SUVs Vs. Minivans: The Battle Continues

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Both SUVs and minivans have a claim to being the best family vehicles, but which is the right choice for you?

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The Difference Between SUV and Minivan Vehicles

When it comes to finding the ideal family-friendly commuter, it can get difficult when comparing the most obvious options; the ever-popular SUV vs the humble minivan. Both are capable family vehicles focusing on comfort and driver- and passenger-oriented features. Generally speaking, SUVs are more modern than minivans, as the latter have mostly gone out of style, while SUVs and crossovers are among the best-selling types of vehicles in the USA today. This is largely thanks to their commanding ride heights, rugged aesthetics, and near-unbeatable practicality. Minivans are a little more out-moded and have the reputation of being owned only by 'soccer moms'. They're really pleasant to drive, however, and offer plenty of practicality. If you're looking at buying a good family hauler, either one would be a good choice, but which would be the best for you?

  • Performance: When it comes to performance, there is an SUVs that meets just about every specification, whether it be sporty or luxurious. Whatever the case, all SUVs share the same advantage of having a commanding ride height, which aids visibility and confidence on the road. Minivans are typically built on regular car platforms, which means they are usually lower to the ground and provide better handling. Most SUV models are offered with front and all-wheel-drive setups as well as with 4x4 systems while most minivans are available only in FWD. This makes SUVs the better options when it comes to all-weather and off road capability and towing. Minivans typically deliver better gas mileage figures than SUVs.
  • Aesthetic: In comparison to minivans, SUVs are certainly the better-looking vehicles in general. SUVs can be modern, sporty, or rugged, and, in some cases, a combination of al threel. Minivans are generally more nondescript and have that stereotypical "soccer mom van" look. In other words, with a sport-utility vehicle, you'll easily be able to get something designed and styled to your liking whether it be a modern, urban-centric guise or a sporty, adventurous styling. You just won't find the same customizability within the minivan segment.
  • Specifications: Both SUVs and minivans come with many standard and optional advanced driver-assist features, creature comforts and conveniences, and safety specifications. Both are also offered with many similar accessories such as roof racks and tow bar hitches, etc. In this regard, both vehicle types match up pretty much identically.
  • Practicality: When it comes to comparing a full-size SUV vs a standard minivan, the latter takes the cake for overall passenger room and maximum cargo space. Large and some midsize SUVs are offered with three-row seating and 5,6,7, and 8 seater configurations, something most minivans are offered with, too. However, while the rearmost seats and cargo area of a full-size SUV can be very confined and limited, minivans have more interior space for rear passengers to enjoy and to allocate to storage. Both SUVs and minivans offer plenty of seating configurations but minivans get a point for their effortless ingress and egress thanks to their sliding back doors.
  • Variety: There are significantly more automakers producing SUVs than those making minivans, mainly due to the immense popularity of SUVs. Automakers have also developed various models of each of their SUV offerings to cater to a wider audience. This means that there are a lot more options within the SUV segments than there are minivans, with the SUV offering more variability in terms of price, performance capabilities, style, and more.
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Pros and Cons of SUVs vs Minivans

The main difference between an SUV and a minivan is in their respective advantages and disadvantages. Below are just some of the general pros and cons each vehicle type offers:

SUVs

  • Commanding ride heights
  • Good outward visibility
  • Superior off-road capability
  • Superior towing capabilities
  • Generally quite pricey
  • Top-heavy handling
  • Not as safe as regular cabs
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Minivan Pros

  • Relatively affordable
  • Nimbe, easy handling
  • Commodious interiors
  • Superior max cargo capacities
  • Not the most attractive designs
  • There are very few AWD options
  • Unwieldy size makes them difficult to park
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FAQs

What’s better for camping, an SUV or a minivan?

SUVs are generally the better choice here, as they boast a higher ground clearance in conjunction with excellent passenger and cargo capacity. They can also more easily tow a caravan or trailer, especially when properly equipped for the task. Read more about the best cars for vacationing here.

What are the best SUVs for transporting your family?

When it comes to finding the best family SUVs, the Kia Sorento hybrid is rated as one of the best midsize 3-row SUVs available on the US market. It is followed closely by the Toyota RAV4 Prime and the Cadillac Escalade, though the former is a smaller, electric vehicle, while the latter is one of the most expensive vehicles in the segment.

What’s the difference: MPV vs SUV?

Sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) are designed more for drivability, whether it be on-road or off-road. They're easy to drive and are offered with various drivetrain options. Multi-purpose vehicles, on the other hand, are more focused on the people-hauling side of things, prioritising passenger and cargo room above all else. Though they can focus more on one than the other, as the name suggests.

Can all SUVs be taken off-road?

No, many SUVs are sold only with front-wheel-drivetrains and so deliver similar drive dynamics to that of a regular sedan or hatchback. There is a very diverse range of SUVs and one will have to do a lot of research in order to determine which is best for their requirements whether it be occasional off-roading or easy city driving.

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