How to Buy a Minivan

For some reason, minivans have earned this unsavory reputation as vehicles for those whose desire and ambition in life has all but diminished. Cars devoid of the slightest hint of cool factor and just the type of car you would expect to find a beaten-down suburban dad or soccer mom driving. The average folk.

Okay. Uncool they may be, but it’s not until you use a minivan that you will discover they are the coziest and safest vehicles around. In fact, their main draw is their versatility, an ease of converting the cabin from purely functional to living-room plush. Over the years, the concept of the minivan has greatly changed; some, completely re-imagined and re-designed. All bias aside, they are kind of cool to be honest. If this is a car you have been considering, here is what you need to know on how to buy a minivan.

Easy Access to Third Row and Folding

back of van seats

The minivan is probably the car that pops to mind anytime you think about vehicles with access to the third row. As obvious a feature as it may be for the van, you should not overlook it when hunting for this car type. Reason is because not all manufacturers have passenger comfort in mind. Opt for a minivan whose range of seats can accommodate both kids and adults alike. As well, ensure the second-row seats offer ease of access to the third row.

In some vans, the second row is an immovable bench seat. In others, the seats on this row can be adjusted to move side to side, with others leaning vertically against the back of the front seats. In others, the seats on the second row can be folded into the floor to provide even more cargo capacity on top of the already ample offering. The more flexible, the better.

Safety and Security Features

car broken down seats

Considering the minivan is the one basket you will be bundling all your eggs in, safety and security should be top of the priority list. One thing to consider is the small-overlap crash test, a test that simulates the level of impact and damage when the car collides with another or with a utility pole. As well, consider safety systems like collision warning with active braking, parking assistance and 360-degree view camera.

Your car of choice doesn’t have to have every one of these exact features, but it should have something similar. It is a good idea to do your research first. Read several trusted online reviews and consider seeking the opinion of others who drive the same car on forums. Some models are tested for safety but tend to behave differently in real life, so third party opinion can be gold.


minivan space in back storage

The whole point of getting a minivan is to enjoy the space benefits that come with it. Lots of it. For starters, look at the size of the cargo space – it should be ample enough by minivan standards. Next, check the amount of extra space that can be salvaged by converting the interior through folding seats. The third row in particular should fold as a given, creating more room. Then consider how the second row seats stack up.

Family-friendly Features

seats car

The first three things are concerned more with practicality and safety, the basic must-haves. This next point has to do more with the ergonomic aspect because, you see, little things matter in a big way sometimes.

Consider extras that include everything from a well-sized conversation mirror, to oodles of cup holders, to an entertainment system inclusive of multiple screens, complete with AV and HDMI inputs. Others features to look for include tablet holders, leg rests, flipping seats, in-van vacuum and a plethora of other handy tools. All minivans have a host of family-friendly features, so look around to determine which would be ideal in your case. Obviously, the more, the merrier.

Extra Latch and Tether Anchors

latch anchors seatbelt car seats

Car manufacturers are, by law, required to fit two sets of lower latch anchors in the second row of their car seats, along with three top tether anchors. When it comes to the third row, no such mandatory requirement exists. Minivans do offer at least one third-row tether anchor though, which is crucial for minimizing head and neck movement in the event of a crash, with some vans even including a few extras.

The latch system is not a must when strapping a child-safety seat, but it sure presents a more secure option compared to the seat belt. So something else to chew over.

A minivan is one of the best cars you can buy. It may not be the coolest on the outside, but no car comes close to it in terms of interior space and associated comfort. Think of it as international first-class flight seating with unsurpassed luxury. Once you get a taste of it, it’s hard to turn back.

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