For the past few years, one model has clearly dominated the minivan market, at least in the eyes of auto reviewers. The Honda Odyssey has won over many a driving-enthusiast-come-diaper bag-toting-yuppie by virtue of its refinement, comfortable interior, foldaway third-row seat and, of course, that signature Honda dependability. Thanks to recent redesigns, the Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest both pose close competition for the Odyssey, appealing to buyers with their car-like driving demeanor and cavernous interiors. Slightly smaller in size is the Mazda MPV, whose tidier dimensions make it more palatable for new parents just graduating from compact car ownership.
DaimlerChrysler started the minivan craze in the early 80s and continues to dominate the segment today with four top sellers, the Dodge Caravan, Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Voyager and Chrysler Town & Country. Additional domestics include the Ford Freestar, Chevrolet Venture and Pontiac Montana.
Full-size vans represent the ultimate value when it comes to space. Starting in the low $20,000 range, these vehicles offer massive cargo areas, or seating for up to 15 people when properly equipped. The choices in this segment are limited to domestic automakers. Ford offers the Econoline, or E-series; Chevrolet's Express shares a platform with the GMC Savana; and Dodge offers the Ram Van.
In an auto market where the lines are becoming increasingly blurred between vehicle segments, the straightforward purpose and design of both minivans and full-size vans are refreshingly uncomplicated.