Auto Show report: Minivans are back
Not too long ago, it seemed like minivans were going to become a thing of the past.
After surging in popularity after Chrysler invented the market with its affordable, economical, and practical K-car-based models in the 1980s, manufacturers began dropping them after sales fell when consumers embraced crossover SUVs.
Suddenly, however, there are five minivans for sale, and most of them are all-new or significantly updated over the past couple of years. There are several reasons for the revival. For starters, none are "mini" anymore, meaning they have enough room to carry up to eight people in comfort. Most are styled more like SUVs now, increasing their appeal to men. Their sliding side doors have always been more practical for families, especially when reaching booster seats in crowded parking lots. Two are available with all-wheel-drive, and two versions are hybrids that get great mileage for such large vehicles. And all can be ordered with practically every advanced automotive technology.
The company that invented the minivan now offers a sleek model that comes standard with a V6 and front-wheel-drive but also offers AWD and a plug-in hybrid powertrain that will go up to 32 miles on electricity alone, a remarkable achievement for such a large vehicle. Chrysler also continues producing the old-school Voyager for fleet sales only.
The best-selling minivan of all time appeals to more than practical-minded soccer moms with contemporary styling, a smooth ride, enormous cargo capacity and plenty of convenient storage spaces. Honda's reputation for reliability is also a selling point.
All versions of the Sienna are hybrid for 2022, and the selection is better than ever, with available AWD thanks to an additional motor for the rear wheels, a sporty-looking XSE version, and a Woodland Edition that features AWD and more ground clearance for outdoor adventures.
In addition, commercial cargo vans like the Ford Transit Connect and Nissan NV200 can be ordered with side windows and outfitted for family use with easily removable seating for up to eight at affordable prices.
The newest minivan on the market replaces the Kia Sedona, which was the first to look more like an SUV. The 2022 Carnival continues the trend but is also slightly larger and more powerful, meaning it's roomier and easier to drive while still coming with Kia's impressive 10-year warranty.
The full range of minivans will be on display at the 2022 Portland International Auto Show from Feb. 22-27 at the Oregon Convention Center.
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