A Minivan and a Microbus: Key Differences

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Today, we have a number of different vehicle configurations and car body types. The swift development of the automotive industry is the reason. However, it may be challenging for some car enthusiasts to outline the key peculiarities and features that lie at the foundation of various vehicle types. For instance, we can recall the SUV and crossover configurations, which are often considered identical, even though there are several important differences.

The same concerns so-called family vehicles, which can often be confused. In this article, we will compare traditional minivans (also known as MPVs) and microbuses. Let’s discuss the key points that will clarify the topic.

What’s the Difference Between a Minivan and a Microbus?

The minivan segment includes such cars as the Renault Scenic, Citroen C4 Picasso, Ford S-Max, Volkswagen Sharan, Chrysler Pacifica, and others. Otherwise known under the English abbreviation MPV, or multi-purpose vehicles. This means a practical and spacious car. Sometimes the minivan group includes passenger vans, for example, the mentioned microbuses, but this is a wrong practice.

The main difference between representatives of the minivan and microbus classes is that the first ones were developed as exclusively passenger cars. There is no alternative. At the same time, passenger vans and microbuses can be equipped and modernized to become their commercial versions for transporting people or cargo.

Among the most popular microbus models are the Volkswagen Multivan, Mercedes-Benz V-class, Citroen SpaceTourer, and others. These vehicles stand out with some significant features. Compared to minivans, there can be a difference in the setup or in configuration of the microbus suspension, trim materials and options, including those related to the driver’s seat, or even the use of different power plants or even platforms.

Which Configuration Suits a Family More?

If we talk about family aspects, then both options are an ideal fit. The only difference you need to consider is the size of the family—whether it’s a young couple, whether they have a child or two, whether they live with grandparents, or whether it’s a large family at all. Are you practicing active recreation or traveling in large groups? Choose a proper car in accordance with the answers to this.

In addition, you should remember the more or less inherent features of each class. Minivans, for example, often have a panoramic roof (including the possibility of opening it) or a factory interior vacuum cleaner. At the same time, microbuses often make it possible to rotate the passenger seats around the axis, change their mutual location and angle of inclination, and have large folding tables for working on a laptop, etc.

Which Minivan to Choose?

Compact minivans will be a smart choice for those who need five seats. Unlike the same sedans or station wagons, which also offer a 5-seater configuration, minivans are much more practical and convenient for families. Each passenger has more space, both due to the wider back row and the high roof. The seat itself in the minivan is also higher.

Mid-size minivans such as the Ford S-Max, Ford Galaxy, and Volkswagen Sharan offer all the same, but with even more headroom. We believe this class of MPV is the most versatile because such vehicles have a lot of room inside for a large family, but at the same time, they aren’t as huge as full-size minivans, so they still fit well for daily trips around the city.

Full-size minivans are the most popular in the North American market. These cars are usually equipped with powerful 6-cylinder engines and a 3-seater third row of seats. The second row can be 2-seaters with an aisle in the middle, or also have 3 seats. Thus, such MPVs can accommodate 7 or 8 people. The choice is represented by the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager, Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, and Kia Carnival.

Which Microbus to Choose?

All representatives of this class are direct competitors and are distributed all around the world. These are Mercedes-Benz V-Class, Volkswagen Caravelle, Volkswagen Multivan, Citroen SpaceTourer, Peugeot Traveler, Renault Trafic SpaceClass, and some others. It’s worth emphasizing that such vehicles are models which are designed for the comfortable movement of each passenger over any distance. Microbuses can offer from 7 to 10 full-fledged (or up to 11 altogether) seats.

There is also a separate subclass that can be outlined called campervans. They are designed for long trips with overnight stays in nature. For this purpose, their equipment includes factory kitchen items (refrigerator, stove), a shower system for washing from the outside, as well as two full 2-seater transformer beds. The Volkswagen California and Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo configurations are typical campervans available on the market or car auctions.

Summing Up

When choosing between a minivan and a microbus, take into consideration the key moments we revealed in this article. Along with that, define for what purposes you need one of these vehicles, how often it will be used, and what budget is at your disposal. Don’t also forget to learn all the car specifications and design solutions to pick the most appropriate option for you.

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