Automotive News reported recently that the Wuling minivan in China is selling like bingzis or whatever the Chinese call hotcakes. Translation: this means they’re selling really darn good. Whilst Americans continue to buy up big trucks, SUV’s and crossovers, don’t be surprised if there’s a renaissance of the minivan. But wait, then why would Dodge drop the Grand Caravan or why would Ford stop building minivans in America altogether? To focus on crossovers where there might be more money to be made.
This might be a premature shift in strategy because there’s still a market for the minivan. Sure, the number of people buying minivans has dropped from about 1.3 million in 2000 to 540,000 in 2011, but so far in 2012, AutoData reports 10.6% growth. Two months the L.A. Times reported that fuel efficiency is what car buyers care about most after a Consumer Reports found 37% of shoppers care about fuel economy. Quality of the car, which should probably be more important came in second at a measly 17%. Gas mileage alone is reason enough why minivans should make a comeback, but keep reading for more.
VEHICLE SIZE: Trucks and crossovers come in a larger variety of sizes and capabilities when compared to the minivan. The typical minivan from Honda, Toyota or Chrysler, for example, are about the same size at 200 inches in length. A crossover or truck can range anywhere from 178 inches in length like the small CR-V crossover or 222 inches long like the full-size Suburban SUV. Buyers know what to expect when they’re shopping for a minivan.
INTERIOR SPACE/ACCESSIBILITY: Minivans are notorious for looking “boxy” or resembling ice cream trucks. There’s a reason why automakers have adopted this design – more interior space. Since minivans ride lower to the ground than trucks and crossovers, it’s easy to step in and out. The elderly don’t need step stools and toddler-toting-moms can easily buckle a kid into the car seat because of wide-opening sliding doors. It’s also easy for kids and teenagers to climb into the third row which may be a nightmare for parents of adolescents.
HIPSTER CHIC: Bell bottoms, denim jackets and Converse Chuck Taylors are just some of the things that made a comeback. Nostalgia for the past will continue and the minivan will rebound. Please refer to this blog post.
TOWING: There are misconceptions about how much poundage the minivan can tow. Get it straight, all of the modern minivans available have a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs or more. Even the Kia Sedona. This means a minivan can easily tow a speed boat, jet skis or pop-up trailers. Try to see a compact crossover pull off that feat and still have room for a dog, three kids and luggage.
FUEL EFFICIENCY/PRICE: While the SUV and crossover have gotten more fuel efficient, the minivan will get the average driver about 20 miles per gallon or more in combined fuel economy. Considering these vehicles can seat up to 8, in some cases, that’s not bad. An SUV or crossover that can seat 7 to 8 people is lucky to hit 20 MPG in combined fuel economy. The difference may not seem staggering but consider the cost. A typical full size SUV will cost more than $35,000 while a well equipped minivan can still fall under $30,000. There’s $5,000 in gas money right there.
TYPES OF MINIVANS: Here are the best used minivans you can find right now on Mojo Motors. They all come with a discount price and alerts when they drop in price or are sold.