Minivan vs SUV: Which One Should I Choose?

Vans are usually slightly cheaper to insure than SUVs, but both vehicles have plenty of different advantages to offer. Read here to learn if a van or SUV is right for you.
Written by Jacoba Bood
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
If you’ve got kids, a big dog, or you just appreciate a third row of seating, you’ve probably considered whether you should drive a van or an SUV. SUVs are trendier and offer up more variety and sleeker looks. Minivans might not be the hippest vehicle on the block, but SUVs can’t beat them for practicality.
Vans and SUVs both have their pros and cons—and you will want to think about what type of qualities suit your lifestyle.
That’s why
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Van vs SUV—Pros and cons

There is
no right or wrong answer
when choosing between a van or an SUV. It all depends on what type of driving experience suits your lifestyle.
Here are some things to consider before making a decision:

Cargo space

If cargo space is what you are after, a minivan is probably your best bet.
Vans have low floors that offer up ample floor-to-ceiling space that makes them ideal for transporting cargo. New minivans on the market today
offer at least
31 cubic feet
of cargo space behind the third row. You can get up to
88 cubic feet
of space with both rows of seats stowed away — the 2023
Kia Carnival
has over 40 cubic feet of cargo space that increases to
145 cubic feet
with the rear seats stowed.
By comparison, the average mid-size SUV offers only
20 cubic feet
of storage with the seats up. To find anything that competes with a minivan, you will have to opt for a full-size model.
Chevrolet Suburban
is a large three-row SUV that will give you a whopping
40 cubic feet
of storage space even in a packed car. With both seats stowed, the storage space increases to
77 cubic feet
of storage.

Passenger space

Ample passenger space can be a must if you tend to roll with a whole carload of people. Generally speaking,
minivans also take the cake in terms of passenger space
, even compared to three-row SUV models.
Today, all new minivan models available on the market come complete with at least
150 cubic feet
of passenger space across three rows of seats.
Vans usually offer up more floor-to-ceiling space than SUVs, meaning that they will offer more breathing room, especially for taller passengers. Passengers seated in the third row will almost always have more knee room in a minivan.
That being said, some large-size SUVs will let you transport up to
nine passengers
while vans can usually only seat eight.
It’s also worth mentioning that there are a few notable differences between the seating configurations in vans and SUVs.
The standard layout includes
bucket seats
in the front, bench seating or captain chairs in the second row, and a bench in the third row. However, some large SUVs like the
Chevrolet Tahoe
or Suburban
come with the option to add a bench seat in the front row.
Key Takeaway
Minivans usually offer more passenger seating than SUVs.

Power and towing capacity

If you plan on towing or navigating rugged terrain,
SUVs are the best choice
After all, SUV stands for
sport utility vehicle
—they are designed with sporting excursions in mind.
You can upgrade almost every crossover SUV available on the market to include all-wheel drive. You will probably have to upgrade your trim level, though. By comparison, the
Toyota Sienna
is the only minivan on the market today that comes with an all-wheel-drive upgrade option.
SUVs also win out over vans in terms of towing capacity. Most minivans on the market aren’t even rated to tow. If they are, the towing capacity won’t compare to what most SUVs have to offer.
If you drive on unpaved roads or have any kind of trailer you want to tow, a minivan probably won’t cut it.
Key Takeaway
If you want all-wheel drive or towing capacity, you should opt for an SUV.

Fuel economy

Neither vans nor large-sized SUVs offer excellent fuel economy, but minivans usually win this category.
You can always opt for a smaller SUV or hybrid model to help you save.
Minivans usually offer slightly better fuel economy than similarly spacious SUVs. Generally,
minivans on the market today are powered by a V6 engine
that lands their fuel economy levels around 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
a plug-in hybrid version of the
Chrysler Pacifica
that can land 76 mpg on the road—but it only has a 20-mile range.
Most mid or large-size SUVs have fuel-hungry
V8 engines
under their hood. They might offer up a more powerful ride, but it comes at a cost. On the other hand, there are plenty of smaller
four-cylinder engine
SUV or hybrid SUV models to choose from.
They usually offer better fuel economy than vans, but you will have to sacrifice passenger and cargo space to get it.

Model varieties

Having overtaken cars as the most in-demand vehicle on the market,
SUVs are the clear winner in this category.
There are dozens of makes and models of new SUVs to choose from. One of the main perks of owning an SUV is its
Whether you are looking for a sporty beast or a sleek urban ride, SUVs can do it all. They come in a delightful variety of shapes and sizes, and you can choose between a range of luxury and budget-friendly options alike.
By contrast, there is
only a small handful of minivans to choose from in the US today
—and they all offer up a similar driving experience. Minivans enjoyed the peak of their popularity back in the '90s and have been falling out of favor ever since.
Key Takeaway
If you’re looking for variety and style, choosing an SUV is the way to go.

Minivan vs SUV car insurance rates

In most cases, it will be cheaper to insure a minivan than it will be to insure an SUV.
SUVs are usually heavier and higher than minivans—meaning that they have the potential to cause more damage in an accident. Insurance providers take this into account when determining your insurance rates.
Not all SUVs are expensive to insure, though, and there are ways to get the best rates possible for your vehicle, whether that's a van or an SUV.

How to find the best insurance rates for vans and SUVs

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