Minivans might not be the most exciting automobiles on the lot, but when it comes to practicality they’re hard to beat. The same can be said about trucks and SUVs, especially if you’re looking to upgrade from a smaller sedan or hatchback to accommodate a growing family or tackle the kind of hauling or towing that a compact car simply can’t manage.
Consider three important factors about your automotive needs and expectations as you plan for your next upgrade.
1. Your Passenger Needs
Minivans lead the seven-to-eight-passenger pack, with even their third rows offering adult-friendly accommodations. This is something you’ll have trouble duplicating in the SUV world, although models like the Honda Pilot come as close to minivan-levels of space as you’re likely to find in a fullsize sport-utility vehicle. That being said, if you’ll only occasionally use the back bench, you might want to look into a smaller crossover like the Dodge Journey, which can seat six in a pinch.
2. Cargo-Hauling Wants
Take the seats out of class-leading minivans and you’ll find close to 150 cubic feet of total cargo space, which is again far and away the most you’ll find on the market from any type of vehicle. Still, not every type of cargo fits under a roof, so if you need to haul fridges and motorbikes more often than furniture and sports equipment then you might be better served by a pickup like the Chevrolet Silverado, which offers an enormous open-truck bed that’s excellent for carrying over-sized items.
3. Behind-the-Wheel Expectations
A great question to ponder when upgrading from a compact car or hatch to an SUV or minivan: What kind of driving experience are you looking for? Minivans offer a reasonably comfy ride, but they don’t have the same easy-driving experience as a smaller SUV like the Ford Escape or the Honda CR-V. Nor can they go off-road like the Ford F-150 pickup or the rugged Jeep Cherokee. Compared to what you’re used to in a compact car, you might be surprised just how big some SUVs and minivans feel around town. Test drive as many models as you can before making your decision.
Make a list of everything you want, need, and expect when upgrading to a larger vehicle, and use your list to narrow down the choices. With so many SUV-, pickup-, and minivan-options out there, it won’t be long before you’ve found a model that matches your lifestyle.