Five Minivans You Shouldn’t Be Embarrassed To Drive

Posted Thursday, Jul 01, 2021

Face it, minivans are about as hip and stylish as white socks pulled up to the knees while wearing sandals. There comes a time in everyone’s life, however, when one requires the big box, but it need not be the last shovel of dirt over your childhood sports car dreams.


Here are five minivans worth a look, and why.


Toyota Sienna


The Sienna gets a redesign for 2021, losing some of the boxiness of years past in favor of a more integrated design, all to the good despite the raspberries of a few auto critics. All Siennas, too, are now hybrids – you can’t get a gas-0nly model. Its charms are many, beginning with kick open-and-close sliding side doors and rear gate, four-zone climate control system, heated second-row super-long slide captain’s chairs with ottomans, onboard vacuum and refrigerator, a digital rear-view mirror, 10-in. color head-up display and 12-speaker JBL® Premium Audio system.


You can seat eight humans in this ride and squeeze as much as 150 cubic feet of storage space out of it if you’re creative. Though its crash ratings from the IIHS aren’t perfect, its proven reliability makes it a solid choice now as well as a year or more from now. It’s also one of the few SUVs/Vans/Trucks on the market with what’s called an Auto Access Seat option, so physcially challenged passengers can more easily enter and exit. Miles per gallon hovers near or around an excellent 34 MPG.


The vehicle also offers pricing for most people’s budget, from the base Sienna L ($32,750) to trims designed for driving enthusiasts like the Sienna SE ($39,000) and the tricked-out Sienna Limited Platinum ($49,250.)


Kia Sedona


While its cargo space is smaller than similarly-priced minivans, you otherwise get a lot for what you purchase. One of its main selling points is its many safety features; it received an overall rating of 5 stars in all categories (save for a single 4 in rollover tests) and its warranty and roadside assistance coverage is thorough.


The Sedona starts at around $28,750 for the L trim; the LX will set you back $31,500. Both these trims have stain-resistant cloth upholstery, which parents with ice cream-fingered kids will no doubt appreciate. You’ll get leather seats with the EX, starting at $35,000 and the SX, starting at around $42,750. Every Sedona has a “Slide-n-Stow” second-row seat feature where you can collapse the seats to make room for more stuff. All Sedonas get a 3.3L GDI V6 engine making 276 horsepower/248 lb.-ft. torque; mileage is a just-ok 21 MPG city/highway combined.


Chrysler Pacifica


I’ve tested 8 Pacificas – one of them directly after I gave back a Ferrari – so you know this critic was harsh. But like a good roadside diner, the Pacifica does many things well.


Its ride is smooth. Its engine is spirited – a 3.6-liter V6 linked to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Its mileage is pretty good at 28 MPG on the highway, 25 in stop-and-go. Its list of features is extensive and unique, with a rear-seat entertainment screen, a built-in vacuum cleaner, and a camera that displays images of the rear seats through the infotainment system so the kids don’t get away with anything.


Another singular feature is Chrysler’s “Stow ‘n Go” seats which, instead of requiring they be removed to make room for more junque, they fold into the floors. For 2021, standard driver assistance features such as forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking are offered as well as a revamped infotainment system with a bigger touch screen (10.1 inches now, 7 in years past) as well as refreshed interior and exterior styling. Five trims are on deck: the baseTouring,Touring L, Launch Edition, Touring L Plus and flagship, the Limited. Prices start around the $36,000 range up to around $44,000 depending on your selected trims and choice of options.


Honda Odyssey 


The Odyssey’s one of the most recognizable and popular minivans, justifiably so with its reasonable power, gargantuan interior, good visibility and sharp handing. You can load up the vast rear area with practically anything you can think of, from bikes to a set of drums to lumber, and there’s a cooler underneath the center console. (”Cooler” being the optimium word – not “freezer.”) While its automated sliding doors are a bit vault-like, taking their time to open and close completely when you use your fob, one gets used to it.


All trim levels for 2020 have a 10-speed automatic transmission and engine stop-start technology – which you couldn’t get last year unless you sprung for the options. A dealer-installed 25th Anniversary Package adds chrome accents, illuminated sill plates and special badges, and 19-inch wheels can also be added to the package if you want at least some resemblance to the younger, cooler you.


Chrysler Voyager 


This is more a rebrand than a launch, comprising a lower trim level of Pacifica and rebranded as the Voyager you see here. It’s less expensive than the others in this article, starting at $26,985, reason being it is a “get you where you’re going” vehicle rather than one jammed with the latest in minivan innovation. Yet cheap it is not with its soft-touch surfaces, a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and other goodies.


It seats up to 7 people and with third and second rows folded down, it’s got 140.5 cubic feet of storage space. It also supports BraunAbility rear- and side-entry ramp conversions for scooters and wheelchairs. The only engine offered is a 3.6-liter V6 engine delivering 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, coupled with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive comes standard, as does front-wheel drive (FWD) and start-stop technology. Mileage is a fairly crummy 19 mpg city, 28 highway, and 22 combined.


Chrysler offers the Voyager in L and LX trims. (An LXi trim is available for fleet customers.) The L trim comes with cloth upholstery, a second-row bench seat, a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, 6 speakers, and active noise cancellation. The LX trim comes with second-row captain’s chairs, in-floor storage bins and satellite radio. One can add heated seats and a roof rack for both the L and LX, and the LX also offers the option of an overhead DVD player. An available SafetyTec Group includes rear parking sensors with automatic braking, rear cross-path detection and blind-spot monitoring.