If you often drive on slippery roads, it may be wise to consider AWD minivans when shopping for your next vehicle. All wheel drive can significantly improve the handling and overall safety of your van.
What Is All Wheel Drive?
All wheel drive, which is frequently abbreviated as "AWD," is a vehicle drive system that routes power to each of the wheels on your car or truck. Most all wheel drive systems sense which wheels need power to improve traction and then send the power to those specific wheels. This helps you control your vehicle more effectively, which leads to a safer driving experience.
When you're shopping for a vehicle, it's easy to confuse all wheel drive and four-wheel drive. Typically, four-wheel drive vehicles give the driver a bit more control over the drive system, but they also use more fuel. If you're looking for a vehicle that can haul several people around while still remaining fairly fuel-efficient, an AWD minivan might be an excellent choice.
Minivans typically seat between seven and nine passengers, and they have been popular with families since the early 1990s. Most minivans are front-wheel drive. More comfortable and easier to drive than a typical van, minivans usually offer a multitude of convenient features. If you're shopping for a new minivan, expect to see options like entertainment systems, back-up cameras, high-end stereo systems, leather interior, and much more.
Only One AWD Minivan
Because of its ease of use and fuel economy, all wheel drive is becoming a popular option on all types of vehicles. However, only Toyota offers an AWD minivan. The popular Toyota Sienna has been a consumer favorite for many years, and it consistently receives high marks for reliability and driving performance. The base model does not come with all wheel drive, so expect to pay several thousand dollars more for a new Sienna with this option. If you're considering a used Sienna, the AWD option may not represent such a significant increase in cost.
If you need an all wheel drive vehicle but want more options than the Toyota Sienna, consider some of the following vehicles. While they aren't minivans, these vehicles can carry several passengers and offer comfortable features similar to those in the minivan class:
- The Subaru Tribeca has a lower profile than most minivans and does not offer the characteristic sliding door. However, it does seat seven passengers and comes standard with all wheel drive.
- The Chevrolet Traverse is a crossover vehicle that seats eight passengers. It features many of the same luxurious options available on most minivans, but AWD is available as an option on the Traverse.
- The Ford Flex seats up to seven people and is available in an all wheel drive model. Available options are also similar to a minivan, including leather interior and integrated video entertainment system.
- The Honda Pilot seats eight people and is available with four-wheel drive. Although the Pilot does not offer the sliding side door and better fuel economy of the Honda Odyssey, it may be a good choice if you need to do a lot of driving on rough roads.
Choosing a Minivan
Before you decide on a minivan or any other vehicle, it's important to do your research. If you're considering an AWD minivan like the Toyota Sienna, try test driving the vehicle in slippery conditions to see how it handles. This will help you understand what to expect from the minivan before you begin negotiating on the purchase price.