Episode 1 of the minivan comparison is a deep dive into what’s under the hood and the costs of ownership. There are only four brands left in the minivan space: Chrysler, Honda, Kia, and Toyota. Each one has a different approach, giving their respective entries a unique character and advantages. However, which minivan is right for you depends on your specific needs.
The Chrysler Pacifica has long been the minivan to beat. Ever since it arrived, it brought a lot of clever features plus an available electrified powertrain to the segment. After undergoing a very thorough refresh, the Pacifica is even more formidable thanks to a new infotainment system, available AWD, and luxurious new Pinnacle trim. Standard models use a 3.6-liter V6 with 287 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque putting the power down through the front or all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission. The Pacifica is also the only model available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. This allows it to travel up to 32 miles in all-electric mode and has a combined range of 520 miles. The EPA rates the Pacifica Hybrid at 30/29/30 mpg city/highway/combined. Chrysler is also the only one offering a mechanical AWD system in a minivan because the standard Pacifica uses that setup if you choose an example that powers all four wheels. The Pacifica Hybrid should have the lowest maintenance costs because you’re spending most of your time in EV mode, minimizing the wear and tear on the powertrain. However, this means you need to plug your minivan in so that you can drive emissions-free as much as possible
Toyota, on the other hand, has doubled down on hybrid power for the 2021 Sienna. Every single Sienna gets a 2.5-liter four-cylinder coupled to one or two electric drive motors, a nickel-metal-hydride battery, and a planetary gear set. The total system output is 245 hp regardless of the drivetrain configuration. Unlike Pacifica, the Sienna uses an e-AWD system, which mounts a second electric motor on the rear axle. It’s also your only choice if you want an electrified powertrain and AWD because the Pacifica Hybrid is FWD only. The EPA rates the Sienna at 36 mpg across the board for FWD models and 35/36/35 mpg with AWD. The Sienna should have one of the lowest fuel costs thanks to its hybrid powertrain. However, the Pacifica Hybrid beats it because of its ability to operate in EV mode.
Kia has doubled down on the un-minivan theme with the 2022 Carnival and it’s moved towards the luxury end. From the looks alone, it’s quite distinct and very rugged looking by minivan standard. The EPA rates the Carnival at 19/26/22 mpg. Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 hp and 262 lb-ft paired to an eight-speed automatic. In terms of maintenance and repair, the Kia is the lowest in the latter thanks to the long 10-year/100,000-miles powertrain warranty (applies only to the first owner). The maintenance costs, however, are higher because of the intervals for oil and filter changes, etc.
The Honda Odyssey retains the charms and practicalities of a minivan but with lots of nifty features. A 3.5-liter V6 with 280 hp and 262 lb-ft is the only engine on offer and it’s paired to a 10-speed automatic. The EPA rates the Odyssey at 19/28/22 mpg. Since the Odyssey isn’t available with a hybrid powertrain (at least as of this writing and filming), it has one of the highest fuel costs alongside the Kia Carnival, which also isn’t available with an electrified option. However, the Odyssey is one of the best models when it retaining its value.
Most of the information presented in the video comes from Edmunds.com or fueleconomy.gov.