Minivans have waned in popularity somewhat in recent years. Part of it stems from an image some find objectionable, part from the fact that many midsize SUVs are now available with three rows of seats that make them competitive from a people-packaging standpoint. But the reality is that nothing can rival a minivan for sheer space utilization and cost per cubic foot.

Pricing for most minivans starts in the mid to high 20s. As with many other classes of vehicles, minivans offer a tremendous number of luxury and convenience features that can push the bottom line well into the $40,000 range. These include power liftgates, dual-screen entertainment systems, power-folding seats, and up-to-the-minute safety features such as wide-angle rearview cameras and collision mitigation systems.

Although there are exceptions, the general template for minivans includes a V6 engine, automatic transmission, front-wheel drive, three rows of seats (with the 3rd row typically folding into the floor), and dual sliding rear-side doors. Even the least-expensive ones include a host of standard equipment that makes them transportation bargains, even if you don’t need the space. The downside is that fuel economy isn’t great, with EPA ratings of 18 city/26 highway being about the norm.

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2018

The Honda Odyssey is redesigned, gaining new styling and a host of family-friendly features such as a CabinWatch in-cabin camera, CabinTalk intercom system, and Magic Slide multi-position second-row seats that slide both fore and aft and side to side. The Toyota Sienna gets freshened styling, more standard safety equipment, and infotainment upgrades. The Ford Transit Connect is now available with Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system and a rearview camera. The Dodge Grand Caravan and Kia Sedona see no changes of note, and the slow-selling Nissan Quest is discontinued.

Vehicles in the Minivan class:

Chrysler Pacifica
Dodge Grand Caravan
Ford Transit Connect
Honda Odyssey
Kia Sedona
Toyota Sienna