5 Best Minivans - Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Chrysler Pacifica and Nissan Quest
Today’s minivans are loaded with the latest in convenience and safety features. Some act as wireless hotspots, most allow for in-car gaming, and many come with several of the creature comforts usually reserved for the luxury set. They get better gas mileage than they used to, they are packed with technology and in-car apps, and they’re also more stylish ever before. With so many improvements across the segment and lots of overlap when it comes to available options, how can you decide which are the best?
We took the challenge and came up with our list of the 5 best minivans you can buy today, and what sets them apart from each other.
It’s no surprise to see the Toyota Sienna at the top of this list; dubbed “the Original Swagger Wagon,” it's truly one of the benchmarks by which all minivans are judged. Sienna combines functionality, comfort, style, and most importantly, reliability. It’s also still the only minivan available with all-wheel drive.
The rear-seat entertainment system allows for both video and gaming, and should your backseat passengers not agree on the activity, the available Dual-View Blu-ray Disc™ Entertainment Center can display up to two separate sources on one 16.4" extra wide screen at the same time. Parents no longer have to yell back at the third row, either; the Easy Speak system in the Sienna can amplify your voice through the rear speakers with the touch of one button. And, if you are killing time at the soccer field in-between games, you can easily head back to the van to kick your feet up on the second-row captains chairs with extendable footrests (available in 7-passenger models).
Photo by Toyota
The latest upgraded multi-media improvements to the Sienna elevate its interior to something both adults and kids love - especially if they own Apple iPhones. Sienna now offers a new Connected Navigation Scouut GPS App Line for Entune Audio Plus, which uses your smartphone to provide navigation functionality. Integrated Siri Eyes Free is also now available for iPhone users.
Toyota’s Entune telematics system is one of the most convenient as well; busy parents can plan and get directions to their destination before even getting into the van. All that’s needed is a quick search on your mobile device to locate the address, and then you can save the destination in Entune. Once you get into the vehicle, Entune will sync your saved destinations to the van and you’re off and running. Entune also comes to the rescue when you need gas; the driver will get an alert when the fuel is low and Entune can locate filling stations near your current location, near your destination, or along your route.
Photo by Carrie Kim
Another leader in the segment, the Honda Odyssey, usually runs neck-and-neck alongside the Toyota Sienna in both sales and features. However, where Odyssey usually takes the slight edge is in handling and the experience behind the wheel. Even though functionality and convenience usually far outweigh performance on the minivan priority list, Odyssey is still the one of the best minivans from the driver’s seat. Odyssey can also come equipped with Honda’s very popular LaneWatch feature; once the driver signals right, a view of the entire right side of the van is projected onto the display in the center stack, increasing visibility when it’s time to change lanes or turn.
Photo by Honda
Honda has brought two notable firsts to the segment, one is its ability to accommodate the most car seats and boosters in the class. Odyssey has up to six tether locations and five LATCH locations inside the van, which is great news for families hauling lots of mini-passengers. With so many latch locations, car seat installation goes much easier, quicker and of course, safer. However, nothing caused more excitement than when Honda introduced the first in-car vacuum cleaner to the market. HondaVac became reason enough for many parents to justify their minivan purchase to help them clean up after messy kids, from toddlers to teens.
Photo by Honda
Kia knows how to give consumers more bang for their buck, and buyers will be glad to hear that the same applies to the Sedona. Kia’s take on the family hauler has the lowest pricing of all the minivans on this list ($27,295 - $40,795) and brings a lot to the table when it comes to style and technology. It offers an impressive suite of standard safety features, and for a little extra, it can come equipped with one of the most comprehensive feature lists in the segment, including adaptive cruise control and ventilated front seats. One of the unique features of the Sedona is the keyless rear cargo door — if you simply stand next to it for three seconds with the key fob somewhere on your person, the tailgate will open on its own.
Photo by Kia Media
Road trippers and leisure seekers will love Sedona’s reclining second-row lounge seats — the leg rests pop up just like your lounger at home and the headrests are winged, similar to the ones found on airplanes. (Sedona offers heated seats in the second row, too.) Parents of small ones will be thankful for the unique stain-repelling and stain-releasing fabric characteristics of the YES Essentials™ cloth seats. If cloth isn't your thing and you aspire to something more high-brow, you can even select Nappa leather as an option.
Photo by Kia Media
The all-new Chrysler Pacifica is the latest to hit the market in this segment, thus having a slight advantage when it comes to comparisons. Pacifica replaces the dowdy Town & Country and is a modern family hauler loaded with the latest and greatest in safety and autonomous features. Not only can you get a 360-degree surround view camera, Forward Collision Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control, Pacifica is the only minivan to offer ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, which searches for parking spots and parks the vehicle for you. Pacifica will also be the first minivan on the market to offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Should the brand overcome their reliability issues, the Pacifica could give the Japanese frontrunners some real competition.
Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Inside Pacifica, there are several handy features to conveniently manage the space. With Easy Tilt, the second row seats fold forward, even with a safety seat installed, allowing quick and easy access to the third row. Stow n’ Go, one of Chrysler’s most well-known features, has also been enhanced to make things even easier; with a push of one button, Stow n’ Go Assist will move the front seat forward to allow for the second-row seat to be stowed, and once that seat is stowed in the floor bed successfully, the front seat will move back to its starting position electronically. Chrysler’s Uconnect Theater system is also compelling with two touchscreen displays mounted on the front seatbacks that come loaded with apps, games and even educational flashcards. Of course, you can still go old school and watch movies using the Blu Ray player, but since a USB port and HDMI input accompanies each display, gaming can also ensue or streaming video from your Roku or AppleTV. Parents can even “listen in” on what their passengers are watching via Uconnect’s convenient button located up front.
Photo by FCA Media
Although Nissan has decided to leave the minivan segment after 2016, the Quest is still one of the nicest minivans you can buy. Many of Quest’s best features are nothing short of “Infiniti-like." The quality of the interior finishes and luxurious feel inside make the Quest seem very upscale for its price. Quest does it all without negatively impacting your fuel economy; it boasts 20mpg city/27mpg highway with its continuously variable transmission (CVT), keeping the Quest in check when it comes to gas guzzling.
Photo by Nissan
The Nissan Quest also gets bonus points for its styling; the van is boxier than it’s competitors, and aside from it making it look cooler than the others, the shape actually lends itself to a roomier feel inside the cabin. Without the slopes and curves of a more streamlined design, the Quest's shape adds headroom and height for more cargo space. The wrap-around windows also keep the space airy and comfortable for seven passengers.