How Many Seats in a Minivan?

How Many Seats in a Minivan?

Minivans are flexible, versatile vehicles perfect for soccer moms, carpooling coworkers, and everyone in between. They aren’t as cumbersome or gas-intensive as traditional vans, but they can still fit plenty of people inside without making things uncomfortable.

But just how many seats are in a minivan in general? In truth, minivans can have many different types of seating arrangements depending on their makes and models. Let’s take a look at the average seat capacities for minivans in detail.

Minivans vs. Vans vs. SUVs

Minivans, vans, and SUVs are fairly similar vehicles in that they can fit multiple people and are powerful enough to climb hills without difficulty. However, they have a few key differences to keep in mind:

  • Traditional vans are large vehicles that may not have more room for two seats. That’s because a lot of vans are designed for cargo carrying, for having a bed in the back, and for using all of their extra space for things other than secondary passengers. Depending on the van’s make and model, the van could be two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive
  • Minivans are functionally similar to regular vans, although they are smaller overall and are more aerodynamic as a result. Many minivans are designed for comfort and for maximum carrying capacity. You can find minivans that typically seat between seven and eight people on average. Unlike regular vans, minivans don’t usually have room in the back for a bed, extra cargo space, and so on
  • SUVs or suburban vehicles are smaller than minivans but can usually seat between five and seven people depending on their seating arrangements. SUVs are off-roading favorites because many of them come with 4WD or AWD. SUVs often come with some room for storage of hiking gear, outdoor equipment, and more

So, when determining whether a minivan will be right for your seating needs, make sure that you are looking at a minivan model specifically. Lots of people can be confused by minivans and SUVs since they look fairly similar.

Seven-Seat Minivans

Generally, you’ll find minivans that can seat seven people are eight people. With a seven-seat minivan, most models come with two “captain’s chairs” that sit in the middle of the van. They also don’t normally have a bench seat in the second row. The two captain’s chairs are comfortable, may swivel back and forth, and may come with amenities or extra comforts like heaters.

Then, seven-seat minivans will also have a row of bench seats in the back that can fit three. Naturally, there’s also a driver’s seat and a passenger’s seat next to it. This is enough space for seven full people, including all adults.

Depending on the van’s make and model, some seats can be folded up, removed entirely, or moved around to allow for easier entry and exit. Since the captain’s chairs aren’t a full bench seat together, this allows people in the back a little extra legroom, making seven-seater vans sometimes better for transporting seven adults at once.

Lots of seven-seat minivans come with super comfortable chairs made of leather or other materials.

Eight-Seat Minivans

Eight-seat minivans, naturally, don’t come with two captain’s chairs in the middle. Instead, there are two seats up front, then two repeating rows of bench seats: one in the middle and one all the way in the back. To get to the back, most minivans require you to fold either the middle row down entirely or fold one of the middle row’s seats down to permit entry and exit.

Eight-seat minivans have a little extra capacity for people, but they are often a little more uncomfortable or crowded, especially if there are eight adults in the minivan. The people in the back may not have as much legroom as in seven-seat minivans.

Furthermore, the bench seat in the middle does not swivel or come with as many creature comforts or amenities as a pair of captain’s chairs. Therefore, eight-seat minivans may be ideal if you need to transport as many people as possible. But they may not be the best choice if you want to maximize comfort.

How Many People Comfortably Fit in a Minivan?

That heavily depends on the minivan’s make and model and how many seats are included. In general, the back row of seats in any minivan is the least comfortable part of the vehicle. Therefore, children or the smallest adults should be seated in the back of a minivan if at all possible.

Usually, six people can comfortably fit in a minivan no matter its seat orientation or its overall size. This allows two people to fit up front, two people to fit in the middle, and two people to fit in the back. The passengers in the middle and the back have a little extra room in between them to either stretch out or place items without having to carry them on their laps.

How To Know Which Type of Minivan You Need?

If you’re having trouble deciding which minivan to purchase, consider a few major factors:

  • Firstly, how often will you have the minivan at maximum capacity? If you don’t think you’ll be transporting a minivan’s max capacity very often, opting for a seven-seat minivan could be a better choice since these are usually more comfortable
  • In contrast, ask yourself how far you will drive the minivan. If the minivan will only be used for short jaunts across town, comfort doesn’t need to be all that important
  • Consider who you will usually transport in the minivan. If you’re a soccer mom, for instance, and will only be transporting kids to and from school or suburban houses, a minivan with eight seats could be perfect for you since all the kids will be comfortable, even in the back row of seats
  • Lastly, if you need more than eight seats, consider going for a traditional van instead of a minivan. Some larger vans can have up to 10 seats or more depending on their size and seat orientations

Minivans are ideal if you need to transport a medium-to-large number of people frequently. But if you have to transport a lot of cargo, or if you need to transport more than eight people, a regular van might be better. In contrast, if you don’t usually transport more than five people, an SUV could be a better choice as well as be more affordable.


Minivans are so versatile and flexible for a variety of means that they are popular rental cars, especially for families going on vacation or folks who want to see the sights of a brand-new city. That’s why Advantage Rent-a-Car offers plenty of minivans and SUVs as part of our diverse fleet offerings.

Even better, many seven and eight seat minivans can be picked up from convenient locations, like airport rental car lots. Whether you need a minivan for comfort, capacity, or both, we can likely help you find the perfect rental vehicle for your needs.

Contact Advantage Rent-a-Car today for more information!


Best Minivan Buying Guide | Consumer Reports
Best SUVs Reviews | Consumer Reports
15-Passenger Vans | NHTSA

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