Buying a Minivan
Shopping for a minivan for the first time might be a little intimidating. For example, what exactly is a minivan? Will it improve my traveling experiences? How do important factors like price, safety features, and size compare to other passenger vehicles?
We've got your answers and more. Let's get started.
What Is a Minivan?
Simply put, minivans are smaller, more versatile versions of their predecessors—the original vans.
Most minivans are designed for comfort, safety, and versatility—not to mention transporting more people than traditional passenger cars, trucks, and even sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
Many minivans have beneficial features that include:
- Rows of seats accessible via traditional doors for front seating.
- Sliding doors for middle and rear seating.
- Removable seats for more cargo space.
Generally, minivans provide a good, solid view of the road thanks to their height, and many minivans boast handling and fuel economy similar to other traditional passenger vehicles.
Pros & Cons of Minivans
Before you jump on the minivan bandwagon so to speak, let's do a little research on the pros and cons of owning a minivan.
- Although many models are larger than traditional passenger vehicles, most minivans drive like other passenger cars.
- Minivans can hold more people than can other traditional passenger vehicles, making them ideal for families (and vacations, when you take luggage into account).
- Most models allow for rear seat removal, which makes more cargo space.
- Minivans are known for their high safety ratings.
- Because they're higher off the ground, it's easier for many people to get a better, all-around view of the road from a minivan.
- Currently, not many minivan models are available in four-wheel drive.
- Minivan fuel economy is not always comparable to that of other passenger vehicles.
- New minivans can be on the pricier side, meaning they might only be worth it if you have a larger family or regularly transport a high number of people.
- Generally, minivans have a low ground clearance and a less-than-impressive towing capacity.
- Although minivans allow for easier road visibility, their height can present problems when it comes to sharp turns, high winds, and other driving conditions.
Tips for Buying a Minivan
Once you've done your research on buying a minivan, consider these tips before you head to the dealership and make a purchase.
As is usually the case when buying a car, prices can vary; however, many minivans tend to cost more than other traditional passenger vehicles. Research the prices of various makes and models and know your budget before you visit the dealership.
Generally, minivans come in a couple of sizes: compact and regular. As their name suggests, compact minivans don't provide the same amount of passenger and cargo space as do regular sized minivans. Consider your family size and hauling needs.
Fuel economy varies by minivan, and the engine type generally plays a role.
Typically, minivans boast high safety ratings. When the safety rating is an especially important fact (and when is it not?), compare the ratings of several different minivan makes and models.
Transportation & Space
How many people will ride in your minivan? How much cargo do you expect to haul? Consider your family size, recreational activities, vacation time, and more.
Most, but not all, minivans are front-wheel drive. This provides more space as well as traction in slippery conditions. However, some minivans are all-wheel drive, which can lower your gas mileage. Consider where you'll operate the minivan the most often, and how often, when thinking about the drive wheels.
A typical minivan can tow more than a regular passenger car and tow a similar weight to what an SUV can tow; however, most likely you're not going to get the towing power of even a passenger truck.
Similar to most new (and “newer used") vehicles these days, there are plenty of perks you can get with your minivan. For example, many minivans come with built-in navigation systems, entertainment systems (especially in the back rows for passengers), and Bluetooth capabilities -- just to name a few.
Given today's technological society, these are definitely worthwhile perks. Just keep in mind that most likely they'll increase the overall price of your minivan.