Car and driver minivan Comparison

Guess what? Minivans are still uncool. Automakers know this. Even the latest ads for the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna acknowledge the squareness of the segment. Sales have stabilized at about 500, 000 units per year since tragically hip moms and dads fled to crossovers. As a mature segment with little potential for growth, minivans are getting comfortable with their squareness. For evidence, we direct your attention to the new Nissan Quest, which not only acknowledges its one-box silhouette but drapes a metaphorical trench coat over the whole thing.

So minivans are cool with being uncool. Can we move on? The premise remains the same as before: Maximize people and cargo space, and forget about the styling. Driving dynamics get second billing. The point is to get you and your kids (or, for aging boomers, your dogs) to and from every destination with the least amount of hassle and the most comfort.

The newest in our assembled quartet is the Nissan Quest, back after a two-year hiatus. Now based on the company’s D platform (shared with the Altima, Maxima, and Murano), the Quest is similar to the Japanese-market Elgrand. For 2011, the Chrysler Town & Country (and its sibling, the Dodge Grand Caravan) gets freshened exterior and interior styling, a retuned suspension, and—most important—a new 283-hp V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic, which replaces all three previous powertrain offerings.

The Odyssey and the Sienna are also new for the 2011 model year, but both offer carry-over engines lashed to new six-speed automatics (available only in Touring trim on the Honda).

There’s a lot of common ground among this set. All four are powered by 24-valve V-6 engines, with only 35 horsepower separating the strongest (Chrysler) from the weakest (Honda). In the top-of-the-line trims we specified for our test group, each minivan comes with power side doors and a power rear hatch. They all offer some sort of flat load floor when the seats are folded and/or removed.

It’s worth noting that although the vans tested here all ring in at about $40, 000, each can be had for closer to $30, 000. The price of the Sienna, the highest in this test, drops as low as $25, 370 for a base four-cylinder model.

R. A. Allen Co., Inc. Allen Sports Premier 4-Bike Trunk Rack
Automotive Parts and Accessories (R. A. Allen Co., Inc.)
  • Patent pending design fits sedans, hatchbacks, minivans and SUV s - consult manufacturer web site for specific vehicle fit information
  • Patented quick snap set-up design allow for super-quick set up right out of the box
  • 21 Long Carry Arms easily accommodate up to 4 bicycles (140 LB Max capacity)
  • Individual Dual-Compound tie-down cradles secure and protect bicycles
  • Extra large car pads help to distribute bicycles load and protect vehicle finish

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