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What Is The Best Minivan For Dirt Roads? (Comparing The Top Two)

When compared to what it was in the 80s/90s, the rage for minivans has come down quite a lot these days. But, in reality, when it comes to multi-utility vehicles, many families still choose to purchase a minivan. 

People state different reasons as to why they go for a minivan. 

Some feel that minivans are super practical while some believe that it brings greater value for their money than an SUV. Also, some users appreciate the ease of getting in and out of a minivan, while some like them because they make long trips hassle-free. 

However, when comparing a minivan to an SUV one thing that SUVs always win is that they are good for off road use or even using them on dirt roads. But are there any minivans that are good for use on dirt roads? 

All minivans will typically do just fine on dirt roads but the absolute best minivan would be the Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna. Both of these models have excellent motors and are well built to easily withstand the additional wear and tear that a dirt road brings. 

I will discuss both the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna in more detail next as well as give you my personal favorite minivan for use on dirt roads after discussing both of these exceptional models. 

The Toyota Sienna on dirt roads

The Sienna handles incredibly no matter what type of road you will be using it on. From dry pavement to wet, from asphalt to dirt, the Sienna can handle all of them with ease. 

The main issues for minivans when it comes to dirt roads is springtime! During the spring what used to be a dirt road can easily turn into a muddy mess that seems virtually impassable. 

But this is where the Sienna will really shine when compared to other minivan models. That is because the Sienna offers the option of getting it with AWD. Having all wheel drive on your minivan when trying to get through that mess that dirt roads can become during the January or spring thaw is what helps the Sienna stand out from the crowd. 

There are many other minivans that offer AWD but the Sienna also offers one of the best if not the best motors and manufacturers when it comes to vehicle longevity! 

Sure, you could likely get a Chrysler or Kia minivan cheaper and that is a great choice for many people but when you are going to be driving dirt roads very often you will want something that can handle all of the extra bumps and power that is needed to get through the mess that those roads sometimes turn into. 

The Sienna is an excellent choice for anyone who just needs to get around town but when you live or drive down a dirt road often then it is virtually a must have minivan. 

The Honda Odyssey on dirt roads

All minivans can handle dirt roads with ease. But, if you are looking for the best of them then you certainly need to take a serious look at the Odyssey. 

This minivan has been praised as a fun family minivan by many of its users. It will not be an overstatement to say that elegance meets excellence in this vehicle. The Odyssey has won the Best Buy Minivan from Kelley Blue Book’s In the same way, this car has been selected for the Best Cars For Families by the U.S. News & World Report. 

These honors are fitting for this vehicle as it really is the top of the line when it comes to minivans. However, everything about the Odyssey isn’t all amazing. 

As of now the Honda Odyssey doesn’t offer the option of getting it with AWD so you have to deal with only having front wheel drive. In most situations this wouldn’t be much if a problem as all wheel drive really isn’t needed in normal situations but dirt roads can become not normal situations very quickly when it rains or they start to thaw out. 

Not having the AWD option available on the Odyssey is really what hurts it in regards to dirt road use as otherwise it would be a runaway winner. 

Which minivan is the best for dirt roads?

Whether you prefer the interior or the Sienna or Odyssey or like the design of one of them over the other is really up to your personal preferences. However, in regards to choosing one of these two minivans for the best on dirt roads the answer is pretty clear in my mind. 

The Toyota Sienna is the best minivan currently on the market for use on dirt roads. It is better than the Odyssey simply because it offers AWD which can be a lifesaver when the roads get really mushy in the spring. 

If you don’t have to drive much on a dirt road then going with the Odyssey probably wouldn’t be too bad but having the extra traction that an AWD Sienna offers you could certainly be the difference between getting home or getting stuck when the roads get exceptionally bad. 

How do minivans handle dirt roads?

Many minivans users feel that these vehicles are not that good in handling off-road use but, they are good at handling dirt roads without any difficulty whatsoever. Driving on dirt roads is often a matter of how you handle the vehicle and not how well the vehicle actually handles so if you know how to handle the ups and downs of driving on a dirt road then you shouldn’t have an issue with using your minivan on it. 

Whether you are going for a trip “off grid” or if you simply live in a remote location in the Midwest you will find many of the roads are either corrugated, gravel or just plain dirt roads. 

Many users of minivans from different brands feel that their vehicle handles dirt roads without any issues but if your dirt roads are exceptionally difficult then choosing a Sienna will be your best bet. 

Tips to ensure safe driving on a dirt road

Now, you know about the best minivan that can handle dirt roads with ease, but you should be aware of safety measures to take when you are driving on a dirt road no matter which vehicle you are using. 

Of course, all vehicles are equipped with many systems to assist you with safe driving. However, here are some tips that will help you handle dirt roads a little bit easier. 

  • Do not apply brakes heavily when you are on a dirt road. It will turn out to be a mess if you do so not only with mud getting into everything but also if you fully stop you can easily find yourself stuck.
  • Not just with brakes, you should also be careful about steering as well. Aggressive steering will not be a good idea as you can easily over correct and find yourself off the road entirely.
  • Just in case you lose traction, you should try to use very gentle steering. Your objective should be to gently drive around any objects.
  • When you brake and swerve at the same time, it will create a great mess. So, do not do them together.
  • Do not closely follow a vehicle that goes before your minivan. When you do this, your vehicle will become invisible to the vehicle coming in the opposite side due to excessive dust or mud (depending on the time of year). If the road is muddy that can easily get thrown on your windshield and make it difficult or impossible to see.
  • Some roads might be heavily corrugated. These wavy roads can affect your steering and braking system greatly. To avoid this from happening, it is better to drive at a much slower speed.
  • Make sure that your headlights are on at all times. Only then, the approaching vehicles can see your minivan.


If you drive regularly on dirt roads you should also make sure that you properly maintain your minivan. The tiny dust and dirt in the internal systems of your vehicle can affect its performance quite a bit so make sure you constantly clean the filters on your minivan. 

Regular servicing will safeguard your vehicle from these fine dust particles and keep it running like new for many years to come.