower than its Japanese competition.

LOVE IT: Family-friendly features, low price
LIKE IT: Stow-n-Go second-row seats are the ultimate in convenience
LEAVE IT: Expensive rear-seat entertainment system

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Honda Odyssey

Price range: $29,205 – $44,655
EPA fuel economy: 18 MPG city/27 MPG highway

The Odyssey’s unusual shape is Honda’s attempt to make minivans more stylish. Whether or not they succeeded is open to debate, but we can’t argue with the Odyssey’s flexible interior, which seats up to eight (most minivans hold seven) and provides plenty of room in all three rows. On a long road trip, your kids will appreciate the 16″ wide-screen DVD player with split-screen capability, and whoever runs the finances will like the Odyssey’s 27 MPG highway rating, best of any minivan on this list — but with prices starting near $30,000, it’s also one of the most expensive.

LOVE IT: Drives like a car
LIKE IT: Eight seats, easily reconfigurable interior
LEAVE IT: Pinched view through the rear window, high price

Kia Sedona

Price range: $25,700 – $34,840
EPA fuel economy: 18 MPG city/25 MPG highway

Kia has been undergoing a revolution in style and design; unfortunately, the Sedona has been largely left out. It’s not particularly pretty and some of the interior bits feel a bit cheap, but the Sedona drives well and delivers a lot of desirable features for a significantly lower price than most of its competitors.

LOVE IT: Nothing in particular
LIKE IT: Covers all the basics for a decent price; long warranty
LEAVE IT: Outdated compared to the competition

Chrysler Town & Country

Price range: $30,300 – $43,490
EPA fuel economy: 17 MPG city/25 MPG highway

The Chrysler Town & Country is the only luxury-branded minivan on the market, and we like the elegant touches that that remind us of the luxury cars we drove before we had kids. Standard equipment includes power sliding doors and tailgate, a boon when your arms are full of groceries and toddlers, and leather upholstery, which not only feels nice under your, um, hands, but is also easy to clean. We also love the T&C’s bargain pricing — even with all the toys, it’s less expensive than the top-of-the-line models from its Japanese competitors.

LOVE IT: Excellent value, lots of storage space, designed by people with kids
LIKE IT: Optional Stow-n-Go hide-away seats
LEAVE IT: Drives like a bus

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