SUVs vs. Minivans: Making The Right Choice
Has your family started to cram into the old sedan like a pack of sardines? Have members of the neighborhood car pool begun to look suspiciously at your battered station wagon? Perhaps it’s time to retire the old family car and move up to a bigger vehicle. Often, the choice for a more spacious family vehicle is a toss-up between a sport utility vehicle (SUV) and a minivan. Both offer flexible passenger and cargo areas, comfortable seating for five to eight persons, and rear-seat entertainment systems. Although the SUV has a slightly higher risk for rollovers than minivans do, both are equipped with similar safety features, such as air bags and anti-lock brake systems. So, which one deserves to park in your family garage? To come up with the right choice, you need to look at how the vehicle’s styling, fuel economy, passenger and cargo space, towing capacity, and safety will suit your family’s needs and lifestyle.
More than a matter of need, a vehicle’s styling is a matter of personal preference. The SUV usually wins out over the minivan when it comes to appearance. With its rugged, sporty styling, an SUV oozes urban cool, unlike the minivan, which is perpetually associated with soccer moms and suburban neighborhood carpools. Most men would recoil at the thought of driving a minivan, so if your husband would be sharing driving duties, you might have to talk it out with him. Likewise, many teenagers wouldn’t be caught dead stepping out of a minivan, so if you’d be using the vehicle mainly to drop off and pick up your adolescent children from school, you’d have to consider their preferences, too.
Minivans give better mileage than SUVs, which have a reputation for being gas guzzlers. If you want to squeeze more miles out of the gasoline tank, then a minivan would make a more economic choice than an SUV. Other ownership costs, such as maintenance and insurance, also tend to be higher for SUVs than minivans. Unless you’re willing to pay the price for being cool and stylish, the practical minivan is the way to go.
Passenger and cargo space
Sport utility vehicles and minivans have comparable passenger and cargo space, but the roomy interiors of a minivan can be a delight to young kids. Unlike SUVs, minivans also have a low step-in height, so they’re easier for kids to climb into. Minivans’ large picture windows afford young passengers a better view of the passing scenery, therefore keeping your impatient young ones amused for a good part of the ride.
If you own a boat and like to take the entire brood for weekend sailing retreats, then an SUV would make an appropriate choice. SUVs have superior towing capacities, enabling them to pull practically anything between a trailer and a small boat. Otherwise, if you’re only schlepping groceries and your kid’s soccer team, then there’s no reason to overlook the minivan.
Although both have comparable safety features, SUVs have a higher rollover risk than minivans. SUV devotees counter this by pointing out that rollovers account for only three percent of all traffic accidents and claiming that SUVs offer excellent passenger protection in two-car collisions. It remains to be seen whether this supposed collision safety factor outweighs the risk of rollovers. If the threat of rollover accidents keeps you awake at night, then a minivan could give you a little peace of mind.