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Who Will Finally Cross the $50,000 Minivan Barrier?

Here’s something I never expected to say: In the next few years, some car company will sell a $50,000 minivan. A minivan with a sticker price of fifty thousand dollars. A minivan that’s starting to play in the world of the Boxster and the Cayman and the Corvette. A minivan!

This has happened gradually. Initially, the minivan was just a basic people mover, and it quickly became more luxurious with time; the Chrysler Town & Country came out, and Ford made nice versions of the Windstar, and eventually there was the Sienna XLE and the Odyssey EX, and the Sienna Limited and the Odyssey Touring, and now everyone seems to want a vacuum cleaner and ventilated seats in their kid-hauler. The $50,000 mark will be breached sooner or later.

It seems, however, that most automakers are a little afraid to do it. As you may or may not be aware, with the demise of the Nissan Quest, there are currently four minivans left for sale on the U.S. market: the Chrysler Pacifica, the Honda Odyssey, the Kia Sedona and the Toyota Sienna. And all four are just tapping the upper bounds of the $50,000 price point, fearful of being "the one" to break the barrier.

Take, for instance, the Kia Sedona. The base Sedona starts at a very reasonable $27,900, but if you want all the stuff, you’ll spend $42,900 with shipping for an upscale "SXL" model — before options. Add the "Prestige Package" and the remote starter and the rear seat entertainment system and you’re at $45,400. Close to $50,000 … but no cigar.

Honda recently redesigned the Odyssey, and it has of course become larger and more expensive. But not quite that expensive: While the base-level Odyssey LX now starts at $31,000, the upscale Odyssey Elite is just $47,700. Since Honda doesn’t really "do" options, again … not quite.

And the Toyota Sienna? It also starts at a reasonable $30,800 with shipping, but be honest — you want the nice one. That’s the Sienna Limited Premium, and it starts at $46,200. Add the sole option package (dubbed the "Limited Advanced Technology Package") and you’re at $48,900. Once again … not quite there.

And then there’s the Chrysler Pacifica: It starts at $30,000, but if you opt for the Pacifica Hybrid Platinum, you’ll pay $46,100. At that level, there’s just one option — a panoramic sunroof — which brings the total to $47,900. And the final van comes in just shy of 50 grand.

To me, it’s pretty clear that the minivan companies are a bit scared of being the "first one" to cross the $50,000 threshold — and with good reason, as that’s a lot of money to spend on a freakin’ minivan. But mark my words: Within the next few years, someone will do it, and there will be a $50,000 minivan roaming the streets. Hopefully with all-wheel drive and some beefy fender flaresFind a minivan for sale

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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