What’s the Best Minivan? Winners & Losers

best minivan, minivan buying guide

The Chrysler Pacifica is the newest member of the minivan set. Does that make it the best? (Source: Chrysler)

As your family grows, you may need something larger, and depending on the size of your family, that might have to be a minivan. From cupholders to cubbies, there have never been more ways of storing all of the family’s gear. And when the seats themselves need storing, many of the offerings allow them to fold right into the load floor. Some of the options in this market perform better than others, but each minivan has its own strengths and weaknesses. Depending on your needs, there is a specific minivan thats right for you. And we’re gonna help you find it.

Here are the five minivans on the market today. Click on each to learn more:

Chrysler PacificaHonda OdysseyKia SedonaNissan QuestToyota Sienna


CONTENTS

Things to Consider When Buying
Which Minivan Has the Best Price/Features?
Which Minivan Is the Safest?
Which Minivan Has the Best Seating/Cargo?
Which Minivan Drives/Handles the Best?
Which Minivan Has the Best Fuel Economy?
Which Minivan Has the Best Infotainment Technology?
Finding the Best Minivan For You
Winners and Losers: The Final Tallies

The Options

There are five options in the minivan segment. All of them are on the newer side, and the two most well known and best selling vans (Sienna and Odyssey) are among the oldest options. But the fact that there are newer options does not guarantee they are an improvement on those cornerstones of the market.


Chrysler Pacifica: The Newcomer

best minivan, minivan guide, 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus

The Pacifica has standout technology and the fantastic Stow & Go seating system. (Source: Chrysler)

This van replaces the aging Town & Country, and instantly brought Chrysler from the back of the pack to the front. Beauty is subjective, but this is arguably the most stylish van in the segment — inside and out. It also has some of the best infotainment technology, including seat back touchscreens for the kids that are pre-loaded with (educational) games. It has a built-in vacuum, and the second and third rows fold completely into the floor for the ultimate in cargo carrying.


Honda Odyssey: The Mainstay

best minivan, minivan shopping, honda odyssey

The Odyssey is as well-known as it is fashionable and comfortable. (Source: Honda)

One of the long mainstays in the segment, the Odyssey is well-equipped, drives very well for a minivan, and has features like a built-in vacuum. However the second row doesn’t fold into the floor. You’ll need to find a place to store it. And Honda’s dual-screen system for even basic controls is unintuitive and maddening.


Kia Sedona: The Bargain

best minivan, cheap minivan, 2016 kia Sedona SX Limited

The Sedona’s SUV-like styling is attainable, with the lowest base price in the segment. (Source: Kia)

The Sedona’s pricing simply puts it as the low-cost option within the market. Don’t let that be a deterrent alone, as the Sedona offers an SUV-like appearance and a quiet, luxurious interior. Though it’s not all rosy for the Sedona, the ride quality has been chided. Critics say the ride is uncomfortable, acceleration is sluggish on the highway, and the general handling has been described as clumsy. But is that enough for you to turn your back on a van with tons of standard features including Bluetooth connectivity and a rear-view camera?


Nissan Quest: Quirky, Expensive

best minivan, luxury minivan, 2016 Nissan Quest

The Quest starts out with a low base price, but goes up quickly when you start adding options. (Source: Nissan)

Not every minivan can play the same role in the market. The Quest almost caters to potential minivan buyers that don’t have the same space needs. Frankly, the cabin of the Quest is upscale to the point where this option is for the empty nest minivan buyer, using the van for road trips and driving with friends to dinner. It lacks the cargo space and seating capacity of some rivals, but its high-end interior cannot be denied.


Toyota Sienna: AWD Cargo Master

best minivans, minivan shopping guide, sienna

The Sienna has available AWD and the largest cargo capacity in the class. (Source: Toyota)

The Sienna takes care of all occupants with spacious seating for all three rows. In addition to having an overall upscale interior, the Sienna has the largest cargo capacity for the class (150 cubic feet). The Sienna also offers available AWD, providing peace of mind when driving inclement conditions in the winter. And the Sienna offers some of the advanced safety features not offered in other models here. Along with the Odyssey and Pacifica, the Sienna is widely considered the class of the segment.


Things to Consider When Buying

There is so much more to consider when buying a minivan compared to the average commuter car. Space and cargo management, and high safety marks ensuring peace of mind when traveling with the kids. Each is a crucial attribute.

How Safe/Reliable Is It?

Strong crash ratings are just as important as making you aren’t left stranded on the side of the road with your children.

Which Van Has the Best Seating Layout

Is it easy to fold seats away for cargo space? Can the kids have their own space on long trips? Can you fit the entire soccer team when it’s your turn to carpool?

How Many Cupholders and Cubbies?

It’s not just how many cupholders and cubbies that matters, but how clever they are. Automakers have been outdoing themselves finding innovative ways to store all your junk.

Which Minivan Has the Best Features?

And at the right price? What seems like a must-have feature could push you outside of your budget. What might be an optional feature on one van might be standard on another.

Which Minivan Has the Best Infotainment Technology?

Keeping the kids occupied on long trips is important. The latest crop of vans offer plenty of USB charging ports and even seat back entertainment systems with built-in games.


Which Minivan Has the Best Price/Features?

kia sedona, kia minivan, kia sedona price

The Sedona’s Slide-N-Stow seating setup isn’t perfect, but provides up to 142 cu. ft. of cargo space. (Source: Kia)

Features Winners and Losers

#1 Chrysler Pacifica
#2 Kia Sedona
#3 Toyota Sienna
#4 Honda Odyssey
#5 Nissan Quest

One of the benefits of shopping minivans in 2017 is the quality of every entrant in the market. No matter which minivan you select, it will come standard with three rows, seven-passenger seating, power windows, sliding doors on both sides, and numerous storage solutions.


Chrysler Pacifica: $28,595-$42,495

One of the great optional features is the Uconnect Theater. Two 10-inch touch screens, built into the back of the front seats, provide second-row passengers with plenty of fun entertainment options. In addition to the obvious DVD/Blu-Ray playback, the system features an HDMI input, remote control, two pairs of headphones, and built-in touch games.

Trims Offered: LX, Touring, Touring-L, Touring-L Plus, Limited, Touring Hybrid, Limited Hybrid

 Trim  Standard Equipment
LX: $28,595

• Stow & Go seating steering wheel-mounted audio controls
• Bluetooth hands-free connectivity
• Rear view camera

Touring: $30,495
(includes everything from LX, plus)

• Power sliding doors
• automatic high beams
• SiriusXM Satellite Radio

Touring-L: $34,495
(includes everything from Touring, plus)

• Leather seating w/ heated front seats
• Remote start, Blind-spot monitoring system
• Park Sense Rear Parking assist
• Rear Cross-Path Detection

Touring-L Plus: $37,895
(includes everything from Touring-L, plus)

• 115-volt wall-style power outlet
• Heated second row seats
• 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen
• Uconnect Theater screens

Limited: $42,495
(includes everything from Touring-L Plus, plus)

• Hands-free power sliding doors and liftgate
• Three-pane panoramic moonroof
• Heated/Cooled front seats
• Stow & Vac integrated vacuum

Touring Hybrid: $41,995

• Regenerative braking
• Blacked-out grille with bright surround
• Cloth seats
• 8.4-inch touch screen

Limited Hybrid: $44,995
(includes everything from Touring Hybrid, plus)

• Leather seating
• Heated and ventilated front seats
• Heated second row seats
• Park Sense semi-autonomous parking assistant


Kia Sedona $26,800-$41,900

best minivan, 2017 Sedona

Leather seating, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled seats, and navigation are all available on the Sedona. (Source: Kia)

The Kia Sedona is the most affordable minivan in the segment. Compare that to the Toyota Sienna ($29,750), Honda Odyssey ($29,550), Chrysler Pacifica ($28,595), and you start to see just how much the Sedona undercuts the competition. Only the Nissan Quest comes close in base price ($26,580), but the Sedona is a more complete van.

Trims Offered: L, LX, EX, SX, SXL

 Trim  Standard Equipment
L: $26,800

• 17-inch alloy wheels
• 4.3-inch touch screen audio system control
• Bluetooth smartphone connectivity
• Remote keyless entry
• Slide-N-Stow second row seats
• Rear seats that stow away into the floor

LX: $28,850
(includes everything from L, plus)

• Power folding side mirrors
• Tinted rear and side windows
• 3-passenger second row (boosts seating capacity to 8)

EX: $33,600
(includes everything from LX, plus)

• “Hands-free/feet-free” power liftgate
• UVO eServices connectivity
• Two additional USB ports
• Push-button start
• Tri-zone climate control
• Leather seating w/ heated front seats

SX: $36,900
(includes everything from EX, plus)

• Infinity premium sound system
• 8-inch touch screen navigation
• 115-volt wall-style outlet in center console
• Heated/cooled front seats
• Heated second row seats

SXL: $41,900
(includes everything from SX, plus)

• Dual power sunroof
• 19-inch alloy wheels
• Upgraded Nappa leather seating
• Second-row lounge seating
• Heated steering wheel


Toyota Sienna: $29,750-$47,310

Keeping an entire van of kids in check is quite the challenge. The Driver Easy Speak system is an intercom between the driver and the third row, and can make things easier. If you need to do some remote parenting, you just push a button and speak.

Trims Offered: L, LE, SE, XLE, Limited

Trim        Standard Equipment
L: $29,750

• 17-inch alloy wheels
• Star Safety System
• Entune Multimedia System
• remote keyless entry
• backup camera
• Bluetooth hands-free connectivity

LE: $32,540
(includes everything from L, plus)

• Navigation system
• Rear privacy glass
• 18-inch wheels w/ run-flat tires (AWD model only)
• Easy-clean seating
• Manual 2nd and 3rd row sunshades

SE: $36,110
(includes everything from LE, plus)

• Front/rear lower spoilers
• sport-look mesh grille
• 19-inch gunmetal finish alloy wheels
• Leather heated front seats
• One-motion stow-away rear seat

XLE: $36,310
(includes everything from SE, plus)

• Leather second row captains chairs (AWD only)
• Push button start
• Fixed center console w/ illuminated compartment and cupholders

Limited: $42,800-$47,310
(includes everything from XLE, plus)

• Premium leather heated front seats
• Premium leather second and third row seating
• Heated leather-trimmed steering wheel with cruise/audio/Bluetooth controls
• Safety Connect System


Honda Odyssey: $29,850-$45,325

The SE and Touring Elite trims come standard with with HondaVAC, a built-in vacuum, which is great for spot-cleaning small spills of dry items. But parents know all too well that few spills are small, or dry. When dealing with a car full of kids, you’ll need to supplement the small vacuum with something more substantial in the garage. The Chrysler Pacifica also features a vacuum.

Trims Offered: LX, EX, SE, EX-L, Touring, Touring Elite

 Trim Standard Equipment
 LX: $29,850

• Bluetooth calling and streaming audio
• i-MID 8-inch customizable screen
• Pandora capability
• SMS text function
• USB audio interface
• Remote keyless entry
• 12-volt power outlets (front row & cargo area)

 EX: $33,000
(includes everything from LX, plus)

• Touch screen w/ HondaLink connectivity
• Second row bench
• Honda LaneWatch
• power sliding doors
• Push-button start
• Conversation mirror

 SE: $33,950
(includes everything from EX, plus)

• Rear seat entertainment entertainment system
• 115-volt 3rd row power outlet
• Integrated vacuum
• SiriusXM radio

EX-L: $36,500
(includes everything from SE, plus)

• Forward collision warning + lane departure warning
• One-touch power moonroof
• Power liftgate
• Chilled storage bin
• Leather seating w/ heated front seats

Touring: $42,755,
(includes everything from EX-L, plus)

• Fog lights
• Auto tilt-down side mirrors (when in reverse)
• Acoustic windshield
• Ambient footwell lining
• Satellite-linked navigation system

Touring Elite: $45,325
(includes everything from Touring, plus)

• 650-watt premium stereo
• 12 speakers and subwoofer
• HD radio
• Widescreen rear entertainment system


Nissan Quest: $26,580-$43,230

The second row seat comfort on the Quest is unrivaled among minivans. (Source: Nissan)

The second row seat comfort on the Quest is unrivaled among minivans. (Source: Nissan)

Without a doubt, interior refinement is the Quest’s best attribute. According to Edmunds, “Interior materials are the best you’ll find in a minivan, with the leather-appointed cabins in the range-topping trims feeling especially premium and luxurious.” Nissan is the parent company of luxury carmaker Infiniti, and based on the level of comfort and refinement in the Quest, it could arguably wear the badge of that luxury brand.

Trims Offered: S, SV, SL, Platinum

 Trim  Standard Equipment
S: $26,580

• Easy Fill Alert System
• Power rear lift gate
• Second row reclining captain’s chairs
• Remote keyless entry
• Push button start.

SV: $30,540,
(includes everything from S, plus)

• Leather-wrapped steering wheel
• Bluetooth connectivity
• 16-inch alloy wheels
• Power sliding doors
• Tri-zone climate control
• Backup camera

SL: $34,110
(includes everything from SV, plus)

• 18-inch alloy wheels
• Heated side mirrors w/ integrated turn signals
• Leather seating
• Heated front seats
• Auto-dimming rear-view mirror

Platinum: $43,230
(includes everything from SL, plus)

• Power fold third-row seat
• Bose sound system w/ 13 speakers subwoofer
• Navigation system
• DVD entertainment system
• 360-degree around-view monitor


Which Minivan Is the Safest?

best minivans, kia sedona

The Kia Sedona is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. (Source: Kia)

Safety Winners

#1 Chrysler Pacifica (Top Safety Pick+)
#2 Kia Sedona (Top Safety Pick+)
#3 (tied) Honda Odyssey
#3 (tied) Toyota Sienna
#5 Nissan Quest

The safety of a minivan is arguably its most important attribute. All of the vans on this list are capable of carrying the whole family around, along with all of its gear. And all of the vans here manage cargo and storage with varying degrees of success, but the key factor is how the van in question keeps your most precious cargo safe? The latest crop of minivans are more advanced than ever, and that’s no more true than when it comes to safety.

There are really two tiers of safe minivans. There’s the Chrysler Pacifica and Kia Sedona, which earn Five Star crash safety ratings from NHTSA, and the “Top Safety Pick+” due to autonomous collision avoidance. The next tier is the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Both earn Five Star crash safety ratings.

Now that you know the winners and losers for safety, here are some of the key features. Click on each to learn more:

Forward Collision Warning/AvoidanceLane Departure Warning/AvoidanceBlind Spot MonitoringBackup Cameras and MoreCrash Test Results


Forward Collision Warning/Avoidance

What Is It? Determine if a crash is imminent. Warns driver at first, and if no action is taken by driver, it will automatically apply brakes. Can even detect animals and pedestrians.
Who Offers it Standard? None
Who Offers it Optional? Odyssey, Pacifica, Sedona, Sienna
Who Doesn’t Offer it at All? Quest


Lane Departure Warning/Avoidance

What Is It? Senses if you are veering out of lane. Will either warn the driver, or (in some versions) will intervene if no action is taken, and adjust steering to bring van back on track.
Who Offers it Standard? None
Who Offers it Optional? Odyssey, Pacifica, Sedona, Sienna
Who Doesn’t Offer it at All? Quest


Blind Spot Monitoring System

What Is It? Sensors that can tell if a vehicle is in your blind spot. This is helpful for when knowing when it is clear make a lane change or to pass someone.
Who Offers it Standard? None
Who Offers it Optional? Odyssey, Pacifica, Quest, Sedona, Sienna
Who Doesn’t Offer it at All? None

Honda also offers LaneWatch, which takes things a step further by offering a full-fledged camera for the passenger side, which activates every time you turn on the right turn signal:


Cameras: Backup and More

What Is It? Provides view behind van. Some even offer 360-degree surround view cameras, but these are almost always as upgraded options.
Who Offers it Standard? Odyssey, Pacifica, Sedona, Sienna
Who Offers it Optional? Quest
Who Doesn’t Offer it at All? None


Crash Test Results

There are two major safety organizations that test road cars and publish scores. They are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). NHTSA scores vehicles out of five stars, while the IIHS scores on a scale of Poor, Marginal, Acceptable, and Good. Additionally, the IIHS offers “Top Safety Pick” recommendations, as well as “Top Safety Pick +” for vehicles with advanced crash avoidance and mitigation features.

NHTSA Crash Test Data

 Minivan  NHTSA Overall Rating
 Chrysler Pacifica  5/5 Stars
 Kia Sedona  5/5 Stars
 Toyota Sienna  5/5 Stars
 Honda Odyssey  5/5 Stars
 Nissan Quest  Not Rated

The Odyssey, Sedona, and Sienna are all five-star safety-rated minivans by NHTSA. Neither the Pacifica, nor the Quest, have been tested by NHTSA.

IIHS Testing Awards

Minivan Accolade
 Chrysler Pacifica Top Safety Pick+
 Kia Sedona Top Safety Pick+
 Honda Odyssey Top Safety Pick

Reliability Data

Overall Quality J.D. Power Score
 Honda Odyssey  2/5
 Toyota Sienna  2.5
 Nissan Quest*  2/5
 Kia Sedona  2/5
 Chrysler Pacifica  N/A

Predicted Reliability J.D. Power Score
 Toyota Sienna  5/5
 Nissan Quest*  5/5
 Honda Odyssey  2/5
 Kia Sedona  2/5
 Chrysler Pacifica N/A

*2015 Nissan Quest data. 2016 Nissan Quest reliability data not available.


Which Minivan Has the Best Seating/Cargo?

best minivan, minivan cargo comparison

The Sienna’s second row captain’s chairs can slide for added legroom. (Source: Toyota)

#1 (tied) Toyota Sienna (most cargo space)
#1 (tied) Chrysler Pacifica (most innovative)
#3 Honda Odyssey (second most cargo space)
#4 Kia Sedona
#5 Nissan Quest

Every minivan in this segment features at least seven seats. The layout for all consists of two front row captain’s chairs, two second row seats, and a three-passenger third row bench. For many that will be enough, but for some, more room is needed. If that is the case, all but the Quest offer an 8-passenger option, swapping out the individual second row seats for a second row bench.

But seating capacity is just the tip of the iceberg. How the seats are managed, how they move and how they stow for cargo is just as important as the capacity number itself.


Chrysler Pacifica: The Seats That Disappear

Cargo Space cu. ft. (3rd row/ 2nd row/ max):  

32.3 / 87.5 / 140.5

 Seating:

7 passenger standard
8-passenger optional
(Touring trim 2nd row captains chairs)

 Stow/Fold Capability: 

Stow ‘n Go Seating (standard) completely folds away

 Cup Holders: 13
 Cubbies/Compartments:

Front floor tray, lower instrument panel cubby

 Optional Storage:

Super console w/ illuminated cupholders (Touring-L Plus, Limited)

 PROS:

Only van with two rows that completely fold away

 CONS:

Center of 2nd row doesn’t fold away, needs to be removed


Toyota Sienna: Undisputed Most Cargo Space

Cargo Space cu. ft. (3rd row/ 2nd row/ max):  

39.1 / 87.1 / 150.0

 Seating:

7 passenger standard
8-passenger optional
(SE, LX AWD-only, XLE AWD-only)
Leather 2nd row captains chairs (Limited)

Stow/Fold Capability: 

Foldaway third row seats

 Cup Holders:

6 (10 optional)

 Cubbies/Compartments:

Dual glove compartments

 Optional Storage:

Fixed center console w/ backlit compartment (LE and up)
Sliding front center console (Limited, Limited Premium)

 PROS:

Third row completely folds away
Most cargo space in class

 CONS:

Center of 2nd row doesn’t fold away, needs to be removed


Honda Odyssey: Second Most Cargo Space

Cargo Space cu. ft. (behind 3rd row/ 2nd row/ max):

38.4 / 93.1 / 148.5

 Seating:

7 passenger standard
8-passenger optional (EX and up)
(Wide-mode second row seats)

 Stow/Fold Capability: 

One-move fold away 3rd row bench (standard)
Third row folds away, second row does not
Second Row Needs to be completely removed

 Cup Holders:

7

 Cubbies/Compartments:

Front center floor tray w/ beverage holders
Center stack utility tray, rear storage well
Center stack lower storage bin

 Optional Storage:

Removable front center console (EX and up)

 PROS:

Third row folds into floor with one quick motion

 CONS:

Second row doesn’t fold away
Needs to be removed for max cargo


Kia Sedona: Half-Measure Storage Solutions

Cargo Space cu. ft. (behind 3rd row/ 2nd row/ max):

33.9 / 78.4 / 142.0

 Seating:

7-pass standard
8-passenger on LX and EX

 Stow/Fold Capability: 

Third row folds all the way away
Second row “Slide n tow,” folds up towards front seats.

 Cup Holders: 12
 Cubbies/Compartments:

Dual glove boxes
Center console armrest compartment

 Optional Storage:

Second row large sliding tray w/ lamp (SXL only)

 PROS:

Third row folds completely away
Second row folds/slides for max cargo

 CONS:

Second row doesn’t fold into floor,
Cannot be removed,
And cuts into side doors cargo access


Nissan Quest: Least Cargo, Least Accessible

Cargo Space cu. ft. (behind 3rd row/ 2nd row/ max):

37.1 / 63.6 / 108.4

 Seating:

7 passenger
(No 8-passenger option)

 Stow/Fold Capability: 

Second row folds forward, but not into floor
Third row folds forward, but not into floor
Power up/down third row (Platinum)

 Cup Holders: 8 (+8 bottle holders)
 Cubbies/Compartments:

Front center console w/ built-in cupholders
Removable second row console

 Optional Storage:

Overhead console (SL, Platinum)

 PROS:

Power fold third row

 CONS:

Neither row folds into floor
Neither row is removable
Least cargo capacity in class


Which Minivan Drives and Handles the Best?

minivan performance, best minivans

The Sienna offers something that no other minivan can claim; all-wheel drive. (Source: Toyota)

Driving Winners and Losers

#1 (tied) Honda Odyssey
#1 (tied) Chrysler Pacifica
#3 Toyota Sienna
#4 Nissan Quest
#5 Toyota Sienna

All minivans here share the same formula: V6, sending power through some kind of automatic transmission to the front wheels (or available AWD in the case of the Sienna). But that’s where the similarities start to fall off, as some vans here have quite competent handling characteristics, while others have handling that’s downright clumsy.


Chrysler Pacifica: The “Driver’s Minivan”

Engine 3.6L V6
Output (horsepower / torque)

287 hp / 262 lb.-ft.

Drivetrain

9-speed automatic
Front-wheel drive

Towing

3600 lbs.

MPG (city/highway/combined)

18/28/22

PROS

Decent acceleration
Corners/handles well

CONS

Chrysler 9-speed automatic
often makes clunky shifts

What Critics are Saying:  As U.S. News & World Report puts it, the Pacifica “defies most minivan stereotypes by providing engaging handling on winding back roads and through all kinds of curves.” And according to The Car Connection put it, “Acceleration is smart and the shifts are pretty crisp — the Pacifica has much less of the 9-speed clunks we’ve experienced in other Chrysler vehicles.”


Toyota Sienna: More Powerful, More Efficient, So-So Handling

Engine 3.5L V6
Output (horsepower / torque)

296 hp / 263 lb.-ft.

Drivetrain

8-speed automatic
Front-wheel drive
All-wheel drive (optional)

Towing

3500 lbs.

MPG (city/highway/combined)

FWD: 17/27/22
AWD: 18/24/20

PROS

Only minivan w/ AWD
Solid acceleration
SE model sharp cornering

CONS

Soft brakes
Soft steering
SE model ride is harsh

What Critics are Saying:  According to a Car and Driver review: “Unfortunately, Toyota has quite obviously retarded throttle response to reduce the possibility of bumps causing small, unintended throttle applications. You can tap the throttle and nothing will happen; only if you hold it down long enough for the car to recognize you’re serious will an actual reaction occur. It can irritate.”


Kia Sedona: Mixed Results on the Road

best minivan

The Sedona feels great in some driving conditions, but not all of them. (Source: Kia)

Engine 3.3L V6
Output (horsepower/torque)

276 hp / 248 lb.-ft.

Drivetrain

6-speed automatic
Front-wheel drive

Towing

3500 lbs.

MPG (city/highway/combined)

18/24/20
18/25/21 (SX)
17/22/19 (SXL)

PROS

Decent around-town acceleration
Smooth highway handling

CONS

Lacks passing speed on highway
Harsh ride around town

What Critics are Saying: According to Car and Driver, “The steering is light and the van is remarkably maneuverable thanks to the 36.8-foot turning circle.” But U.S. News & World Report says, “The Sedona handles corners poorly, even for a minivan.” As KBB.com puts it, “There’s no hesitation in the engine’s throttle response, and the operation of the minivan’s 6-speed automatic transmission is generally seamless.”


Honda Odyssey: The Minivan That Drives Like a Car

Engine 3.5L V6
Output (horsepower/torque)

248 hp / 250 lb.-ft.

Drivetrain

6-speed automatic
Front-wheel drive

Towing

3500 lbs.

MPG (city/highway/combined)

19/27/22

PROS

Despite lower hp, has smooth acceleration
Smooth, car-like ride

CONS

No AWD option (like rival Sienna)

What Critics are Saying:  According to CarGurus, “Handling in a minivan can be awkward, almost truck-like, but not with the Odyssey. It falls somewhere between an SUV like the Pilot and a sedan like the Accord, leaning more toward a sedan.” According to KBB, the Odyssey “never feels strained or overburdened, even with a full complement aboard.”


Nissan Quest: Strong Acceleration, Mixed Handling Reviews

Engine 3.5L V6
Output (horsepower/torque)

260 hp / 240 lb.-ft.

Drivetrain CVT
Front-wheel drive
Towing

3500 lbs.

MPG (city/highway/combined)

20/27/23

PROS

Smooth ride over long trips
Good acceleration

CONS

Steering doesn’t feel precise
Suspension can feel numb

What Critics are Saying:  According to  Car and Driver, “The Quest’s V-6 mates surprisingly well with its standard CVT.” As KBB.com puts it, “The luxury-car-inspired interior feels like it carries over into the steering and suspension, neither of which is as sharp as we’d expect in a Nissan.”


Which Minivan Has the Best Fuel Economy?

Layout of the Pacifica Hybrid powertrain. (Source: FCA)

Layout of the Pacifica Hybrid powertrain. (Source: FCA)

#1 Chrysler Pacifica
#2 Nissan Quest
#3 Honda Odyssey
#4 (tied) Toyota Sienna
#4 (tied) Kia Sedona

Every minivan is offered with a V6 engine, sending power to the front wheels. Most send it through an automatic transmission, while the Nissan Quest offers a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This certainly helps it get better fuel economy. Also, as expected, the AWD Sienna is the least efficient vehicle, but a worthy tradeoff for its all-weather handling.

 Minivan  MPG (City/Highway/Combined)
 Chrysler Pacifica  

18 / 28 / 22

 Nissan Quest  

20 / 27 / 22

 Honda Odyssey  

19 / 27 / 22

 Toyota Sienna (FWD)  

19 / 27 / 22

 Kia Sedona  

18 / 24 / 20

Toyota Sienna (AWD)  

18 / 24 / 20

All minivans hover around 18-20 MPG in the city, and 24-28 MPG on the highway. The combined MPG spread of just 2 MPG across the lineup shows how close these vans perform in real-world driving. But Chrysler has an ace in the hole:

 Hybrids  MPG
 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid  

84 MPGe (combined)
32 MPG (combined)
33-mile electric range


Which Minivan Has the Best Infotainment Technology?

best minivan, chrysler minivan

Source: Chrysler

Technology Winners and Losers

#1 Chrysler Pacifica
#2 Kia Sedona
#3 Toyota Sienna
#4 Nissan Quest
#5 Honda Odyssey

Infotainment, or, the combination of navigation, entertainment, and other vehicle functions comprised in the touch screen, has developed tremendously in the last five years. It would stand to reason that the newer the van, the better the infotainment, and to a large degree, that holds true. But for one automaker (Honda), their infotainment update just a couple years ago, left its van in a worse spot.


Uconnect in the Chrysler Pacifica: The Gold Standard

The Uconnect Theater is a tablet-like layout with etremely easy to use controls. It is available with Uconnect Theater, which comes with built-in games like tic-tac-toe and checkers, but also educational games like the States Game. The two screens are networked, so the kids can play these games against each other. In the great game of keeping kids occupied on long trips, this could be the greatest breakthrough yet.

What Is It? Uconnect features a large 8.3-inch touch screen with a tablet-like layout. Screen has home buttons at the bottom of the screen. It also has customizable icons that you can drag around the screen.
Optional Upgrades Optional Uconnect Theater: Second row dual 10-inch touchscreens. Features built-in games. Linked to play between both screens
PROS Simple, easy-to-use layout. Customizable. Vivid graphics
CONS Third row can’t use second row screens (Honda’s widescreen player viewable from third row)


UVO in the Kia Sedona: Simple and Easy to Use

Kia’s available UVO infotainment is among the best and easiest to use in the industry. From the standard Bluetooth hands-free connectivity to the touch screen functionality on LX-and-up trims,It features a smartphone-like layout, and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.

What Is It? Touchscreen with large, easy-to-read buttons. Features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Has standard Bluetooth hands-free connectivity
Optional Upgrades UVO Enhanced Services, which links car to smarthphone for enhanced features like being able find car w/ your phone.
PROS Ease of Use, Affordable, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
CONS,Difficulty with smartphone app, available rear video screen flips from low console


Entune in the Toyota Sienna: Decent, but No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

Entune is Toyota’s very easy-to-useToyota is so confident in its connected features, that it’s opting to not include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That is a pretty big omission. In a time when drivers are more loyal to their mobile device maker than their are their automaker, this could see a lot of minivan buyers going to vehicles that DO deliver such features…like the Chrysler Pacifica.

What is It? Entune touch screen system features a simple layout, swipe through menus
Large icons, and is easy to read. It has a suite of apps like Yelp (above video), Pandora
Optional Upgrades Wide screen rear entertainment, which can project dual screens
PROS Simple touch screen layout, solid suite of apps
CONS
No available Apple CarPlay, Android Auto


HondaLink in the Odyssey: Honda Needs a Do-Over

best minivan, minivan infotainment, 2015 Honda Odyssey.

The Honda Odyssey has a dual screen infotainment that has been described as frustrating. (Source: Honda)

A Consumer Reports roundup on infotainment systems puts HondaLink on the bottom end of “Average” infotainment systems — and within a stone’s throw of “Back to the Drawing Board.” Their research was based on consumer surveys as well as hands-on testing. According to the report, “Our tests found the onscreen buttons and menus to be unintuitive.” That’s putting it lightly.

What is It? Honda Link and i-MID is a dual-screen setup. The screen is non-touch, and the bottom screen is touch, which operates the top screen.
Optional Upgrades HondaLink smartphone connectivity. Enhanced apps such as finding nearby restaurants, playing Pandora, podcasts
PROS
HondaLink has helpful apps
CONS Dual-screen setup has poor layout, frustrating to use


NissanConnect in the Quest: Easy to Use Controls, with Real Button Backups

The Quest has an available touch screen infotainment system. It has logical menu layouts, and more importantly, has tactile, real-live buttons to fall back to if you get lost. This means minimal distractions when trying to do things like change the channel. The only knock on this this system, is the layout of the actual radio controls, which are below the climate controls and the bottom of the center stack. However, the driver can use the steering wheel-mounted audio controls to get around that.

What is It? Prominent center-dash touch screen. Can access same features with buttons on dash. Bright, vivid, easy-to-use
Optional Upgrades Rear seat DVD entertainment screen
PROS Easy-to-use, Multiple ways of accessing features
CONS  Radio controls awkwardly placed. Often misunderstands voice commands. No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.


Finding the Best Minivan for You

best minivan

Source: Honda

Here’s what it comes down to: No single van is a magic bullet will be the answer for all your needs. Some owners will want the best technology, some will want the most seating, and others the most cargo. Below are the best vans for you, based on your needs.

If You’re On a Budget:

Kia Sedona:
Lowest base price in minivans
Well equipped upper trims cost less than rivals
Fit and finish falls behind competition
Nissan Quest:
Second least expensive
Price jumps quickly as you option-up

Seeking Best Infotainment Technology:

Chrysler Pacifica:
Uconnect system unrivaled
Kia Sedona:
UVO easy to use
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto support

If You Have a Lot of Kids:

Honda Odyssey:
Available 8-passenger seating
Plenty of cubbies and cupholders
Second row outboard seats can move farther outToyota Sienna:
Available 8-passenger seating
Plenty of cubbies and cupholders
Intercom with rear seats

If Fuel Economy is a Priority:

Chrysler Pacifica:
18/28/22 MPG (city/highway/combined)
Pacifica Hybrid: 
84 MPGe / 32 MPG (combined) / 30-mile range

If Cargo Room is a Priority:

Toyota Sienna:
150 cubic feet
Most among minivans


Minivan Winners and Losers: The Final Tallies

Features Winners and Losers

#1 Chrysler Pacifica
#2 Kia Sedona
#3 Toyota Sienna
#4 Honda Odyssey
#5 Nissan Quest

In order to get a better sense of how the minivans stack up directly, we’ve brought in the individual Dealmakers and Dealbreakers found in each minivan’s individual buying guide page. Here you’ll find, in simple terms, what each van does well, and what it does poorly. We give each one of these accolades a simple +1 or -1 associated with it, add up all the good and the bad, and come up with our simple “Final Tally.” Below, you can see these tallies, ranked from first to worst.


5.Nissan Quest Final Tally

The Quest might be the right minivan for some buyers, but lacks serious cargo space or an 8-passenger option. (Source: Nissan)

The Quest might be the right minivan for some buyers, but lacks serious cargo space or an 8-passenger option. (Source: Nissan)

Dealmaker Luxurious interior with high quality materials
Affordable starting price
Unique design
Good steering feel (but not always)
Good fuel economy
Strong acceleration
Easy fill alert system
Dealbreaker Smallest cargo space in class
Lacks latest safety technology
Confusing audio layout
Steering sometimes feel numb

Final Tally: +3

Even as the least-recommended minivan in this segment, the Quest is still a competent and viable option. It has a comfortable, well-appointed interior, and features head-turning styling. But its total cargo space falls well short of the rest of the pack, the seats don’t remove, and you can’t get an 8-passenger option. Combine this with just how good the competition is, and you can see how a minivan that is a solid option on its own can be at the back of the pack.


3. (tied) Honda Odyssey: Final Tally

The Odyssey has a frustrating infotainment system, but gets a lot of other things rights. (Source: Honda)

The Odyssey has a frustrating infotainment system, but gets a lot of other things rights. (Source: Honda)

Dealmakers Standard backup camera (Available LaneWatch)
Refined interior, lots of standard features
Tons of cubbies, 14 cupholders
Conversation mirror
Drives and handles like a car
Available power sliding doors
Available DVD entertainment
Available built-in vacuum
Dealbreakers Frustrating touch screen system
Second row doesn’t fold into floor
Steep price for top features
No available AWD

Final Tally: +4


3. (tied) Toyota Sienna Final Tally

Despite its sharp styling and affordability, the Sedona is not without its faults. (Source: Kia)

Despite its sharp styling and affordability, the Sedona is not without its faults. (Source: Kia)

Dealmaker Easy-to-use control layout
Improved power and fuel economy
Class-leading cargo space
2nd row seats slide forward for cargo, or slide back for legroom
Intercom between first and third rows
Advanced active safety features
Excellent mechanical reliability
Blu-Ray DVD Entertainment System (Optional)
Dealbreaker Second row doesn’t fold into floor
Only one USB port
No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto support
Replacement coming in 2018 (more value in newer model)

Final Tally: +4


Kia Sedona: Final Tally

Despite its sharp styling and affordability, the Sedona is not without its faults. (Source: Kia)

Despite its sharp styling and affordability, the Sedona is not without its faults. (Source: Kia)

Dealmakers Smooth ride on highways/long trips
SUV-like appearance
Well-Equipped
Least expensive minivan
Quiet cabin
Hands-free/feet-free Smart Liftgate
Luxury second-row captains chairs
Easy-to-use infotainment
IIHS Top Safety Pick+
Dealbreakers Heavy, poor fuel economy numbers
Second row not removable
Rough handling around town
Newer options in minivan market
Tossups Mixed acceleration results (-0.5)

Final Tally: +4.5


1. Chrysler Pacifica: Final Tally

The newcomer Chrysler Pacifica has so many things going for it. We have to make it our pick.

The newcomer Chrysler Pacifica has so many things going for it. (Source: Chrysler)

Dealmakers Clever, useful Stow & Go seating
Newest minivan in the market
Strong acceleration & sharp handling
Solid fuel economy
Only minivan offered as a hybrid
Innovative hands-free sliding doors & liftgate
Tons of standard & optional features
Advanced safety technology
Unrivaled rear-seat entertainment system
Dealbreakers Lagging rear seat comfort
Hybrid looses Stow & Go second row
No AWD…(yet)
Pricey with options

Pacifica Final Tally: +5

The Pacifica has the most amount of “Dealmakers” going for it, and few, if any “Dealbreakers.” It has sharp styling, impressive cargo management, and the latest technology available in the segment today. But you can’t go wrong some of the runner-ups either. The Sedona, Sienna and Odyssey are all extremely competent vans, and each have their own charms. But top-to-bottom, we gotta go with the Pacifica.

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