With so many models to choose from, buying a new vehicle can be a difficult decision at any stage of your life. When you have kids that decision can become even more challenging.

You want a car that is spacious enough and practical for your lifestyle. It needs to be able to hold your toddler’s stroller as well as your teenager’s hockey gear while still having enough space for the other family members and the dog to sit comfortably. Of course it has to fit within your budget too. With all of that, should you even consider appearance when choosing a family car? That can be a tough call.

When you want to buy a family car, it often comes down to two choices – minivan vs. SUV. Which is a better choice for you? A look at the differences between the two should help you make a better buying decision.

Seating Capacity & Options Matter with Larger Families

Minivans can seat more people than SUVs. They have roomier third row options that allow 7 to 8 people to sit comfortably without feeling boxed in. In the few SUV models that do offer the 3rd row option, it’s still a tight fit.

Minivans also offer more seating options in that you can fold down seats for those times when you have fewer passengers but need more room for cargo in the back. It is also easier to remove a chair in the middle row or change seating configurations to adjust to the needs of that particular trip.

SUVs have limited options in this regard. You have to make do with the preset seating configuration with very little scope for adjustments. However, they are perfect for smaller families who do not really need all that additional space.

It’s easy to see if you need to accommodate more than five passengers and still have some storage space, a minivan may be a better fit for you.

Storage Capacity May or May Not Be Something You Need to Think About

SUVs and minivans both offer pretty impressive storage capacities but if you are looking for even more storage capacity, minivans definitely have the edge. Those adjustable seating options allow you to cram in additional baggage and make a single trip when one of your kids is going off to college or when you need to move bulky items.

Photo from Honda Canada.

You could move all of your stuff in an SUV too but you may have to do it in two trips.

Gas Mileage Matters if You Drive Long Distances

If you do a lot of out of city driving, the gas mileage can have a big impact on your budget. Minivans in general give better gas mileage than SUVs in the same size range. If you do not do a lot long-distance driving, gas mileage may not be a deciding factor.

All-Wheel Drive Makes it Safer for You and Your Family On Bad Weather Days

All-Wheel Drive improves traction tremendously. You’ll be glad you have an AWD vehicle when you’re driving in rain, snow and other bad weather conditions. And if you live in North America, this happens more often than you’d like. SUVs are more likely to have All-Wheel Drive. If you are looking for the peace of mind that AWD offers, an SUV is a better choice.


Sliding Doors Make a Difference in Certain Scenarios Only

The sliding doors of minivans make it easier to load heavy bags and groceries into the car. Also, with sliding doors you do not have to worry about your kids yanking open the door and hitting the vehicle parked next to you.

You Have A Boat Or A Trailer That You Want To Tow

It’s so cool to own your very own boat and spend summer weekends out on the lake with the family. If that’s your idea of weekend fun, an SUV is the way to go because of its greater towing capacity.

Image Is Something You Definitely Want To Think About

To many people, the appearance of the vehicle outranks all other features. Which vehicle looks better is the deciding factor in the end and in this regard the SUV trumps the minivan by a mile. SUVs have a sportier look, which takes you out of the ‘soccer parent’ category and puts you squarely in the ‘cool parent’ category.

Although minivan designs have improved tremendously over the years (just take a look at the sleek styling of the Honda Odyssey), they still lack the cool factor.

For the reasons above the minivan vs. SUV battle is a close one. Ultimately, your purchase decision will come down to what you most want the vehicle to provide for you and your family. Visit us at Family Honda if you need more information when choosing between a minivan and SUV, we can help point you in the right direction.