There’s something about a van that appeals to my inner rock star – the wide-open road through the windshield, worldly possessions in the back, destination unknown. Rock on, man. I mean, don’t all band stories start with: “So, we all piled into the van and took off for L.A…”?
Minivan life is not rock and roll, though, it’s more like kids fighting, crumbs everywhere, late for soccer practice.
I also know that minivans are not considered sexy, but I happen to find snappy storage space, sliding side doors and built-in vacuums very sexy.
The minivan: “I’m not dead yet!”
The minivan has slipped in popularity since Chrysler first took the automotive world by storm almost 40 years ago with its Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager (both 1984 models).
Families have moved on to utility and crossover vehicles with third-row seats as their people-movers. There is nothing like a minivan, though, for space, functionality and versatility.
Over the past several months, three minivans have visited our driveway, proving the minivan is not ready to give up the fight.
2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle
Those quilted seats in rich caramel! The interior of the Pacifica is truly the pinnacle of luxury. At first, I found the over-the-top interior overwhelming, but I ended up loving it. Matching lumbar pillows are a cool touch but would end up lost, perhaps tumbling out the side door during a roadside pitstop.
I loved the vacuum cleaner, of course, as well as the cute space integrated into the door sill for an umbrella.
The Chrysler Pacifica is a luxurious living room on wheels wrapped in a slightly rugged silhouette, now with all-wheel drive. Take that, SUVs!
2021 Toyota Sienna XSE
The interior of the Toyota Sienna is in stark contrast to the indulgent cabin of the Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle. The open, bright cockpit give the Sienna a modern, spacecraft feel.
The bridge centre console with large space below is perfect for a big purse or knapsack. The wide tray that sweeps along the bottom of the dashboard is hands-down the best storage space.
Kick-operated sliding side doors, a first for the segment, would be a major selling point for families juggling children, pets and stuff.
The exterior design is sleek and dare-I-say sporty. With all-wheel drive, the Toyota Sienna competes with the Chrysler Pacifica.
The Sienna may not have a vacuum, like the Chrysler and the Honda Odyssey, but it one-ups them all with a hybrid powertrain, making it the most fuel efficient minivan out there. Take that, compact cars!
2021 Honda Odyssey
The Odyssey’s vacuum sucks more than the Pacifica’s… and that’s a good thing. The ease of clean-up made it our preferred beach vehicle.
Access to the third row is easy with second-row seats that slide fore, aft and sideways! Honda’s Cabin Watch takes the bubble mirror up a notch with a camera that allows day and nighttime viewing of those unruly rear seat passengers.
The Honda Odyssey handles twists and turns with decidedly un-minivan-like agility, making it stand out from the crowd. A fun-to-drive minivan? Right on, man!
It’s difficult to pick a favourite. If you’re shopping for a minivan, all three deserve serious consideration.
Ah, the minivan. It’s not rock and roll… but I like it.