CARS.COM — Minivans have an image problem. It’s a shame, because they may be the ultimate utility vehicles. I recently mused that they might be better than pickup trucks, at least for family use. (Let’s not pretend that the growth in truck sales — and cab size — is solely about contractors and other working/hauling/towing folks.)
To put my theory to the test, below I compare several aspects of a minivan and a full-size half-ton truck. I keep it honest by addressing the wide range of truck types, but as specific examples, I’m putting our Best of 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan up against a popular consumer choice: a crew cab with a short wheelbase and short box, which comes close to a minivan’s size, usability and price, especially when equipped with a base V-6. To eliminate any considerations that would creep in between competing manufacturers, our pickup is from Ram, a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles division.
Though higher trim levels appear in the accompanying photos, you can get a (rather stripped) 2017 Ram 1500 Tradesman 4×2 for $34,390, not far from the base 2017 Pacifica $30,090 LX (prices include destination charges). Line up their specifications side by side here; you might be surprised to see how close these vehicles are.
Even with a crew cab — the largest type and the one most likely to appeal to consumers — pickup trucks max out at six occupants when equipped with a front bench seat, if available. A total of five is more common with front buckets. Minivans seat seven or eight passengers, depending on whether they have captain’s chairs or a bench as a second row, so the van is obviously the better vehicle choice for large families.