SUV vs Minivan: Which Is the Better Family Car?
SUV vs Minivan: Which Is the Better Family Car?

SUV vs Minivan: Which Is the Better Family Car?

April 6, 2024

September 28th, 2022

Buying a vehicle for your family can be a real challenge for used car shoppers. Why? Because there is a lot to consider. Family vehicles have to do a lot of different things and fill multiple roles, which can make it quite difficult to pin down the best choice. If you’re living in Michigan and you’re looking for the right used vehicle for your family, you’re probably going to have your choices narrowed down to an SUV or a minivan, especially if there are four or more of you. But how do you decide what to go with when you’re browsing our inventory here at Paradise Motors, your used car dealership in Lansing, MI?


Do you opt for a minivan that values passenger volume and cargo space over utility and performance? Or do you opt for an SUV that gives you better fuel economy and functionality for more than just basic daily driving? Well, that’s what we’ll break down here in this article, giving you a clearer view of which vehicle to go with based on a number of factors that relate to your family, travel habits, and budget. Let’s get started.

How Big Is Your Family?

Whether you need a minivan or SUV depends on how big your family is. If you’re a small family––just you, your spouse, and maybe a newborn––then you don’t need something big. In this case, you might be better off going with a compact SUV. You may have looked at subcompact SUVs, but while they are more affordable, they don’t give you much room for a growing family. For a very small family, a compact SUV is perfect.


However, you may have outgrown a compact SUV if you have multiple kids. When you need to pack numerous backpacks, books, and other belongings into the vehicle, as well as any other travel goods, a compact SUV will end up seeming very small. At this point, you would need a midsize or full-size SUV, and you may want to opt for a minivan instead. A minivan works great for medium and large families, as it gives you the space you need without being too unwieldy on the road. It’s perfect for growing families, too, with enough cargo space for all your needs.


If you have a large family, you will need to go with a full-size SUV or a minivan. Full-size SUVs with three rows of seats offer nearly as much space as a minivan but provide a lot more utility and bad weather performance. However, at that point, you will have to consider your budget a lot more seriously when weighing a full-size SUV against a minivan.

What Is Your Budget?

Your budget will determine what works best for your family. If you have a small family and you’re working on a tight budget, then compact SUVs will be a good way to go. They’re typically more cost-effective than minivans. Subcompact SUVs are even more affordable, but they are barely larger than a small sedan and just aren’t very practical for traveling with a growing family.


If you can afford a midsize SUV, you can usually afford a minivan. A minivan is going to give you more room and cargo capacity than any SUV while being in the same price range as a midsize SUV. So a minivan would probably work best if you are trying to be budget-conscious and need something future-proof for a growing family. If you have the budget for something larger and need something that can fit a large family, then a full-size SUV may be the way to go.


Much like with the size of your family, the size of your budget should determine what you should be shopping for when you visit Paradise Motors to look for a quality used car. You can basically say that a small family on a small budget should look at a compact or midsize SUV. A medium family with a small budget should opt for a midsize SUV or a minivan. A large family with a large budget should target a minivan or a full-size SUV.


Do You Need a Vehicle for Multiple Purposes?

It might seem like an obvious question, but when shopping for a minivan or SUV from a used car dealership, you will need to iron out what you’re going to be using the vehicle for. Will it be a daily driver? Will it be used for travel and recreation? Will it be used for work as well? Not every kind of vehicle is perfect for every role.


For instance, an SUV that’s great for off-road traversal and towing may not be the most comfortable, efficient, or reliable for day-to-day highway or urban driving. Conversely, if you need something for your family that seats plenty of passengers and has a fuel-efficient powertrain, it may not be the most reliable for off-road traversal or recreation. This is important to iron out when deciding on whether an SUV or minivan is better suited for your family.

How Often Do You Vacation?

Budget and family size are important factors for deciding whether an SUV or minivan is good for your family, but things like vacations, trips, and off-road recreation are also important. How often do you go camping? Fishing? Boating? Cross-country traveling? Your vacationing habits will determine whether a minivan or SUV is better suited for your family.


If you’re not in a position to take a lot of road trips right now, and you need a quality used vehicle to get back and forth to your work and school, then you’re going to want something basic. If you aren’t doing a lot of camping or engaging in recreational off-roading, then you don’t need four-wheel drive or reinforced suspension. In that regard, a minivan would work perfectly for you and your family.


However, if you do a lot of outdoor recreation with the family, or take a lot of road trips, then having a vehicle that can handle that kind of punishment is important. Proper wheels, suspension, and drivetrain configurations are essential, whether all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. For that kind of on-road or off-road abuse, then an SUV would likely be the better solution for a family vehicle.

How Much Do You Drive?

If you regularly have to head to the highway to travel around Lansing, across Michigan, or even make long journeys to other states, fuel economy will play a big part in your decision. Most minivans don’t have the best fuel economies out there, but a few can net you some decent gas mileage, especially if you opt for a hybrid minivan.


Subcompact and compact SUVs will provide some of the best fuel economies on the market, but then you have to factor in family size once more. If you have a small family, a small budget, and want the best fuel economy, then a compact SUV works well enough. Things get a little trickier if your family is larger and you need something with more room than a compact SUV but still want good fuel economy. Some minivans provide both the passenger and cargo volume you need and the fuel economy you want.


Midsize SUVs will net you similar fuel economy ratings as a minivan. At that point, you will have to decide whether the utility of a midsize SUV is worth sacrificing the space you get from a minivan. Full-size SUVs will typically have worse gas mileage than a minivan, so you have to question if the multipurpose design of a larger SUV is worth the compromise when it comes to fuel economy. It all boils down to how much space you need, what your budget is, and what sort of distances you’ll be traveling day in and day out.

Which Should You Choose?

Whichever vehicle you choose, make sure it fits your budget, your family, and your lifestyle. Given today’s wide range of different SUVs and minivans, it’s not hard to find a used vehicle that meets your budget and your family’s needs. Everything we’ve covered here is important to keep in mind when shopping for a minivan or an SUV. If you still have any questions, just ask the staff here at Paradise Motors. We are always happy to put Lansing families behind the wheel of a used SUV or minivan that works for them!


Recent Posts

We are Lansing’s Original Guaranteed Credit Approval! In business since 1984 with over 20,000 cars and trucks sold.
Skip to content