My family owned two or three minivans while I was growing up, and I had many a long car ride in the backseat. My wife had never owned a minivan, let alone driven one. Which of course prompted an exclamation of “How long is this thing!” when she tried to park for the first time. I laughed but it got me thinking, had all my minivans been the same size? I decided to do a little research to find out.
Minivans are about 17 feet or about 200 to 204 inches long. Most commonly they are just shy of 17 (16.9 on the high average) feet in length. In comparison to the Ford F-150 being anywhere from 209 to 250 inches, it seems pretty tiny. But if you put it next to a Toyota Camry at around 192 inches the average minivan is nearly a foot longer.
While a minivan is not the biggest thing you can drive on the road it certainly isn’t what someone would consider a small vehicle either. And though there are a few exceptions to this rule (we’ll get to that in a second) most of these road warriors share a similar length. So swapping from one to another shouldn’t be all that different for someone that has had a minivan before, at least on average.
The length of a minivan is mostly composed of seating and storage capacity. This is obvious to anyone that has owned one or is looking to purchase one for them and their family. And a lot of them come jam-packed full of other features that make their slightly larger length a compromise for someone that is looking for that type of vehicle.
A bonus to this is while minivans tend to be longer than cars they are only about 6 inches wider, on average than a Toyota Camry coming in at around 56 inches. This helps with parking and of course doing the school run which can get hectic. However, you aren’t likely to find yourself zipping through traffic with this machine either.
It is also worth noting that minivans have grown larger in the past decades. For instance, in 2000 the Dodge Grand Caravan measured in at 186 inches long. While the 2020 version is right at the high end of the average now at 203 inches. So it would seem that if anything minivans are getting even bigger than they were, instead of following the trend of other cars and becoming more compact and fuel-efficient.
Lengths of 10 most popular minivans
In no particular order here are some of the most popular minivans and their specs for the latest models.
1) Dodge Grand Caravan
As mentioned above the Grand Caravan comes in at 203 inches weighs in around 4,400 pounds depending on the model. They can cost you from $27,290 for the SE and $32,790 for the SXT model. It’ll get you 17 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. It can carry 7 people and features a USB port so you never need a car adapter.
2) Honda Odyssey
The Odyssey like the Caravan is 203 inches. 203.2 to be exact with a curb weight of approximately 4,500 pounds. The base model runs you $30,790 but it can go up to $47,420 for the Elite version. All of the models get 19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway. Honda features the ability to easily communicate with far back passengers with Cabin Talk which is helpful when it can seat up to 8 people!
3) Ford Transit Connect
I’ve included this not because of its popularity but to show that there are in fact shorter minivans out there. The transit comes in at just 190 inches and between 3,500 and 4,000 pounds. It’ll cost between $27,000 and $32,000 depending on your model. And boasts a 24 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. The main benefit in the Transit is that while it is smaller it still has a ton of space and can seat 7.
4) Toyota Sienna
The Sienna is 200 inches long and weighs in between 4,400 and 4,750 pounds. This van will cost you between $31,640 and $40,385. It can get you 19 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway and can seat up to 8. The Sienna features an Auto Seat Access option, perfect for someone with a disability or difficulty entering and exiting vehicles.
5) Chrysler Pacifica
The Pacifica is 204 inches long and weighs 4,330 pounds. The price is between $33,745 and $44,695. Its city mileage is 19 and the highway is 28. It will seat up to 7 as well. A major development for the Pacifica is that they now make a hybrid version. This can significantly cut down on your fuel expenses, boasting 34/84 mpg a massive improvement on its competitors.
6) Kia Sedona
The Sedona is 201.4 inches long and weighs in around the 4,500-pound mark. It runs between $27,600 and $41,500, getting between 18 and 24 mpg on the city and highway respectively. It will seat up to 8 and comes with a Surround View Monitor for ease of use.
7) Nissan Quest
The Nissan Quest stopped production in 2016 but a lot of them are still on the road today and there’s talk of a new model. It is 200.8 inches long and weighs around 4,450 pounds. Being that that stopped production you can’t buy a brand new one but a certified pre-owned will run you around $12,000 on the higher side. Though it’s older it gets 20 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway and can seat up to 7.
8) Chrysler Voyager
The voyager is slightly bigger than most at almost 204 inches long and weighs 4,330 pounds. On the low end, it costs $26,985 and can get up to $29,795. It will get between 19 and 28 mpg on the city and highway while seating 8. It also features Chryslers traffic Saftey features like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection.
9) Chrysler Town and Country.
Another minivan from Chrysler, this was very popular but like the Quest, Chrysler decided to try other avenues after 2016. This is 202.8 inches long and weighs 4,652 pounds. While you will have to buy these used as well KBB prices them between 12 and 15 thousand dollars. This van gets 17 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway while seating 7. This was a premium vehicle a few years ago and it featured things like a heated steering wheel and rear dual-screen Blue-ray players.
10) Mazda Mazda5
This is another discontinued minivan but it still boasts a high ranking in popularity. It is a shorter van at 180 inches long and weighs only around 3,500 pounds. KBB prices these tiny giants at around $10,000 for a very good condition. These can get 21 to 28 mpg in the city and highway, one of the best on the market for mpg besides the Pacifica Hybrid. It will seat up to 6 and features Dual Zone automatic climate control with a pollen filter.
Is a minivan an oversized vehicle?
Not in the sense that it requires anything special as far as permits to drive. It does not qualify under DOT standards for anything oversized. However, a lot of people don’t use those requirements and say anything over 180 inches or 15 feet is “oversized”, esp. at some busy parking lots.
Is it hard to drive a minivan?
This is a little bit of a nuanced question and it really will vary person to person. If you’re used to driving something like a Ford F-150 with an extension then it’ll probably feel downright tiny to you. But if someone has owned a Prius for the last few years it might seem like you’re driving a boat down your city center. From personal experience, my wife got used to driving ours in a week or so after having tiny cars her whole adult life. So it should not be too big of a problem after you adjust.
Is it hard to parallel park a minivan?
Again this is going to boil down to personal experience. The same as the last question if you have parked big vehicles then you probably won’t find it difficult. But this can also have a lot to do with the mirror positioning on the van itself. Some, like my family’s 2013 Town and Country from my childhood, have terrible blind spots and can make it hard to judge when to spin your wheel. All in all, though it should be no harder than any other car, providing you have enough room to get in.
How many people does a minivan hold?
Basically between 6-8. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a minivan on the market these days that will be able to hold less than 7. And a lot of times 7 is the basic and you have the option to add another seat to fit that 8th person in.
Does more length mean more storage?
This is a question that I’ve been curious about for a little while now. It would stand to reason that the longer your van is the more stuff you can pack into them. And this is true as far as long objects go. So on the surface yes, obviously the bigger they are the more storage for the most part.
However, the tiniest van from our list above is the Ford Transit Connect it will hold up to 123 cubic feet of storage while the Nissan Quest only has a maximum of 108 cubic feet. With the Quest being 10 inches longer than the Connect it is a bit puzzling as to why it has so much less storage capacity.
It turns out that the layout of the minivan’s interior has a lot more to do with how much to can cram in there than length. With some vans having stow away seating and secret little cubby holes in the floorboards, it can really maximize space usage. There are also side containers to consider that sit near the back of the van and can stretch a few feet long themselves to put some supplies in.
Also, it is worth considering that the structure of the van is of note here as well. If you look at a Connect, for example, it has a very tall rear end and you can make use of all that extra space over one of the other minivans. This can come especially in handy if your are packing a lot of boxes or other organizable objects. Like if you were moving and didn’t have enough to warrant a whole truck.
But on the whole if you look at the vans inside of our average 200 ish inches they all have about the same storage space. If you take into consideration that most vans are shaped similarly anymore and that most features like stow and go seating as well as extra pockets are the norm. Then it becomes clear that they are going to have nearly the same storage as each other.
Does length affect your mileage?
This one is a little tricky. If you read through some of the most common minivans above then it becomes clear that most minivans have very similar MPG ratings. Most of them being within 3 or 5 miles of each other regardless of their one to two-inch differences.
The only one that has a massive change is the Pacifica Hybrid. Obviously this has nothing to due with length and everything to do with the fact that its a Hybrid. And if your worry is solely about having a minivan and a high MPG then this is going to be the cream of the crop for you by far and away.
However, ignoring that single car, the Transit Connect is the shortest of our bunch and does get the best mileage in the city by a few and is the best on the highway by exactly 1. It stands to reason to believe then that the shorter it is then the better the mileage you are going to get.
Though this actually turns out to be false. If you look at the Town and Country it only gets 17 mpg in the city. The Voyager, the biggest van in our lot, gets 19. You can attribute this to the Voyager being a newer vehicle by 4 years because they both have the same engine with a 3.6L V6.
Seeing as how I am not an expert it appears to me that length does not have a direct correlation on the MPG of your van, given that the newest vans with similar lengths have slightly different mileage ratings than each other. It is probably best chalked up to engine tuning and other things that are beyond the scope of this article.
So what we learned is that most minivans sit around the 200 to 204-inch mark. There are outliers to this rule and the older the van gets, for the most part, the shorter they get as well. Length very specifically affects the storage of objects but not in total volume. The vans are no more hard to drive or park than any other slightly large vehicle. And length appears to have no direct impact on your fuel efficiency.