What Is the Most Versatile Minivan?

Most manufacturers are moving to making SUVs that have a lot of the features of a minivan, without the un-cool image of a minivan. Nissan discontinued its Quest. The Ford Windstar disappeared in 2006. Kia scrapped the Sedona. Even the first minivan, the Dodge Caravan, is gone. But which is the most versatile minivan?

Minivans can make even the most arduous family road trip fun because they’re versatile, comfy, safe and roomy. And they can be better than a crossover.

The four minivans that remain are more than family haulers. In the quest to make the most versatile minivan, every manufacturer is adding goodies like easily removeable, or stowable, seats, back seat entertainment, driver safety aids, and so much more.

Kia may not want to call the new Carnival a minivan, but it certainly competes with the Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Pacifica, and Toyota Sienna minivans.

Move those seven (or eight or 11) seats where you want to

The back of a Kia Carnival
2022 Carnival | Kia

Minivans are all about configuring the seats just right so you can fit bikes, car seats, boxes of soccer balls and backpacks, or furniture in they’re power-operated doors.

Honda offers Magic Slide seats, which allow easy access to the back, but also fold flat for packing stuff or for easy removal. The Magic Slide seats can be moved toward the center to bring a second row within reach of the front seat.

The Chrysler Pacifica has the famous Stow ‘N Go seats that simply plop right into the floor and create a flat load floor for carrying stuff.

The Sienna has second-row captains chairs with built-in ottomans optional. They’re excellent if your kids, or even your boss, want to stretch out in the second row.

The Carnival has Slide-Flex seating, where the second row middle seat can slide forward, or flip to be used as a table with cup holders. The Carnival can be ordered as a school-bus rivaling 11-passenger van.

Is the roomiest minivan the most versatile minivan?

2022 Kia Grand Carnival seating arrangement options make it a versatile minivan.
2022 Kia Grand Carnival Seating Arrangement Options | KIA

When it comes to interior dimensions for passengers, in almost all dimensions, the four are within an inch or two of each other. All four offer about 41 inches of legroom in the front, about 40 in the middle. The Kia has least legroom in the way back, at 35.6 inches, and the and the Honda has most at 38.1. But, unless you’re Wilt Chamberlain, you might not notice the difference.

Again, it’s the Carnival that does win. The Carnival has 40.2 cubic feet of room behind the back row. With the third-row folded into the floor, and the second row seats removed, it can swallow up to 145.1 cubic feet of stuff.

What minivan offers the most cargo room?

The new 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle could have the most versatile minivan interior.
Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle | FCA

For holding stuff, it’s hard to beat the Carnival. The Carnival can hold more stuff than a full-sized GMC Yukon XL. The Yukon, with all of its seats folded, holds 144.7 cubic feet of stuff. Keep in mind that the Yukon XL is 225 inches long. That’s almost 19 feet long. The Kia is nearly two feet shorter than the Yukon, at 16.9 feet long. The Kia’s seats also fold into the floor.

For comparison, the Pacifica has 140.5 cubic feet of storage – but you don’t have to remove the second row of seats. The Stow ‘N Go seats simply drop into the floor on the Chrysler.

Behind the power tailgate in the Honda, you can pack a tremendous amount of stuff. It has a 155.8 cubic feet of space, but you have to remove the second row seats to access it all.

The Sienna can swallow up to 150 cubic feet of things, but like in the Honda, you have to remove the middle row of seats. However, in the Toyota the seats are connected to the airbags and are bolted in place, and that requires an involved procedure.

But the roomiest minivan isn’t the most versatile minivan.

What minivan offers back seat screens?

2021 Toyota Sienna interior
2021 Toyota Sienna interior | Toyota

All of the minivans you can buy today offer some sort of back seat entertainment and communication.

Honda offers 10.2 inch display that can be connected to a variety of devices. The Toyota Sienna offers an 11.6-inch screen with remote control and two wireless headphones.

The Pacifica, however, offers a camera, called FamCam, that shows you a top-down view of your rear-seat passengers in the infotainment display. It has built-in Amazon Fire TV on a 10-inch screen for back seat passengers, depending on the trim you choose.

The Carnival offers dual rear-seat screens that can connected to an Apple or Android device. It also features an intercom so the front seat can talk to the second and third row passengers with ease. It’s Similar to the FamCam.

Regardless of which minivan you pick, you can’t go wrong. And, we’re not the only ones who think they’re making a comeback as the ultimate family haulers.

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