The Best 2017 Minivans
That Make Driving Fun and Functional
[Includes The Latest New Trends]
by Bill Flitter
The new trends in minivans are godsends that make driving fun and functional for larger families with all kinds of hauling and driving needs. Moveable seating, technology, safety, entertainment, connectivity, hauling/storage space and accessibility features all contribute to the appeal of getting the best minivan in 2017.
9 Trends You Will Find In The Best Minivans for 2017
There is a common misconception that minivans drive like trucks. That’s old school. Today’s minivans let you haul almost as much as trucks but they drive more like cars than ever before. All the most popular minivans, the Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, and Dodge Grand Caravan, drive smoothly and have the power of V-6 engines. Plus, new safety technology has eliminated almost all the problems associated with driving larger, wieldy vehicles.
Seating And Seat Stowing
People with big families or carpool commitments can find much to love in a minivan. Minivans seat 7 to 8 people comfortably. The back seats can handle multiple child safety seats—and getting the safety seats in and out of minivans is much less of a hassle than in conventional sedans. In a standard car, using safety seats could mean literally bending over backwards to get the kids in and out of the car. To prevent back injuries, the seats in minivans today move around easily and, in some cases, fold away, such as with the Dodge Caravan and the new Chrysler Pacifica. Once those seats are folded and hidden, you still have room for a full sheet of plywood or the family’s bicycles in the back.
New Safety Features
Backup sensors and cameras create peace of mind
In the past, I’ve worried about the visibility from inside minivans, especially when I’ve got kids or a load of cargo in the back. Nowadays though, cameras and sensors make maneuvering a minivan safer and simpler than ever.
Today’s minivans have backup cameras that show you exactly what is behind you. Even better are backup sensors that warn you with a beeping tone or lights. When I turn on my signal to change lanes and there’s a car coming—whoah! I see lights in my side mirrors and I hear beeping sounds. Backing out of the driveway used to be fraught with anxiety, but not anymore. Rear cross-traffic sensors on the back bumper alert me if there is a car crossing my behind. With blind-spot and lane-departure warnings, there’s no need to stress about visibility anymore.
360° cameras create a safer environment around your car
Say I’m in a parking lot in my minivan, waiting for the kids to get out of soccer or band practice. Cars and people of all sizes moving about create a potential safety hazard. It helps to have a vehicle equipped with 360-degree surround cameras in a situation like that. A bird’s-eye view camera allows me to see via the screen on the dash almost everything around the car. I still have to drive carefully, but 360-degree camera technology makes backing out of a spot or maneuvering through a traffic circle stress-free.
My wife, Chris, is on the shorter side, standing at 5’2. It can be a challenge for her to have clear sightlines when she’s driving because of her lower field of view. But with the 360-camera on her Chrysler Pacifica, she is able to parallel park on a busy city street without having a heart attack.
Parking problems are a thing of the past
Do you hate parallel parking, especially driving a large vehicle? Are you unnerved backing into tight spaces at the mall? The Chrysler Pacifica minivan can be equipped with assistive-parking features so it actually parks the vehicle for you! All you have to do is apply the brakes and it will backup like a pro into a parallel or perpendicular parking spot.
Don’t Sweat the Long Commute
Another feature that is great for traveling long distances is adaptive cruise control, which sets the pace according to other cars on the road. If the vehicle ahead of you slows to a crawl or stops, yours will too. If it resumes its speed, yours speeds up also, while maintaining a safe distance between your vehicle and cars in front of you.
New Tech Tie-ins
Tech features in today’s minivans entertain and connect drivers and passengers like never before. Some models come with a video screen that pops out of the ceiling or is built into the back of the front seats. Most minivans come equipped with Bluetooth and/or smartphone connectivity as well, plus a navigation system, Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay, and electrical outlets to power any device you need. Your kids will actually look forward to riding with you, even on long road trips.
Courtesy of NY Daily News
Please Have A Seat
Multiple adjustment settings and power driver’s seats are especially important when you have different sized people driving your family minivan. For example, I am tall and I like a nice big seat with plenty of leg room in a minivan. What about my wife or my daughter or petite mother-in-law? Some minivan’s electronic seats can be programmed to remember the perfect adjustment for each driver. For example, the Chrysler Pacifica minivan has a memory setting that adjusts the seat to your preferences with just the push of a button and will automatically readjust to fit your spouse with another push of a button.
No matter how tall a person is, the first step into a minivan can be a little steep. We suggest that you can get an aftermarket sidestep or running board from the dealership to make climbing aboard easier and safer.
Take A Look Around
Sometimes parents driving a minivan need to know what their kids way in the back row are up to. Some minivan models are equipped with a conversation mirror that drops down from the ceiling providing the ideal angle to see the backseat. Coming soon to 2018 Honda Odysseys is a camera that shows what’s going on in the back. You can’t turn your head around to talk to the passengers while you are driving, therefore a PA system through the minivan’s multiple speakers is a helpful communication tool coming to soon to the Toyota Sienna and the 2018 Honda Odyssey.
Don’t attack; use the built-in vac. Let’s face it, family cars get messy with popcorn, cookie crumbs, or dirt from the flower pots that fell over. Both Chrysler and Honda minivans offer vacuums built right into the vehicles, making cleaning a breeze. A car organizer is also a great idea that will keep the kids happy and the car tidy.
Feel the American Pride
The minivan is an “American” phenomena. Many of the most popular minivans are assembled in North America, including the Toyota Sienna, which is built in Princeton, Indiana. Similarly, the Honda Odyssey is assembled in Lincoln, Alabama, and the Chrysler Pacifica and the Dodge Grand Caravan are both built in Ontario, Canada.
Although certain KIA models are built in Sedona, Arizona, the Kia Sedona minivan is manufactured in Korea.
Special Needs & Minivans
Many minivans can be easily adapted for families with members with special needs.
Toyota Mobility Solutions offers the factory-installed Auto Access Seat, which electronically moves the seat in and out of the second row close to the ground to make it easier for people with limited motion abilities to board and exit the vehicle. Toyota Mobility may provide a reimbursement of up to $1,000 when you purchase the Auto Access Seat. Likewise, FCA’s Automobilty program offers rebates (up to $1,000) for special-needs adaptations of the Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica. Honda also reimburses up to $1,000 for adaptive equipment installed by a mobility provider.
Which of the above exciting new features do you want on your new minivan?
We’ve summarized the best features of the top five minivans and available options that help keep families safe, connected and entertained. We also show the Guaranteed Best Price™ you can get on a new minivans when you use Carjojo.
The Chrysler Pacifica is the latest luxury minivan designed by women, and liked by all genders, for its comfort, convenience and new technology. It’s like Chrysler thought of every convenience possible — available 360° camera, parking assist, plus loads of safety features. They even improved upon the innovative “Stow n’Go’ second-row seating.
If you hate the price of gas and the comparatively low mileage for minivans, check out the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. It has a whopping 84 MPGe and 33 miles battery range on an electric charge, saving hundreds of dollars a year depending on how many miles you drive.
- 360-degree Surround View camera
- ParkSense parallel/perpendicular park assist
- Adaptive cruise control with stop and hold
- LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus — leverages electronic power steering (EPS) by delivering a torque input to alert and assist the driver with corrective action
- Stow n Vac integrated vacuum.
- Handsfree sliding doors and liftgate
- Redesigned Stow ‘n Go seating with Stow ‘n Go Assist and Easy Tilt access to the third row
- Available power folding seats in the third row
- 5 child seat LATCH locations
- Heated and available ventilated front-row seats
- Standard active noise cancellation
- Available driver-seat memory
- Available KeySense programmable key fob — places limits on speed and audio volume, mutes the audio when front seat belts are not buckled, prevents the disabling of certain features like Forward Collision Warning-Plus and ParkSense rear park assist, and allows blocking of SiriusXM Radio channels
- Available tri-pane panoramic sunroof
The Toyota Sienna minivan was built on a car platform and has super power steering for a light easy drive, living up to its name as a “Swagger Wagon.” It is the only minivan with available four-wheel drive. As a bonus, if you don’t like yelling to be heard in the rear seat, there is an audio-speaker connection so you can speak to the back. Every model has Siri Eyes Free Mode and a backup camera. Many Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) safety features are available as well.
- Blind-spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert
- Available pre-collision system (PCs) and vehicle-dynamics integrated management (VDIM)
- Dynamic radar cruise control (DRCC) and hill start assist control (HAC)
- Safety Connect telematics technology with one-year complimentary trial subscription, including automatic collision notification, stolen-vehicle location, emergency-assistance button (SOS), and roadside assistance
- Stowable third-row seats/removable second-row seat
- Gliding second-row captain’s chairs
- 4 child-seat LATCH locations
- Driver-seat memory
- Tri-Sync air conditioning for 3 climate zones
- Sliding center console
- Driver Easy Speak projecting the driver’s voice through the audio system’s rear speakers
- Dual-view entertainment— two viewable displays with Blu-Ray capability, an HDMI input, and an SDXC. It can play from one or two separate sources and with wireless headphones options
- WiFi Connect — allows up to five mobile devices to connect using 4G LTE
- Five USB ports covering all three rows
- Updated Rear-Seat Entertainment to include streaming capability for Android devices
- Bird’s Eye View monitor (available on Limited Premium grade)
The Honda Odyssey is one of the most popular minivans for its reliability, functionality and safety. It’s a solid, powerful drive, with plenty of legroom even in the third row, and huge storage. If your family likes to eat in the car or go to beach and track sand into the vehicle, outfitting your Odyssey with a built-in vacuum cleaner doesn’t suck. As an added safety feature, Honda’s LaneWatch automatically shows you anything getting too close to the passenger side.
- Forward Collision Warning
- Lane departure warning (LDW)
- Navigation System
- 115V power outlet incorporated into RES control panel
- HondaVAC in-vehicle vacuum cleaner
- Memory for driver seat and mirrors
- 5 child seat LATCH locations
- Acoustic windshield
- Tri-zone automatic climate control
- Rear entertainment system (RES)
- New Display Audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- CabinWatch™, CabinTalk™, and streaming video with 4G LTE Wi-Fi
- Ceiling-mounted, 10.2-inch WSVGA Rear Entertainment System
- New Magic Slide™ second-row seats
The sportiest of the minivans, the Kia Sedona is a fun ride with a youthful appearance. Smartphone users will enjoy the available UVO system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. If you live in the sun or fun belts, you’ll want the ventilated seats and the dual sunroof. You can also outfit it with a 360°-camera to see all around you. The Kia Sedona is a little skimpy on storage space but makes up for it with lots of moxie and available safety features such as rear-cross traffic alert.
- Technology package with Advanced Driver Assisted System (ADAS) Front and rear park assist sensor
- Blind-spot detection system
- Rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA)
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Lane-departure warning system
- Forward-collision warning system
- Smart cruise control
- Around-view monitor on higher-end trims
- Passenger power-seat switch (optional on EX); auxiliary switch allows for driver remote operation
- Tri-zone automatic air conditioning with filtration and auto-defog
- Standard USB/auxiliary input jacks
- Steering-wheel mounted auto cruise control
- 3 child seat LATCH locations
- UVO e-Services Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Acoustic windshield
- Dual sun -roof
- Standard power outlet in center fascia and rear console
- Ventilated front seats
Dodge Grand Caravan
The Dodge Grand Caravan is a stalwart workhorse with a strong drive but not a lot of frills. My favorite feature of the Caravan is the second-row Stow n’ Go seats that fold into the floor, opening up enough space to fit a sheet of plywood. The Dodge Grand Caravan has some cool tech features; a rearview camera and basic touchscreen are standard on all models. The V6 engine can haul a lot while keeping all or part of the minivan comfortable with three sections for heating and cooling.
- Blind-spot monitoring (GT only)
- Park assist and rear-cross traffic alert (GT Only)
- Satellite navigation
- Mobility prep package with load levelings
- Power liftgate
- 3 child-seat LATCH locations
- Power seats
- Bluetooth package.
- Three zone temperature control
- Heated seats
- DVD entertainment system with a 9-inch second-row screen, HDMI input, two USB charging ports and a 115-volt power outlet
Over to You
In your opinion, what is the best minivan for 2017? What features do you like most in new line-up of minivans? Are there features you can’t live without?