Sales of the Most Popular Minivans of 2021 Are Peanuts Compared to Mid-Tier SUVs…That’s Dumb

Minivans have a long reputation for being uncool. They are synonymous with the antiquated term “soccer mom,” and I’ve had enough. Minivans like the 2021 Honda Odyssey and the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica are not only solid and reliable vehicles, they are also much nicer than nearly any crossover SUVs, and they are damn sure more comfortable and roomier. These are two of the most popular minivans of 2021, and they are getting killed in sales by SUVs and Crossovers. 

A silver 2022 Honda Odyssey parked outside during the day. The Honda Odyssey is one of the most popular minivans for 2021
2022 Honda Odyssey | Honda

As SUVs and Crossovers continue what feels like decades at the top of the sales charts, Minivans have only gotten better and better. The fact is, short of spending deep into the six figures, nothing on the road can compete with the comfort, space, and even luxury amenities that modern minivans offer. So, upon realizing that basic, mid-tier crossovers and SUVs are not only outselling minivans but absolutely destroying them, it seems we all need a little refresher on how great minivans are. But first, let’s look at the most popular minivans of 2021 sales numbers compared to SUVs. 

The most popular minivans of 2021 got wrecked by middling SUV and Crossover sales

A light-gray 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 electric crossover SUV parked on a road next to a rocky cliff
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD Pro S Gradient Package | Volkswagen of America, Inc. Newspress Limited

I get it. I like cool cars. I have owned sports cars and 4x4s, old cars and new ones. I have driven many a supercar. I get it. Flashy fast cars are a ton of fun. Running through the mud or rock crawling a boxy 4×4 is also a blast. Again, I get it. However, as more and more SUVs turn into unibody crossovers with independent suspension, resembling nothing in the 4×4 realm, the choice to forego the only minivan makes no sense. If your crossover has more in common with a sedan than a Jeep Wrangler, then just buy a minivan; it will almost always be more bang for the buck.

Let’s take a look at the sales numbers for the most popular minivans of 2021 and compare them to their popular counterparts in the SUV world. These sales numbers are based on sales up until this month. 

Dodge Grand Caravan 

2020 Dodge Grand Caravan
2020 Dodge Grand Caravan | Stellantis

The Dodge Grand Caravan isn’t even in production anymore as of 2020, and it’s still the 5th most popular minivan in sales for 2021. If that doesn’t tell you what you need to know, I don’t know what will. This is by far the worst option of the minivans on this list, but there are so few people buying new minivans that old Dodge is still in the top five. According to Newsweek, the Dodge Grand Caravan sold 2,956 units in 2021. 

The SUV equivalent is the fifth most popular by sales. According to Good Car Bad Car, the 2021 Subaru Outback has sold ​​122,978 in 2021. 

Kia Carnival 

2022 Kia Carnival MPV
2022 Kia Carnival MPV | Kia

In efforts to curb the minivan hatred, Kia doesn’t even call the 2022 Kia Carnival a minivan. It is referred to as a “multi-purpose vehicle.” In the minivan world, the Carnival is quite successful. The number four most popular minivan for 2021 has sold 11,859 units so far, which is quickly outpacing the model it replaced, the Kia Sedona. 

While that’s pretty good for the segment, it’s chump change compared to the SUV’s number four slot, which is insane considering the depth of the features list the 2022 Kia Carnival has.

According to GCBC, the Ford Explorer has sold 160,174 units in 2021. The 2021 Ford Explorer has not been off to a great start. Consumer Reports gave it a 41/100. It has already had three recalls.

Honda Odyssey 

A silver 2021 Honda Odyssey parked outside with a city background
2021 Honda Odyssey | Honda

The 2021 Honda Odyssey is the King of the Minivans, period. It may not be provable, but that doesn’t make it not true. Even though the Honda Odyssey is one of the most popular minivans and one of the best cars on the road, it still only sold 47,556 units so far in 2021. Considering it has more features than can fit on the page, 280 hp, seats seven, can play movies, all while getting nearly 30 mpg, and STILL sold less than 50,000 units… I just can’t. 

The Jeep Wrangler occupies the third most popular SUV by sales for this year, and it sold 164,710. This is at least a 4×4, making it fall into a different category. However, while cool, the Wrangler is one of the least comfortable and well-equipped cars on the road. 

Chrysler Pacifica 

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is a real head-scratcher. This minivan is so nice that it should have everyone who bought a Rolls Royce to be driven around in thinking twice about the $500,000 they spent. I’m talking quilted leather, matching upholstered pillows, custom stitching, wooden accents, 287 hp, and, AND, it even has AWD as an option. Even with the top-trim Pinnacle model’s starting price of $50,795, there is still loads of value here. All that being said, Chrysler has only sold 47,571 units so far in 2021. 

For comparison, the second best-selling SUV is the Jeep Grand Cherokee, with 179,628 units sold so far this year. That is just silly. The two models aren’t even kind of close. The Chrysler Pacifica is better in literally every metric, other than the fact that it’s a minivan. 

Toyota Sienna 

The Toyota Sienna is the most popular minivan of 2021, with 57,642 units sold so far. Unlike some of the other minivans on the list, the Toyota Sienna is a function over form vehicle. After its latest update, Toyota is only selling Hybrid Siennas. While it still has more features in its left rear tire than the whole of the SUV market, the Sienna is geared more toward reliability and cargo. 

This minivan is like a riddle; it is full of negative space meant to be loaded down with everything a family could ever want to carry with them. The interior is not only practical, but it’s also clever. Hidden storage compartments abound. Not to mention it’s a hybrid Toyota, meaning maintenance won’t likely be an issue. 

In contrast, according to Good Car Bad Car, the most popular SUV by sales for 2021 is the Toyota Highlander, with 207,564 units sold YTD.

I’m not saying crossovers and SUVs don’t have their place. For many people, a crossover makes tons of sense. But next time you go shopping for a three-row family hauler, don’t skip the minivans. The disparity between the two segments is immense. Will you let a foolish prejudice cost you comfort, money, and luxury? For what? Just to say you have an SUV? Come on, people. Let your freak flag fly and buy a minivan. I believe in you. 

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