SUV vs. Minivan: Which is Right for You?
Each family is different and so are their needs. Because of this diversity, there’s no easy answer to the question of what vehicle is the best to drive your people around. If you need to have seats in your vehicle for more than six people, you are probably looking at minivans and SUVs (sport utility vehicles). Both minivans and SUVs shine in different ways. Let’s compare the areas where each type of vehicle outperforms the other.

The Pros of an SUV

  • Power. While there are some poor power performers in the SUV category, they generally have more powerful contenders than minivans. Minivans are typically based on platforms related to cars, whereas SUVs are based on platforms similar to trucks.
  • Towing. Large SUVs can out-tow even the best compact pick-up trucks, and many are capable of hauling a large boat or trailer. They are similar in towing capabilities to those of a full-size pickup truck.
  • Safety. While minivans are also very safe vehicles (and you can find many minivans and SUVs that offer advanced safety and driver assistance features), SUVs edge ahead when it comes to safety. SUVs are typically higher and provide better visibility to their drivers. Many SUVs have strong crash test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
  • Inclement weather performance. Many SUVs come standard as all-wheel or four-wheel drive which helps them to perform better than minivans in poor weather conditions, even on rough terrain.

The Pros of a Minivan

  • Cargo space. Minivans have significantly more cargo space than SUVs. Many minivans also have the capability of folding down the third row, which increases cargo capacity immensely. The SUV with the most cargo capacity with the back rows down is the Ford Expedition. The minivan with the lowest maximum cargo space, Kia Sedona, still has more cargo space than the Ford Expedition. Some minivans even have the capability to fold in the second row of seats, and others have the option to remove the seats.
  • Sliding doors. When parking is tight, you don’t need to worry about a minivan door hitting the too-close car next to you. The sliding doors on minivans provide peace of mind to parents worried about their kids scratching neighboring vehicles.
  • Purchase price. When you compare the average base price MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price), minivans take the cake. You can find a minivan with basic features for up to thousands less than its SUV counterpart would cost.
  • Handling. Minivans tend to handle better and steer more comfortably than SUVs. Minivans are less bulky than SUVs so they are easier to maneuver (especially when you are trying to park).
  • Interior comfort. If you are looking for legroom, minivans have a leg up on SUVs. Minivans tend to have at least 15 extra inches of space compared to the average three-row SUV.
  • Fuel costs. Minivans have an average fuel economy estimate. SUVs have some gas guzzlers in their mix, but they also have a handful of models that have better gas mileage than minivans. But overall, the average SUV uses more gas than the average minivan. That means that the environmental impact of a minivan is better than an SUV’s.
  • Additional costs. Not only are minivans less expensive upfront, but they are also less expensive in the long run. Smaller minivan tires tend to be less expensive than larger SUV ones. Minivans also require less upkeep on their front-wheel-drive systems than SUVs need on their four-wheel-drive systems.

Where they Tie

  • Interior technology. Both minivans and SUVs have the potential for luxurious additions, including a vacuum (in a Honda Odyssey), an app for back seat passengers to see how long until you arrive at the destination (in a Chrysler Pacifica), rear automatic braking (in the Volkswagen Atlas and Nissan Armada), rear-seat entertainment systems (found in multiple minivans and SUVs), and surround-view cameras (also found in multiple minivans and SUVs).

With pros and cons for both minivans and SUVs, let your family’s unique preferences be the tie breaker. Luckily there is no wrong answer; both types of vehicles can provide reliable transportation. Take some time to figure out what areas are most important to you, and find a vehicle that best aligns with those priorities.

Whether minivan or SUV, if you are in the market for a used vehicle in Salt Lake City, check out our inventory at TJ Chapman Auto. Not local? No problem. Check out our online selection of quality rebuilt title vehicles for your family. We’ve been shipping minivans and SUVs to remote buyers across the country for years.


SUV vs. Minivan: Which is Right for You?