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Minivan vs. SUV: Which is Right for Your Family?

July 22, 2021

When you have a family, getting everyone from point A to point B comfortably and safely becomes one of your top concerns. Having a family-friendly vehicle with enough space to carry kids, pets, and cargo can make your life so much easier.

The two most family-friendly varieties of vehicles in terms of their size and cargo space are minivans and SUVs. If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, deciding which of these is best for your family will depend on several factors. We’ve outlined some of the key factors when considering a minivan vs. SUV and the pros and cons of each vehicle type.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Family Car

Depending on your priorities, some of these factors may be more or less important.


If you’re looking for the lowest average price, minivans usually win out. According to US News, minivans typically have lower average prices than SUVs. The base price of the average minivan is approximately $6,300 less than that of an SUV. This price difference can be even greater when you consider some of the more luxurious SUVs on the market.

Kid-friendly features

When it comes to the ultimate kid-friendly vehicle, a minivan often comes to mind.

Minivans have sliding doors, eliminating the stress of getting out of the car in a crowded parking lot and reducing the chance of fingers getting smashed.

In addition, minivans typically have lower clearance, making it easier for children to get in and out. Some minivans also come with family-oriented perks, like a built-in vacuum in the Chrysler Pacifica, or in-car entertainment.

Inclement weather performance

Depending on where you live, inclement weather performance may or may not be important to you. If you live in an area that sees a lot of snow, ice, and rain, though, you’ll likely want to consider carefully how safe your vehicle will be on the road in these conditions. SUVs typically win out in this category, as they more frequently come with all-wheel-drive capabilities.

Hybrid capabilities

If fuel economy is something you’re concerned about, minivans and SUVs alike offer hybrid options. However, the hybrid options for minivans are far more limited. Currently, only the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica and the 2021 Toyota Sienna come in hybrid options.

On the other hand, multiple hybrid SUVs are on the market in a range of sizes.


If your family is outdoorsy and loves to tow campers, boats, and bike trailers, you may want to consider an SUV rather than a minivan.

In general, minivans like the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and Kia Sedona can tow up to 3,500 pounds. Alternatively, your typical midsize SUV has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. Depending on your needs, this may be an important factor to consider, and SUVs take the cake.

Size ranges

A family of four may not want the same car as a family of six. Minivans come in a standard size — three rows — and either 7 or 8 seats. SUVs can come in a wider range of sizes, with midsize SUVs like the 2021 Honda CR-V, which has 5 seats, or the larger Honda Pilot, with 7 to 8 seats like a minivan.

Cargo space

If cargo space is something you’re concerned about, the average minivan will have more space. According to, every minivan on the market has at least 31 cubic feet of cargo space. The largest amount of storage space is 81 cubic feet, available in the Chrysler Pacifica.

The amount of storage space available in an SUV depends on the model. Smaller or midsize models often have less than 20 cubic feet of storage space. To get as much storage space as a minivan, you will need one of the largest SUVs.

Minivan vs. SUV Pros and Cons

To help you make a final comparison, we’ve summarized a few of the pros and cons here.

Minivan SUV
Kid-friendly features like sliding doors, in-car vacuums, and entertainment systems


Greater towing capacity


Lower to the ground for easy child access


More hybrid options


Generally lower price


Better all-wheel drive options for inclement weather


Generally more cargo space


More varied sizes, ranges in seat number



Minivan or SUV: Which Option is Best for You?

All things considered, the best option for you is the one that meets your specific needs. While some people may live in a snowy location or tow a boat to the nearby lake every week, those who drive long distances may prioritize fuel economy instead.

All in all, you’ll want to consider the various factors and decide which are most important to you and your family.

These factors include price. And the car you ultimately purchase will depend on your budget and your financial situation to a large extent. To help you understand how much car you can afford, click below.

How Much You Should Spend on a Car

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