In the past, almost every automaker sold a minivan in the United States – but now?
Automakers like Hyundai, Nissan, Mazda, Volkswagen, and General Motors are out of the family MPV game in the United States. Of course, you could say the Ford Transit Connect somehow rivals in the minivan world, but it’s a bit more industrial. I think it’s more of a shuttle than a family vehicle. That leaves Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, and Kia – the only automakers to sell a family van in the United States.
The case of the minivan
Since the 1950s, when the Volkswagen Type 2 bus was imported to the United States, the idea of a small box that could easily transport humans seemed logical. Despite this, it took us years to build our own. Chrysler dominated the market with their new MPV in the mid-1980s. They dominated the segment for years.
One thing that makes minivans so useful is simple – UTILITY. Seriously, with the right setup, these are the most utility vehicles on the planet. Remember that this is a box with wheels, the most efficient form for moving people and goods. On top of that, they’re easy to drive and tend to be more comfortable than an SUV.
Right now, you can get a Toyota Sienna hybrid (with or without all-wheel drive), a Honda Odyssey – with a beefy V6, or a similarly configured Kia Sedona (soon to be renamed “Carnival”). Finally, there is Chrysler and its Pacifica. They offer a front-wheel drive PHEV van and a naturally aspirated all-wheel-drive V6 van.
This is how they stack up
Chrysler: Technically, Chrysler has three variants of minivan. The Chrysler Voyager is their entry-level minivan starting at $ 26,985. It’s a “no frills” minivan. FCA / Stellantis’ latest entry is the 2021 Pacifica which has dual powertrains. The base FWD model starts at $ 35,045 and the AWD model adds almost $ 3,000. Chrysler Pacifica PHEV base model starts at $ 39,995
Although Chrysler offers this plug-in hybrid version of its minivan, it cannot be combined with all-wheel drive. It’s either one or the other – or just a front-wheel drive van with a V6.
Honda: There is (currently) a powertrain offered in the Honda Odyssey, and it’s a V6. Base prices start at $ 32,090. While we hear rumors of a future hybrid, nothing has been confirmed. Fortunately, we can attest that the 280 horsepower V6 is exceptional.
Kia: The 2021 Kia Sedona still offers a solid pickup truck for the money. Its base price of $ 30,400 is halfway through, as is its powertrain and efficiency. Its replacement, the 2022 Kia Carnival, will be slightly more efficient and more powerful as well.
Toyota: Toyota’s new 2021 Sienna offers one of the most complete standard minivan powertrains on the market. With a base price of $ 34,460 – you pay dearly, but you get a minivan with a standard hybrid system. If you go for the mid to upper finish models and add $ 2,000, you can get all-wheel drive.
Is there a future for minivans in our country?
Look, you can’t make a minivan sexy at a gearbox. No van can surpass the allure of a “go-anywhere” SUV, nor can it convey the cool vibe of a sleek crossover. Yet it is one of the most practical vehicles on the market, and modern vehicles are finally becoming more efficient. Other than a giant SUV like a Chevrolet Suburban, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more comfortable way to move multiple passengers.
The minivan is evolving. More electric and hybrid minivans are expected here in the near future. With new companies like Canou building semi-autonomous minivans to get us around, it seems the minivan’s final blow has yet to be sounded.