Van-Tastic!

Van-Tastic!

5 Reimagined Family Haulers for 2017

There was a time when most drivers would no sooner be caught owning a minivan than they would driving a Yugo in a drag race–such things were simply not done, at least not by respectable folk who still wanted to maintain a semblance of cool while behind the wheel. But the days of the cringe-inducing designs of the minivans are a thing of the past. In fact, minivan sales are up by 25%, proving that drivers are embracing these efficient family haulers. When you take a look at what’s available in the minivan marketplace, it’s not surprising. These five vans are true game changers, and they’d tempt even the most die-hard minivan hater to get behind the wheel.

**Chrysler Pacifica — **When Chrysler is willing to shake the snow globe and completely rethink the vehicle that saved its skin thirty-two years ago – the venerable Town and Country minivan – you know it’s something serious. Unveiled at the Detroit auto show, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica replaces the old T&C (as well as the Dodge Grand caravan) and looks a lot more like a space-age crossover than the soccer-mom grocery getter. With more tech than the Starship Enterprise, the new Pacifica – not to be confused with the older Chrysler model of a similar name – is outfitted with foot-operated power sliding doors and liftgate, 10-inch touch screens in the 2nd row, in-vehicle wireless connectivity, available parallel and perpendicular parking assist, forward collision warning with brake mitigation, land departure warning with mitigation and rear park assist with auto stop, dual-pane sunroof with 3rd-row fixed glass, “Are We There Yet?” rear-seat navigation app, rear climate touch-screen controls and so much more.

**Honda Odyssey — **First released in 1994, the Odyssey is now in its fourth generation, and if promises from Honda prove true, a fifth incarnation is set for release late this year that aims to go head to head with Chrysler’s Pacifica. Pulling design cues from the Acura lineup (most notably the MDX), the new Odyssey won’t be so much a completely new vehicle as it will be an update to an already impressive package, with most of the changes happening inside the passenger compartment. Look for driver assist technology such as lane departure and blind spot monitoring, along with a rear camera. A 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission is touted to deliver around 290 horsepower as well as 270 lb-ft of torque, and there’s even rumblings of introducing an AWD version. And yes, Honda is keeping its built-in cargo area vacuum—good news for families with Cheerios-tossing little ones.

**Toyota Sienna — **First released back in 1997 as a replacement for the Previa, the Sienna has been a go-to minivan staple for two decades. It’s kinda like the Camry of minivans, embodying a reputation for reliability but not necessarily for excitement. Still, it’s unbeatable for family duty, featuring easy ingress and egress for both second and third row seating, tons of spread-out room with three rows of adult-size seats, and huge windows that offer unobstructed views. Adjustable armrests and ottomans for the second row seats provide an extra level of comfort, a dual-screen Blu-Ray rear-seat entertainment system keeps the kids amused, and an intercom allows front-seat occupants to address the third row, proving that you can, at least in voice, come back there if provoked. And did we mention available AWD for nasty driving conditions?

**Nissan Quest — **The Nissan Quest is often seen as the quirkier member of the minivan family, but it’s proof you don’t have to be boring to be an efficient family hauler. Long known for its limousine-like interior quietness, the Quest utilizes optimized sound insulation and deep, plush carpeting to keep road and traffic noise outside. An available 11-inch 16:9 viewing area DVD monitor with gaming inputs is complemented by an available Bose® audio system, featuring thirteen optimally placed speakers that deliver theater quality sound. And simulating the layout of a movie theater, the 2nd- and 3rd-row seat heights are slightly staggered to optimize the view of the screen. Like most other minivans, the Quest offers available three-zone climate system, plus the available Advanced Climate Control System with Plasmacluster® air purifier reduces allergens inside the cabin, and features an air scrubber that helps reduce unpleasant odors. Scads of extras are available—there’s even a 10 x 10 tent that attaches to the back of the van for outdoor adventuring.

**Kia Sedona — **With room for eight, tons of storage, and a long list of standard and optional features, the Sedona is a compelling choice for value-minded minivan shoppers. While early versions of the Sedona were pretty primitive, the newest incarnation is certainly fixated on comfort. Retractable sun shades, multiple sun roof panels, ventilated front seats and ottomans for the second row seats all provide superb comfort for long hauls. A large center console offers scads of storage, and the chilling glove box doubles as a cooler to keep sodas and other melty items frosty. There’s a convenient removable rechargeable flashlight built into the cargo compartment, and you can even power common household small appliances thanks to the built-in 115-volt power inverter. Available blind-spot alarms, rear cross-traffic alert system, front-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning are help the passengers stay as safe as they are comfortable.

Inspired to find your own vantastic ride? Head to CarSoup.com and use our category search to find the minivan of your dreams.


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