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Not All Mini-Vans are Created Equal: How to Find the Best Van for your Family

Mini-vans have incessantly been improved and augmented in this last decade to reflect the true nature of their worldwide name, the multi-purpose vehicle. From being the much-ridiculed vehicle to now considered the ultimate in practicality, safety, comfort and mileage, the uprising of mini-vans is undeniable. With a competitive mini-van market among auto manufacturers, finding the right one for your family’s needs can be overwhelming. Knowing the distinctions between each model can help narrow down the choice when you’re in the market for the most preeminent mini-van available.

Not All Mini-Vans are Created Equal: How to Find the Best Van for your Family

The Chrysler Town and Country is a good option for families.

The Best Options

There are many models of mini-vans available to scrutinize and consider. The Chrysler Town & Country, Nissan Quest, Toyota Sienna, Mazda 5, Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, and Kia Sedona are rolled out on the red carpet for analysis.

Passenger Capacity

Bench style seating and bucket/captain chairs have been re-designed to incorporate comfort as well as to maximize leg space. Depending on how big your family is may influence what type of seating you would desire. The Odyssey and Sienna offer the most spacious seating with up to 8 passengers. The Odyssey tops this category in offering the most leg room by a 5-6 inch lead than other models. Front leg room is 40.9 inches and rear with 42.4 inches. If you have a smaller family, the Mazda 5 seats up to 6.

Cargo Space

Whether you’re a family of 8 or an older family of 2, cargo space is a main feature and benefit of mini-vans. The Toyota Sienna takes the lead by 2 inches with a large cargo space of 150.0 cubic feet. The Honda Odyssey falls in at a close second while the Dodge and Chrysler come at a tie with 144.2-4 cubic feet.

Not All Mini-Vans are Created Equal: How to Find the Best Van for your Family

The Toyota Sienna has lots of room and is really reliable making it a good choice.


Everyone can appreciate the state-of-the-art features that mini-vans are now equipped with. The Odyssey is the pick of the bunch with extra amazing features such as the HondaVAC which is an in-car vacuum, blind spot camera and additional warning systems that have other models beat. The Toyota, Chrysler, Sedona, Nissan and Chrysler all fall into the same category with similar features that offer power sliding doors, Bluetooth, rear view camera, touch entertainment systems and more.

Use and Fuel Efficiency

Mini-vans are excellent for both city and highway use as they are appropriate for short and long distances as well as being robust enough to cater for daily use. They have been equipped with superb handling while not compromising on fuel economy. The Odyssey provides an outstanding 19/28 mpg city/hwy while the Mazda 5 gets an exceptional 22/25 mpg city/hwy for its class. The Sedona falls below the rest of the models with a poor 17/24 mpg city/hwy. The remaining mini-vans fall within a 17-26 mpg city/hwy range which is standard for a mini-van.


While all newer mini-vans are built with a powerful V6 engine, not all are made equal when it comes to smooth handling and a comfortable ride. The Toyota Sienna is the winner in performance with its excellent sport-tuned suspension that improves handling and horsepower of 266 @ 6200 rpm. The Honda Odyssey comes at a very close second with extremely smooth gear shifting, a small turn radius of 36.7 and impressive torque power of 250 @ 4800 rpm for a mini-van. The Mazda 5 takes third place with its quick steering response system. Since it has a smaller build, the manual transmission (although it does come with an automatic option) makes it a fun and nimble vehicle to zip around in.

No longer is the mini-van the dreaded family vehicle that every teenager would shudder at the thought of being caught by their peers in. It’s now the new status of superiority for family vehicles, and with every new model release, you’ll see more and more desirable features. If you’re looking for a 21st century family car, review the pros and cons of the most popular vehicles listed above. When you consider your needs, preferences, and lifestyle, you’re sure to find a model that fits your criteria perfectly. Information for this article was provided by the professionals of Speedy Brake and Apollo Muffler who specialize in car maintenance in Calgary.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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