There are many benefits to owning a minivan, including the practicality of a family with kids. Minivans are the perfect vehicle to shuttle your active children across town.
They are also useful for road trips because you can load your kids and belongings, and all passengers can ride with comfort. But what about the longer trips through the mountains or rough terrain?
That question leads to an essential question about minivans: do any minivans have 4WD? The current minivan market has not delivered a vehicle that has 4WD capabilities.
But the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica are the closest alternatives. These are the only new minivans that provide an option for AWD (all-wheel drive).
Background on the Toyota Sienna
The Toyota Sienna was brought to the market in 1997, and it succeeded the Previa, which only had rear-wheel drive. Up until 2020, there was no option to add the AWD alongside the active torque control, which you can do to four of the five trim levels.
It is important to note that the fuel economy will get reduced when the AWD is being utilized, and the run-flat tires are not always customers’ favorites.
With the Toyota Sienna, there are AWD functionalities on almost all its trim levels. The only exception to this is the Sienna L base.
The Sienna LE trim provides customers the lowest cost entry for an AWD minivan, starting at $2,540. It is also important to note that these AWD capabilities are only available on the seating for seven passengers on Toyota minivans.
Background on the Chrysler Pacifica
The Chrysler Pacifica, which is getting released in the summer of 2020, offers another viable option for all-wheel drive. The AWD Launch Edition includes an AWD system that automatically goes to work when your traction begins to slip.
When the Pacifica is navigating through extreme conditions, the vehicle can transfer 100% of the powers to the rear wheels.
Not only does the Pacifica have the AWD capabilities, but it also has a storage system called Stow n’ Go. This extra space allows your family to pack the extra valuables and enjoy your trip stress-free.
What is the Difference Between All-Wheel Drive and Four-Wheel Drive?
Because there are no 4WD minivan options and only one AWD option, it is essential to understand the difference between the two concepts.
The all-wheel drive uses a drivetrain that implements a differential from the front, rear, and center to deliver energy to all the wheels on the vehicle.
Four-wheel drive is a drivetrain that only utilizes a transfer and two differentials to provide power to all four wheels.
Advantages of All-Wheel Drive
So, why would you want your minivan to have AWD? There are many advantages to driving your family around in a vehicle with AWD.
The first differentiator between all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive is the acceleration capabilities. If you need to accelerate more safely and efficiently in inclement weather, AWD minivans can provide this benefit.
For a proper acceleration to occur, there needs to be an optimal distribution of weight among all four tires. An all-wheel drive vehicle does this efficiently while the rear only does it with two wheels.
Higher Resale Value
There may come a time when you want to sell your minivan. Another long-term benefit of a minivan with AWD is the added revenue you can receive when you decide to sell it to someone else.
You will undoubtedly reap this benefit if you live in an area with more hazardous weather, such as Colorado or any state that gets ample snow in the winter.
In addition to the reliable traction that AWD minivans provide, they also deliver better overall performance to the final consumer. With an AWD minivan, a more significant portion of the engine’s power can get transferred immediately to the road.
The anterior wheels can also focus more of their energy to sideways traction with steering, and less focus on the driving and going for forwarding traction.
Disadvantages of All-Wheel Drive
We want to make sure that we educate you on both sides of the topic, so here are a few reasons why someone would not choose to invest in an AWD minivan.
Less Than Average Fuel Economy
Because an AWD minivan weighs more than average and places a higher load on the engine, the fuel economy will be less. The average difference is about 1-2 miles per gallon.
While this may not seem like a lot upfront, it can add hundreds of dollars to your final cost each year as time goes on.
More Time Dedicated to Maintenance
AWD vehicles have differentials, which will cause you to go into the mechanic for more oil changes. Even though the fluid for the differentials does not change as frequently as engine oil, it is still another maintenance item you need to keep track of.
With a big family, you do not want another thing to worry about with your vehicle.
Elevated Upfront Cost
Although you could get a higher resale value, you will need to pay a higher cost to get a minivan with an all-wheel drive.
This extra price could be anywhere between $2,300 to $3,500 more than what you would get on a minivan with just rear-wheel drive.
Used Minivans that You Can Get with AWD
Maybe you and your family do not want to invest in a completely new vehicle with all-wheel drive. There are other useful options on the market that you can purchase with AWD, including:
- Buick Terraza (2005-2006)
- Chevrolet Uplander (2005-2006)
- GMC Safari (1990-2005)
- Saturn Relay (2005-2006)
- Chevrolet Astro (1990-2005)
- Dodge Grand Caravan (2001-2004)
- Pontiac Montana (2005-2006)
- Toyota Previa (1991-1997)
Although there are no 4WD minivan options on the market, there are many new and used alternatives that you can buy. The most important thing to remember is to define your budget goals, ask yourself what you want to achieve with your minivan, and do your research.
It is easy for marketers to lure you in with AWD, but you should make sure to understand what you are investing in.