SUV or Minivan: what is the difference and which one is better for families?

When we talk about family-oriented cars, its always a tough fight. We mostly have two body types that come to our minds:

  • Minivan
  • Large SUVs

Choosing between these two body styles can be difficult. We all want a car that is fuel-efficient, roomy, stylish, and comes with a powerful engine. But both SUVs and minivan possess these qualities so, how do we decide which one is actually better?

We have garnered some valuable information regarding both types of car which is going to help you make an informed decision:

Engine and performance

Both minivan and SUVs come with a powerful engine.

Toyota Sienna, which is a minivan, has a 3.0-litre V6 engine that delivers 194 HP. The Honda’s minivan, Honda Odyssey also features a 3.5-litre V6 engine that gives 280 HP.

When we compare an SUV of the same size, we find out that there is not much difference between the engines. Both the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander come with a 3.5-litre V6 engine.

Cargo Space

When it comes to cargo space, the minivan is the undisputed king. You can find so much space in minivans, from versatile cabin space to roomy cargo area. For instance, the Honda Odyssey comes with 38.6 cubic feet of space at the back of the third row. You can keep anything there, from grocery and gadgets to bicycles and toys.

Families need a lot of space as they frequently plan for different itineraries, from beach picnics to long drives. You can easily load and unload anything in the minivan.

On the other hand, SUVs don’t offer such a huge cargo space. The Toyota Highlander offers 16 cubic feet of space behind its third-row which is almost half that you would get in a minivan of this size.

Interior Comfort and passenger space

The interior comfort is great in both minivans and SUVs. The Honda Pilot features soft-touch material and a lot of room for passengers. There is enough legroom and headroom for adults to sit in a relaxed position. Honda Odyssey, which is a minivan, has similar features and qualities.

Talking about the passenger space, the three rows of minivan make it quite comfortable for passengers to sit. However, when you look at a similar priced/sized SUV, you will find out they are a little cramped.

The seating configuration is quite similar in both body types. SUVs and minivans both come with two seating rows at the back.


SUVs were less fuel-efficient when they are first introduced in the market. However, over the years, manufacturers kept on introducing SUVs that produced great fuel-efficiency.

Still, when we compare both minivan and SUVs, SUVs lack behind in fuel-efficiency.

  • The Honda Pilot AWD offers 18 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on highways and 21 combined
  • The Honda Odyssey offers 19 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on highways and 22 combined


Minivans slightly win in the fuel-efficiency.

Going on an Off-road trip

This is the only area where we can assure you that there is no better option than an SUV. SUVs feature powerful suspensions and aggressive tyres which can take on any terrain. First, you need to understand that there are two types of SUVs — 4×4 SUV or four-wheel drive and 2WD.

A 4×4, when equipped with mud tyres, will take on any type of terrain, whether you want to climb huge rocks or want to cross a sticky mud. SUV tyres have the ability to maintain traction on any terrain, while minivan, which are passenger vehicles, can only maintain traction on well-paved surfaces. For instance, the Dunlop SP van01 is designed for minivans to offer exemplary driving on experience on roads with great ride comfort. Minivans have the two-wheel drive, which means power is sent to either front wheels or rare wheels.

All-wheel drive is relatively a new innovation in four-wheel drivetrain system. Unlike 4WD, it is not always active and the computer decides which tyre needs more power. You will hardly find a minivan with all-wheel drive. Most of them come with 2WD.

So, when it comes to driving on different terrains, SUVs win by a large margin.


For us, minivans are great as they offer everything a customer wants, from cargo and passenger space to performance and fuel-efficiency. The only downside is the bad image that people have in their minds. But if you are a practical person, then it should not matter for you.

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