Having fallen out of favor among consumers amid the rise of three-row SUVs, there are only a handful of minivan models are offered in the US for 2021. While some automakers increasingly promote SUVs and trucks over other vehicle types, the minivan still provides the most practicality for those who often transport several people at once.
Minivans are more comfortable, more efficient, and less expensive than comparable crossovers. Here is a list of the best available minivans available now for those buyers not suffering from SUV-mania.
The 2022 Kia Carnival replaces the long-running Sedona as the brand's minivan offering. The new Carnival's exterior styling is blockier, taking design cues from popular SUVs, including the Kia Telluride. There's an upright grille and LED lights up front and a long strip of LED taillights out back. Overall, the Carnival looks like a fresh take on the minivan.
Inside, the Carnival can be equipped either with cloth upholstery or high-grade leather. Second-row seats can be captain's chairs that both recline and even have footrests like a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, while seating is available for up to seven or eight passengers, as in other minivans. Driver assistance features include standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist. Adaptive cruise control remains optional, a feature some competitors have as standard. But the available Blind Spot View Monitor projects an image of precisely what's in the car's blind spot onto the digital instrument panel, another feature exclusive to the Carnival among minivans.
The Kia Carnival is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine making 290 horsepower. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels only — all-wheel-drive (AWD) isn't offered for 2022 as it is on some other minivans. The EPA estimates the Carnival will achieve 26 mpg highway and 19 city. Pricing for the Kia Carnival starts at $33,275 in the base LX trim, and top-tier SX Prestige trim begins at $47,275.
The latest in a long line of minivans from a company that popularized the concept starting in 1983, the Chrysler Pacifica is the current interpretation of the people mover template. But the Pacifica is very up with the times and offers different powertrains and a flexible interior, along with luxury and convenience features that some might not expect in a minivan.
The 2021 Pacifica received a slew of updates, most notably in the form of an updated exterior design and available all-wheel-drive on more models than in 2020. Inside, the Pacifica offers thoughtful design and quality materials. The "Stow 'n Go" seating on gasoline-only models can let owners fold both the second and third-row seats into the floor without having to lift them out, leaving a completely flat floor. When the second-row seats are up, there are deep, covered bins to store items, too.
A new Pinaccle trim level pushes into luxury car territory with quilted leather seats. All Pacificas include a 10.1-inch touchscreen to run the infotainment system, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. A camera that lets the driver see what people in the rear seat are up to is also offered, along with dual monitors for second-row passengers to watch movies or play games and a vacuum cleaner to clean up messes.
A 3.6-liter V6 making 287 horsepower and paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission motivates gasoline-only Pacificas, and all-wheel-drive is available across the lineup this year. The Pacifica Hybrid uses that engine and an electric motor to produce 260 horsepower and only with front-wheel-drive. However, as a plug-in hybrid, it can travel up to 32 miles on electric-only power. Non-hybrid Pacificas are rated at up 22 mpg combined by the EPA, while the hybrid gets 30 mpg.
Standard features also include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The Pacifica has a wide range of MSRP across its breadth of trim levels. Base Touring trim starts at $36,690, the least expensive hybrid trim Hybrid Touring begins at $41,490, and top-end Pinnacle trim starts at just over $52,000 with either engine.
Completely redone for 2021, the Toyota Sienna has a loyal following and is a go-to for shoppers already committed to minivans. Toyota, however, has done something radical with the fourth-generation model. The Sienna is now only available as a hybrid and sports new, aggressive styling that could divide opinion among fans of the previous van. But apart from that, the Sienna's practicality and space for up to eight passengers has just been further refined.
Inside, a tall center console divides the front seats and provides ample storage. In XSE trim, sport seats with red stitching complement the overall look. Second-row seats can be bench or captain's chairs that slide forward and backward, allowing passengers to maximize legroom for the middle or third-row seats. The center row is not removable, sacrificing the ability to open the entire rear of the van up for cargo space. The infotainment system operates through a standard 9.0-inch touchscreen, and a rear-seat entertainment system with an 11.6-inch screen is optional and could keep backseat passengers occupied on road trips.
Now that the Toyota Sienna has gone hybrid-only, all trim levels share a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor, making a total of 243 horsepower. All-wheel-drive is available via an additional electric motor to drive the rear wheels when added traction is needed. The hybrid powertrain delivers adequate power, but drivers used to the smoothness of a V6 engine are in for an awakening in the new Sienna. The EPA rates the Sienna at 36 mpg for both highway and city driving while opting for AWD drops that by 1 mpg. The Sienna comes with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of driver assistance features, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. Pricing starts at $35,635 in base LE trim, rising to $51,075 for the top-tier Platinum model.
The long-running Honda Odyssey sits in the minivan sweet spot. It has a flexible interior, drives nicely, and offers uncomplicated efficiency in the way it operates. Those are some of the reasons it, too, has built a loyal following.
While it gained some styling changes for 2021, the Odyssey offers a shape utterly familiar to minivan shoppers, but with enough design lines not to be boring, and without being as busy as the Toyota Sienna. The partially blacked-out rearmost pillar is a nod to current trends. The interior offers quiet comfort for up to eight passengers, and when equipped with second-row Magic Slide captain's chairs, seats can be adjusted back to front and side to side. An 8-inch touchscreen controls the infotainment in most trim levels, aside from the base LX, and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A seven-speaker audio system with a subwoofer is standard, and top trims get a rear-seat entertainment system.
All Odysseys come equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 making 280 horsepower paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is not available, but Honda does tout their traction management system with Snow Mode. The Honda Odyssey earns Top Safety Pick+ accolades from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It also includes standard driver-assist systems like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. The Odyssey starts at an MSRP of $33,265 in the base LX trim, and high-end Elite trim goes for a minimum of $48,995.
Think of the Chrysler Voyager as the spiritual successor of the now-dead Dodge Grand Caravan. It's a stripped-out Pacifica, geared more towards being budget-friendly than high-class. The Voyager gets the same bones as its more expensive sibling at a much lower cost, making it worth considering as a more affordable way to get seven seats and a vast interior. It also competes with base models of the Carnival, Odyssey, and Sienna.
The Voyager looks similar to the Pacifica from the side but uses a different front-end design. The interior design is similar, too, but the Voyager lacks many of the higher-end convenience features found on the more expensive Chrysler minivan. The sliding side doors are manually operated, and the interior is offered in a sturdy cloth upholstery only. The infotainment system consists of a 7-inch touchscreen, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, and a basic rear-seat entertainment system is an available option.
All Voyagers get the same 3.6-liter V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission as the Pacifica, but no hybrid or AWD option is available. Voyager buyers will have to go without most of the Pacifica's driver assistance tech, but blind-spot monitoring is optional. But the Voyager is all about a lot of space for a low price. In base L trim, the MSRP starts from $29,030, and the better-equipped LX model has a starting price of $31,740. Either is an excellent value for a brand new seven-seater.
Ford Transit Connect Wagon
Ford calls the non-commercial Transit Connect a wagon, but it has an all-important feature that makes it more of a van than a wagon: sliding rear passenger doors. This utility vehicle may be just the right fit for city-dwelling families.
The Transit Connect is a basic vehicle initially intended as a work vehicle. Still, it could be a good family and gear hauler that undercuts even the Voyager in its most basic trim. Outside, the boxy van shares styling cues with Ford's small SUVs, and its utilitarian shape isn't unattractive. The interior is basic and reasonably comfortable. The smaller size and low seating position make the Transit Connect feel more like a car than a van. The base model's controls for the audio system are pretty low-tech, but a touchscreen running Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system is optional and recommended.
Two engine options are available in the Transit Connect. The standard engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 162 horsepower with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The optional engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 169 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque paired with a six-speed automatic. Standard safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Features like adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring are available options. The Transit Connect Passenger Wagon starts at $28,795 in basic XL trim, and top-tier Titanium trim begins at an MSRP of $32,995.