5 Reasons Why SUVs Look Like Minivans (6 SUVs That Don’t)

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It is a common trend, an SUV is released and it looks just like another minivan. Why are manufacturers making their SUVs look more like Minivans? Why don’t they look more like the off-road warriors of the past? In this article we are going to talk through those questions, and why SUVs are trending towards more minivan styling.

Stay tuned till the end, and we’ll set you up with some SUVs that don’t look like minivans so you can shop in peace knowing you won’t be something that will be mistaken as a minivan.

So let’s talk through some reasons!

1. SUVs are turning into family haulers

SUVs (sport utility vehicles) of the past were mostly built to be pickup trucks that didn’t have a bed. This meant they were extremely utilitarian, off-road-oriented, and many times didn’t even have back seats. However, with the launch of certain crossover-based SUVs like the Pontiak Aztek and more, they started to become family haulers.

Back when SUVs were utilitarian, the only option for larger families was the minivan. However in more modern days, those lines are starting to blur as families want the cooler styling of having four doors, but the utility of a minivan.

Because of all of this, design elements of SUVs are slowly merging with minivans, leaving them looking more like a minivan than an SUV. We’ll talk more about that as we move through this article.

2. Being built on car platforms lowers the ground clearance.

One of the main design differences between an SUV and a minivan is ground clearance. To have high ground clearance, SUVs were built on truck frames which made them sit up higher off the ground.

However, as SUVs became more family-friendly, they needed to be built on car platforms to lower the load height and make it easier for people to get in and out (and improve ride quality). This lowers the ground clearance, making them look more like minivans.

3. People want more space in their SUV including headroom and legroom

Another design difference is how people are using SUVs these days. In the past, they were mostly used for off-roading or towing so interior space wasn’t as important.

Nowadays, people want more space in their SUV including headroom and legroom. This means that designers have to make the cabin bigger, which in turn makes the whole vehicle look bigger and more like a minivan.

4. SUVs are getting more aerodynamic

Minivans were built around being efficient long-distance drivers, meaning that they were more aerodynamic than an SUV, thus giving better gas mileage.

As SUVs become more focused on being family haulers (instead of avid off-roaders), they too are getting more aerodynamic to give better gas mileage. This is making them look even more like minivans.

5. Corporate designs shared between SUVs and Minivans

A popular trend in recent years is to make all of the vehicles under a certain brand look similar. This means that companies that offer a minivan, and an SUV tend to look similar. This further accentuates the fact that the SUV very much looks like a minivan.

The major manufacturer that does this is Honda. Their Pilot and Passport look extremely similar to the Honda Oddysey (which is their minivan).

What SUVs don’t look like minivans?

If you are someone who isn’t a fan of the trend of SUVs looking more minivan-like, here are some suggestions for you to take a look at!

You will be unsurprised that most of the vehicles that don’t look like minivans tend to have an off-road style design, harkening back to the past before SUVs were built as family haulers (thankfully they are great at that as well though)

1. Ford Bronco

After something like 20 years, Ford finally brought the Ford Bronco back as a true off-roader to compete with the Jeep Wrangler.

This vehicle is the complete opposite of a minivan, with a boxy shape, and extremely high ground clearance. This off-roader also does a great job transporting the family, as it ditches the past of a leaf spring setup for a coil suspension, making it easy to drive and extremely comfortable for long distances.

2. Ford Bronco Sport

If you like the smaller design, and lower ground clearance of the current day crossover SUVs, but want a more rugged design of off-road vehicles, the Bronco Sport is a fantastic option.

With its boxy and muscular design, it looks awesome. However, with the same underpinnings of vehicles like the Ford Escape, you get the easy and smooth driving that they have to offer.

Just don’t think you are going to do any crazy off-roading, as it is only equipped for minimal off-roading.

3. Toyota 4Runner

The Toyota Runner is one of the vehicles on this list that has maintained its truck frame construction.

With that said, it still uses a coil spring suspension for a comfortable ride, and the interior space is extremely generous for both people and cargo.

It can come with 4-wheel drive, so you can take your family camping in the mountains without a problem, but it isn’t going to do as well in the snow as some of the other vehicles on this list.

4. Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is the most capable off-roader on this list, and probably one of the most capable vehicles period.

It comes with a choice of either a soft-top or a hard top, so you can enjoy the wind in your hair as you drive down forest roads.

Just don’t expect to get great gas mileage, as the Wrangler’s V6 engine isn’t the most efficient.

The Wrangler harkens from an older time, much older than when minivans were ever a thing. This means it just doesn’t look like a minivan at all.

5. Lamborghini Urus

Okay, so this isn’t exactly an attainable vehicle for most people, but I like it, and it doesn’t at all look like a minivan.

The Urus is a performance SUV that has a twin-turbo V12 engine with 650 horsepower.

It can go from 0 to 60 mph in just over three seconds, and it can do all of this while still being able to seat five people comfortably.

6. Mustang Mach-E

The Mustang Mach-E is a bit of an oddball on this list, as it doesn’t look like a traditional SUV, but more like a crossover.

However, its design styling is that of the Mustang sports car, so it has that sporty feel to it, rather than the minivan feel it seems you are hoping to avoid (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article.

This all-electric vehicle can come with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, and has a range of over 300 miles on a single charge.

Frequently Asked Question

Is an SUV a minivan?

Over the years, the lines between a minivan and an SUV have blurred. However the most obvious difference today would be the inclusion of sliding rear doors on Minivans, and the hinged doors on an SUV.

What SUV is closest to a minivan?

The SUV that most closely looks like a minivan would be the current generation of the Honda Pilot. It carries over many of the design characteristics of the Odyssey minivan and maintains a very similar corporate grill.

Why do all SUVs look the same?

SUVs are all becoming alike because that is what people want out of an SUV. Most consumers don’t care about the differences between vehicles, meaning that as long as the features they want are on a vehicle, they will go for it. This means all manufacturers are building their SUVs to have the same features and designs, resulting in similar vehicles.


So, there you have it! We went over the reasons why you aren’t crazy in thinking that an SUV does look more like a minivan in modern times. We also discussed a list of SUVs you should take a look at, that doesn’t look like Minivans.