Sometimes, having a full-size van isn't practical. You may need the extra space and versatility but not want to sacrifice fuel economy or affordability. That is where mini vans come in. Also known as “people movers” and sometimes “multi-purpose vehicles,” mini vans offer the functionality and convenience of a full-size van but with less bulk and better fuel efficiency.
For Australians, there are a number of great mini vans on the market to choose from. The best ones not only offer the necessary space and versatility but also provide advanced safety features, great fuel economy, and stylish designs.
To make your van-buying decision a little easier, here’s our roundup of the seven best minivans today.
The Kia Carnival sold the most units in 2021 thanks to its great combination of style, comfort, and practicality. It is packed with plenty of features, such as a powerful 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine or the new 3.5-litre V6 engine, nine airbags, and a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
The cabin is spacious and accommodating for up to seven passengers, with plenty of headroom and legroom throughout the seats. The Carnival is available in both automatic and manual variants, so you can choose which one suits your driving style better.
- Spacious cabin
- Flexible second row
- Fast and efficient
- Excellent safety features
- Front-wheel drive only
- Handling needs improvement
2. Honda Odyssey
The Honda Odyssey is a great family vehicle with plenty of style and sophistication. It comes standard with an efficient 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine with either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.
The Odyssey is also an excellent option for those who want an affordable vehicle with plenty of features, such as Bluetooth connectivity, automatic climate control, and a multi-view rear camera. It even has a five-star ANCAP safety rating, making it one of the safest minivans on the market today.
- Relatively affordable
- Spacious interiors
- Good cabin noise
- Sleek design
- Lack of USB ports
- Engine lacks punch
3. Toyota HiAce
The Toyota HiAce is a long-standing favourite in the Australian market. It is available as both a panel van and people mover, with seating for up to eight passengers. The cabin is spacious and comfortable, with plenty of storage space throughout.
Under the bonnet, you’ll find a 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, which provides plenty of power for hauling large loads or taking your family on vacation. The HiAce also comes fitted with seven airbags and an impressive five-star ANCAP safety rating, so you can rest assured that your family will be well-protected.
- Comfortable driving experience
- Complete safety equipment
- Fuel-efficient engine
- Very spacious
- Boxy, bulky design
- Six-month service intervals
4. Hyundai Staria
The Hyundai Staria is one of the newest mini vans to hit the market, and it’s already becoming a popular choice among Aussie families. It has a sleek, futuristic exterior design with sharp lines, making it look sportier than other minivans on the market.
Inside, you’ll find plenty of room for seven or eight passengers depending on your configuration. The Staria also offers features like Apple CarPlay/Android auto integration and dual-zone climate control for extra comfort. Underneath the hood is a powerful 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine that delivers plenty of power when needed.
- Roomy interiors
- Spacious luggage storage
- All-wheel drive
- Good handling
- Sporty design is not for everyone
- Engine needs more punch
5. Volkswagen Multivan
The Volkswagen Multivan is the ideal choice if you are looking for a mini van that offers more luxury and style. It has a sleek exterior design, with plenty of chrome accents on the grille and side mirrors. Inside, there is leather upholstery in all three rows of seating, as well as air conditioning throughout the cabin.
Under the hood, it comes with a 2-litre turbocharged diesel engine. The powertrain options are both powerful and efficient, so you can have your pick between the two depending on your preference.
- Highly versatile and spacious interiors
- Attractive, vintage-inspired design
- Plug-in hybrid available
- Expensive for a mini van
- Commercial underpinnings reduce comfort
6. Mercedes-Benz Vito
The Mercedes-Benz Vito is a luxurious minivan with plenty of features and style. It’s fitted with a powerful 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that provides great performance and fuel economy, as well as seven airbags for additional safety.
Inside the cabin, the Vito offers generous legroom and headroom for up to seven passengers, plus an adjustable driver’s seat for added comfort. The interior also includes a high-quality audio system, climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, and other useful features.
- Roomy cabin
- Driving comfort
- Refined engine and transmission
- A bit too long for a mini van
- Low roof
7. Ford Transit
The Ford Transit is another decent option for anyone looking for a reliable, durable, affordable mini van. The cabin is comfortable and roomy enough to seat up to seven passengers comfortably and offers plenty of cargo space, too.
The driver's seat is adjustable in height, while other features include dual-zone climate control, air conditioning, and rear parking sensors as standard on all models.
- Excellent safety features
- Updated infotainment system
- Refined diesel engine
- Cavernous space
- Low Frontal Barrier Crash rating
- Less towing capacity
Whether you’re looking for something reliable and affordable or a luxurious experience, there’s a mini van that can fit your needs. Don't forget to test-drive any vehicle before you buy it so you can get an accurate feel of the car and how it will work for you and the whole family.
Finally, be sure to consider all the available options before making your purchase. If your preferred vehicle isn't within your budget, there's nothing wrong with opting for a used model. As long as you get a good service history and a reliable vehicle, you'll be able to enjoy the same great features of any new mini van.
With so many high-quality mini van models on the market, Australia offers plenty of choices for finding the perfect people mover for your family.