A minivan is a vehicle smaller than a van but large enough to fit seven to nine people. In present day, these vehicles are associated with soccer moms and families with children, but they have actually been in existence for much longer. The predecessors to the minivan include vehicles like the Volkswagen Bus, but the first true minivans began mass production by companies like Toyota and Chrysler in the 1980s.
There are several features common to most minivans. These include length not much larger than a car. Such vans also have a carlike front, opening rear hatches, and three rows of seats. You can usually remove one of the rows for extra storage space. The center of a minivan usually has sliding doors instead of those that open outward. Sliding doors may be located on one or both sides of the vehicle.
Minivans often became preferred to cars like station wagons, a typical car for large families, because they more resembled cars and could be slightly more fuel-efficient. They also were a primary choice for people who wanted lots of passenger space. Many parents have thanked minivan creators for creating three rows of seats, thus providing the ability to separate arguing children by a row.
Size of these vehicles can vary and they may be made in smaller and larger sizes, which can add to length. Height is typically about 65 inches (165.1 cm), or a little higher. Especially in early days, minivans might not be preferred because many of them lacked powerful engines. If people wanted large transportation with a lot of power, they tended to turn toward SUVs. Today, many models of the minivan are made with a V6 or V8 engine. This gives them greater power and makes them more capable of towing things like small trailers.
Popularity of these vehicles has remained high, though there has been some downturn in popularity because they are not tremendously fuel-efficient vehicles. Some people have turned to smaller cars with greater fuel efficiency or to hybrid SUV types. There has also been concern about the safety of early models. Adding driver and passenger airbags and side curtain airbags has enhanced crash testing and safety features on most minivans.
Trends in creating alternative fuel or more fuel-efficient vehicles are driving automakers to find ways of producing hybrid minivans. Several automakers are developing minivan hybrid models. These are likely to replace standard minivans in years to come as fuel efficiency demands grow.