Minivan versus SUV

Face-off: Minivans vs. SUVs

Share this Post

Minivans haven’t had it easy lately. After years of ruling the suburbs, the pragmatic people-mover’s place on the throne has been usurped by its sportier cousin, the SUV. Is it time for small vans to make a big comeback? Goji investigates.

Cost to buy

Obviously this fluctuates from vehicle to vehicle, but on the whole, the prices for minivans and crossover SUVs are pretty comparable. For comparison’s sake, we’ll use the five best-selling models from each category.

Minivan

Model (2014)Price range
Chrysler Town & Country$30,620-$41,145
Dodge Grand Caravan$20,895-$29,995
Honda Odyssey$29,825-$44,450
Kia Sedona$25,900-$30,900
Mazda5$20,140-$24,670
Average price: $25,476-$34,232

SUV

Model (2014)Price range
Honda CR-V$23,120-$30,620
Ford Escape$23,100-$30,850
Toyota RAV4$23,550-$29,720
Chevrolet Equinox$24,440-$33,400
Ford Explorer$30,015-$41,675
Average price:$24,845-$33,253
Point: Tie

Cost to insure

Because both are used mostly as family vehicles, they’re among the most affordable vehicles on the road to insure. According to the quotes we’ve provided in the last year (and it’s a lot of quotes), minivans get a slight edge in affordability. The average twelve-month premium for the top five was around $1,600, while the most popular SUVs cost about $200 more a year to insure. That works out to $17 or so a month. Not a massive difference, but if you’re on a budget, every dollar counts.

Want to check out the difference before you buy? Compare quotes for yourself in just two minutes using the Goji estimator and see what you’ll pay with each.

Point: Minivan

Style

Sorry minivans. This is you.


Minivan dog

Point: SUV

Gas mileage

With gas prices at their lowest ebb in years, this is probably less of a concern for most than in the recent past. But oil costs could skyrocket again, and fuel efficiency is good for the planet, not just your wallet, so there are plenty of reasons to care about consumption.

When we compared the average miles per gallon for the most popular minivan and SUV models, the results were a bit surprising. Unlike the mammoth sport utility vehicles of the ’90s, like Chevy’s Suburban, most of today’s crossover vehicles actually outpace minivans in miles per gallon. Of the top five SUVs, four manage to get over 30 mpg highway, while none of the most popular minivans do.

Minivan

Model City/highway MPG
Chrysler Town & Country 17/25
Dodge Grand Caravan 17/25
Honda Odyssey 19/28
Kia Sedona 18/25
Mazda 5 21/28
Average 18.4/26.2

SUV

Model City/highway MPG
Honda CR-V 27/34
Ford Escape 23/32
Toyota RAV4 24/31
Chevrolet Equinox 22/32
Ford Explorer 20/28
Average 23.2/31.4
Point: SUV

Safety

A vehicle’s safety is more than just crash ratings and airbags. Accident survival is important, but so is accident avoidance, which is often overlooked. Increasing the size of your vehicle means sacrificing agility, so incidents that may have been averted in a more nimble sedan may be unavoidable in a large transport. Tall, narrow vehicles also have an increased risk of rollovers, which are responsible for about 30 percent of traffic fatalities.

That said, the latest generation of minivans and SUVs both have excellent safety ratings, especially when it comes to accident survival. Below are the most recent crash test ratings for the most popular models from safercar.gov.

Minivan

ModelOverall safety rating
Chrysler Town & Country★★★★☆
Dodge Grand Caravan★★★★☆
Honda Odyssey★★★★★
Kia Sedona★★★★☆
Mazda5(not yet rated)

SUV

ModelOverall safety rating
Honda CR-V★★★★★
Ford Escape★★★★☆
Toyota RAV4★★★★☆
Chevrolet Equinox★★★★☆
Ford Explorer★★★★★

One interesting note: A 2008 study published in the journal Injury Prevention found that children in minivans had a significantly higher chance of surviving a crash than those riding in an SUV, even after accounting for driver behaviors and vehicle differences. (Both fared better than passenger sedans, though.) A lot has changed in the last seven years, so more studies are needed, but it’s worth considering.

Point: Minivan

Final tally


3-3 tie

Conclusion

All else being equal, if you’re still on the fence, the right vehicle really depends on your needs. If you’re constantly shuttling small children to soccer practice, you’ll probably find the automatic sliding door and lower frame of minivans more convenient. Most come with goodies to keep the kids entertained, and they’re also built on car frames, while SUVs are made more like a truck, so expect a smoother ride and easier handling with a minivan.

But if you and your brood prefer the mud pit to the shopping mall, minivans really aren’t for you, as going off-roading just isn’t an option. For colder climates, the higher frame and optional all-wheel drive on most SUVs come in handy during the winter months, when snow and ice can make even suburban streets feel like an adventure.

Still can’t decide? Get the van. It’s the best way to keep your teenage driver from borrowing the car.


Whichever one you choose, Goji can help you find the best deal on your insurance. Our comparison tool lets you see results from up to 15 top insurance companies side-by-side in just 2 minutes. Click here to try it for yourself, or call a licensed agent at 877-357-5692 who can walk you through the options in no time.

Share this Post