Minivans For Vanlife: 10 Reasons Why Vanlifers Choose Them

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Considering a minivan for Vanlife?

With their versatility, good gas mileage, and affordability, minivans are an excellent option.

But how do models like the Toyota Sienna, Dodge Caravan, Kia Sedona, & Honda Odyssey stack up against each other?

In this post, we’ll find out.

Here’s everything you’ll learn:

10 Reasons Why Vanlifers Choose Minivans

Minivans are easy to drive, widely available, & inexpensive used – but are they the best option for vanlife?

Here are 10 reasons why vanlifers like using Minivans for vanlife:

  1. Good Gas Mileage: Compared to a gas-guzzling Econoline, or a huge Sprinter Van, minivans are much more fuel-efficient.
  2. Fits in Any Parking Spot: Minivans are designed to have a lot of interior space, but to still fit in any parking spot. You won’t need to worry about finding the “RV Parking” section.
  3. Versatile: Many minivan van-lifers use their minivans both as a passenger vehicle and a van-life van. Most minivans have seats that are easy to remove and replace.
  4. Easy to Drive Anywhere: Unlike larger vans, minivans are small and low-profile. They’re easy to drive on freeways, backroads, and in cities.
  5. Widely Available: Because of their practicality, minivans are all over the market. It’ll be super easy to get your hands on one for a decent price.
  6. Inexpensive Used: Many older minivans are selling on the used car market for under 10 grand. That’s a huge bargain compared to a $70,000 Sprinter van.
  7. Fits in a Garage: Any minivan you purchase will be able to fit in any garage. That means you can park it in your garage at home, or in a parking garage while out and about.
  8. Blends in: One of the best things about minivans is that no one will ever suspect you’re camping in them. They are really the stealthiest of all van-life options.
  9. Great for DIY Builds: Many minivan van-lifers opt for simple DIY builds that require little to no prior building experience. All you really have to do to get a minivan ready for vanlife is remove the seats and put down a mattress!
  10. Low Maintenance: Although this varies by make and model, minivans tend to be reliable vehicles. The maintenance you’ll have to do on them is comparable to any other car.

6 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike the Minivans

As with every vehicle, there are downsides to a Minivan.

Here are 6 reasons why vanlifers dislike Minivans for vanlife:

  1. Not Enough Room for an Indoor Kitchen: The biggest downside of a minivan is the lack of interior space compared to larger vans. There simply isn’t enough room for a full indoor kitchen.
  2. Can’t Stand up Inside: The interior height of minivans is nowhere near tall enough to stand up inside, and there are few pop-top options.
  3. No Room for a Bathroom: There isn’t really a way to fit a bathroom inside a minivan, so you’ll have to opt for a portable toilet, or just use public restrooms.
  4. Not as Popular for Vanlife: Because of their size, minivans aren’t as popular for vanlife as Sprinters or Transits. That means there’s fewer resources online for people who choose to vanlife in a minivan.
  5. Not Very Stylish: Minivans are built for practicality more so than style. So if you want your van-life van to be visually appealing, a minivan might not be for you.
  6. Fewer Conversion Companies Work on Them: Compared to a Sprinter or Transit van, very few companies will convert your minivan, though, they are out there!

 

Best Minivans for Vanlife

With stow-n-go seats, pass throughs, & tons of no-build kits available, minivans provide a good platform for vanlife… but which van is the best?

Here are 4 great Minivans for vanlife:

The Dodge Caravan

  • Overview: The Dodge Caravan is a great inexpensive option for vanlife. Its stow-’n’-go seats make it perfect for low-build or no-build options. Plus, there are a few companies that make vanlife kits for the Caravan that are super easy to install.
  • Price Range: $3,000-$12,000
  • Fuel Mileage: 20 MPG
  • Dimensions: 39 inches (interior height), 62 inches (interior length), 50 inches (exterior width), 203 inches (exterior length)

Related: 6 Best Dodge Caravan Conversions


 

The Honda Odyssey

  • Overview: The Odyssey is probably the most reliable minivan on the market. It has a lot of interior space, which is great whether you want to do a full build-out or a non-permanent build. These vans are all over the roads and it’s relatively easy to get your hands on one that doesn’t have too many miles on it.
  • Price Range: $13,000-$39,000
  • Fuel Mileage: 22 MPG
  • Dimensions: 38 inches (interior height), 65 inches (interior length), 48 inches (exterior width), 203 inches (exterior length)

Related: 5 Best Honda Odyssey Conversions


 

The Kia Sedona

  • Overview: The Sedona is a bit of a smaller van–owners say it’s about the size of an SUV, but with all the benefits of a minivan. It’s much more affordable than the Odyssey and Sedona, and it’s an excellent van for simple DIY builds.
  • Price Range: $9,000-$30,000
  • Fuel Mileage: 21 MPG
  • Dimensions: 39 inches (interior height), 62 inches (interior length), 52 inches (exterior width), 203 inches (exterior length)

Related: 2 Best Kia Sedona Conversions


 

The Toyota Sienna

  • Overview: The Sienna has killer gas mileage (especially the Hybrid model). It also has a great amount of interior room and will last you a long time. 
  • Price Range: $19,000-$56,000
  • Fuel Mileage: 36 MPG
  • Dimensions: 38 inches (interior height), 61 inches (interior length), 51 inches (exterior width), 204 inches (exterior length)

Related: 10 Best Toyota Sienna Conversions


 

Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy

Now that you know a little more each minivan, let’s see how they compare (Toyota Sienna, Dodge Caravan, Kia Sedona, & Honda Odyssey).

 

Minivan Cost

Cost: Toyota Sienna vs Dodge Caravan vs Kia Sedona vs Honda Odyssey

ModelNewUsedPrice
Toyota Sienna$35,385$23,956Check Price
Dodge CaravanN/A$9,000Check Price
Kia SedonaN/A$22,998Check Price
Honda Odyssey$37,490$25,895Check Price

 

Minivan Dimensions

Dimensions: Toyota Sienna vs Dodge Caravan vs Kia Sedona vs Honda Odyssey

ModelInterior HeightInterior Length (cargo)Interior WidthExt Length
Toyota Sienna37.5 inches60.5 inches50.5 inches204 inches
Dodge Caravan39.3 inches62 inches50 inches202.8 inches
Kia Sedona39 inches62 inches52 inches203 inches
Honda Odyssey38 inches65 inches48 inches205.2 inches

 

Minivan Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy: Toyota Sienna vs Dodge Caravan vs Kia Sedona vs Honda Odyssey

ModelCityHighwayCombined
Toyota Sienna36 MPG36 MPG36 MPG
Dodge Caravan17 MPG25 MPG20 MPG
Kia Sedona18 MPG24 MPG21 MPG
Honda Odyssey19 MPG28 MPG22 MPG

 

Conclusion: Is a Minivan Right for you?

There are a lot of reasons to choose a Minivan: They are low maintenance, easy to drive, & great for simple DIY builds – but they may not be right for you.

Biggest factors:

  • Practical
  • Multi-Use
  • Good Gas Mileage
  • Easy to Drive
  • Small Interior Space

So should you get one?

Maybe! We’d recommend a Minivan over a traditional vanlife option (like a Sprinter/VW etc.) for vanlifers who want to get into a vehicle without spending a fortune or dealing with complicated build-outs.

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