Minivans vs. SUVs for big family trip

As a rule, the first vehicle that a motorist purchases is a compact car, and this choice is obvious. After all, a person who has recently received a driver’s license is just learning to drive. However, as soon as a person marries and children appear in his family, his priorities change dramatically. That is, he requires a more spacious car, and either a minivan or an SUV can be a suitable option. 

Despite their external differences, these vehicle categories have a lot in common. Both models have a wide body and a large trunk and also boast airbags, anti-lock brakes, and other technological features. They are convenient for long trips with the whole family or in the company of friends. Still, each of these options has its advantages and disadvantages. So what to choose between minivans and SUVs? Let’s look at this issue in more detail! 

Why choose a minivan? 

A modern minivan has side sliding doors and a third row of seats. Built on the basis of a conventional passenger car, it features a longer wheelbase and a higher seating position. At the same time, such a vehicle is far from just an alternative to a station wagon that has gone ahead – it’s a completely different car. 

Providing 5 to 10 passenger seats, minivans claim to be the most versatile car types on the market. These are generally family-friendly vehicles with some serious off-road limitations compared to SUVs. But if overall cabin space is one of your top priorities, then a minivan is pretty hard to beat. 

Minivan pros: 

  • Three rows of seats make it possible to accommodate up to 10 passengers. Moreover, the back bench will be comfortable for both children and adults. 
  • The complete set of a minivan most often includes a variety of electronics, focused on trips with the whole family. Things like built-in vacuum cleaners, split screens, compact sliding doors, and voice amplifiers for drivers are usually reserved for minivans. 
  • The ability to fold the third row of seats allows you to accommodate significantly more cargo than an SUV. 
  • Better aerodynamics and a relatively low seating position contribute to handling and fuel efficiency benefits. 

Cons of a minivan: 

  • Large dimensions, which limits the vehicle’s maneuverability. 
  • The off-road qualities are much worse due to low ground clearance and small wheels.

Because of their unique technical characteristics, minivans are perfect cars for a big family. Therefore, consider them if you are going to rent a car in the USA and don’t know what to choose for a road trip with children. Typical 10-passenger van rental models in this class are Ford Galaxy, Citroen C4 Grand Picasso, Kia Carnival, Chrysler Pacifica, and similar. They differ in seating configurations, engine sizes, interior spaces, and luggage capacities.

Why choose an SUV? 

The typical SUV today is multifaceted and the number of options available to drivers is simply amazing. Unlike minivans that come with mostly small engines, SUVs have both economical V4s and super powerful V8s. Also, sport utility vehicles feature front/all-wheel drive, a wide choice of transmissions, and performance options with various electronic assistants. 

Of course, such technical characteristics were laid down, first of all, for the sake of off-road qualities, as well as high torque and outstanding towing capacity. However, this doesn’t change the fact that SUVs are also among the suitable family transportation options.

Pros of SUVs: 

  • All-wheel drive options and the type of transmissions in a modern SUV are available in any combination. 
  • Large ground clearance allows you to drive on unpaved and country roads. 
  • The high seating position provides improved visibility. 
  • The frame structure is a great advantage in case of torsional deformations of the car and potential accidents. 

Cons of SUVs: 

  • No matter how big an SUV is, there will always be a cheaper and at the same time more spacious replacement for it in the form of a minivan. 
  • With increased ground clearance and all-wheel drive, SUVs are less fuel-efficient. 
  • A typical SUV actually has a fairly stiff suspension, so ride comfort may not be as high as you’d expect. However, modern adaptive suspension solves this problem entirely. 

When choosing an SUV, consider the size and passenger capacity. Compact SUVs provide comfort for 4-5 passengers and fit 2-3 suitcases in the trunk. Popular models in this category are the Nissan Rogue, the Buick Encore, and the Jeep Compass. If you want a bigger car in this class, opt for a midsize sport utility vehicle such as the Kia Sportage, Jeep Wrangler, Ford Escape, Kia Sorento, or Toyota RAV4, all equally comfortable for 5 people. Finally, the large SUVs offer three rows of seats and seat up to 8 people. You can choose between Chevrolet Tahoe, Audi Q7, Cadillac Escalade, Nissan Armada, and Chevrolet Suburban.

Minivans vs. SUVs: what to choose? 

If you want to decide on the right vehicle class, first think about what you need a car for. Long-distance hauls with family and kids will be much more comfortable in a minivan. Such a car provides a comfy fit, a smooth ride, and has a lot of luggage space. On the other hand, if you like country trips on unpaved roads, and often go far beyond asphalt surfaces, an SUV is your thing. Four-wheel drive, high ground clearance, and large wheels will be a good help in light and medium off-road conditions.

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