What Is A Minivan?

The cynical answer is that it’s the 90s answer to the station wagon. While its true that the minivan supplanted the station wagon for family transportation, to sum it up that way is doing it an injustice. To be blunt, most style conscious families have moved on to SUV’s for their large transportation needs. But unlike the station wagon, the minivan never completely died out. Something kept it around.

So what is a minivan?

A minivan is recognizable as a smaller type of van which can hold and transport passengers in two or three rows. They tend to be lower to the ground than normal vans. They have better fuel economy than SUVs as well as having a flexible interior, meaning you can move the seats around more.

They are surprisingly spacious given their size. With 370 cubic feet it is an ideal way to carry either luggage or groceries. (This is the large minivan, by the way). There are also minivans with power sliding doors and lift-gates, everything you will need to transport your family or a reasonably large amount of cargo.


Confusingly though not all minivans have the same capacity. The UK’s Compact MPV is a small minivan, if you can describe something in such odd terms. Then the company went on to make the Mini MPV which is built around the hatchback style and even smaller than the regular MPV. As with most minivans it has seats which recline, fold flat and may even be removed.


It could be argued that the first minivan was the VW bus, which came out in 1949. Technically known as Volkswagen Type 2, we tend of think of the VW Bus as another type of vehicle. For one thing it was targeted more at recreation than as a family commuter car.

The Ford Aerostar was one of the earliest modern minivans which were built between 1986 to 1997, making the minivan about 34 years old. Their factories were in Hazelwood, Missouri. Originally built with rear wheel drive it was changed to all wheel transmission. It has a range of transmissions from 4 to 5 speed manual.

Although its predecessor was the Ford E series it had a totally different shape, more van-like. They had better fuel economy than the later SUVs. Another feature was the flexible seating which probably why later minivans contain this feature. It’s not a shock that components which work are continued in later models.

The Metris, made by Mercedes Benz, are vehicles between small and mid-size. Van-like vehicles lack cargo space when compared to smaller trucks, though it’s better looking and better for passengers for something smaller? Still the Metris must be more than a delivery van which is how it is, somewhat rudely, described online.

The Dodge Grand Caravan is marketed as suitable for those on a budget. It’s a pity that it doesn’t have that many tech features, your children may require more USB ports for instance, but it does possess a 6.5 inch screen.

The Toyota Sienna has eight speed automatic transmission and has enough space for 57 average sized suitcases. It has emergency braking and lane keeping assist to its credit as well as all-wheel drive and adaptive cruise control (a system that controls the speed of the vehicle). In addition, it has 296-horsepower making it swifter than the usual minivan.

As seen from the examples above, the big selling point of the minivan is its versatility. It’s not just a family car it is also the perfect hire car, given that it can seat 7 or 8. It also makes a handy addition to the service industry even if a full-sized van will be able to store and transport more (though as said above the handling is not as good).

All combined, the minivan handles better than a full sized van, gets better gas mileage than an SUV, and halls nearly as much cargo as a small truck, but meets the needs of families—a dominant market niche. All told the minivan is likely here to stay.

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