While sport-utility vehicles get all the attention these days, the minivan remains the ultimate mode of transportation for any growing family. The segment has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, and where nearly every automaker used to offer a minivan, only four mainstream options remain. Luckily each one is pretty good. Here we’ll take a look at the minivan landscape as it stands headed into 2021.
The Sienna is all-new for 2021, making it the most recently-redesigned minivan on sale today. The changes it receives in its latest generation are significant, starting with the fact that every 2021 Toyota Sienna is rated by the EPA at 36 mpg combined when fitted with front-wheel drive, or 35 when optioned with all-wheel drive.
How, you might ask? Well, the Sienna now comes exclusively as a hybrid, which we love, given that Toyota’s
hybrid powertrains tend to be the most fuel-efficient gas powertrains on the market.
Additionally, as of right now, the Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica are the only minivans available with all-wheel drive, but the fuel-efficient Pacifica Hybrid is only available with front-wheel drive, making the Sienna the by far the most efficient all-wheel drive minivan on the market. Factor in loads of safety tech, long-sliding second-row captains chairs, and other family friendly features, and the new Sienna looks like the all-around segment leader headed into 2021.
is known for smart design, great quality, and good resale value, all of which can be said for the company’s Odyssey minivan. That said, while the Odyssey pioneered family-friendly minivan features, like the available built-in vacuum cleaner it debuted for 2014, it doesn’t offer the hyper-efficient powertrains or all-wheel drive options offered by its competitors from Toyota and Chrysler. So if you wanted 35 mpg or four-wheel traction, you may want to look elsewhere.
But if you’re just looking for an economical family van with a strong V-6 engine (rated by the EPA at 22 mpg combined) and great reliability ratings, then the venerable Odyssey is certainly deserving of a test drive. Despite not offering a fancy powertrain, it remains at the top of the segment.
Chrysler Pacifica/Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid/Chrysler Voyager
redesigned the Town and Country for the 2017 model year, it took the opportunity to re-name the vehicle ‘Pacifica’—a name it previously used on a three-row crossover. Also, starting with the 2020 model year, the Pacifica’s two lowest trims have been given the ‘Voyager’ model name. Regardless of its name though, Chrysler’s minivan offering is impressive, and gets a refresh for the 2021 model year. It’s available with loads of family-oriented features; multiple sunroofs, second row entertainment screens with integrated games, and even a vacuum cleaner, just like the Odyssey.
As far as powertrains go, there are two different routes you can take with the Pacifica. The standard engine is Chrysler’s popular 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which for 2021, can now be paired with all-wheel drive. Non-AWD Pacificas are rated at 22 mpg combined, while AWD models come in at 20 combined.
There’s also the Pacifica Hybrid, which Chrysler treats as a separate model from the non-hybrid Pacifica. The Pacifica Hybrid pairs that V6 with a plug-in hybrid system, capable of propelling the vehicle up to 32 miles on battery power alone, before returning 30 mpg combined once the battery has been depleted.
Another selling point of the Pacifica Hybrid is that it’s eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit because it’s a plug-in; compare that to the Sienna, which is a traditional hybrid and thus isn’t eligible for any government incentives.
One drawback to the Pacifica Hybrid is that it isn’t available with the non-Hybrid model’s clever Sto-and-Go seating system, which allows the seats to fold completely flat into the floor.
Kia Sedona/Kia Carnival
The Sedona you can currently buy from a Kia
dealership has been on sale for a while, and 2021 will be its last model year. Last redesigned for 2015, it comes with Kia’s excellent 5-year/60,000-mile basic and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, but trails the competition in most other areas. It’s a little smaller than other minivans, doesn’t offer a hybrid model or all-wheel drive, and only offers its best safety tech on upper trim levels.
Luckily, Kia will be replacing the Sedona with an all-new minivan for 2022, and it’s likely to bear the name ‘Carnival’. Already revealed for foreign markets, the Carnival wears burly, SUV-like styling, which is certainly a deliberate move on the part of Kia, given that sport utilities are all the rage. While we don’t know exact details yet, expect the Kia’s new minivan to compete heavily on features, value, and style, though it doesn’t appear that it will offer a hybrid option or available all-wheel drive.
This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.