In the 1980s, the minivan swiftly replaced the station wagon as the vehicle of choice for large families. SUVs cut into their dominance in the 1990s, and since then crossovers have taken over the market. Giants like GM and Ford quit the family minivan business years ago. And yet these boxy haulers persevere when conventional wisdom says they should be dead. You can still buy one right off the showroom floor, domestic or imported, luxurious or basic, just like in their heyday. It seems that the minivan is simply too useful to ever go away.
Here is our roundup of the best in this class for 2017:
The Sienna offers you a choice of captain's chairs or a three-person bench in the second row. In either case, the middle seats can be removed, and the third row folds into the floor. That leaves you with a cavernous cargo area measuring 150 cubic feet. No other minivans gives you this much space for hauling. The floor is low and perfectly flat, which makes loading the Sienna a tolerable assignment.
The Sienna's recently updated 3.5-liter V6 produces a hearty 296 horsepower, and comes with an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission.
Chrysler's replacement for the long-running Town & Country, the all-new Pacifica borrows its design philosophy from the brand's passenger cars. Inside and out, the Pacifica combines sedan-like styling with the traditional interior room of a minivan. Ride and handling are closer than ever to what we expect in a modern family car.
Of course, the Pacifica is still very much a minivan, with Chrysler's trademark Stow 'n Go seating and available features like hands-free sliding doors, a built-in vacuum cleaner, and a rear video entertainment system. New safety technology includes an automated parking system and surround-view cameras. The Pacifica is powered by a 287-horsepower V6 engine, matched a nine-speed automatic transmission with a nifty rotary gear selector instead of the usual shift lever.
Chrysler's Town & Country might be gone, but its downscale twin, the Dodge Grand Caravan, will continue for 2017. Its persistence shouldn't comes as a surprise—the Dodge minivan has been in continuous production since 1984.
When it comes to interior room for the price, you simply can't do any better than the Grand Caravan. Other minivans may offer more refinement and features, but the Dodge scores like mad on value. In addition to an easy price, you get Stow 'n Go seating that folds into the floor and out of sight. With the seats up, there's a large storage compartment under each row. Since 2011, the Caravan has been powered by a 3.6-liter V6 with 283 horsepower.