2006 Minivan Best Bets

To rank models as first, second and third best, and so on, is to suggest that all people want the same thing in a vehicle, and that's just not the case. For this reason, cars.com Best Bets include one or more models that are "best overall" or best in a subcategory, but all other citations center on a particular aspect in which the model excels. To see the criteria used in making the picks, click here.

Cars.com Best Bets for 2006 Minivans
Cars.com staff reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder picks his favorite vans (plus one van that's dressed like a sport utility vehicle), ordered according to base manufacturer's suggested retail price, from lowest to highest. The destination charge is not included.
$18,630 - $22,520
Conditional overall Best Bet: The short-wheelbase Dodge Caravan just squeaks by in the Best Bet consideration, with average reliability and an Acceptable frontal crash-test rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (The lack of side-impact test results makes this citation conditional.) Where the other domestic automakers have lost their way, Dodge has stayed in the game it founded in 1984 with the original Caravan. While the Caravan's refinement and overall quality don't reach the level of Honda or Toyota vans, it is nevertheless competitive, affordable and successful in the market. Speaking of success, the Stow 'N Go second-row seats have been a sensation in the longer Grand Caravan and sister Chrysler Town & Country vans, but below-average reliability now excludes these variants from Best Bet status.
$23,775 - $38,380
Overall Best Bet: The Sienna is at least average in all areas and exceptional in many others. It offers a comfortable, quiet ride; good power; and the safety performance, reliability and resale value for which Toyotas are known. In addition to all the frills, such safety-related features as an available electronic stability system and a rearview camera are still rare in this category. The Sienna absolutely will cost you more than a domestic minivan, but when you consider long-term value, it's possible the bargain is here.
$25,345 - $36,595
Overall Best Bet: The Odyssey goes toe-to-toe with the Toyota Sienna in all the most important ways. Its interior volume is slightly lower and it doesn't offer all-wheel drive, but safety items like a standard electronic stability system, optional rearview camera and power doors that reverse at the slightest obstruction put the Odyssey above the fray. Its ride quality improves over the previous generation's, yet its handling is remarkable. The fuel economy is startlingly good. For long-term value, it's an excellent choice.
$26,995 - $33,045
Best minivan in drag: I'll let you in on a little secret: The Pilot isn't a sport utility vehicle. It's a butched-up minivan, and a good one. Take an Odyssey platform, raise it off the ground, add a flat-folding third row of seats and you have a sensible, relatively environmentally responsible eight-seater for the ninnies who are too insecure to be seen in an actual minivan. General Motors attempted the same with its current Buick, Chevy and Saturn minivans, but they forgot one important step: Replacing the sliding doors with the swing-out type. Honda has the formula for success.

Not yet considered:

  • 2006 Kia Sedona
  • 2007 Hyundai Entourage
  • 2007 Nissan Quest
Posted on 4/5/06