Top 10 Minivan Substitutes of 2009
In years gone by, baby boomers have driven minivan sales — they've almost singlehandedly been responsible for the growth of the segment. Time marches on, and many baby boomers are now empty nesters interested in choices that lie beyond the minivan segment. (Reflecting this trend, minivan sales peaked in 2000, and have been declining ever since.) These buyers may still be interested in minivan-esque traits like safety and passenger capacity (gotta haul those grandkids), but they're looking for vehicles that boast attributes such as fuel-efficiency, as well.
Of course, baby boomers aren't the only ones interested in alternatives that offer some or all of a minivan's benefits. The biggest market for these vehicles lies with younger parents seeking a family hauler with a more exciting image than that of the notoriously dowdy minivan. Whether you're a boomer or a younger buyer purchasing your very first family vehicle, you'll want to take a look at these 10 very worthy minivan substitutes. Note that our selections are listed in alphabetical order.
- Buick Enclave
The Acadia, Enclave, Outlook and Traverse are all based on the same platform, but each has something slightly different to offer. The Enclave is the high-end player of the group, with the steepest price tag and the most upscale amenities. The Traverse is the most affordable of the bunch, with the Acadia and the Outlook rounding out the middle. The one thing that these full-size crossovers have in common is their commodious passenger capacity; each seats eight adults with room to spare. Safety-minded shoppers will be glad to know that they also offer excellent crash test scores.
- Ford Flex
The Flex is huge — it comfortably seats seven passengers, so you can rest assured that your bingo buddies won't be cramped in the backseats. Its interior is gorgeous to behold and experience, with eye-catching design and abundant soft-touch materials. Another plus is this crossover's available Sync system, which offers features like advanced voice-recognition software for MP3 players. What truly sets the Flex apart, though, is its look. With its distinctively brawny, boxy silhouette, this Ford is the hip antithesis of the boring minivan.
- Honda CR-V
It should come as no surprise that the CR-V is a longtime sales leader in its segment. This five-seater offers generous cargo capacity, with 73 cubes of available space. Both driver and passengers travel in comfort — seating position for the driver is close to perfect, and passengers get features like a sliding rear seat. The CR-V is also a blast to drive, thanks to its communicative steering.
- Hyundai Veracruz
Minivan addicts will tell you that one of the things that make these haulers so insidiously appealing is their extensive feature content. The Veracruz — which easily accommodates seven of your nearest and dearest — offers a lengthy list of standard amenities, all at an affordable price. Crash test scores are stellar, and the crossover comes with Hyundai's generous warranty.
- Infiniti FX50
The FX50 is not one to consider if you need lots of cargo capacity — it offers less than that of most crossovers in this range. But this luxury five-seater excels in almost all other areas. It's got sleek sheet metal and a handsome cabin that comes elegantly appointed with chrome and maple trim. Handling is sporty and the FX50 is remarkably quick — it gets from zero to 60 in just 5.6 seconds. Best of all is the plethora of onboard safety technology, ranging from an advanced lane-departure warning system to an intelligent brake assist system that can automatically apply the brakes to avert a forward collision.
- Mazda CX-9
Its outstanding handling and engaging performance make the CX-9 the enthusiast's pick, hands down. This seven-seater is roomy, with a third row that's fit for adults, and its crash test scores are exemplary. Did we mention that it's loads of fun to drive?
- Toyota Highlander Hybrid
As you'd expect given its hybrid designation, this crossover offers great mileage for its size, with a combined EPA rating of 26 mpg. It also boasts a gorgeous cabin. The Highlander Hybrid seats up to seven — keep in mind, though, that unless you're still in elementary school, you'll find the third-row seats a bit cramped.
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