Off-road driving and minivans aren't mentioned in the same sentence often. But some minivans do have off-road driving capabilities that are worth considering.

Taking a minivan off-road is tricky because they need modifications like new tires and a lift kit to avoid undercarriage damage. But the five best include the following.

  • Toyota Sienna Woodland Edition
  • Chrysler Pacifica
  • Nissan NV Passenger
  • Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Chevrolet Uplander

The all-wheel drive minivan with solid clearance was a staple in the automotive industry in the 90s and early 2000s but has since become less popular. Today, there are far fewer minivan options to drive off-road. We still were able to compile five reliable options worth considering.

Key Takeaways

  • The best off-road minivans include the Toyota Sienna Woodland Special Edition, Chrysler Pacifica, Nissan NV Passenger, Dodge Grand Caravan, and Chevrolet Uplander.
  • 8.8 inches to 10.8 is the recommended off-roading clearance for vehicles. Minivans don’t have this, so lift kits are required.
  • The worst off-road minivan is the Honda Odyssey.

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Table of contents


5 Best Off-Road Minivans

Off-road minivans are an ideal way to transport groups of people who need the extra storage and hauling capacity of a van without sacrificing the interior seating. But not every minivan has this off-road capability.

The best options can offer a unique blend of comfort, capability, and passenger space that no other vehicle on the market can provide. We have listed the five best below.

1. Toyota Sienna Woodland Edition

Toyota Sienna
Toyota Sienna

It goes without saying that the Toyota Sienna Woodland Edition is known as the best off-road minivan. Whether a family trip or an off-road adventure, this vehicle can handle it all because of the increased ground clearance and durable chassis.

This AWD Sienna is one of the most popular off-road Minivans due to its rugged 4X4 system and independent rear suspension. Both features make traversing tricky terrain much easier than in competitive models.

It has standard features like lane keep assist, lane departure warning, cyclist detection, road sign recognition, and full-speed adaptive cruise control. Another new feature included with the 2022 and 2023 models is the pre-collision system.

Minivan Specifications

Dimensions: 203.7” x 78.5” x 68.5”

Wheelbase: 120.5 inches

Fuel Economy: 35-36 MPG

Ground Clearance: 6.3 to 6.9 inchesPassenger Capacity: 7 passengers

What Sets This Minivan Apart

Toyota has crowned the Sienna Woodland as the perfect outdoor minivan. It’s the premier option because of the increased 6.3 to 6.9 inches of clearance, 3,500-pound towing capacity, extended roof racks, and all-wheel drive.

This is also one of only two minivans currently in production with an all wheel drive system. This is why the Sienna Woodland Special Edition is consistently ranked as one of the only adventure vehicle options for dirt roads.

Benefits of the Toyota Sienna

  • Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive with increased ground clearance
  • 3,500-pound capacity tow hitch
  • Heavy-duty roof rails with cross bars
  • Toyota Safety Sense system included with every vehicle

Drawbacks of the Toyota Sienna

  • Sensitive braking
  • Lack of flexibility in the vehicle’s cabin because the second-row seats don’t fold

2. Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler Pacifica

The Chrysler Pacifica is another option for off-road driving. It comes with all-wheel drive, 3,600 pounds of towing capacity, larger wheels, and a longer wheelbase. But there are some downsides too.

The newer models have removed the second-row captain's chairs. Now, there is only a second row of bench seats instead, but they can accommodate an extra passenger.

After using a lift kit, we only recommend this minivan because of the 5.1 inches of clearance. It’s too low to handle rugged terrain without avoiding bumps, bruises, and potential damage.

Minivan Specifications

Dimensions: 204.3” x 79.6” x 69.9”

Wheelbase: 121.6 inches

Fuel Economy: 19-28 MPG

Ground Clearance: 5.1 to 5.3 inchesPassenger Capacity: 7 passengers

What Sets This Minivan Apart

This is the ideal minivan for off-roaders who prefer a more spacious vehicle with excellent interior cargo space. It also has solid power, a 287-hp V-6 engine, and a nine-speed automatic transmission.

It can be a terrific off-road minivan option because of its handling, power, and space. But remember, it needs a sizable lift kit because of the lower clearance compared to other models like the Toyota Sienna.

Benefits of the Chrysler Pacifica

  • Poised and consistent handling
  • Stowable second-row seating with an easy fold mechanism
  • Optional plug-in hybrid powertrain trim level
  • All-wheel drive capabilities

Drawbacks of the Chrysler Pacifica

  • Lower-than-expected ground clearance
  • Premium pricing
  • No AWD availability for hybrid models

3. Nissan NV Passenger

Nissan NV Passenger
Nissan NV Passenger

The Nissan NV Passenger is no longer in production, but plenty of used models are still available for off-road driving. This massive vehicle has excellent towing and seating capacity for long off-road drives.

It also has above-average clearance, and the dimensions are larger than the average minivan. It won’t require many modifications and is ready to hit the off-road trails straight from the car dealership.

Minivan Specifications

Dimensions: 240.6” x 79.9” x 84.0”

Wheelbase: 146.1 inches

Fuel Economy: 15-19 MPG

Ground Clearance: 8.1 inchesPassenger Capacity: 12 passengers

What Sets This Minivan Apart

The size and power of the vehicle are unmatched compared to any other vehicle mentioned in this guide. It does not provide the same fuel economy, but anybody using this van can save money on lift kits because it has plenty of clearance.

Benefits of the Nissan NV Passenger

  • Increased passenger capacity
  • Removable seating to allow for more storage space
  • Powerful V6 or a V8 engine
  • Industry-leading ground clearance
  • No need for any major off-road modifications

Drawbacks of the Nissan NV Passenger

  • Poor fuel economy
  • No new models in production

4. Dodge Grand Caravan

Dodge Grand Caravan
Dodge Grand Caravan

The Dodge Grand Caravan is another awesome option for off-roaders to consider. It’s worth noting none of the newer models have AWD or 4WD drive. The better off-road options are older between 2005-2012.

The newer models do have various features like driver assistance and a spacious interior that make them so popular today. However, we prefer the older options to go off-road with because they are durable with solid clearance.

Minivan Specifications

Dimensions: 189” x 79” x 69”

Wheelbase: 121.2 inches

Fuel Economy: 20 MPG

Ground Clearance: 5.8 inchesPassenger Capacity: 7 passengers

What Sets This Minivan Apart

The obvious feature that sets this minivan apart is its durability. It can withstand rugged conditions like no other, and it handles with enough precision to make it a worthwhile investment.

Benefits of the Dodge Grand Caravan

  • Excellent variety with multiple trim levels
  • Affordable
  • Lots of storage compartments
  • High-quality design with unmatched durability

Drawbacks of the Dodge Grand Caravan

  • Durable exterior but commonly deals with issues like brake wear and engine stalling
  • Not as comfortable to drive as other vans

5. Chevrolet Uplander

For fans of older vehicles, the ideal choice for off-road conditions is the Chevrolet Uplander. This vehicle has been out of production for over ten years but has all the features needed to tackle tough terrains, including all wheel drive.

It also has impressive durability, with reports estimating this van lasts over 200,000 miles. It also included a mediocre 5.5 inches of clearance, but upgrading and modifying it was cheap and easy.

Minivan Specifications

Dimensions: 204” x 72” x 72”

Wheelbase: 121.1 inches

Fuel Economy: 16-21 MPG

Ground Clearance: 5.5 inchesPassenger Capacity: 7 passengers

What Sets This Minivan Apart

The Uplander is not flashy but provides the ruggedness that minivans today lack. It’s challenging to find a vehicle like this still in production, and we would recommend this to any adventure drivers who prefer more interior cargo and seating capacities.

Benefits of the Chevrolet Uplander

  • Ample interior space with more legroom and comfortable seats
  • High-profile off-road stock tires
  • Higher rider height
  • All-wheel drive

Drawbacks of the Chevrolet Uplander

  • Older design and more prone to recurring issues
  • Poor fuel economy

How To Prepare A Minivan For Off-Road Driving

Stock minivans from the manufacturer are not ready for off-road conditions yet. It’s best to make a few modifications and upgrades to protect the vehicle from rocks, stones, bumps, hills, etc.

Roof Rails

Roof rails and racks are the ultimate hacks to increase the storage capacity of a minivan. This is especially important when taking adventures on dirt roads. Hauling gear is needed for any adventure.

It’s possible to get a trim level with reliable roof racks or install upgraded ones for better weight and storage capacity. We wouldn’t recommend anybody taking an off-road journey without them.

Durable Rear Wheels

Next, we prefer upgraded and durable rear wheels on our minivan when off-roading. They allow for better traction, and because the terrain is rocky and rugged, they will avoid damage well.

Lift Kit

Just about every minivan needs a lift kit before tackling off-road terrain. They don’t have enough height and clearance, so they are vulnerable to damage when hitting bumps on rocky or dirt roads.

All-Terrain Tires

Lastly, we will need all-terrain or mud-terrain tires. Without new tires, driving off-road becomes difficult, and we are more likely to deal with flat tires and other vehicle damages than with a durable pair of off-roading tires.

What’s The Worst Off Road Minivan?

Finding the best off-road minivan is more challenging than finding the worst one. Most are simply not built for anything other than street and highway driving.

If we were to choose our least favorite, it would be the Honda Odyssey. This is one of the ultimate family haulers, but it’s virtually useless on dirt roads because of the 4.5 inches of clearance.

Getting a lift kit to raise it above 8.0 inches is almost impossible. It also has an approach angle between 14 and 18.7 degrees, which is unsuitable for off-roading. It’s also a front wheel drive only vehicle.

It does have three rows of seating though and we love this minivan to bring the little ones to school and sports practices. It has an excellent driving range and is a competent road vehicle.

What Is The Minimum Ground Clearance For Off-Roading?

The minimum recommended clearance for off-roading is between 8.8 inches to 10.8 inches. No minivan is built with this much clearance, but after a few modifications, it can be achieved.

Typically, a stock minivan has between 4.0 to 6.5 inches of clearance. Most are under 6.0 inches, besides the rare Toyota Sienna Woodland model.

Using less than 8.8 inches for off-road driving is possible if the terrain is mild and speeds are carefully monitored. Slower driving on less bumpy terrain shouldn't present an issue for any minivan with at least 8.0 inches of clearance.

Do Minivans Come With An All Wheel Drive System?

No, they don’t. In fact, only two minivans are currently in production offered with AWD. It’s become a rarity today and few customers are searching for a minivan with this capability.

The popularity of the AWD minivan ended in the early 2000s. Between 1990-2010, there were dozens of options, like some we have mentioned above. But today, the options are limited, so the Sienna Woodland Special Edition and Pacifica stand out.