Minivans and SUVs mean one thing: passenger room. You’re looking for the best option for hauling people and their stuff. Both SUVs and minivans offer amazing passenger options, so which is best for you?
SUV: When You Need Style and Substance
One of the best things about the SUV market is the diversity in it. You can find everything from a crossover SUV (think your mom’s station wagon upgraded for the 21st century, sometimes with a luxury spin) to a midsize (these are the SUVs you probably picture: four doors, three rows, a spacious cargo area beneath a hatchback) to the massive full-size (these are the Expedition/Suburban/Yukons that are a force to be reckoned with on the road). You’ll even find hybrids cropping up in some models! Within these types of SUVs, you can also find a wealth of designs and body styles that fit your personal style-and you can seriously upscale those styles as well. Celebrities and politicians choose SUVs for a reason. If you want a tricked out vehicle with massive passenger room, an SUV is the right choice.
SUVs are not covered trucks-they are more like cars and vans than trucks. With a unibody design that’s been sized up to create the SUV we know and love, that means you’ll get better fuel economy than a standard truck but you don’t get the same cargo space or options. SUVs are also a wise choice for people who face inclement weather and road conditions that all-wheel or four-wheel drive can handle with ease or who may find a need to tow a large toy every once in a while. With larger wheels, they also offer better access in all-terrain situations. While they offer lots of passenger space, because the doors open only as wide as a standard car, they aren’t always easy to climb in and out of and the third row can sometimes be difficult to access.
SUVs can be pricy, but with them you get options and designs that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.
Minivan: When You Need Practicality and Ease
A minivan is the glorious answer to a lot of problems, from comfortable passenger room to ease of entry to cargo space. Minivans are the best value for the money for both passenger space and fuel economy, offering incredible interior space and comfort in three rows of seating. Most vans offer captain’s seating in the second row, which does a couple of things. First, it makes the 3rd row of seating easily accessible, something an SUV struggles with. Second, it offers the comfort of the front seat in the back, making daily trips around town or long vacation travel equally comfortable. If you’re a parent, there’s an additional benefit: captain’s seating means sibling hands are farther away from each other, dialing down the potential for fights.
One of the major perks of the minivan is the automatic doors. Automatic sliding doors, often on both sides, make it a cinch for passengers to get in and out-the wide opening allows much better access than SUVs and also virtually eliminates potential damage to other cars as the doors open. Even when you’re parked in a tight spot, passengers can get in and out with relative ease. These doors, along with the automatic back hatch that often comes standard with minivans, also make cargo loading so much easier. You may be surprised, but minivans offer more flexible cargo room than SUVs. It’s not a truck, so it’s probably not appropriate to throw washers and dryers in the back, but with stow-and-go or hidden third row storage options, the minivan can actually double its storage (or triple, if you stow or remove the first row of seats as well). Toyota offers a minivan with all wheel drive which is very attractive for people living in snow or along dirt roads.
What minivans don’t have is style. You don’t buy a minivan to look cool, though there are some attractive models with quite a few features, including DVD player systems with multiple screens. Most minivans basically look the same and cost the same, with a few variations, so the differences come down to options and safety features. When you buy a minivan, you’ve buying practicality and ease. There’s a reason that many moms choose minivans-they are the smartest budget choice and provide the most practical answers to the problems that stem from carting around kids and pets and people and stuff.