Do You Need An All-Wheel Drive Minivan? (Is It Better?)


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Are you looking for the ingredients of a family-friendly vehicle? Then, you can definitely  choose a minivan with your eyes closed. Yes, bringing together a roomy cargo area and a flexible seating capacity is great for many families. 

There are many different features that minivans have and some of the newer ones offer AWD (all wheel drive) but is that something that you actually need on a minivan? 

Unless you are going off-roading or live in a place where the roads aren’t plowed often when it snows you likely won’t need AWD. It can be nice to have all wheel drive for peace of mind but as long as you aren’t driving through snow or mud that is more than 12 inches deep you won’t need to have it. 

My minivan only has front wheel drive and I’ve gone through 6-8 inches of unplowed snow without getting stuck however you do have to drive a bit differently on hills, when stopping, etc. If you don’t want to have to worry about that and live in a location that gets a lot of snow then having all wheel drive on your minivan is a great feature to have. 

Benefits of an AWD Minivan

As the name implies, an AWD minivan is a system in which all four wheels operate at the same time. This feature will help with improving traction and handling in poor weather conditions such as ice, snow, and even rain. To decide whether you need an AWD Minivan, considering how much it will help is important.

Traction

Traction is undoubtedly the biggest benefit with all-wheel drive minivans. As all four wheels can propel the vehicle forward, you can continue to drive the vehicle even if a single or a couple of wheels start to lose traction. This might happen when you drive on slippery surfaces like mud, snow and ice. 

Some models only direct power to the rear wheels when the front wheels start slipping while others send power to all 4 wheels all of the time. Even in this type of part-time application, having AWD would still be beneficial. 

The reason is that it will provide additional traction when it is actually needed.

Performance

When you take the case of sports cars, they take advantage of the additional traction provided by all wheel drive even when driven on dry surfaces. In turn, it becomes possible to achieve quicker acceleration times. 

In these instances, an AWD vehicle can be of great help as the power of the engine quickly gets transferred onto the road. Also, steering typically improves in AWDs as the front wheels can be dedicated more for steering as compared to pulling the rest of the vehicle’s weight.

Distribution of weight

When you take the case of AWDs, there will normally be better weight distribution. As extra components are required for transferring power to the rear wheels, more of the heaviness of the vehicle is located towards the rear. In turn, the engine’s weight will be far more balanced than in a typical minivan. 

This makes front-wheel drive vehicles heftier in the front. When it comes to AWDs, better distribution of weight helps with more consistent handling of the vehicle. The weight distribution will happen across its frame as opposed to mostly being in the front part of the vehicle.

Why choose a minivan?

Many drivers are not ready to do without the extra traction provided by an AWD when foul weather gets into play. Indeed, minivans bring other benefits too on top of the newest ones offering AWD. 

Yes, you have guessed it right! They are proven to be great cargo and people haulers. When compared to many other SUVs, they have less ground clearance which means that getting in and out will be easier when you drive with elderly passengers. 

Above all, when you load heavy cargo in your minivan, it will not tax your back because typically you are setting something down into the van rather Than you to the bed of a truck. 

You cannot expect this from an SUV. 

Even though minivans and particularly all-wheel-drive minivans are beneficial in many ways, there are still a lot of vehicles that you can choose from when buying something for your family. 

I covered the importance of all wheel drive up above but there are many benefits to having a minivan that simply don’t apply to other vehicles. There are many reasons why investing in a minivan will be beneficial. 

However, let us delve into the five top reasons why a minivan can be the best choice for you.

Practical features

All minivans presently available on the market come with regular safety and driver-assist features. Examples include frontal collision warning, lane assist and adaptive cruise control. Nevertheless, some of them even offer some additional practical features like pop-up ottoman seats and vacuums to clean away the dust and dirt from your trips easily. 

When compared to regular SUVs, minivans offer many better practicality features making them the best choice if you are looking for a family vehicle.

Easy parking

Nowadays, most minivans come with a wide-angle backup camera. Drivers can even get a 360-degree view with four cameras in some minivans. Further, the parallel and perpendicular park assistant system offered on some models makes parking hassle-free. 

While  the vehicle takes care of the steering, you will just have to worry about the pedals when you park these vehicles.

Fuel Economy

Of course, you might feel that you cannot expect good fuel economy from minivans. In reality, they do offer similar or even better mileage when compared to regular SUVs. For instance, some minivans are rated 19 in City and 26 when highway driving. When you consider the practicality offered by a minivan particularly with the same or better fuel efficiency, undoubtedly, a minivan will be your better choice.

Utilitarian features

You can get an all-wheel-drive option but only in some minivans. When the minivan turns out to be an AWD van, that will ensure a better road grip. When it comes to towing, these vans also tend to pull up to 3000 to 3600 lbs, which is similar to the weight of a large trailer. 

So, taking heavy stuff along with your minivan will be pretty easy and you can use your minivan for a lot of different functions as well. 

When my family and I were moving across the country we had two vehicles, a car and minivan. We put the seats flat into the floor of the minivan and completely filled the back with boxes full of everything that we would need before the moving truck arrived a week and a half later! 

Minivans are incredibly versatile in how you can use them! 

Sliding Rear Doors

Many SUV shoppers overlook this benefit of a minivan. But, the reality is that a vehicle with a sliding door can be of great help in many instances. For instance, when it comes to loading cargo and traveling with babies, this would be of great help. What if the vehicle has been parked on a hill or a driveway? Even in this case, minivans will help. The reason is that most minivans these days come with power sliding doors that open and close just with the touch of a button.

I have a 9 year old and a five year old and I hate to think how many cars they would have slammed the doors into if we didn’t have sliders on our minivan! Plus they just have to push a button and can let themselves out of the van (power sliders) or lightly pull the handle and it opens for them. 

Seriously power sliding rear doors on a minivan are a must have feature if you have a family! 

So, for these reasons, investing in a minivan will be a great option for you. But, how about an all-wheel-drive minivan? When a regular minivan can bring a lot of benefits, there is no need to say about an AWD Minivan. Investing in this type of minivan will bring you many benefits obviously.

Conclusion

If you frequently drive off-road or live in a place that sees a lot of snowfall every year then choosing an all wheel drive minivan will probably be incredibly helpful. The fuel efficiency dropping is one of the biggest disadvantages of AWDs minivans but for most people the benefits outweigh any negatives that AWD has. 

Most people don’t NEED to have an all wheel drive minivan but it certainly is a nice luxury to have in many places! 

Matthew Robbs

I have been working on cars since I was a kid and I love taking a vehicle that isn't working and bringing it back to life. I have owned quite a few cars over the years and looking for information about different vehicles is still hard online so that is why I started this website.

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