Center console for minivan

Kia Motors America

Minivans get no respect. The people movers have been around more than 30 years and it seems the kids who grew up climbing through the sliding doors don't want to be seen behind the wheel of anything like what their parents drove.

The crossover SUVs they've adopted instead are, however, little more than minivans in disguise, with all-wheel drive and an elevated ride height for those off-road excursions they will probably never take. But here's the thing: These ubiquitous, new-fangled crossovers don't do as good a job at the day-to-day family chores as minivans do. Whether you're hauling kids to band practice, out-of-town in-laws to dinner, or plywood back from the home center, minivans have lots more room inside than an SUV. They’re also easier to get people and their stuff in and out of due to their lower floor height. They're generally quieter and ride better than crossovers, too. Their sliding doors are usually power-operated and won't bang into the next car in tight parking lots.

The U.S. minivan market has gotten a shot of adrenaline with the arrival of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. It has quickly risen to the top of our minivan rankings and is currently tied with the Honda Odyssey for the No. 1 slot. The Odyssey is expected to be replaced with a redesigned model in 2017.

Car reviewers look for all these things, along with family friendly features such as DVD players and game-console hookups in minivans. They also look for how easy it is to convert the van from people to cargo-hauling duty and back, and how easy it is to do things like choose a song from your iPod playlist while on the road.

The best minivans make great road trip companions, swallowing all your vacation gear so you don't have to pack it on the roof, saving you money on fuel compared with a big crossover, and leaving you feeling relaxed and ready to roll when you arrive. Really, what's not to love?

A few minivans, however, stand out from the pack. Here are some that have impressed reviewers with their comfort, performance, and utility:

Honda Odyssey

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

The Odyssey seems to be everybody's favorite minivan for its road manners; its roomy, well-built, and whisper-quiet interior; and its long list of family-friendly features. It drives like a good sedan, rides like luxury car, and has the cushy livability of your family room.

Honda’s Odyssey earned our 2016 Best Minivan for the Money award as well as our Best Minivan for Families prize. You can choose one of six trim levels, from basic people-mover (starting at around , 000) to the opulent Touring Elite, with surround sound and a widescreen rear-seat entertainment system (, 000). Need to haul home furniture or appliances? That's no problem with the Odyssey's fold-and-tumble third-row seat and pickup-sized flat floor inside. Who says an excellent cargo hauler has to look like a truck?

Inside the Honda Odyssey

The Odyssey's second-row seat is particularly ingenious. The right-side captain's chair can slide over to the middle to leave more room for kids to get to the third row, or it can pull out next to the door to leave a center aisle.

A removable third middle-row seat can boost passenger capacity to eight when installed in the center aisle. Parents can also slide it forward by up to five inches to make child seats easier to reach from the front. The third-row seat folds and tumbles easily into the floor in two sections for maximum versatility.

For older kids, the top-of-the-line Odyssey Touring Elite model has a huge, 16.8-inch widescreen that flips out of the roof and will show two displays at once – a DVD movie and a video-game, for example – to keep kids on both sides of the van happy. To keep parents happy – or drive them crazy – there's a 650-watt, 12-speaker audio system with Theater Mode in the top-of-the-line Odyssey Touring Elite.
When the little ones spill Cheerios all over your pristine rolling den, the Odyssey offers its own optional built-in vacuum cleaner to de-crumb the immaculate interior until the next commute.

Odyssey Performance

All Odysseys come with a 248-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine that drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. It provides strong acceleration for a minivan. The Odyssey earns EPA-estimated mileage of 19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway.

The steering is typical Honda: smooth and light, yet responsive, whether you're maneuvering around the grocery store parking lot, sweeping through Interstate curves, or climbing a twisty mountain road. The body leans some (as you would expect), but the handling feels pretty sporty for a minivan, and the ride remains comfortable. The driving experience is what sets the Odyssey apart in the eyes of many buyers and critics.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Chrysler brought the first minivan to the market more than 30 years ago, and their latest model is already shaking up the segment. The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica replaces the Town and Country minivan – the aging Dodge Grand Caravan will continue production into the 2017 model year.

Although safety and reliability ratings are not yet available for the new Pacifica, it’s tied at the top of our minivan rankings with the Odyssey, based on its scores from automotive critics. Top-trim Pacificas bring a plethora of advanced safety systems to the segment, including a 360-degree camera system, lane keep assist, and forward collision warning with automatic braking.

Inside the Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler’s Pacifica minivan is equipped with the company’s exclusive Stow ‘n Go second-row seats that fold neatly into the floor. Competitors require you to remove the center-row seats from the van to create a flat load floor.

Available family-friendly features include an advanced rear-seat entertainment system with built-in games, plus the ability to stream entertainment and surf the internet on two 10-inch touch screens. No more fumbling with a key fob to open the sliding doors or rear hatch. You’ll be able to open them by waving your foot the vehicle. Some versions of the van include a built-in vacuum system.

Pacifica Performance

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 287 horsepower, topping its nearest competitor by more than 10 horsepower. The front-wheel-drive Pacifica uses a nine-speed automatic transmission to deliver EPA-estimated mileage of 18 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway.

Late in 2016, a plug-in hybrid model will join the gasoline-only model that is currently on sale. Chrysler expects an electric-only range of around 30 miles, which is enough to cover many buyers’ daily tasks without the use of much, if any, gasoline. The system features two electric motors in addition to a 3.6-liter V6. Total system output is expected to be 260 horsepower.

Toyota Sienna

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

The 2016 Sienna stands out for its practicality, versatility, and the range of variations designed to fit the needs of many buyers. There are basic family-oriented Siennas, sporty Siennas, and luxury Siennas, plus an option for outdoor enthusiasts. You can even include features for those who need mobility assistance.

Some minivan buyers may also gravitate to the Sienna because of Toyota's reputation for reliability. Indeed, J.D. Power ratings suggest Sienna buyers will have fewer complaints than buyers of other minivans.

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