7 Reasons Families May Not Need to Buy a Minivan

Downsides to Consider Before Purchasing a Minivan

A picture of a family riding in a minivan
When it comes to buying a minivan, there are many downsides to consider. PhotoAlto / Ale Ventura / Getty Images

Will you love owning a minivan or will you hate it? There are many great reasons to own a minivan but there are also cons of minivan ownership that you need to consider too. Families should consider the top 7 cons before buying a minivan.

Minivans are Typically More Expensive Than Cars

You often hear that a minivan is easier on the family budget. That's true if you're torn between buying a minivan and an SUV.

But if you compare a minivan to a sedan, there's a significant difference in price of ownership costs. AAA reports that a small sedan only costs 46.4 cents per mile to maintain and insure each year or $6,957. A medium sedan costs 58.9 cents per mile annually or $8,839. Compare those numbers to a minivan, which costs 65 cents per mile or $9,753 per year. The difference between owning a minivan and a small sedan is $2,796 annually, which adds up over time.

Can't Reach Your Kids Easily

When your kids are in a minivan, they may seem like they're a mile away from you. This can be a perk if they're having a tantrum since they won't be screaming right into your ear.

But if your kids have been sitting in the second row of your car or SUV, you've been able to help them when they need something. In a minivan, you can't do this so easily. Your kids will have to tough it out or you'll have to pull over. The convenience of reaching behind you to pick up that dropped sippy cup or handing snacks to the backseat is gone. They will feel especially far away when your younger children are still in rear-facing car seats.

You Won't Feel Cool

Despite the advances over the past 30 years to make minivans look modern, they still aren't as cool as driving a $50,000 sports car. You won't feel like a 16 year old driving a convertible when you get behind the wheel of a minivan. This is your mom car and there will be no denying it.

That non-cool stigma will probably be attached to minivans forever. If your ego can get past that, a minivan can be a great vehicle for your family.

All-Wheel Drive Selections are Limited

Not having all-wheel drive generally isn't an issue if you live in Florida. If you live in New York, though, you may be stuck at home without all-wheel drive to get you through the snow.

As of this writing, only the Toyota Sienna minivan has an all-wheel drive option. If you like the Toyota Sienna and want all-wheel drive, great! If you don't and you need all-wheel drive, there aren't currently any other minivan choices for you to consider.

It's Not a Car

If you've driven a small car most of your life, sitting behind the wheel of a minivan may make you feel like you're driving an 18-wheeler. It will take time to get used to, more time than you'll have on a test drive.

Plus, if you're used to a small car, then you'll instantly notice a minivan is not a car. Loving or hating going from a car to minivan is a personal preference that, unfortunately, many people don't know the answer to until they're minivan owners. Sure, you can pack more stuff into a minivan and the kids will have more room to spread out but you have to weigh those advantages versus how you'll like the handling of a minivan.

Not Necessarily Necessary

There are many reasons why a minivan is not necessarily necessary for your family. If you only have one or two children, you don't have to buy a minivan. A smaller vehicle may be the better choice for you.

If you don't travel a lot, you may not need to get a minivan that has lots of room for kids to spread out and storage space for your luggage. If your kids are approaching driving age and you plan to give them their own cars, then you'll soon find you're only shuttling the younger ones around town so a car may make more sense.

It's Yours 24/7

While you don't have to be buckled into that minivan forever, buying a minivan will mean it's going to be yours for a very long time. If a list of cons is too long for you to get excited about buying a minivan, think of how you use any vehicle in your day-to-day life, especially if you're a one-car family.

One of the biggest arguments people make about needing to get a minivan is that it's great for family road trips. If that's the only reason you can think of buying a minivan, then consider this: minivans are popular at rental car agencies for this very reason. For that major road trip, you can plan your family's travel budget to include renting a minivan at a weekly rate. That way, you're not bound to owning a minivan for the other 50-51 weeks of the year that your family isn't on the road traveling.