Choosing a new car in and of itself can prove to be a daunting task. Throw in a couple of kids that need to be transported to school and several after-school activities multiple times a week, and it may not be a bad idea to consider driving a minivan the next time you and your spouse go car shopping.
Stow-and-go seating is just one of the many features that ensure you and your family’s travel needs are met anytime you get behind the wheel. We’ll discuss space and seating (as well as countless other features) in various models throughout the article, but here are some of the top vans that offer stow-and-go seating:
- Chrysler Pacifica
- Chrysler Voyager
- Dodge Caravan
- Toyota Sienna
We’ll also discuss several other models with similar features to help maximize your search efforts, including:
- Honda Odyssey
- Kia Sedona
- Ford Transit Connect SWB/LWB
- Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
- Mercedes Benz Metris
- Chrysler Voyager
It’s important to create a distinction between minivans that DO offer stow-and-go, and those that don’t, as it ultimately affects your ability to store objects and equipment and adapt to the road. Let’s dive in.
What is Stow-and-Go Seating?
When it comes to choosing the perfect minivan for your family, there’s a lot to consider. Are there plenty of seats for the kids? What about storing sports or camping equipment? Whatever your needs may be, it’s essential that your next minivan meet all of them.
But what kind of minivan should you be looking for? That’s where stow-and-go seating comes in.
As you can see from the introductory list, the exclusive, limited stow-and-go seating feature is different from minivans that offer a typical slide-n-stow feature, which generally only affect one row and don’t offer a ton of storage space. Stow-and-go allows you to fold down an entire row of seats and stow them beneath the floor, freeing up the entire cargo area without said folded seats taking up unnecessary space.
Choosing the Right Make and Model
There are plenty of minivans out there that offer the stow-and-go seating feature. Choosing the right one that’s best for you and your family may be different from someone else’s, so be sure to test drive different vans to determine the perfect match.
Here’s a list of the minivans that DO offer the stow-and-go seating feature:
- Chrysler Pacifica*: This vehicle offers standard stow-and-go seating, with optional storage offered for the second row. The eight-passenger Pacifica also offers the stow-and-go feature.
- Chrysler Voyager: While the stow-and-go feature can’t be found on past models, the 2020 Voyager LXi offers extra space for the third and second-row seats.
- Dodge Caravan*: Dodge Caravans offer standard stow-and-go seating for third-row seats, with optional seating for the second row. It’s important to note that all models before the 2005 Grand Caravan did not offer stow-and-go seating. Nowadays, this seating feature comes standard on all Dodge Caravans.
- Toyota Sienna: As with the Caravan, the Toyota Sienna has standard stow-and-go seating for all third-row seats, and even allows them to be folded down into the floor. To achieve the maximum amount of space, second-row seats must be completely removed.
*The Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Caravan both offer the most cargo space, with the Caravan’s offering 140.3 cubic feet and the Pacifica offering 140.5 cubic feet.
Here’s a list of vehicles that do NOT include the stow-and-go seating feature to maximize your search process:
- Honda Odyssey: The Odyssey does not feature stow-and-go seating. However, the third-row seats do fold down and second-row seats can be removed to maximize cargo space if necessary.
- Kia Sedona: This model offers slide-n-stow rather than stow-and-go, and also requires all second-row seating to be removed. However, Kia Sedona’s also offer more cargo space than Dodge Caravans and Chrysler Pacificas.
- Ford Transit Connect SWB/LWB: This model does not allow the stow-and-go seating feature.
- Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: The Pacifica Hybrid does not allow stow-and-go seating due to the location of the vehicle’s battery. However, maximum cargo space can be achieved by folding down the third-row seats or removing the second row.
- Mercedes Benz Metris: This model does not allow the stow-and-go seating feature.
- Chrysler Voyager: Stow-and-go seating is only available in their 2020 LXi trim model.
If a minivan isn’t necessarily your style, there are plenty of SUVs that offer similar seating features of the models listed above. While SUVs don’t offer stow-and-go seating due to space limitations, there are models that offer similar cargo space.
The Ins and Outs of Stow-and-Go
With stow-and-go, you can use the storage area underneath the seats when they’re upright to store whatever you’d like to make sure that there’s plenty of room for your passengers. (This is great for long road trips or holidays!)
The stow-and-go seating feature is perfect for parents who consider themselves to be “on-the-go” and need to update their minivan’s seating arrangements in a pinch. Where other minivans require you to completely take out a row of seats (as we’ve mentioned previously), stow-and-go allows parents to simply update their seats in any school or store parking lot, driveway, or garage.
How Does It Work?
It’s simple: All you need to do is lift the floor panel to rest it against the seatbacks in front of it. Next, simply tug on the stow-and-go strap at the base of the seat. The seat will fold forward, and you’ll continue to push it down into the floor’s storage compartment. Close the floor panel over the covered seats and relish in the extra space!
Needing a little more extra space? Just take out the stow-and-go seats altogether!
You may need to consult a video tutorial for this step, as it’s a little harder than simply storing the seats. However, the good news is that minivans with this capability allow you to completely remove the third row of seats, adding plenty of extra space in the back of the van for groceries presents overnight bags and more.
The Pros and Cons of Stow-and-Go Seating
Minivans are typically longer than most cars a family considers buying. As with any major buying decision, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding on what to purchase. Stow-and-go seating is no different.
Here are some pros:
- There’s less work with stow-and-go seating: Stow-and-go seats fold up easily, which gets rid of much of the hassle of removing an entire row of seats each time you need extra space. Another bonus pro is that you’ll free up more garage space by keeping the seats inside the van!
- It helps maximize the space inside your minivan: When all seats are stored and the room inside your van has freed up, passengers will enjoy much more legroom.
- Storage space can still be used when seats are up: Passengers will also enjoy plenty of storage space while driving. Whether it’s storing toys or technology during a long road trip or just simply storing a child’s backpack after school, the possibilities are endless.
- It’s great for pets: Stow-and-go seating will also come as a wonderful feature for those furry family members (especially those larger pets). Say goodbye to the days of having to cram kids and animals into the car together. With stow-and-go, there’s plenty of space for everyone.
- You can pick your favorite combo: Stow-and-go seats also allow you to configure your minivan’s cabin as you see fit. Both second and third-row seating can be maximized for space depending on the trip you’re taking.
Here are some cons:
- They’re not always the most comfortable: Some passengers report that stow-and-go seats aren’t as comfy as the foldable leather seats, which tend to be plushier.
- When upright, legroom becomes compromised: Third-row passengers may find their legroom a little cramped. If you have small children, the third row may be the perfect place to have them sit so your older kiddos can have some room to stretch.
- It can become time-consuming: While stow-and-go seating can be convenient in a pinch, constantly having to hop out of the car to accommodate multiple different passengers can become tiresome.
- Acceleration can be sluggish: Some drivers have reported that the models that offer stow-and-go seating (more on that later) can have slow acceleration levels. Whether it’s due to the seats or something else, it’s still an important component to consider when car shopping.
- It’s a bit pricier: This may be a deal-breaker, but don’t count out a stow-and-go minivan before you try it. While the cost is a big factor in determining which car you may buy, it can usually be negotiated if you find the car of your dreams.
As you can see, the pros outweigh the cons, but the choice is ultimately yours. Be sure to check out plenty of the stow-and-go features when test driving your next minivan to better understand its effectiveness and to see if it’s right for you.
As you can see, choosing the perfect minivan takes some extra thought and effort. Most minivans that offer the stow-and-go seating feature can sit up to seven or eight passengers at a time, making it a great feature for parents who constantly find themselves towing multiple kids around for sporting events, carpools, summer road trips, family holidays, or other various extracurricular activities.
No matter what make or model you decide to go with, make sure you do your research before showing up at the dealership. It’s extremely beneficial to have a list of the kinds of minivans or SUVs you’d like to test drive in order to make the ultimate decision.
We hope this article helps you and your family make the best, most informed decision when it comes to purchasing a new vehicle. Stow-and-go seating is just one of the many benefits of owning a minivan, and we know that no matter what make or model you choose, the memories that happen on your everyday drives will be priceless.