How to Choose the Best Minivan for Your Needs

March 18, 2013

Buying the best minivan requires a little bit of research, time and a hard look at what your overall needs are. There are some minivans that are completely loaded with all of the new amenities, but are they the best purchase according to your needs? Here is a short list of how you can go about choosing the best minivan for you and your family.

Step 1: Determine Your Budget

Before you go out looking at minivans you will need to know how much you can afford. Buying a completely loaded minivan might be great, but you might not have the budget that can afford such a purchase. Take into account the amount of money you earn each month, then make a list of all your expenses. This will give you a quick look at what you have to work with. You can then use a loan calculator to help you determine how much a loan payment will be.

Step 2: Figure Out Your Needs

After you know how much of a minivan you can afford, take a look at what you actually need. Do you have a family? Are you going to be traveling a lot? Will you require more room for storage or a third seat? Is a multimedia package necessary? Is it for commuting to work or is the minivan for work? Taking some time to determine this information will tell you what kind of minivan you should buy, and if you need a lot of the extras.

Step 3: Look at Consumer Reports

One of the ways to find the best minivan for your needs is to look at what others are buying, along with what they are saying about it. There are several consumer reports websites that you can find to see what minivans are popular, which ones are highly favored, and which ones receive the best reviews. Websites like Consumer Search provide a lot of information, and reviews, on a wide range of minivans.

Step 4: Talk with the Dealer

Another good resource for choosing the best minivan for you is the local dealer. Tell them up front that you want to find a minivan that will fit in with your needs. They can give you a lot of information on the different models that they carry and which one fits your overall circumstances.

Step 5: Talk with Over Minivan Owners

if you want to find out what minivans are most liked by owners, you can do that by talking with the owners themselves. Whenever you see someone with a minivan, that has similar circumstances (ie... job related, family, traveling, etc.), ask them how they like their minivan. Most people will tell you exactly what they like or dislike. This information is priceless as it is real world information and not contaminated by paid reviews or hidden incentives.

Step 6: Test Drive

There is no better way to find out which is the best minivan for you than test driving several different models for yourself. Go to different dealers and ask to test drive certain minivans. Ask to keep them for a few days to make sure that you choose the one that is right for you.

Related Questions and Answers

What Features do Most of the Best Selling Minivan Models have in Common?

The best selling minivan is the one with all versatile workhorses for families. It's the perfect vehicle for mom's to pick the kids up, which can double as the home handyman, who can run to the store for supplies on the weekend. There is plenty of space for kids and the dogs, as well as the timber and larger type of DIY needs from the lumber yard, the store, and the DIY shop. When all is said and done, it looks good, runs well, and has the comfort for the family, as well as additional amusements for the kids in the rear. Best selling minivans have plenty of seating, ease of access to the rear, and maneuverability in town.

What are the Variations in the Types of Minivans?

There are 4 different types of Minivans. Large minivans are the kind mostly sold in the U.S. Their average length is over 5 foot 11 inches. Their seating capacity ranges between 5 and 8. Compact minivans have a length of below 5 foot11 inches but above 5 foot1 inches. These vans are found mostly in Europe, although there are some models available in the U.S. Lastly, the Mini minivan, which has a length under 5 feet. These models are also mostly European. One of the main reasons for this size variant between minivans popular in the U.S. and those popular in Europe is due to the narrow and curvy nature of European roads that is not prevalent in U.S. roadways.

Are there any Differences between the Routan Minivan and the Dodge Caravan?

Other than the fact that each vehicle has a different badge, the Volkswagen Routan minivan and the Dodge Charger RT minivan are the same basic vehicle. Chrysler and VW teamed up as early as 2005 to develop a minivan for the German automaker. That the companies certainly did. If you look at the newer Chryslers from any angle and the Routan, you'll see the same vehicle staring back at you. VW's buying spree included the same chassis, power teams - 3.8-liter V-6 and 4.0-liter V-6 - as well as the same handling and suspension system. So, if you are homesick for a Chrysler minivan, go over to your VW dealer and you can pick one up for about $23,000 or less, with incentives.

Who Makes the Fastest Minivan Models?

The fastest minivan produced by a domestic manufacturer is the Ford Flex with Econoboost. Powered by the same 3.5-liter V-6 that is used in the standard Flex, the turbocharged Ford Flex with Econoboost now has 355 pounds-feet of torque at its disposal or enough to run a good strong 0 to 60 run in the 9-second range, and it should be able to pull a quarter-mile topping out in 89 to 91 mph range. This is pretty good when you consider that the front-drive (standard) or all-wheel-drive Flex weighs in at about 3,800 pounds. The Flex is Ford's rather uniquely styled long, narrow minivan that looks more like a long wagon than it does a van.

What Minivan has the Best Mileage for in City Driving?

The minivan with the best mileage for city driving is made by Mazda, a division of the Ford Company. The Mazda5, equipped with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder and five-speed manual transmission will get 22 mpg in the city. The Mazda 5, equipped with an overdrive automatic and the same four-cylinder, will get 21 mpg in the city. The key reason for the difference in mileage is that the Mazda5 is one of the smallest minivans on the market. It will seat five in comfort, although the ride is overly firm in this front-drive minivan. The four-door minivan comes with a complete array of power options, including a power front driver's seat.

What Minivan has the Worst Mileage for in City and Highway?

The current minivan mileage winners of the worst mmileage for the city/highway cycle are the Kia Sedona and the Dodge Caravan (and by extension the VW Routan, which is largely based on the Caravan). Both the Kia Sedona and the Dodge Caravan return 17 mpg in city driving (lots of stop-and-start and cold driving), and about 24 to 25 mpg on the highway, where vehicles are supposed to shine by returning their best mileage. Perhaps it's their weight or maybe it's another factor, such as the rear end ratios, but these are the vehicles that have gained this dubious distinction award.

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