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Most Comfortable Vans

Jim Sharifi
February 23, 2012
Most Comfortable Vans
Most Comfortable Vans

If you’re shopping for a van, passenger space and cargo capacity are probably high priorities. And while minivans tend to offer more comfortable accommodations than crossovers and SUVs with similar seating arrangements, that doesn’t mean all vans are created equal. In this guide, we highlight what you should look for to find a comfortable van.

Passenger Comfort

First, decide how many seats you need. The Mazda5 is a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) that seats six, but larger minivans, like the Toyota Sienna, seat up to eight. If you need more passenger space, the only other vans with more seats are passenger vans like the Ford E-Series. The E-Series isn’t exactly comfortable, but it’s one of the few vans around that seat up to 15. When you have that many people to carry, just being able to fit them all in one vehicle may be all you need.

Often, the third row of many minivans and third and fourth rows of passenger vans are likely to be less spacious than the first and second rows. Research interior space on the vans you’re considering and compare the leg, head, shoulder and hip room available on different models. That way, you can narrow down the most comfortable vans before you go to the dealership. The Chrysler Town & Country, for example, has one of the roomiest third rows among minivans, with a back seat that’s plenty spacious for adults.

You should also consider how easy it is to access the back seat in any van you’re looking at. Kids don’t usually have a problem climbing between rows of seats, but larger teens or adults may have some issues squeezing into the back seat, even if they have plenty of legroom once they’re back there. Some vans have optional captain’s chairs that make it easier for passengers to access the third row of seats.

Driver Comfort

Though passenger comfort is important, driver comfort is equally important. When test driving vans, make sure the driver’s seat is a good fit for you, too. Is there enough head- and legroom? Is the van easy for you to enter and exit? If you’ll be securing young children in car seats, and they can’t buckle themselves in yet, make sure the rear rows are easy for you to access.

Driving with more passengers means there are potentially more distractions than there would be if you were driving solo. Look for integrated features in each van that will minimize distractions and make trips easier. Features such as steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a conversation mirror, Bluetooth connectivity, a backup camera and parking sensors can make it easier to keep your eyes on the road and everyone safe.

Interior Space

Shoppers who frequently carry a lot of stuff but need to keep their passengers comfortable and happy should take a close look at each van’s cargo capacity, so that passengers won’t end up squeezing in next to their suitcases. If packing for a family road trip is important, you’ll likely be pleased with the cargo space available in most vans, which is frequently in excess of 30 cubic feet with all seats in use. However, stowing the rear seats provides even more cargo space, and some vans even offer second-row seats that either fold or come out, allowing you to maximize the cavernous interior that is a trademark of minivans and passenger vans.

The Toyota Sienna provides impressive cargo capacity, with 39.1 cubic feet of space with all seats in use and a maximum cargo capacity of 150 cubic feet. For even more space, the 15-passenger Chevrolet Express offers up to 252.9 cubic feet of cargo space in extended-wheelbase models.

Not only is interior cargo capacity important when buying a comfortable and spacious van, but small-items storage areas, like glove boxes and consoles, can make everyone’s day easier as well. Minivans are among the more comfortable passenger vehicles, and most have interior storage that’s geared toward keeping you and your passengers happy.

As you look at different models, compare the number of interior storage cubbies and cup holders to make sure that you and your passengers will have room to stash everyone’s gear. Integrated features can make the long haul much more comfortable. The Honda Odyssey, for example, is available with a multi-function middle seat in the second row that can fold flat to provide cup holders and a tray for small items. Keep in mind that passenger vans will have very few family-oriented cargo solutions, since they’re more utilitarian than MPVs or minivans.

Van Types and Specs


Mazda Mazda5

Dodge Grand Caravan

Toyota Sienna

Honda Odyssey

Chevrolet Express Passenger Van







Type of Van












Cargo Capacity

(cubic feet behind 1st/2nd/3rd rows)






*Information unavailable