If you need a vehicle for moving the family, the minivan is simply the superior tool. But if you think getting a minivan means dooming yourself to three rows of slow, uninspired driving, the current crop of vans could probably dust the sport compact you had as a teenager.
In a recent road test of the new Toyota Sienna, Car and Driver published a chart of minivan 0-60mph times, and the results are pretty impressive for such big cars.
Of course, no one buys a minivan for stoplight drag races — though I still think a Hellcat Grand Caravan would probably find buyers somewhere — minivans are now squarely in the “fairly quick” category.
Due to some huge V6 motors and advanced automatic transmissions, often with eight gears or more, most minivans are hitting 97km/h in about 7 to 7.5 seconds. Even the slowest van, the aged Dodge Grand Caravan, can do it in a not-too-shabby 7.8 seconds.
The most athletic of the bunch is the all new 2018 Honda Odyssey, which can run the sprint to 97km/h in just 6.6 seconds. While that time might not get you all hyped to buy a van, let’s put that number in context.
Many of us who need a minivan now were likely hooning around in sport compacts in the ’90s and early 2000s. I fondly remember my ’95 Honda Prelude Si that could get to 60 in about 7.5 seconds. The ’99 Civic Si, a car that was one of the foundations of the sport compact scene, could only break the seven-second mark to 97km/h with a massive exhaust and a good helping of VTEC stickers. (Minivans aren’t even bad by modern standards! According to Zero-60 Times, the current Civic Sport Hatchback with the 1.5-litre turbo does the same sprint in about 6.9 seconds.)
This is not to make the argument that a minivan is in someway a performance machine, or that they will provide the same thrills as your teenage tuner car. But the fact of the matter is that the minivan is objectively a better choice over the three-row crossover. A lot of them are even faster and offer superior torque.
Yet for many families opt for the crossover and make up all kinds of excuses not to get more for less from the minivan. The primary one being “I need all-wheel drive”, knowing full well that either they don’t drive that much in the snow or that a minivan with a set of winter tires will do just fine.
The other excuse is that “minivans are too slow,” but a look at the spec sheets will reveal that most new minivans provide more than adequate acceleration for day to day duties. And while SUVs feel like a more rugged choice, most of the time that’s just a lie created by packaging and good marketing.
The conclusion is clear: if you are in the market for a family vehicle, and you get a crossover instead of a minivan, chances are you did so because of some sense of vanity and not vehicular superiority. Take the minivan instead. You may be shocked at how quick it is.