Like it or not, there comes a time in many people’s lives when they must accept reality: it’s time to buy a minivan. With a variety of makes and model years to choose from, the decision can seem daunting, especially given that this vehicle will serve as family transportation for years to come. Below, we’ll outline what we feel is the best minivan option for those with a budget of around $30,000.
While minivans from Honda, Toyota, Chrysler and Kia are all viable options, the Chrysler Pacifica excels in the areas that matter most to minivan buyers. It offers ample configurability, thanks in part to its segment-exclusive "Stow ‘n Go" seating system that allows the second and third row seats to be folded into the floor, out of the way. It also offers a modern assortment of plugs and outlets for keeping devices charged, along with a variety of clever storage options littered throughout the cabin.
The Chrysler Pacifica has only been on sale since the 2017 model year, and not much has changed since then. The 2017 and 2018 models are virtually the same, outside of adjusted trim levels and packaging structures. Chrysler’s previous minivan, the Town and Country, has been discontinued, as has the vehicle that previously bore the "Pacifica" name: a crossover SUV that was offered from 2004 to 2008.
Since it went on sale for the 2017 model year, the Chrysler Pacifica has been offered with a 3.6-liter V6 making 287 horsepower and earning 18 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. A plug-in hybrid version is also offered that adds an electric motor to that same engine and can travel up to 33 miles on electric power alone. The Pacifica Hybrid is rated at 32 mpg combined, or 84 mpg when factoring in a fully charged battery. While the Hybrid model presents some real advantages at a relatively small price premium, you have to have a place to charge it to realize its full benefits, so the Hybrid might not be for everyone. But if you have the charging infrastructure, the hybrid is a great option.
This is where our friend depreciation comes into play. While a brand-new, fully-loaded Pacifica rings in at around $45,000, on the used market, high-end Touring, Touring L, Limited, and Limited Platinum trim levels can be found for right around $30,000, with fewer than 30,000 miles on the odometer. Currently, there are over 1,000 listed on Autotrader. Start your search looking for a Limited or Limited Platinum model. With patience, you’ll likely find one that meets your requirements — but if not, add in Touring and Touring L models.
Given that the Pacifica only came onto the market for the 2017 model year, mileage isn’t a huge concern here, as even the oldest Pacificas will have only had a couple of years over which to accrue mileage. Still, while they build an exceptional minivan, Chrysler’s reputation for reliability is a bit spotty, so we’d recommend erring on the side of caution and seeking out an example with fewer than 30,000 miles on the clock.
Buyers in search of the best minivan for around $30,000 should look for a gently used Chrysler Pacifica Touring or Limited model, and should strongly consider the hybrid model, provided they have access to charging infrastructure. The Pacifica is consistently named one of the top minivans on the market, and thanks to depreciation, buyers can get a lot of Pacifica for not a lot of money, provided they’re willing to be patient and accept some mileage on the odometer.