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2012 Minivan Buyer's Guide by Martha Hindes

2012 Minivan Buyer's Guide - Top Picks

by Martha Hindes

Road & Travel Magazine Names the Honda Odyssey
2012 International Minivan of the Year

And the winner is...

We all know the reputation minivans have, don't we? And the mountain of fodder they've regularly contributed to Grade B stand up comics. You've probably heard variations on the themes. The much maligned mom-mobile that comes with the territory after a first trip to the maternity ward. The blah transport anyone from six to 16 can't wait to grow out of. The hippo on wheels that dominates the high speed lane, in perpetually slow motion.

We can share those observations with your average mom and then watch as someone tries to pry the precious minivan keys out of her hand and ends up KO'd in the process. And why not? What other vehicle can do as much?

Ever since the 1980s, when Chrysler burst on-scene with an unusual, sliding side door substitute for every woman's sedan, minivans have become a cocoon of common sense in a fickle automotive world. They can carry nearly anything from a high school basketball team plus a couple of cheerleaders to a grandfather clock snatched up at a local yard sale. Their doors yawn wide, offering a just-right-height flat deck for the tons of groceries it takes to feed a family of five or more. They can yield up their passengers via sliding doors in a tightly jammed garage where one trying to exit through a sedan door could be imprisoned with no way out.

In testing minivans for Road & Travel Magazine's 2012 Minivan Buyer's Guide we quickly understood just how much these vehicles can offer, and why they have become a smug symbol of smarts in a world often dominated by left brain, lead footed road warriors. During test drives, we kept finding some of the most inventive ideas ever thought of for vehicles. We discovered there's as much cargo space as provided by a pickup truck bed -- and all of it inside and protected from the rain. And we learned minivans no longer lag along on underfunded engine power but at times can blow the doors off some unsuspecting competition when jumping away from a red light.

2012 International Minivan of the Year - Honda OdysseyDespite fierce rivalry from inventive competitors, we choose the 2012 Honda Odyssey as International Minivan of the Year in the minivan variety pack challenge. Not only is its appearance updated and handsome, and it handles well with authority, but we're still recalling the wealth of ingenious add-ons that kick it over the top.

See pricing and specs for all 2012 minivans at

2012 Minivan Buyer's Guide - Top Picks

Chrysler Town & Country

Mazda MAZDA5

Dodge Caravan

Nissan Quest

Kia Sedona