Far from being as popular as they once were, minivans have trouble facing the strong SUV competition in today’s market. However, the few manufacturers that hang on to them are taking steps to help them stay relevant. For example, Kia has replaced the Sedona with the new Carnival, and Toyota has equipped the Sienna with its famous hybrid technology. And let’s not forget Volkswagen, with the launch of the all-electric ID. Buzz planned for 2024!
For families who really like this kind of vehicle, but want to save money by looking for older used models, what are the best options? That’ not an easy question, because not all families have the same needs.
Let’s go back to, say, 2017. That year saw the Chrysler Pacifica become the Best Buy in its segment according to The Car Guide, followed by the Honda Odyssey and the Kia Sedona. A comparative match opposing five competitors confirmed this ranking.
Here are the main points to remember …
1. Chrysler Pacifica
Naturally, the Pacifica had the edge over other 2017 models because it was brand-new and equipped with all the latest technology. It also won points with its finish—not the best out there, but way, way better than what we’re used to with Chrysler/Dodge—, its clear instrumentation, and the overall ergonomics of its dashboard.
However, there could be a little bit more storage space, the second-row seats could be more comfortable, installing a baby seat can be difficult, and the Stow ‘n Go feature requires practice to get the hang of it. Then, there’s the price, which is generally higher than the competition.
The Pacifica also stands out thanks to its modest fuel consumption and a rechargeable hybrid version that allows roughly 50 kilometres of autonomy.
2. Honda Odyssey
The 2017 Odyssey was getting old, that’s why Honda updated it the next year. But still, it managed to rank second in this comparative match. The interior isn’t very exciting, but its comfort and ergonomics deserve the first place, especially its third row seat, the best out there.
The Odyssey’s handling is similar to the Pacifica’s. The Japanese is a little bit more agile, and the American is more comfortable, not to mention its more powerful V6 (287 horsepower against 248). By the way, the Odyssey’s third-row access is complicated, but back then it was the only minivan where you could install six baby seats at the same time.
3. Kia Sedona
Even if it has the shortest braking distance from 100 km/h and accelerates from 80 to 120 km/h the fastest, the Sedona does nothing perfectly, and does nothing wrong either. That’s why it came in third place. “The Sedona is like a flip phone. It’s simple and convenient … but it’s not an iPhone” is what we could read in the 2017 edition of The Car Guide.
Among its strengths, there’s the leg-rest on both second-row captain’s chairs. However, the third row has been heavily criticized, as well as its sluggish handling. A proof that a good heart doesn’t always come on fast legs.
4. Toyota Sienna
In fourth place was the Sienna, with a previous generation dating back to 2010. With its generic style and non-existent driving pleasure, it still ranks first in terms of reliability. Performance-wise, its accelerations make it a safer vehicle, especially with the optional all-wheel drive—the only minivan offering it in 2017.
Some users have criticized the difficulty of moving the second-row seats to access the back. On the other hand, the sliding doors open with the simple touch of a finger, which is nice.