How to Choose Between a Minivan and an SUV

May 9, 2023 2 min read

As your family grows, it’s only natural to upgrade the household car to something both safer and more spacious. Let’s break down key differences in cost, safety and features in the minivan vs. SUV (sport utility vehicle) debate.

What’s the Difference Between SUVs and Minivans?


Consumers have more options — and more price points — when it comes to SUVs. Compact and crossover SUVs tend to start in the low-$20,000 range. Budget-friendly minivans like the Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey are nearly $40,000. 

Passenger Space

With seven or more seats, minivans are the go-to family car for a reason. Choosing a SUV with a third row of seats will earn you seven or eight seats but sometimes at the cost of cargo space. 

Fuel Efficiency

Minivans are known gas guzzlers, with most in the low-20 miles per gallon range. SUVs, on the other hand, can easily get in the 30s — and there are far more hybrid options available. Good news: Both SUVs and minivans increased their fuel efficiency in model year 2021, according to the EPA.


Minivans are often considered one of the cheaper types of vehicles to insure because of their safety benefits and users’ lower-risk driving habits. However, small SUVs will generally cost less to insure than larger, luxury ones.


There’s no clear winner with the cost of maintenance and repairs. Instead, consider brands you trust and are known to be reliable and low-cost over time. Kelley Blue Book recommends Toyota.

Are Minivans Safer Than SUVs?

Vehicle safety generally comes down to size and weight. The heavier your car is, the more likely you are to continue moving in crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Highway Loss Data Institute. Why does that matter? In an accident, a small car will come to a complete stop and its occupants will keep moving inside, leading to injuries like whiplash. If you’re in a larger car, you have more protection from this force. Bigger vehicles also have a larger “crumple zone.” The extra space between the bumper and passenger area essentially acts as a cushion for passengers in the event of a crash. 

A minivan may be safer than a small SUV for these reasons. IIHS awards vehicles its “Top Safety Pick+” for two factors: how well a car protects occupants in a crash, and its crash avoidance and mitigation technology. (See the 2023 award winners.) However, remember that even a highly rated car requires proper maintenance and careful, cognizant driving.

Minivan vs. SUV Safety Features to Consider

As you’re deciding between a minivan and an SUV as your next family vehicle, safety features should be top of mind. Many of these come standard on new cars, but it’s important to vet the options as you compare different makes and models. Here’s what to look for.

  • Blind spot detection/warning. Take advantage of this audio or visual alert when a car passes you or as you prepare to switch lanes.
  • Adaptive cruise control. This feature turns off cruise control if you’re too close to another vehicle and can adjust your speed based on road conditions.
  • Automatic emergency braking. Sensors in this safety system detect potential collisions and automatically brake. Some cars also have rear automatic emergency braking.
  • Lane-keeping assist. If you veer from your lane, this feature will alert you via sound, noise or vibration — and it may even correct the drift.
  • Intersection turn assistance. This feature keeps you — and anyone crossing the street — safe during left-hand turns.
  • Traffic sign recognition. No worries about missing a sign behind a semi-truck. This camera-powered tool identifies and displays speed limit, pedestrian crossing, stop signs and more.

Certain safety features are required by law. These include airbags, antilock brakes, backup camera, safety belts, tire pressure monitoring system, lower anchors and tethers for children, and traction control.

Protect Your Family on Four Wheels

The last thing you want to do after a day at the dealership is haggle for insurance quotes. Your Farm Bureau agent can help you find the right coverage for you.

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.