Every family has different needs that determine if a minivan or SUV is the best vehicle
If you have a growing family, chances are you’ll soon be looking at either an SUV or a minivan to add to your garage. Both vehicles have pros and cons, but determining which one is the better buy depends on your situation and your family needs.
If you’re ready to buy a new or used car for the family, consider the following factors before making this tough choice.
Does image matter?
It might seem unnecessary, but minivans do come with a certain image that some people simply don’t like. One of the reasons that SUVs and crossover SUVs got so popular was that families loved having a “cooler” option that is seen as more hip and trendy.
However, it’s important to consider minivans objectively, as they still have some superior aspects over SUVs.
Are SUVs really safer than minivans?
The perception of safer SUVs comes from their larger structure and higher ground clearance. However, larger, truck-based SUVs can also be prone to rollover accidents due to this higher center of gravity. Minivans have a lower center of gravity and handling that is more like a car than a truck. Many modern minivans offer high-tech safety features and top-notch crash scores.
On the other hand, if maneuverability is important to you, you might look more closely at crossover SUVs, which are typically built on a car chassis and have easier handling. When it comes to adverse weather or road conditions, SUVs usually take the trophy as most have options available for AWD or 4WD. They are also clear winners for those who actually want to go off-road.
Another category where minivans typically outshine SUVs is in the price department. Upon comparing the least expensive three-row SUV with the least expensive minivan, it might appear to be a tie. However, if you compare decked-out SUVs with decked-out minivans, the minivan will almost always be cheaper, and often by a lot.
For example, a top trim, fully decked out Toyota Sienna retails for around $50,000. In comparison, a top trim, fully-loaded Ford Expedition can retail for almost $80,000. In other words, if you want all the latest technology and luxurious creature comforts, but don’t want to pay over $50,000, then a minivan might be your best bet.
Performance and power
This is one category where SUVs are typically the clear winners. Most minivans don’t tend to boast powerful engines and many of them only have one choice of engine. SUVs typically offer a larger engine choice, whether it’s a hefty V8 or a turbocharged V6.
If you need to tow something and need plenty of room for your family, then an SUV is usually the better choice. If you also want nimble handling, then a crossover SUV can usually fill this while also providing towing capacity.
Minivans usually get the edge in this category as they have huge amounts of cargo space in the rear and are easier to load. The other aspect to consider is that the cargo space in a minivan increases even more when the seats are folded down.
For example, the Honda Odyssey has around 39 cubic feet of interior room with the seats up. Fold all the rear seats down and it increases to 158. In comparison, an SUV with the same amount of room is the Chevy Suburban, but it only achieves 120 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded.
Fuel efficiency and other costs
You might think that the minivan would take this category, but in truth, there are plenty of crossover SUVs and hybrid SUVs that can easily match the fuel efficiency of a minivan. However, when it comes to other costs, SUVs do lose somewhat as they typically have higher insurance fees and maintenance costs in the form of more expensive tires and 4WD repair.
So…which family vehicle should you buy?
Minivans and SUVs both offer large interior spaces and are generally safe vehicles. Which one fits your situation depends on what you need it to do. If your typical day consists of navigating suburban streets, taking the kids to soccer practice and going to the grocery store, then a minivan might be a better fit. If you enjoy camping and towing and traveling in adverse conditions, then an SUV is more likely to do the job.