2015 Toyota Sienna Front

If you didn’t turn to another article once you read this title than you most likely are in the market for a van or know you will need to drive a minivan at some point. Minivans are great for hauling lots of people or gear where they need to go and make for affordable family driving vehicles. These vehicles are specifically made with a family in mind unlike SUVs that need to focus on the possibility of off road needs for owners who don’t need them for family hauling which makes minivans the most engaging family vehicles on the road still today.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at three minivans that offer some great features and give us the ability to keep the entire family happily entertained along the road to the next fun or exciting destination. The Honda Odyssey Elite, Kia Sedona SXL and Toyota Sienna Limited all are great family movers, but offer their own variety of equipment that will need to be considered when looking for the right choice in your next minivan, which is why I am here to help.

Normally a segment like this is led by the Dodge Grand Caravan but both the Chrysler/Dodge models and the Nissan ones have lagged behind with little to no significant upgrades while the three featured here have continually been upgraded and updated to be some of the best offerings in the minivan segment.

The Honda Odyssey has been the leader in this segment for the past decade and has been updated to include an on-board vacuum, new aluminum sheetmetal on the front end and an updated interior. Add in the IIHS Top Safety Pic rating, a 16.2-inch video screen and a twelve-speaker stereo the Odyssey Elite will be very difficult to beat for the other two in this comparison test.

Looking at the Toyota Sienna we see a minivan that has also been updated with a stiffer structure, an updated dashboard, new grill and new headlights. The Sienna features the “Driver Easy Speak” bull horn which projects the voice of the driver through the rear speakers. This van is a Top Safety Pick Plus winner and is the only one that offers four-wheel drive, making it more capable at control during driving. The Sienna also offers dual sunroofs and a Blu-ray player and an Advanced Technology Package that make it a sturdy competitor for the Odyssey.

For the Kia Sedona, the upgrades are in the safety department and of the electronic variety. The Sedona offers a wide array of electronic systems and 19-ich wheels and the two sunroofs to give it a great feel for driving and enjoyment. The one thing missing from this minivan is a rear seat entertainment system which would be necessary since this is to be a family hauler and not limited to just those up front. So far, it looks like the Sedona is behind in the race, especially since this comparison was done with a whole family involved, meaning kids have a say.

Third Place

As expected from the introduction, the Kia Sedona came in third in this particular test. Although it may not appear to be a regular minivan, the Sedona shows up with a ride that is direct and gives a clean and cavernous passenger compartment for everyone to fully enjoy. The infotainment system shows up with a full menu of kid-tracking apps to help with teen drivers and allows parents to set limits for them to help keep their new drivers safe on the road.

The second row of seats moves in a lot of different ways to allow cargo to be easily placed in the rear and with the flat folding third row of seats and the second row moved forward the cargo space is ample enough for large objects to be placed in the in the back of the van. Powering this minivan is a 3.3-liter V6 engine that brings in 276 horsepower giving plenty of power to carry the whole family wherever they need to go. As mentioned the one drawback is a lack of entertainment for the rear seat, even when kids have their own mobile devices they will need to stop to stream or download, making for some tiresome journeys and putting the Sedona clearly in third for this test.

Second Place

Coming in the second place is the Honda Odyssey which shows up with a much tighter feeling than the others in this comparison. The front seats were a bit tight and had no height adjustment. However, the Odyssey does offer the only three-person second row in this competition. This van also offers a great step in height for smaller children to be able to get in and out quickly and easily. The third row of seats folds down flat making plenty of room for easy carrying of cargo.

The Odyssey offers a side-by-side screen viewing on the rear seat entertainment system so kids can have two different shows playing at the same time. There are four places to charge phones and other mobile devices, but with eight seats this might not be enough if there is a whole herd of teenagers aboard this minivan. For the driver, the Odyssey offers a sportier driving than the other two in this test but it’s still a minivan with both safety and entertainment as the priorities.

First Place

The blue ribbon winner in this comparison was the Toyota Sienna which takes down the decade-long leader from Honda. The Sienna has a second row that sits higher than the front akin to theater seating even though it has a sliding second row like the Kia. The Sienna also offers a power-folding third row of seats to make it easier for gaining access to the storage area of the van. The dual sliding sunroofs make it easy to enjoy the outdoors, but the kids will most likely be glued to the entertainment system which is showing their favorite shows or movies on the screen. The sound from the system could have been better though as the surround sound puts the dialogue through the center dash speaker and background noises through the rear speakers.

This van is much stiffer than before and more so than the competitors in this comparison test. The drive of this van shows off an amazing drive and makes gives you an excellent array of undated and modern features to fully enjoy and take advantage of while on any drive. Overall, the Sienna offered the most overall features and gives a fantastic drive which is dynamic and engaging on any road.

All three of these minivans have their own variety of amazing ability to carry the whole family where they need to go, ensuring safety and the ability to carry plenty of cargo when needed. The Sienna made the best overall choice as a minivan with its awesome features and seating positions that give the Sienna a leg up on the others, but the Odyssey and the Sedona have their own variety of class leading safety and technology to offer as well. As the first time in a decade the Odyssey wasn’t the favorite in this kind of comparison, we will see if Honda revamps the Odyssey to lead the way the next time a comparison like this is done.

Written by Kerry Marasco

Call me old fashioned by I just got into social media recently. Yes, I'm that gal you see at the real coffee shop (aka not Starbucks) with an actual book.

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