Review and photos by Brendan McAleer, Greg Wilson, Gerry Frechette and Simon Hill
2013 Minivan Comparison. Click image to enlarge
2013 Dodge Grand Caravan
2013 Honda Odyssey
2013 Nissan Quest
2013 Toyota Sienna
Introduction, by Brendan McAleer
The open, winding road; serpentine curves of fresh asphalt looping endlessly onwards, apex to apex in a seamless rhythm of… oh forget it. Take a good look around everybody: this is where fun comes to die.
Well, that’s at least what the average auto enthusiast might tell you. Truth is, minivans are all about a different kind of driving pleasure: comfort, space, and features. The guilty little secret every gearhead is too afraid to mention? Most minivans are actually great companions on any road trip you’d like to name, with plenty of room for the kids, their friends, the dog, their bikes, and a goodly amount of Star Wars Lego.
And, dare we say it, more than one of these seven-and-up-seaters is actually moderately fun to drive. No prizes for guessing that the Mazda5′s lightest on its feet, especially when compared with the four other heavy hitters. But how does it balance zoom against room?
The Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna are most likely in the group to be cross-shopped, competing as they do with similar blends of convenience, sizing, resale and available features. On paper, they’re very similar, but the differences are readily apparent once you’re behind the wheel – or in the back seat.
Nissan’s Japanese-built Quest isn’t going to pip the Honda or the Toyota on its way to setting any sales records, but that’s not the point. This huge, somewhat slab-sided van is intended to be a premium purchase, and in the high-spec trim competes for your buying dollar with such a high level of technology you’d expect to find an Infiniti badge on the front.
Dodge’s Grand Caravan rounds out the group as both the epitome of the segment, and a different take on it. This is your traditional value choice, although our tester comes with an impressive suite of technology. Chrysler can safely lay claim to having invented the minivan segment: with more families moving towards crossover purchases, can Dodge tempt buyers back?
A minivan isn’t just basic A to B transportation. It’s going to be your family’s living room on wheels – so which one is the best?