Ever Wonder If a Pickup Is Better Than a Minivan?

Pacifica v Ram 1500 2

Neither have we, but we thought experiment probably had some value for those new- and used-vehicle buyers (especially those first-time pickup truck buyers) who have never considered the choice before. Our colleagues at Cars.com decided to put two top-quality 2017 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles products on the block, the Chrysler Pacifica and Ram 1500, to see how they compare in some of the most popular new-vehicle purchasing categories. You might be surprised at how close it was.

In the end, as you might have guessed, our Cars.com writer reluctantly gave the win to the pickup truck (unless, of course, you have to have seating for seven), pointing out the huge benefits of the cargo box, power and towing capacity.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

 

Pacifica vs Ram 1500 1

 

Comments

I bet the minivan has a higher payload capacity than the Ram...

Must be slow week for Pickup truck news if this is what we get....

That Pacifica is a nice unit.

I could put all my hunting gear and a deer in either of them..Hey, where is the Taco vs ZR2 article?

@Dave: good call!

Great post, Cars.com. In addition, to driving a minivan or car, you can waste less energy by simply turning your thermostat down to 65 degrees in the day and down to 55 degrees at night.

Put on a sweater to keep warm.

The energy shortage is real and we must learn to live more thriftily, use less gas, and drive smaller trucks like the Honda Ridgeline.

95% of pickuptruck owners can get by without a pickup truck and should be driving a car instead.

There are some very good lease deals on compact cars that everyone should check out.

We are in an energy crisis.

Jimmy Carter would be proud of cars.com.

We are in an energy crisis.

@Jeff S,
Well said.

It's easily understandable how and why the purchasing of higher end pickups are doing well.

Most pickups are bought as a family hack (75%). These pickups will never work and maybe tow a tiny trailer. The only "more" Spartan pickups are generally sold to business and farmers/construction trades, etc.

If someone can only afford $30 000 for a family vehicle there are plenty of options that they can afford that offer better comfort other than a pickup. These vehicle will fulfill 95% of what they want a vehicle for.

This article from cars.com again highlights that the pickup is becoming the US's middle class show wagon and not the work horse of yore.

Is this good or bad? Well it is keeping the Big 3 afloat. Whilst this is the case the "poulet impot" will remain so the Big 3 can rake in the cash from the consumer.

By all means, buy a minivan. You'll love it.

I like pickups, which I was I've owned them exclusively for the last 27 years. Do I actually need one? No. But I can afford it. It did come in handy last year when I moved, as it carried everything except the furniture.

Would I consider a minivan, mid-to-large SUV, or a large crossover? If they offered what I want. If there was a Ford Explorer or Dodge Durango with a good diesel, I'd be all over it. An AWD Pacifica diesel? I'd consider it. A nicely equipped Tahoe/Yukon with a diesel? Sure. But note the consistent requirements - AWD/4WD and a diesel. Right now, that means a heavy-duty pickup (while the Ram 1500/Jeep Grand Cher diesel is on hold pending a settlement with the government).

Truck for sure unless you want to look like a soccer mom :-). Besides that, women look better (& sexier) driving a truck...

"You might be surprised at how close it was."

I'm not. The writer is a car guy who is very biased. He says the hauling ability is the same yet only reviews a nice clean sheet of flat insulation to make his case. What if you had a stack of lumber, last thing you need is that inside your cab with no separate between you and the lumber. What about big and bulky items that cannot fit through the door? Messy objects such as junk or mulch? Good luck hauling that in a minvan. Or rocks like everyone is using in their pickup truck bed commercials. The SUV cannot haul like a truck. And you can get a long bed and a tonneau cover or cap if that's what you need. I could go on with his other arguments but it is not worth the time.

Great post, Cars.com. In addition, to driving a minivan or car, you can waste less energy by simply turning your thermostat down to 65 degrees in the day and down to 55 degrees at night.
Put on a sweater to keep warm.
The energy shortage is real and we must learn to live more thriftily, use less gas, and drive smaller trucks like the Honda Ridgeline.
95% of pickuptruck owners can get by without a pickup truck and should be driving a car instead.
There are some very good lease deals on compact cars that everyone should check out.
We are in an energy crisis.
Jimmy Carter would be proud of cars.com.

We are in an energy crisis.
Posted by: Jeff S | Jul 24
/QUOTE
Not sure what planet you live on but in my neck of the woods we have plenty energy..besides Honda Ridgeline couldnt haul anywhere near what my half ton does,,
Did you know that sun provides earth with enough energy in one hour as all world uses in a year,,start harvesting that..
get solar panels and deep cycle bateries to store electricity and drive EV,,

PUTC: "Ever Wonder if a Pickup Is Better Than a Minivan?"

ANS: Nope. Never had any doubts in the slightest.

=====================

Minivan's can do a lot, they have more room inside then any SUV.
The Pacifica has 197 cubic feet of interior volume v.s the Chevrolet Suburban's 178 feet. Unless you tow or offroad the minivan is the better buy. That said I personally like a pickup and probably will always drive one.

What if there was a pickup, that had minivan underpinnings? Perhaps if they had pitted an odyssey again or even a Pilot against a Ridgeline.

Which is more versatile? That's the question. Most families cannot afford to own a bunch of specialty vehicles.

Would it be cool to be Jay Leno? Sure.

Can I afford to buy a big air conditioned barn and fill it with ever car or truck that strikes my fancy? No!

So, for most of us we need a versatile vehicle. For me and my family that's a half ton pickup, and one of the larger midsize Suv's.

My daughters have small kids and the minivan works for them.

Using less energy is good, controlling people with liberal agendas is bad. I will keep driving my monstrously oversized SUV hauling a pile of kids because it was a purpose driven decision.

Most pickups are used as mini vans anyway so why not make a front wheel drive pickup? Would be cheap to build and still take the kids to soccer practice.

Using a SUV with hi and lo range would of made for a more realistic comparison.

Using a work van, ie Transit style van against a working pickup would of been more apt.

These church going people movers are not a good comparo.

Besides that, women look better (& sexier) driving a truck...

Posted by: Lionel | Jul 24, 2017 4:18:03 PM

...Especially in a Chevy truck.

Buy a Tundra SR Double Cab with an 8 foot bed and you have the best of both worlds.

Ever Wonder if a Pickup Is Better Than a Minivan?

Yes and to be honest I often think a Minivan would be better than a GM truck.

For most thins most of the time in real life for most people the minivan is a far better choice financially, economically, and bringing the right amount of needed and actually utilized capabilities. They fall flat on their asses in subjective, ancillary catagories like "cool" and "looks", and in the rarely used "off road" category and the very real for a full size truck towing issue. But nothing does everything that matters on a daily basis for more people more efficiently than a minivan. For a more comparable test they really should have compared a minivan to a pretend little truck. They would have found that minivans can often carry 4X8 sheets of plywood laying flat... a task that any "truck" should be ashamed to not be able to do.

"Sure. But note the consistent requirements - AWD/4WD and a diesel. Right now, that means a heavy-duty pickup (while the Ram 1500/Jeep Grand Cher diesel is on hold pending a settlement with the government)."---- Posted by: RoadTrip | Jul 24, 2017 4:06:21 PM

Diesel is over-rated. The only time any more that you might need diesel is if you intend to frequently and regularly haul or tow near the vehicle's load limit, where the torque offers a real advantage. the so-called 'eco-diesel' and other diesel options today are little better than the gassers and when you consider the costs of ownership there is no real economic benefit. Again, unless you need its high torque it's not worth owning any more.

AWD or at least some form of 4x drivetrain is of strong benefit for keeping control of the vehicle in otherwise treacherous conditions. I've driven RWD, FWD, 4X4 and now AWD and have done well with them all--experience pays off when you know how the vehicle's going to react--but with 4x4 and AWD the vehicle tends to track straighter under most conditions, making control easier.

And despite argument, 4x4 and AWD can help you with stopping as it ensures wheels at front and back are rolling at the same speed, at least under engine braking. That doesn't mean you can safely run faster but rather that you can brake more smoothly and under better control while driving the road conditions. Some form of full-time AWD (or at least a selectable form of it) can make driving on snow and ice, mud and certain flooded road conditions safer.

"Most pickups are used as mini vans anyway so why not make a front wheel drive pickup? Would be cheap to build and still take the kids to soccer practice."---- Posted by: uglyfords | Jul 24, 2017 7:45:48 PM

We've had them before and they got literally worked to death.

"Using less energy is good, .... I will keep driving my monstrously oversized SUV hauling a pile of kids because it was a purpose driven decision."---- Posted by: Firefighter | Jul 24, 2017 7:41:34 PM

I have no problem with a "purpose driven decision." It's the people who drive them strictly for status with whom I have my complaints. More than half the people currently driving pickup trucks simply don't need them and of those driving full-size, many could do just as well with a mid-size. Meanwhile, those who WANT a compact have to settle for a non-truck because everything else is too large.

Well said, Chris.

I sure can't imagine transporting an engine in a minivan.

Stuff that is dirty, or, a gas tank, I dont want that in a van.

They also forgot that a van will bottom out on the typical rough road.

@RoadWhale, one of the factors that doesn't hurt me is fuel cost. Diesel is very close to regular unleaded where I live. If I can get >25% better mileage for only a couple of cents more per gallon than regular unleaded, it's worth it for me. I recognize that doesn't work for everyone or everywhere... but that's something I can take advantage of. Nearby station sells regular for $2.379 and diesel for $2.419. Negligible per-gallon difference when compared to the fuel economy savings.

For the above commenter:

There IS a pickup with front wheel drive. It is called a Ridgeline . You can order it in just a FWD configuration.

Heck, this website has its very next article on it.

The ideal would be a minivan body on a one ton frame. And the floor would be a steel gate that could fold up to become a water tight gate between the passengers and the back and be adjustable to have more or less passengers/cargo. Then the seats would folded under the steel gate/floor just like in a pacifica. But that would be a bit expensive and complicated.
But keep the body low enough for covered parking garages.

The article is more of a silly thought-experiment than a comparison. For example, when talking about passenger space there is recitation of number of seats and inches of head or leg room. At some point, for this to be meaningful, you need to ask the same six people to climb into both vehicles and drive for an hour. You might find that all those extra rows of seats in your minivan or SUV are designed for midgets, or that that back seat in your pickup is better suited for your dog than your human friends.

But they lost me at this:
Off-Road and Snow/Ice -- "Let's not belabor this one. Even a rear-wheel-drive pickup has this contest in the bag."

No. Just no. A front wheel drive minivan wearing appropriate tires is fantastically capable in real-world icy, slushy winter driving. A two-wheel drive pickup, even with Blizzaks, is a white-knuckle terror, and all the ground clearance in the world won't overcome its traction deficit in deep snow.

Every try carrying 4x8 sheets of plywood UNDER COVER to a job site in one of those "built tough" monstrous pickups? Piece of cake with a minivan.

I have no problem with a "purpose driven decision." It's the people who drive them strictly for status with whom I have my complaints. More than half the people currently driving pickup trucks simply don't need them and of those driving full-size, many could do just as well with a mid-size. Posted by: RoadWhale™ | Jul 25, 2017

@Roadwhale

This comment of yours reveals the darker parts of your consciousness.

You have a deep seated inner sense of superiority that just reeks of contempt for others. It is apparent in almost all of your humor-less complaints.

Good luck.

I would say for a lot of families a mini-van might be a better choice. If you really want a mini-van that is very reasonable in price you can still get a new Dodge Caravan which FCA will offer for a few more years. You can get a new decently optioned Caravan for the low 20's. The Pacifica is a nice van but more money. For some families both a mini-van and a crew cab pickup would be ideal choices.

@Roadwhale--There are many who will buy a certain type of vehicle for prestige--always have been and always will be. This is not just true for those who buy loaded down crew cab pickups but for those who buy BMWs, Mercedes, Porches, Land Rangers, and a host of other prestige brands. Even the Suburban buyers but at least Silverado and Suburban have a lot more functionality than a BMW. I myself have more biased against the German snobbery than anyone driving a cowboy Cadillac. I can at least see the practicality and function in a truck versus a BMW that barely has room for a bag of golf clubs.

TRX,
Like the US all pickups/utes always have spare engines in the back.

Especially Fords.

"@RoadWhale, one of the factors that doesn't hurt me is fuel cost. Diesel is very close to regular unleaded where I live. If I can get >25% better mileage for only a couple of cents more per gallon than regular unleaded, it's worth it for me. I recognize that doesn't work for everyone or everywhere... but that's something I can take advantage of. Nearby station sells regular for $2.379 and diesel for $2.419. Negligible per-gallon difference when compared to the fuel economy savings." ---- Posted by: RoadTrip | Jul 25, 2017 11:28:27 AM

Lucky. Diesel where I live is close to the price of premium and over 30¢ more expensive than regular, meaning there's very little effective savings with fuel economy while any maintenance is going to be more expensive, not less. From what I've seen, diesels have become a fad and a close-by neighbor who recently bought a turbo-diesel has already caused himself problems by trying to drive it like his previous gasser Jeep... while I don't know the specifics, it sounds like he's already damaged the turbo by overheating it and not letting it cool down properly... He's only had the truck one month. Yes, and he thinks he's a hot-shot mechanic; does a lot of engine work on ATVs that he and his friends run around with on weekends.

Again, if you have a real reason for one, I don't fault you. I don't have any reason for a full-sized or even near-full-sized truck; I only need something with a large enough bed to carry 500# or so of bagged mulch, dirt and scrap for the recycler on occasion. I want the ability to carry things that simply won't fit or will be too aromatic to carry in an enclosed vehicle while offering enough inside storage for indoor sports equipment, tools and cargo management gear. At most, any seating behind the front seats would be temporary so having a full-time bench, even if it folds up, is a waste of space. About the only way I'd accept it is if they designed in a way to make it lie as flat to the rear wall as the seat back itself, and folding UP won't do that.

"This comment of yours reveals the darker parts of your consciousness. You have a deep seated inner sense of superiority that just reeks of contempt for others. It is apparent in almost all of your humor-less complaints.
Good luck." ---- Posted by: papajim | Jul 25, 2017 2:59:21 PM

My contempt is for poseurs; people who feel they have to spend too much money for something they don't need. I've been accused of being such a person myself because of some of the vehicles I've owned and the computer gear I use... by of all people my own parents, who taught me to research and get what best meets the needs for the money.

Buying a Camaro, for instance, because I wanted a fun and economical car with a practical load floor under the back glass was a "status symbol" in their eyes... they couldn't see the practicality and didn't understand that I was getting 32mpg on the highway--back in '96. All they saw was an impractical sports car. Oddly, when I had bought a pickup truck a little over ten years previously, they considered THAT impractical because it didn't have enough seating--something I simply didn't need. Again, they considered that a status symbol despite the fact that it was a true compact truck (Mitsubishi Sport--also seen as the Dodge D-50.)

My point is however that fully half the people buying pickup trucks today simply don't need what they're getting. Very few of them carry more than two people and even fewer tend to put any load worth speaking of in the back, much less even approaching the truck's cargo or towing capacity. And I'm sorry, but 20-23mpg on the highway is hardly economical--it's one reason I traded off my Jeep Wrangler because even at 17mpg in town it was costing me more in fuel than it was worth. My Ranger, old as it is, averages 20 in town even with the AC running and highway approaches 27. My Ranger is also nearly the ideal size for me, though I would willingly sacrifice some bed length for an extended cab.

I don't buy for appearances, I buy for practicality. The only people for whom a full-sized pickup is practical are those who will actually use its abilities. For anybody else, it's the old game of, "Mine's bigger than yours! Nyaaa, nyaaa!"

You don't want to see a stressed out soccer mom with 5 kids driving around in a pickup truck. It's dangerous.

My point is however that fully half the people buying pickup trucks today simply don't need what they're getting. Posted by: RoadWhale™ | Jul 26, 2017

@Roadwhale

They don't need? Says who!

You? Your hubris knows no bounds.

Each vehicle is built for specific function.
You could get away with most stuff in the minivan that the pickup truck could do. I would not want to load heavy stuff on top of the stow & go seats in the minivan. This would be something like say bricks cinder block a bunch of heavy potting soil like you would load and fill the bed of a pickup truck with.
If you carry any passengers other than front you start limiting your space for cargo that you can haul in the bed of a pickup truck and not affect passenger room.
Minivan is built for comfort the pickup truck is not as comfortable unless it's a Ridgeline. I would not take the minivan in some situations carrying heavier items.

As people hauling devices , minivans are truly the kings .

We have two kids , multiple pets (dogs , birds , snakes, you name it....kids love em all) and are always road tripping along with additional nieces , nephews , grandmas, friends , aunts , uncles . We have had a 2002 Odyssey that was great . Went to a 14 Hemi Durango which was also great , BUT ....wife wanted minivan back, got a loaded limited 17 Pacifica. Superb for hauling everyone one/thing in comfort and conveniently . 28mpg doing 78mph with 6 people a dog and all our stuff across west Texas and New Mexico. 25mpg on one stint at nearly 100 out in the middle of nowhere.

Tons of features , super easy to use sliding doors (no banging into cars in the parking lot and can get out even when someone parks too close. Tons of storage bins inside for everything. Quiet smooth and totally loaded MSRP of $52ish (got it for $5K under that when new last year and they were just hitting the streets). My truck , which is superb CANT TOUCH IT for what it is meant for .

HOWEVER .....want to tow or haul or go off roading ? My 14 Chevy HighCountry 4x4 with 6.2L V8 , Fox coilovers/shocks, Fuel Wheels/Toyo Open Country AT's can tow our 6K lb trailer , haul our dirt bikes or my street bikes or my kids bicycles or our old muscle car on its trailer or a load of mulch , pull our work trailer , haul the four wheeler , carry 5 adults in comfort and do it all amazingly quickly. Used to get 21 mpg on the highway at 70mph but with the newer wheels/tires and suspension down to 19mpg....still impressive for a 6K lb truck (now with heavier tires hard folding bed toneau and straps/tools etc. onboard) with 420 hp.

LOVE my truck every day BUT when we take a road trip WITHOUT needing to haul the heavy stuff ....the Pacifica is a true family luxury vehicle.

Did longboat change his name?

You want a minivan, buy one.
You want a truck, buy one.

I bet tons of people question my truck when I'm rolling empty, but never question it when I'm hauling the backhoe to my ranch. Or maybe when I have 20,000 lbs of Timothy hay on the gooseneck.
Even the half-tons scream for mercy climbing hills in the Rockies towing LESS.
Just because you don't SEE someone using their truck doesn't mean it is just about status.
What about only 2 or 3 kids in a minivan? A sedan would be just fine.
Better yet, let's just means test everyone.



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