Here’s Why People Don’t Buy Minivans Anymore

It is no secret that SUVs have become increasingly popular in the U.S. auto market. However, as sales for SUVs rise, sales for other segments begin to shrivel up. Today we’re looking at some of the reasons why buyers are repeatedly choosing to buy SUVs over minivans.

As SUVs rise, minivans fall

2020 Kia Telluride driving down a dirt road
2020 Kia Telluride in action | Photo via Kia

According to CarSalesBase, in 2019, there were just six minivan models available for sale. In terms of total sales, 408,987 minivans found new homes in 2019. Those sales figures mark a 15 percent decrease in sales compared to the 482,182 sold in 2018. In contrast, 2016 saw 553,913 minivans find new homes.

To put the 2019 sales figure into perspective, Toyota sold 448,068 RAV4’s in the same year, more than all of the minivans combined.

There are more safe SUVs available than minivans

A photo of the 2021 Honda Odyssey outdoors.
Honda Odyssey | Honda

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As of writing, despite there being six minivans currently on sale, only one 2021 model has received an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award. The 2021 Honda Odyssey is the safest of all the new minivans, according to the IIHS ratings. In contrast, midsized SUVs like the Ford Explorer, Subaru Ascent, and the Maza CX-9 managed to receive the same award.

If we look at luxury midsized SUVs, there are six winners in that separate category alone. Since both SUVs and minivans are almost exclusively purchased as family vehicles, it makes sense why buyers would opt for the safer available options.

SUVs are more versatile

A photo of the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica outdoors.
The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica | FCA

Of the few minivans currently available for sale, 100 percent of them are good at basically one thing, hauling families around. SUVs, on the other hand, offer greater versatility. While minivans are stuck being just that, SUVs can wear several different hats. For example, three-row SUVs like the Mazda CX-9 allow buyers to have the extra seats they want while retaining a relatively luxurious interior. Since the SUV’s interior is not focused on maximizing space, buyers often get nicer layouts and higher quality materials.

On the other hand, third-row SUVs such as the Toyota 4Runner carry similar seating capacity to a minivan while offering buyers plenty of off-roading capabilities. It seems as though the added versatility of the SUV could be a major deciding factor.

More SUV options mean a cheaper price

A photo of a Kia Sedona at an auto show.
Kia Sedona | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Speaking of deciding factors, perhaps nothing is more important to a new car buyer than price. In this regard, minivans all start at around the same price. The most expensive of the new minivans is the 2021 Toyota Sienna and its $34,460 starting price. On the cheaper end of the spectrum, the Dodge Grand Caravan starts at $27,530. It is important to note that the Grand Caravan is likely the cheapest because it’s been on sale since 2008 without major updates.

On the other hand, the abundance of SUVs currently available for sale means there are far more affordable options that still offer three rows of seats. For example, the 2020 Kia Sorento has a base price of $26,990 and comes standard with a third row of seats. Cheaper still is the 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan with its $25,245 starting price. As the SUV market continues to grow, and even greater options become available for less money, it seems likely that the minivan market will continue to shrink.