Babble Best Picks:
2011 Minivans for the Family
Want to know the difference between all the minivans on the market? Babble asked me take each of them out for a spin to figure out which were best for which families. Most minivans got a thorough refresh this year, and many received better interior materials, more power, and higher fuel economy. After cargo capacity, safety is typically a minivan shopper's main concern. These large family haulers tend to do well on crash safety tests, and we included the results from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety's independent crash test results. To find out what others thought, we added the Consumer Reports score and their Customer Satisfaction rating when available as well.
We hope you find this information helpful in your search for a family crossover. Don't see your favorite vehicle on the list? Nominate it here! - Liane Yvkoff
Best minivan overall | 2011 Honda Odyssey
MSRP: $27,800- $43,250
FUEL ECONOMY: 19/28
A lot of minivans say they drive like a regular car, but the 2011 Honda Odyssey comes the closest to backing up that claim. With 248-hp from its V6 engine and drying dynamics borrowed from the Honda Accord, the Odyssey is actually pretty fun to drive. In fact, until you look in the rear-view mirror, you may even forget that you’re driving a minivan.
Flowing lines, arched windows, and visible sliding door rails make the Honda Odyssey the most aggressively styled minivan on the market. Its unconventional window design may not appeal to some buyers, but the draw of the minivan is inside the vehicle, not out.
The Honda has a lot of mom- and family-friendly features, including a hook in the front passenger footwell that holds a purse, or more likely, a plastic garbage bag. An A/C-cooled compartment in the center stack can keep bottles and snacks chilled on hot days.
SEATING + STORAGE
What sets the Odyssey apart from other minivans are its expandable second-row seats. The three seats can expand farther apart from each other so you can fit three car seats across the second row if needed. And if junior is strapped in the middle seat, parents will love that it slides forward, bringing it closer to the front row.
Like other minivans, the Odyssey offers ample cargo room. But instead of fancy powerfold seats, Honda keeps its simple with straps that fold the third-row seats flat into the floor. However, second row only seats tilt forward.
ENTERTAINMENT + NAVIGATION
The 8″ navigation screen offers some voice-activated capability, including the ability to select songs on an iPod, but it was easier to input and select options using the dial.
Entertainment-wise, the Odyssey went with an ultra-wide split screen on its top-of-the line model rather than two independent screens in the second and third rows. The screen shows side-by-side pictures, which is helpful if you have two little ones who both want to be in the second row but watch different videos or play different games. (It also makes room for a moon roof.)