Minivans vs. SUVs: Which Vehicle Model Is the Best Family Car?

If you have a large family or are thinking about growing yours, it may be time to upgrade your vehicle. Chances are, you’ve considered a minivan or an SUV – but which will be the best option for your driving needs? Cargo and passenger space, safety features, and advanced technology equipment are probably on your mind. 

What is the difference between minivans and SUVs?

Minivans and SUVs in a Manhattan lot parking garage
Minivans and SUVs in a Manhattan lot | Mark Peterson/Corbis via Getty Images

First, let’s discuss the differences between a minivan and an SUV. Although both options excel in different areas, you can only choose one. 

To start, minivans usually have more space for seating unless you’re opting for a full-size SUV. More space inside usually means more cargo space. Like the Chrysler Pacifica, some models allow the rear seats to fold into the floor. 

Speaking of the Pacifica, it offers 140.5 cubic feet of cargo volume, with a total interior volume of 197.3 cubic feet. To compare, the Ford Expedition MAX SUV provides only 121.5 cubic feet of cargo space.

For accessibility, the rear doors on a minivan slide open, while SUVs typically have rear doors (and hatches) that swing open.

If your family likes to go on frequent camping adventures or road trips, SUVs offer all-wheel or four-wheel drive and higher ground clearance.

Are minivans or SUVs more affordable?

According to U.S News & World Report, ” The cheapest minivan on sale today is the Chrysler Voyager, which starts at a little over $27,000. The cheapest three-row SUV is the Volkswagen Tiguan, which costs a couple hundred dollars less. That’s all well and good, but remember that the Tiguan is a compact SUV that offers conservative passenger space at best.” 

If you’re looking for the best value for space, you’ll want to go with a minivan.

Comparing car safety features and technology

If we take the average safety scores from U.S News, minivans had an average score of 9.7 compared to 9.53. Remember that these are both excellent ratings, but the SUV segment has more vehicles in its segment.

Minivan vs. SUV: Interior technology and features

Parents, you have to enjoy yourself too. The good news is that both minivans and SUVs typically come with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, rearview cameras, improved audio systems, and large touchscreen displays. Kia and Hyundai are two brands that offer excellent standard features and even better upgrades.

Fuel economy and gas mileage considerations

Both the minivan and SUV segments have fuel-efficient engine and performance options. They’ve even introduced efficient hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. However, minivans may cost a bit more to run since they are larger and weigh more.

Should I choose a minivan or SUV?

By now, you know minivans offer more than enough space for cargo and passengers compared to SUVs. The downfall is that they are more likely to get stuck in challenging road conditions. An SUV will be your best option if you want a vehicle that focuses on performance, off-roading, and towing. Of course, you can test-drive your favorite models for a more hands-on experience.

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