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Published: Apr 24, 2023 6 min read
Illustration of a minivan in the spotlight
Money; Getty Images

Plenty of people who might have once bought a minivan now favor big, three-row SUVs. Yet the minivan is still worth a look. Cost-effective, spacious, and full of features, this unpretentious vehicle offers a practical solution for anyone ferrying a lot of kids, a full family or more cargo than a sedan trunk can accommodate.

Declining popularity has reduced the number of minivans on the market. Still, we were able to identify four minivan picks. Using a step-by-step methodology, we evaluated such factors as value for money, features, technology, safety and performance. The specs listed below are for the model (or “trim”) we discuss in the review, which we selected for its combination of price and features.

Our Picks for the Best Minivans

Kia Carnival — Best Overall and Best Value
Honda Odyssey — Best for Features and Performance
Toyota Sienna — Best for Safety
Chrysler Pacifica — Best for Technology

Reviews of the Best Minivans

Best Overall and Best Value: Kia Carnival

Courtesy of Kia
  • Low cost of ownership
  • Nimble handling
  • Low fuel economy for the category

The Kia Carnival tops this list for its sleek looks and low cost of ownership — based not only on its purchase price but on other cost factors, such as its likely repair bills.

Upgrade one trim level from the base model to LXS (as we did for the specs below) for leatherette upholstery and heated front seats. The LXS trim also includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and an 8-inch touchscreen. Blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist and a rear-parking-distance warning are standard.

With its 290-horsepower V6 engine – among the most powerful in the class — the Carnival feels solid on the road, and handles smoothly on pavement and around curves. This pick also stands out for its cabin size; with 145.1 cubic feet of space, it's the roomiest minivan on the list.

Best for Features and Performance: Honda Odyssey

Courtesy of Honda
  • Rich in standard features
  • Plenty of cargo space
  • Heavy second-row seats

The Honda Odyssey boasts some niceties that can cost extra on competitors, such as power-adjustable and heated front seats and leatherette trim. Also, in the second row, Magic Slide seats provide better access to the back. (However, since each of those back seats weighs nearly 70 pounds, it takes some muscle to remove them in order to expand your cargo space.)

The Odyssey's penultimate trim, known as Touring, adds an advanced rear entertainment system and the ability to communicate or keep an eye on rear-seat passengers through its CabinWatch and CabinTalk systems.

All models come with safety equipment such as blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist and a rear occupant alert with ultrasonic sensors. The Touring trim adds front and rear parking sensors.

The Odyssey features one of the largest cargo capacities in its class at nearly 145 cubic feet. Only the Kia Carnival boasts (slightly) more space.

Best for Safety: Toyota Sienna

Courtesy of Toyota
  • Outstanding for headlight safety
  • Many other standard safety features
  • Small cargo hold

The Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica all received the Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) — an important distinction, especially in a minivan. But the Sienna is our top choice for safety, as it is the only minivan to be awarded high marks for headlight safety on every trim.

Every Sienna has a suite of standard safety features, including blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, road sign assist and full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control. The XLE trim adds front and rear-parking-assist with automatic braking, as well as heated front seats and leatherette upholstery.

The Sienna boasts outstanding fuel efficiency for a minivan, but its 245-horsepower engine — the least powerful of the group — produces a somewhat sluggish ride. The Sienna also has the least cargo space of any model on this list.

Best for Technology: Chrysler Pacifica

Courtesy of Chrysler
  • Large, easy-to-use touch screen
  • Stowable rear seats
  • Lower-grade cabin materials

The Chrysler Pacifica features the automaker’s Uconnect 5 system with a 10.1-inch touchscreen, the largest standard screen of any minivan on this list. The system is easy to configure, supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and comes with a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Blind spot warning, forward collision mitigation and rear parking sensors are standard. Upgrade one level from the base model to the Touring L for an optional 360-surround view camera and parallel and perpendicular park assist.

The Pacifica’s cabin is marred by ho-hum materials and the vehicle has slightly less cargo space than the Sienna or Odyssey. However, its second and third rows of seats can be stowed away beneath the floor, rather than having to be removed from the vehicle — a convenience feature not offered in rival minivans.

Jaclyn Trop is an award-winning journalist who road-tests and reviews vehicles and covers automotive news. Her byline has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Fortune, Consumer Reports and U.S. News & World Report, among other publications.