By on October 12, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica - Image: FCAMinivan sales tumbled 16 percent to only 33,358 units in September 2017, the lowest total for America’s people-carrier sector since January 2015.

Between the disappearance of two nameplates (Nissan Quest and Mazda 5), limitations on Dodge Grand Caravan sales during a period of plant transition, and further decreases from the aging Kia Sedona and new Honda Odyssey, minivan volume fell 6,460 units below September 2016’s total and nearly 11,000 units shy of September 2015’s tally, and more than 10,000 units short of 2017’s monthly average through the first two-thirds of the year.

A positive spin is difficult to find.

U.S. minivan sales market share chart 2017 - Image: The Truth About CarsThrough the first eight months of 2017, minivans accounted for 3.1 percent of the new vehicles sold in America. But the sector’s market share took a deep dive to just 2.2 percent in September. If ever there was a sign that the segment would not recover, a 2 percent market share tally would be it.

Just one decade ago, minivans owned more than 5 percent of the U.S. auto market. Minivan market share still hovered around 4 percent half a decade ago.

But 2 percent?


Midsize pickup trucks, which aren’t really growing at all, collectively managed in September 2017 to outsell the minivan category by a 5-to-4 margin. (Minivans remain more popular, year-to-date.) On its own, the Honda Civic outsold the entire minivan segment in September. The Toyota Camry did, as well. The Toyota RAV4? It earned 1.3 sales for every 1 minivan. Ford pickup truck sales were 2.5 times stronger than sales of the entire minivan segment: Pacifica, Grand Caravan, Odyssey, Sedona, Sienna, plus leftover Town & Countrys, 5s, and Quests.

Minivan Sept. 2017 Sept. 2016 % Change 2017 YTD 2016 YTD % Change
Chrysler Pacifica 10,835 9,172 18.1% 86,342 35,572 143%
Toyota Sienna 9,512 9,269 2.6% 87,623 99,510 -11.9%
Honda Odyssey 8,310 8,954 -7.2% 75,309 94,835 -20.6%
Dodge Grand Caravan 3,113 8,179 -61.9% 107,592 102,732 4.7%
Kia Sedona 1,569 3,051 -48.6% 19,920 37,355 -46.7%
Chrysler Town & Country 12 981 -98.8% 557 57,926 -99.0%
Nissan Quest 6 209 -97.1% 4,941 10,055 -50.9%
Mazda 5 1 3 -66.7% 10 365 -97.3%
TOTAL 33,358 39,818 -16.2% 382,294 438,350 -12.8%

Despite the Grand Caravan’s downturn, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles still owned 42 percent of America’s minivan segment in September, though that was down from 46 percent a year ago. (FCA’s year-to-date minivan market share stands at 51 percent.)

Like Honda, Kia, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota, FCA minivan volume has declined through the first three-quarters of 2017. As a result, the segment is down 13 percent, a loss of more than 56,000 sales.

[Image: FCA; Chart: The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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25 Comments on “American Minivan Sales Plunged to a 32-Month Low in September 2017...”

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    There are families who don’t even consider a mini van, even though it would be an ideal vehicle for their purposes.

    Here in Utah mini vans are still the vehicle of choice-due to family size. Most are purchased used from CarMax or the rental companies for a very reasonable price.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      My family (inlaws and SIL) bought 2 Grand Caravan GTs in September, but both were bought used with low miles at HUGE discounts. Like $22-23k with 15k miles on them. So that’s 2 minivan sales that don’t appear in the numbers.

      • 0 avatar

        We took a page out of our in-laws’ book and bought our last one at a GSA auction. For some reason, the feds hold on to minivans longer than sedans or pickups – our 2006 model came up for auction in 2014. Suited us just fine, as we use it as a delivery vehicle for a flower shop. $8K for a 13K mile van is pretty hard to beat.

    • 0 avatar

      My best friend’s wife is one…although they’d admittedly benefit from owning a minivan, she steadfastly refuses and is pointing them towards a CUV. It doesn’t matter what metric you use to define the pluses of a minivan, the stigma is just too great for some to get over.
      Me? I’ll likely be adding a minivan to our driveway when I return to the US in a few months, though it likely will be used. Still, for what we require a vehicle to do, the van is hard to beat…stereotypes be damned.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    So the ‘aging’ Sedona (still seems new to me) is now the slowest-selling minivan still in production.

    I wonder how much the non-removable second row seats have hurt sales. My 09 Sedona has great utility with its removable seats; I wouldn’t even consider the current model.

    • 0 avatar

      Likewise here. Between hauling reenactment equipment, and weekend camping at the racetrack, the non-removable second row is a deal killer. Actually, the second row came out of my ’08 about twenty minutes of bringing it home, and they’ve been stored ever since. They’ll go back in the day I sell/trade it.

      Happy enough with the van that finding a ’14 (I believe that was the last year of the second generation?) will be my priority for a replacement.

    • 0 avatar

      “I wonder how much the non-removable second row seats have hurt sales.”

      That’s only in the top model. But I must admit, if I’m looking for the ultimate luxo barge, I can get a top model Sienna complete with removable mid row seats.

      The way I look at the top model Kia, it’s really a good high riding car with a huge trunk that can be turned into seating as needed. Think of it as a modern day replacement for the Ford Country Squire wagon.

      I can talk myself into that as I grow older. Do I really NEED those mid row seats to remove? I’ve owned a minivan for 17 years now. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve taken those seats out, and still have fingers left to grab the keys.

      So it’s about marketing. Kia needs to market it properly.

      Let me tell you, as the boomer bulge moves upward in age, having that seating height and those sliding doors will become much more popular than anyone thinks.

      Maybe Kia should give that thing to Genesis to sell.

  • avatar

    My best friend from high school just ditched his wife’s year old Outback for a Pacifica following their first road trip with their two year old and dog. We went to lunch in it today. From the outside, the van he bought looks completely non-descript. The tire sidewalls and lack of trim say rental fleet, but it has more technology features than the A7 launch edition I used to drive. The touch screen operates two A/V systems. It has automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, proximity monitoring in seemingly every direction, automatic doors, separate USB inputs for rear seat entertainment and wireless headphones. The Pacifica only has 1,000 miles on it, and my friend admitted he still doesn’t know all the features. It makes Cue seem as dopey as the CRT in a Buick Riviera though.

    I also noticed the automatic transmission’s shifts not once, although I wasn’t paying attention. If it does have a ZF 9-speed, then it was certainly an improvement over the Cherokee I’ve previously suffered this transaxle in. OTOH, my first Audi with an 8-speed was jewel like for around ten thousand miles before becoming a stumbling, confused POS.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Well…with the new several speed transmissions coming out the transmissions will be seemingly shifting all the time.

    There seems to be an inherit dislike for CVTs among many. So-welcome to the world of constant shifting transmissions.

  • avatar

    Check the birth rates. I heard somewhere that the millenials aren’t having as many children early in life like the previous generations. Not to mention that as time goes on, we are having less children per household. So the physical need for large vans is going away. Add the stigma that a minivan has compared to an SUV. And of course the cost is going up all the time.

  • avatar

    Likewise, we have purchased 2 used FCA vans (’08 GC/’15 T&C), both off-rentals. Been quite happy with both. Hoping this one is good for 6-7 more years..

  • avatar

    Simple, make them 4 wheel drive, add some ride height, call them crossovers and problem solved.

  • avatar

    I bet FCA’s margins on the Pacifica are better than the Grand Caravan. And, its up 18% in a market otherwise down. At least that’s some good…err, decent news for the Sergio camp.

    The Sedona is laughable. They tried to make it into a quasi-crossover with sliders, like that worked out so well for Ford and GM. Kia took it a step further, with a permanent center console and second row. Why wouldn’t you just buy a 3 row crossover? Unless having sliding doors is at the top of your priority list, the Sedona makes no sense compared to a roomy large CUV like Traverse.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      Prior to the new Pacifica-I though the Sedona was the best looking mini-van.

      Yep-they are all “box on wheels” but at least Kia tried to make it look like something different.

  • avatar

    Well, calling them Man-Vans did not exactly work, did it? Perhaps if they start to cater to Moms.

  • avatar

    With well over 400k miles on our 04 Sienna we should be looking to replace but for about $800 per year it just keeps running. I do keep the title in the glovebox though-just in case I need to dump her quickly on a trip. I would look at Pacifica first but DW would never consider anything but another Toyota.

  • avatar

    I know looks aren’t everything, but Honda is really not doing itself any favors with the styling of the new Odyssey. I know most of the focus is on the “zig zag” and flame surfacing side detailing (which I find quite ugly), but that back end…oof. It looks like a mistake. Honda is really trying to make that wide oval back end look from the Civic work on everything, and it really doesn’t work on the Odyssey.

    On the other hand, I think Chrysler nailed the styling on the Pacifica. It’s handsome and looks quite nice with the premium wheels. Inside is tasteful and not trying to be space-age. Pacifica is the well-dressed mom in a pencil skirt, collared shirt, and sweater, while Odyssey is the mom in animal print Lululemon knock-off pants with pink streaks in her hair.

    Coincidentally on the drive in today I was behind a Pacifica Hybrid that was next to a VW Routan (what are the odds). The styling of the Pacifica is really in another league compared to the last-gen FCA vans.

  • avatar

    Segment may be small, but selling 8,000 or 9,000 units a month for the remaining players per vehicle type looks like a solid WIN to me.

  • avatar

    which one of you snapped up that mazda5?

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, the poor Mazda 5. It was too good for America. Even so, those sales figures are a joke. Even the crappiest of crappy cars do better than single digit monthly sales.

  • avatar

    After years of denying myself minivan luxury/comfort/utility, I became a minivan owner this year. For the five months I had my 2017 Pacifica Touring L-Plus, it was a delight. The Chrysler hauled us everywhere, hauled landscape materials, it hauled Grandma, antiques, beach gear, and it became part of the family quickly. It was sadly lost in the Hurricane Harvey floods. When replacing it last month, I gave the ’18 Odyssey a chance, and fell in love with the powertrain and the (surprisingly capable, taut) driving dynamics. So, now I have a new Odyssey Touring. I do not care what is “popular” or what sells well. Lots of folks have minivan image hangups, and many may cringe at the MSRP of these things. But I have never been happier than with the Pacifica and now the new Odyssey.

  • avatar

    I noticed the Hybrid version of the Pacifica is eligible for an NYS Clean Pass. I might have to consider it next year.

  • avatar
    George Taramas

    There can be only one (chrysler pacifica).

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