2014 Minivan Preview
Perhaps you found out that a three-row crossover might be a compromise. If you have seven people to carry, you might not have room for their stuff to take on vacation. Sure, there are some stowage solutions, but you could find that certain seating areas could be a bit cramped for everyone to enjoy a very long ride.
Perhaps we should reintroduce to you one of the smartest vehicle solutions in the past three decades – the minivan.
However, there are other options to the traditional three-row minivan. For smaller families, the alternative is a tall wagon – called MPVs elsewhere in the world. There is plenty of leg and headroom for growing children or other family members. Yet, they are often powered by more efficient engines. You could even get away with scoring better fuel economy than a traditional minivan.
What is available out in the marketplace for minivans and their smaller companions? You may be surprised what we came up with…
CHRYSLER TOWN & COUNTRY: Chrysler created the original minivan. To be original is to have personality. The T&C is the only true luxury minivan on the market. Powered by the Pentastar 3.6liter V6, the T&C has plenty of power to cruise along the highway in style – with seven people and their luggage inside. Do not forget about the Stow ‘N Go seats that can be folded completely flat for long cargo.
DODGE GRAND CARAVAN: The original needs no introduction. For 30 years, Dodge offered the best alternative to family transport. While the T&C takes care of luxury transport, the Grand Caravan offers two sporty options. The Blacktop package gives the minivan an aggressive look at a good price point. For more driving dynamics, you choose the R/T – also known as the “Man Van.” The same Pentastar V6 powers the Grand Caravan and also offers Stow ‘N Go seating.
FIAT 500L: An airy cabin puts this five seater amongst this group. Though there is some cues that it is aligned with the small Cinquecento, this is built off of a larger Fiat Group platform that provides adult room both front and back and a sizable and adaptable cargo hold. Power comes from Fiat’s 1.4liter Multiair turbocharged engine, good for 160 horsepower. This family hauler will put a smile on your face when you drive it.
FORD C-MAX: Offering only hybrid drivelines – including the Energi plug-in model – the C-Max is derived from one of Europe’s most popular MPV. Engines stat with a four-cylinder engine with an electric motor attached. The Energi adds a plug-in port to extend battery range without resorting to the gas motor as much as usual. There are only two rows inside the European-designed C-Max. The cargo hold is not flat, as the floor serves as the cover for the battery pack. However, the C-Max offers plenty of passenger space 4-5 people and all of Ford’s conveniences onto the most efficient and sustainable MPV in our market.
FORD TRANSIT CONNECT WAGON: If you want more than a C-Max and can do without an electric motor, Ford has the Transit Connect as an option. In its second generation, Ford’s small work van is being offered with two wheelbases up to three rows of seating in three different trims. You can get a 2.5liter four or the 1.6liter Ecoboost turbocharged engine, both connected to an automatic transmission. Consider this a true alternative to – a minivan.
HONDA ODYSSEY: Honda’s minivan was designed to outdo its competition. Honda’s 3.5liter V6 powers this three-row van that matches performance and convenience against its rivals. However, Odyssey is now known for having the first on-board production installed vacuum cleaner – a blessing to families that do more than just haul people around. The Odyssey has the reputation for being the best in this class – differently styled, but drives superbly. That is what families really want.
KIA SEDONA: Perhaps one of the better values in the minivan market was re-introduced after a year or so away. It is a solid vehicle that offers ample space for seven and ample power to take them away. A new version is coming out for the 2015 model year that has already stunned the automotive world with a new design and better space efficiency.
MAZDA5: Though it looks like a minivan, the Mazda is a fraction smaller than one. This has worked to Mazda’s advantage, as it has a reputation for being the family car for enthusiasts. The driving dynamics alone are considered the best amongst its class – given its roots from the previous Mazda3. Mazda’s MZR 2.5liter four-cylinder can rev the six of you – and there are three rows in the 5 – to the redline. The term “small and mighty” is certainly apt to best describe the Mazda5.
NISSAN QUEST: The Quest is what a true Japanese van looks like. The design is upright and still accommodates three rows of passengers. Powered by Nissan’s VQ35 3.5liter V6, the Quest will take you where you need to go with authority. Inside you could fold the last two rows flat to expand cargo space and offers an all-around camera to help maneuver the Quest in tight spots. The Quest had always been known for being different than its competition and it shows.
TOYOTA SIENNA: American designed and built, the Sienna still shows its “swagger wagon” looks while doing the job as intended. Powered by Toyota’s corporate 3.5liter V6, there is plenty of power to haul three rows of passengers and their stuff on vacation or across town. It also features the first production passenger side, second row seat that you could use to transfer physically challenged passengers. You can now order this option for assisting children into the Sienna. The difference is that Toyota offers more of its reputation inside and out. For consumers, that is enough to consider the Sienna.