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Best Family Minivan in Canada

Best Family Minivan in Canada

Minivans remain an iconic staple for families thanks to their winning combination of space, convenience, and family-focused features. While SUVs have certainly encroached on the minivan’s territory in recent years, these versatile vans continue to provide an unrivaled utility that makes them a top choice for parents.


In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at today’s top-rated minivans to determine which model most deserves the crown of “best family minivan.” We’ll explore the key factors that make minivans so family-friendly, compare features and ratings across the leading models, and reveal which van narrowly edges out the competition. If you’re searching for the perfect family hauler, read on to discover the minivan that brings the ultimate blend of innovation, flexibility, and value for your crew.



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Minivan Benefits for Families

For growing families, minivans offer significant advantages over SUVs and other vehicles. The most obvious benefit is the abundant interior space. Minivans typically offer more overall passenger room and cargo capacity compared to SUVs of a similar size. The expansive cabin allows for comfortable seating for up to 8 passengers when equipped with a second row bench. And with the ability to fold down or remove rear seats, minivans can be easily reconfigured to haul cargo.

Another key benefit is the easy access provided by the signature sliding side doors on minivans. The wide openings allow passengers to easily climb in and secure children in car seats without having to bend down or squeeze between tightly spaced doors. This convenience is especially appreciated by parents securing kids in bulky winter gear.

The lower ride height compared to an SUV also makes it simpler for kids to climb in and out on their own. And features like available power sliding doors further enhance the user-friendly nature of minivans. For families with young children, the convenience factor of a minivan can make everyday errands less of a chore.

 

Top Rated Minivans

When it comes to the top-rated minivans for families in 2023, three models consistently rise to the top in reviews and recommendations from experts and owners alike – the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna.

The Chrysler Pacifica has earned praise as the highest rated minivan from U.S. News & World Report, Consumer Reports, and other outlets. It offers a class-leading combination of features, driving dynamics, and value.

The Honda Odyssey is a perennial favorite thanks to its proven reputation for reliability, owner satisfaction, and family-friendly versatility. It provides a smooth, quiet ride with clever storage solutions.

The Toyota Sienna underwent a full redesign for 2021, giving it a bold new look, optional hybrid powertrain, and a focus on technology and convenience. It offers excellent fuel economy along with Toyota’s reputation for quality.

While other minivans like the Kia Sedona and Dodge Grand Caravan have their merits, most experts agree that the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna stand out as the cream of the crop for families in 2023.

 

The Chrysler Pacifica Sets the Standard

The Chrysler Pacifica has established itself as the minivan to beat in recent years thanks to its innovative features, enjoyable driving dynamics, and outstanding value.

 

Innovative Design and Features

The Pacifica pioneered the Stow ‘n Go folding second row seats, allowing the second and third row seats to fold completely into the floor to create a flat cargo space. This innovative design gives owners unmatched versatility and cargo capacity. Other family-friendly features include an available rear seat entertainment system, hands-free sliding doors and liftgate, and the Uconnect theater entertainment system.

 

Engaging Driving Experience

Unlike minivans of the past, the Pacifica offers a genuinely enjoyable driving experience thanks to its responsive steering and nimble handling. Reviewers praise the Pacifica for feeling confident and composed around turns while still delivering a smooth and quiet ride. The standard V6 engine provides plenty of power while an available hybrid model provides excellent fuel efficiency.

 

High Marks from Reviewers

The Pacifica has earned praise from the top automotive reviewers. It is consistently rated as one of the top minivans by U.S. News & World Report, Consumer Reports, JD Power, and others. Reviewers highlight the Pacifica’s combination of family utility, driving enjoyment, upscale interior, and value. The Pacifica manages to blend innovation, comfort, driving dynamics, and affordability in a way that sets it apart.

 

The Honda Odyssey Is a Perennial Favorite

When it comes to minivans, the Honda Odyssey has earned a reputation as a perennial favorite thanks to its proven track record of reliability, owner satisfaction, and family-friendly tech features.

For over 20 years, the Odyssey has delivered peace of mind to families with its consistent ratings at the top of reliability surveys. Owners praise how well the Odyssey holds up over hundreds of thousands of miles, with little more than routine maintenance needed. This durability and low cost of ownership makes the Odyssey a wise investment for families in it for the long haul.

Beyond just reliability, Odyssey owners enjoy one of the most comfortable and convenient minivan experiences. Clever storage solutions abound, like the center console that can fit a large purse, underfloor compartments for added cargo room, and the signature “Magic Slide” second row seats for easy access to the third row.

Parents and kids alike benefit from the Odyssey’s family-friendly tech, like the rear entertainment system with streaming capability, CabinWatch interior camera, and CabinTalk amplified voice system. With so many thoughtful features to make family life easier, it’s no surprise Honda minivan owners report some of the highest satisfaction ratings among all vehicles.

While every minivan aims to meet the needs of families, the Honda Odyssey does so with a proven reputation that keeps owners coming back year after year. For those seeking reliability, comfort, and convenience from their family hauler, the Odyssey remains a top choice.

 

The Toyota Sienna Gets a Bold Redesign

Toyota completely redesigned the Sienna for 2021, giving it a bold new look inside and out. The exterior styling is much more dynamic, with a wide, aggressive grille and sharp lines that give it a sportier vibe than past Siennas. Toyota also focused heavily on improving connectivity and convenience for the latest Sienna.

Some of the most notable updates include:

 

  • Optional hybrid powertrain with an EPA-estimated 36 mpg combined fuel economy
  • New multimedia system with a 9-inch touchscreen and integrated Amazon Alexa
  • Available rear seat entertainment system with streaming apps
  • Standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 driver assist technologies
  • All-wheel drive available for improved traction

 

While the Sienna doesn’t have class-leading horsepower or handling, the redesigned model provides the fuel efficiency, family-friendly tech, and all-weather traction today’s parents expect. The hybrid model offers a greener alternative for environmentally-conscious families as well.

 

Comparison Chart of Top Rated Minivans

To help compare the key features, specs, and pricing of the top minivans, here is a side-by-side comparison chart:

 

Model

Chrysler Pacifica

Honda Odyssey

Toyota Sienna

 

Starting MSRP

$36,595

$33,215

$36,635

MPG

22 city / 30 hwy

19 city / 28 hwy

36 city / 36 hwy (hybrid)

Seating Capacity

7 or 8

8

7 or 8

Cargo Capacity

140.5 cu ft

158.1 cu ft

101 cu ft

Infotainment Screen

10.1 in

8 in

9 in

Available AWD

Yes

No

Yes

Available Hybrid

Yes

No

Yes

 

As you can see, each of the top minivans has its strengths. The Pacifica offers innovative features like the hybrid model, the Odyssey maximizes interior space, and the Sienna gets top fuel economy. Use this chart to compare the specs that matter most to your family.

 

The Verdict: Pacifica Narrowly Edges Out the Competition

When comparing the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna, the Pacifica emerges as the best minivan for families in 2023. Here’s a look at why it narrowly beats out the strong competition:

 

The Chrysler Pacifica brings an unparalleled combination of innovation, practicality, driving enjoyment and value to families. It has excellent value given the high level of standard equipment included. Features like the Stow ‘n Go seating and available hybrid powertrain showcase Chrysler’s focus on innovation and family-friendly details.

The Pacifica also earns strong reliability ratings and owner satisfaction scores in surveys. This proven track record gives families confidence in the Pacifica as a hassle-free, long-lasting minivan purchase.

While the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna remain excellent choices, they fall just short of the Pacifica. The Odyssey is a perennial favorite thanks to its reputation for reliability, owner satisfaction, and clever storage solutions. The Sienna was fully redesigned in 2021 with a bold new look and tech features aimed at connectivity and convenience.

However, neither can match the Pacifica’s thoughtful details and proven owner satisfaction. For families seeking the absolute best minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica is the standout choice for 2023.

 

Safety Ratings

When hauling your most precious cargo, safety should be a top priority. Thankfully, today’s minivans offer impressive safety credentials to give parents peace of mind.

In crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Pacifica, Odyssey and Sienna all achieve top ratings. They earn the highest-possible five stars from NHTSA for overall crash protection.

The IIHS also gives them the best-available rating of “Good” in all crashworthiness evaluations. This includes the demanding small overlap front test that simulates impact with a tree or utility pole. All three minivans are designated IIHS Top Safety Picks thanks to their crash test performance plus standard headlights and available crash avoidance technology.

These family haulers also come loaded with advanced driver assists to help avoid accidents. Honda’s Odyssey offers the Honda Sensing suite with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and more. Toyota Safety Sense in the Sienna consists of a pre-collision system, lane tracing assist, road sign assist and other aids.

The Pacifica also impresses with more than 100 standard and available safety features. Blind spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control all provide that extra margin of protection on the road.

With their combination of top-tier crash test results and the latest advanced safety features, the Pacifica, Odyssey and Sienna provide families with confidence on the road.

 

Ownership Costs

When buying a family vehicle, ownership costs over the life of the vehicle are just as important as the purchase price. Minivans tend to hold their value fairly well compared to other family vehicles, but depreciation, insurance, maintenance, and repair costs can still vary quite a bit between models.

The Toyota Sienna typically has the lowest ownership costs overall. With Toyota’s reputation for reliability, the Sienna requires minimal maintenance and has lower repair costs. It also depreciates slower than American minivans like the Chrysler Pacifica and retains more of its value over 5-7 years of ownership.

The Honda Odyssey also earns excellent reliability and resale value marks. However, it tends to cost slightly more to insure than the Sienna. The Odyssey’s ownership costs are very competitive, but the Sienna just edges it out.

While the Chrysler Pacifica offers more features for the money upfront, its ownership costs are higher than the Japanese minivans. The Pacifica depreciates faster and loses more of its value over the first 5 years. Its repair costs are also higher on average. However, Pacifica maintenance costs are now fairly close to Toyota and Honda.

When calculating total cost of ownership over a 6-year period, the Toyota Sienna comes out several thousand dollars cheaper overall. Its combination of strong reliability, lower depreciation, and affordable insurance make it today’s most economical minivan purchase.

 

Resale Value

When purchasing a new vehicle, it’s wise to consider resale value down the road. Minivans typically don’t hold their value as well as trucks or SUVs, but some models fare better than others when it comes time to sell or trade-in.

The Toyota Sienna has the highest projected resale value after 5 years at 49%, according to Edmunds data. The Honda Odyssey follows closely behind at 47%, while the Chrysler Pacifica is expected to retain 45% of its value after 5 years. The Sienna and Odyssey have a reputation for longevity and reliability which bolsters their resale value.

There are a few things you can do to maximize the resale value of your minivan purchase:

 

  • Opt for a lightly used 1-3 year old model rather than buying brand new – you’ll avoid the initial huge depreciation while still getting a relatively modern vehicle.
  • Keep mileage low by using the minivan as your family vehicle rather than a daily commuter.
  • Maintain detailed service records to show prospective buyers.
  • Keep the vehicle in excellent cosmetic condition inside and out.
  • Install optional equipment like navigation or rear-seat entertainment which can help resale value.
  • Sell private party rather than trading in for maximum return.

 

While no minivan will hold its value like a truck, choosing the Sienna or Odyssey can help maximize your investment, as can properly maintaining the vehicle and selling strategically when the time comes.

 

Cargo Space

Cargo space is a top priority for families when choosing a minivan. You’ll want one with ample room for luggage, groceries, sports gear, and anything else your family needs to haul. Here’s how the top minivans compare:

The Chrysler Pacifica offers best-in-class cargo capacity behind the third row at 32.3 cubic feet. With both rear rows folded, total cargo space expands to 140.5 cubic feet. The Pacifica also has some clever storage solutions, like the removable center console that can be placed between the second-row captain’s chairs. There’s also an in-floor storage bin behind the front seats.

The Honda Odyssey offers 38.4 cubic feet behind the third row and a maximum of 148.5 cubic feet with seats down. The Odyssey has large under-floor storage compartments and a center console that converts into a removable cooler.

The Toyota Sienna offers 33.5 cubic feet of space behind the third row and 101 cubic feet with all seats folded. The Sienna doesn’t have as many specialized storage compartments, but the under-floor space is still useful for stashing items out of sight.

While all three offer abundant cargo room, the Chrysler Pacifica’s additional storage solutions give it a slight edge for hauling family gear and keeping the cabin organized.

 

Convenience Features

One of the biggest perks of choosing a minivan is the abundance of family-friendly convenience features available. Today’s top minivans are packed with thoughtful details to make life easier for parents and more enjoyable for kids.

Key convenience features to look for include:

 

  • Hands-free power liftgate: Open the liftgate with the wave of a foot, which is super handy when arms are full.
  • Power sliding doors: Easily open and close the side doors with buttons on the dash or key fob.
  • Infotainment system: Large touchscreens with smartphone integration allow for navigation, entertainment, and vehicle controls from the front seats.
  • Rear seat entertainment system: Dual screens and wireless headphones keep rear passengers happy on road trips.
  • Multiple charging ports: USB ports throughout the cabin let devices stay powered up.
  • Intercom system: Communicate easily between front and rear seats.
  • Cabin camera: Keep an eye on little ones without turning around.
  • Wi-Fi hotspot: Provide internet access on the go.

 

When comparing top minivans, look for the models that provide the most convenience and connectivity features that suit your family’s needs. This can make a big difference in day-to-day use.

 

Alternative Options to Minivans

While minivans make excellent family vehicles, some families may want to consider alternatives like 3-row SUVs or full-size vans.

 

3-Row SUVs

3-row SUVs offer much of the same family-friendly utility of minivans but with a more traditional SUV design. Models like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, and Kia Telluride have three rows of seating for up to 8 passengers. They provide good cargo space that can be expanded by folding the rear seats. SUVs tend to have a higher seating position and available AWD for confidence in all weather. However, most 3-row SUVs don’t match the interior space and ease of access of minivans. Still, for families wanting an SUV rather than a minivan, a 3-row model makes a capable alternative.

 

Full-Size Vans

For maximum cargo and passenger capacity, full-size vans like the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter are tough to beat. These commercial-oriented vans can be configured to seat over a dozen passengers if needed. They offer cavernous cargo space and tall roof heights for easy loading. Full-size vans are ideal for large families, airport shuttles, church groups, and other people-moving duties. However, they lack the car-like driving dynamics of minivans and are more cumbersome in urban areas. But for sheer utility, full-size vans are a viable minivan alternative.

 

Conclusion

After reviewing the top-rated minivans for 2023, the Chrysler Pacifica stands out as the best choice for families. With its innovative features, spacious interior, enjoyable driving dynamics and proven reliability, the Pacifica edges out the competition.

While the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna continue to be excellent options, the Pacifica brings an unparalleled combination of practicality, value and owner satisfaction. Clever details like the Stow ‘n Go seating and available hybrid powertrain demonstrate how Chrysler has tailored this minivan specifically for family needs.

For parents looking for the ultimate family vehicle, the Pacifica checks all the boxes. Its kid-friendly tech, abundant storage, smooth ride and advanced safety features make it a minivan that can handle the rigors of daily family life. After experiencing the Pacifica’s thoughtful design and smart features, it’s easy to see why it remains the critics’ choice.

Minivans like the Pacifica endure as popular family haulers thanks to their unmatched utility. With ample cargo space, easy access and family-focused details, today’s minivans are far from the boring “mom-mobiles” of the past. For families needing maximum space and versatility for kids, pets and activities, it’s hard to beat the efficiency of a minivan like the Pacifica.

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Questions About Family Minivans in Canada

The 2024 Honda Odyssey is considered the best family minivan in Canada. It has excellent reliability, top safety scores, lots of passenger and cargo space, and family-friendly features like a built-in vacuum and an entertainment system to keep rear passengers happy. The Odyssey is also praised for its comfortable ride and smooth, fuel-efficient engine.

The Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna have the best reputations for reliability among minivans in Canada. In consumer surveys, both consistently rank among the longest-lasting vehicles on the road, with strong scores predicted for longevity past 200,000 km. Their reputation for dependability makes them smart choices for families planning to keep their minivan for many years.

The 2024 Chrysler Pacifica has the most cargo space among minivans sold in Canada. With all rear seats folded, it provides a cavernous 4,027 litres of storage capacity. That’s enough room to haul bulky items like furniture or accommodate the luggage needs of larger families. The Honda Odyssey and Kia Carnival also offer abundant cargo room.



The Chrysler Pacifica is considered the best minivan for winter driving in Canada thanks to its available all-wheel drive. Unlike most minivans, AWD is optional on higher Pacifica trims, giving it superior traction and control on snow and ice. Other good options for Canadian winters include the Toyota Sienna with AWD and the front-wheel drive Honda Odyssey, which handles well in cold weather.

The only minivans currently offered with AWD capability in Canada are the Chrysler Pacifica and Toyota Sienna. On the Pacifica, AWD is optional on the higher Touring-L, Hybrid Touring, and Pinnacle models. The Sienna offers AWD standard across all trims except the base model. Honda and Kia minivans are only available with front-wheel drive in Canada at this time.



The most affordable new minivan you can buy in Canada for 2024 is the Dodge Grand Caravan. While the Grand Caravan lacks the features and refinement of newer minivans, its low base price under $35,000 makes it appealing for budget-conscious families. Other value-priced options include the previous-generation Chrysler Pacifica and the base Kia Sedona LX, both starting under $40,000.



Two plug-in hybrid minivans currently qualify for Canada’s $5,000 federal rebate for electric vehicles – the 2024 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and the 2024 Toyota Sienna Hybrid. Since both offer an electric driving range of over 50km, buyers are eligible for the full $5,000 rebate to reduce the upfront purchase price. This incentive makes their hybrid technology more affordable.



The Chrysler Pacifica is praised as having the best entertainment system among minivans to keep kids happy on road trips. Its available Uconnect Theater system features two 10-inch touchscreens on the rear seat backs, allowing passengers to stream movies, TV shows, games, and apps. The system has easy parental controls and headphone jacks to avoid driver distraction.

The Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Pacifica, and Toyota Sienna all offer a built-in vacuum cleaner in higher trim options in Canada. This convenient feature lets parents easily clean up crumbs, dirt, and pet hair on the go. The HondaVac and Toyota Easy Speak systems run off the minivan’s power, while the Pacifica uses a removable, rechargeable vacuum.

The 2024 Chrysler Pacifica receives top safety scores among minivans sold in Canada, earning a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The IIHS also named it a 2024 Top Safety Pick for its performance in crash tests. Other highly rated options for safety include the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

The Ford Motor Company announced it is phasing out minivan production, with the 2022 model year the last for the Ford Transit Connect. Rising SUV popularity led to declining minivan sales, so Ford will shift its focus away from the segment going forward once inventory is sold out. Chrysler, Honda, Kia and Toyota still produce minivans.

Yes, Kia offers its next-generation Carnival minivan in Canada as a 2024 model. Unveiled as a replacement for the Sedona, the Kia Carnival features bold SUV styling on the exterior yet retains the family-friendly functionality of a minivan inside. Early reviews suggest the Carnival could be a more compelling option than the Sedona for Canadian families.



Minivans are typically 200-210 inches (5-5.3m) long, 80 inches (2m) wide including mirrors, and 70 inches (1.8m) tall. Wheelbases range from about 120-130 inches (3-3.3m), depending on the model. Overall, their large, boxy shape maximizes interior passenger and cargo volume while their lower height provides easy access compared to an SUV.



The first modern minivan launched in 1983 when Chrysler introduced the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. These vehicles pioneered the “magic wagon” design with sliding side doors and fold-flat seats, creating a completely new segment optimized for family utility and affordability. Their runaway success kicked off the minivan craze that peaked in popularity in the 1990s.

There are a few key reasons why minivans tend to be better suited for families compared to SUVs:

* More interior space, passenger and cargo room

* Lower step-in height for easier access

* Available seating for up to 8

* Family-friendly features like entertainment systems

* Typically better fuel economy with car-based platforms

* Superior ride comfort from tuned suspension systems

While the minivan segment has declined over the past decade, new electric models arriving could reinvigorate interest. Chrysler plans to launch a battery-powered minivan by 2025. Volkswagen will also introduce an electric microbus revival called the I.D. Buzz in 2024, aiming to appeal to environmentally-conscious families. The unique styling and updated tech could attract new buyers to the minivan space.

If properly maintained, minivans in Canada can generally last over 300,000 kilometres or 10-15 years before requiring replacement. Toyota Siennas and Honda Odysseys often reach over 400,000 km thanks to their reputation for reliability and owners diligently performing regular repairs and service. Chrysler and Dodge minivans typically fall a bit below that range in longevity.

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