Minivans are a polarizing force on the modern automotive landscape. There's no denying the extreme practicality that minivans bring to the table in the form of generous passenger capacity and cavernous cargo space. Some drivers, however, are hesitant to get behind the wheel of a minivan due to bad memories of the dull driving dynamics of first-generation models and styling that is, in a word, box-like.
This is where crossovers come in - that class of vehicle designed to offer a sedan-style ride while satisfying the plus-size hauling demands of modern families. The minivan versus crossover battle is one that is waged on a daily basis on dealer lots across the country, and advances in engineering and design have helped to create a fresh crop of vans that have plenty of positive surprises for potential crossover customers willing to broaden their horizons.
Let's take a look at ten of the most appealing minivans and their potential crossover replacements.
01. 2012 Honda Odyssey
The 2012 Honda Odyssey is a shining example of what a minivan can bring to the table when considerable resources are spent re-thinking the potential behind a very practical platform. The Honda Odyssey offers eight passenger seating, two easy-to-fold rows behind the driver that can free up 148 cubic feet of cargo room, and an extensive list of luxury gear when the vehicle is ordered in the Touring trim. The minivan also features a chassis that has been tuned to offer better than average handling for a vehicle its size, combined with a smooth and quiet ride.
The 2012 Honda Odyssey is motivated by a 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 248 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. This output is managed by a five-speed automatic transmission in most editions of the van, while top end trims benefit from a six-speed auto that delivers fuel mileage that is one mile per gallon better for each respective measure (19-mpg city / 28-mpg highway).
02. 2012 Chrysler Town & Country
The 2012 Chrysler Town & Country is positioned as a premium minivan that is intended to impress buyers with a strong list of standard equipment as well as innovative features such as the Stow 'n Go seat folding mechanism. The latter creates a flat, 143.8 cubic foot cargo area where eight passenger seating was available just moments beforehand. The Chrysler Town & Country also comes with a powerful and efficient 3.6-liter V-6 engine that delivers 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, a refreshing improvement on the confusing range of engine options offered in the past. The Pentastar V-6 returns fuel mileage that is rated at 17-mpg city and 25-mpg highway and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
03. 2012 Kia Sedona
The 2012 Kia Sedona takes a different tack and searches out minivan buyers who are more budget focused than luxury-oriented. That's not to say that the Kia Sedona lacks features - in fact, more for less has long been a credo at the Korean automaker. It just means that the vehicle also offers an attractive entry-level MSRP to go with one of the strongest warranties in the business.
The 2012 Kia Sedona comes with good power thanks to the inclusion of a 3.5-liter V-6 that generates 271 horses and 248 lb-ft of twist. A six-speed automatic is provided free of charge and fuel mileage for the minivan checks in at 18-mpg in stop and go driving and 25-mpg highway.
04. 2012 Toyota Sienna
The 2012 Toyota Sienna is the evolution of one of the most versatile minivans around. The Toyota Sienna can carry up to eight passengers and it is also capable of transporting 150 cubic feet of cargo if necessary. In addition to conservative yet strong styling and excellent reliability, what makes the Sienna such an intriguing minivan option is the diversity of its drivetrains.
The 2012 Toyota Sienna is one of the few people movers in its class to still offer a four-cylinder as its entry-level engine, and this 2.7-liter unit provides 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque while returning fuel economy of 19-mpg city and 24-mpg highway. The Sienna is also available with a 266 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that churns out 245 lb-ft of torque while posting almost fuel mileage numbers that are almost identical to those of the 2.7-liter mill (18-mpg city / 25-mpg highway). The V-6 is also available with all-wheel drive - the only such configuration to be found on the modern minivan market - and both engines feature a six-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment.
05. 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan
The 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan can be thought of as the more accessible platform twin of the Chrysler Town & Country. The Dodge Grand Caravan matches the Chrysler in terms of seating (up to eight), cargo space and features (Stow 'n Go present and accounted for), but it also adds the extra wrinkle of the R/T trim. The Grand Caravan R/T attempts to introduce a little sport into the minivan equation through the installation of a stiffer suspension system, tweaked exterior trim and more aggressive brakes.
The 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan is outfitted with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine that is good for 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is on hand to handle the gear shifting duties, and fuel economy is listed as 17-mpg around town and 25-mpg during highway cruising.
06. 2012 Subaru Tribeca
The 2012 Subaru Tribeca is a three-row mid-size family hauler that leads off the crossover section of our list. The Subaru Tribeca is an uncommon choice and one that is often selected by drivers who want to park something unique in their driveway. The vehicle can handle up to seven passengers across three rows of seating, offers 74.4 cubic feet of total cargo space with those same accommodations out of the picture and maintains Subaru's excellent reputation for safety.
The 2012 Subaru Tribeca comes with the brand's vaunted all-wheel drive system as standard equipment, giving it a traction edge over most minivans in a wide range of weather conditions. Power is derived from a 3.6-liter six-cylinder unit that produces 256 ponies and 247 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic calls the shots for the Tribeca, and fuel mileage checks in at 16-mpg city and 21-mpg highway.
07. 2012 Dodge Durango
The 2012 Dodge Durango is a mid-size crossover that delivers a high level of all-around utility for a unibody-based vehicle. The Dodge Durango's rear-wheel drive layout makes it an excellent towing option, and SUV can pull up to 7,400 lbs when properly equipped. This is on top of seven passenger seating and 84.5 cubic feet of cargo space.
The 2012 Dodge Durango starts off with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine under the hood, one which has been tapped to produce 290 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission comes with the six-cylinder unit, and fuel economy shows as 16-mpg city and 23-mpg highway. Stepping up to the Durango's 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 brings with it 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, in addition to a six-speed automatic transmission and a 13-mpg city and 20-mpg highway fuel mileage rating. All-wheel drive is optional with the Durango, and V-8 models also offer the availability of a rugged low-range four-wheel drive system suitable for off-road exploration.
08. 2012 Chevrolet Suburban 1500
The 2012 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 isn't rightfully a crossover - it's a traditional, full-frame sport-utility vehicle. That being said, it's also one of the options out there that offers the closest challenge to the average minivan in terms of passenger room (up to nine) and cargo space (as much as 137 cubic feet in total) thanks to its extended platform. The Chevrolet Suburban 1500's truck-based design also gives it phenomenal towing capability (8,100 lbs maximum capacity) as well as a degree of off-road relevance when ordered with optional four-wheel drive.
All versions of the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 comes with a 5.3-liter V-8 as their standard engine. This motor provides 320 horsepower and 335 lb-ft of torque and is shifted through a six-speed automatic gearbox. Fuel economy for the heavy Suburban is rated at 15-mpg city and 21-mpg highway.
09. 2012 Mazda CX-9
The 2012 Mazda CX-9 delights large crossover shoppers thanks to its supple suspension and chassis design that gives it a level of handling that seems almost impossible given its not-insubstantial mass. The Mazda CX-9's cornering capability is a welcome addition to the vehicle's seven passenger seating arrangement and 101 cubic feet of storage space for luggage and other gear.
Mazda has provided the 2012 CX-9 with a robust 3.7-liter V-6 as its sole engine option, and this motor offers up a respectable 272 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. Manual shift control is a feature of the vehicle's six-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive can be found on the crossover's options list. Fuel mileage for the CX-9 shows as 17-mpg city and 24-mpg highway.
10. 2012 Honda Pilot
The 2012 Honda Pilot is an upright, squared-off crossover vehicle that promises a comfortable interior, a smooth ride and lots of space inside when it's time to transport as many as eight passengers. The Honda Pilot's adult-sized third row of seating (and the second row, too) folds down to reveal 87 cubic feet of cargo room, and the vehicle's large rear hatch opening makes it a cinch to load.
The 2012 Honda Pilot comes with the brand's familiar 3.5-liter V-6 engine, configured to provide 250 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque when found in the crossover. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard, all-wheel drive is optional, and fuel economy for the minivan replacement is rated at 18-mpg in city driving and 25-mpg on the highway.