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Want a Small Minivan? Check Out These Alternatives

2017 Dodge Journey

2017 Dodge Journey

The best small minivan for 2017 might not be a minivan at all. Consider instead a select group of compact- and midsize-class crossover SUVs that offer three seating rows, good cargo space, and tidy exterior dimensions. They’re the 2017 Dodge Journey, GMC Acadia, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Nissan Rogue.

With an average overall length of more than 16.5 feet, a traditional minivan such as the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, or Toyota Sienna is not that “mini.” By contrast, the 2017 Acadia is more than 10 inches shorter than most minivans but can accommodate seven passengers in a fair degree of comfort. And while our three-row crossover recommendations give up some passenger and cargo space to traditional minivans, they generally deliver a more car-like driving experience – and sidestep the “soccer-mom” stigma.

One of the smallest entries in the midsize-crossover segment, the Dodge Journey has a basic design that dates to model-year 2009. It got a substantial overhaul for 2011, but hasn’t changed much since and won’t be fully redesigned until model-year 2019. But this is still a solid package. Its budget-friendly base prices begin under $23,000. A four-cylinder or V-6 engine is available, along with a good variety of comfort and convenience features. Of note is the optional rear DVD entertainment system, which checks in at a very reasonable $949.

The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander is the only compact-class crossover available with three rows of seats as well as a V-6 engine. Styling and refinement got needed updates for model-year 2016, making it more competitive in the hottest automotive segment. Prices start around $23,000, but sluggish sales mean dealers should be offering substantial discounts. You’ll need balance that against Mitsubishi’s reputation for subpar customer satisfaction and resale values. Around


A far better choice is the Nissan Rogue. It’s a four-cylinder compact crossover that’s unexciting to drive but rides well and offers some advanced safety and convenience features, including forward-collision alert and the brand’s handy AroundView Monitor surround-vision camera system. There’s ample space for five and prices begin around $24,500. A third-row seat just large enough to accommodate a couple of kids is a $940 option on the base S and volume SV trim levels. It’s not offered on the top-line SL.

Merely an inch longer overall than the Journey, the all-new 2017 GMC Acadia kicks off this SUV’s second generation as a midsize crossover nearly a foot shorter and roughly 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor. This is our most upscale minivan alternative, with a model roster ranging from basic to opulent. Prices start at $29,995 with the four-cylinder engine and $37,090 with the V-6.

If you absolutely want or need a small van about the size of a compact crossover, look to the Ford Transit Connect Wagon and Ram ProMaster City Wagon. These are passenger versions of vehicles designed for fleet and commercial applications. Both use four-cylinder engines and are front-wheel-drive only. The Transit Connect Wagon comes in regular and extended lengths and can seat six or seven, depending on trim level. The ProMaster City Wagon seats five.

The Ford can be fairly lavishly equipped: front- and rear-obstacle detection, a panoramic moonroof, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert, and leather upholstery are available. Prices start around $26,000. The Ram is more utilitarian but is available with a rearview camera, heated front seats, and Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system. It’s priced from around $25,500.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]