Minivans with stowable seats might be boring, but they’re efficient, practical, and spacious. In this post, we’ll take a more in-depth look at minivans with stowable seats to help you decide whether they deserve serious consideration the next time you go car shopping.
But before that, here are some of the best minivans that have stowable seats:
- Mazda Mazda5
- Dodge Caravan (production ended in 2020)
- Chrysler Town and Country
- Chrysler Pacifica
- Toyota Sienna
- Chrysler 2021 Voyager LXi
- Kia Sedona
- Ford Transit Connect
- Mercedes Benz Metris
These minivans come equipped with either Stow ‘N Go seats or Slide-n-Stow seats. The Dodge Caravan, Chrysler 2021 Voyager LXi, Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Town and Country, and Mercedes Benz Metris have a Stow ‘N Go seating system. The Kia Sedona features Slide-n-Stow second-row seats and Split-N-Stow third-row seats.
That’s just an overview. Keep reading for a more thorough discussion on some of these minivans, as well as the basic features and pros and cons of minivans with stowable seats.
What Are Minivans with Stowable Seats?
Chrysler developed and patented this seating and storage system. It’s better known as the Stow ‘N Go seating. Although today, there are minivan models from other brands that offer almost similar seating features and functionality.
The Stow ‘N Go seating system is available in the following Chrysler minivan models:
- Chrysler Pacifica
- Chrysler Voyager
- Dodge Grand Caravan
Easily Fold and Store the Second- or Third-row Seats
To put it simply, Stow ‘N Go lets you easily fold and store the second- or third-row seats within the under-floor compartments of a minivan. In other models, the captain’s chairs are stowable.
More Space in the Cargo Area
This set-up frees up more space in the cargo area without needing to remove all of the seats of a minivan. For instance, the Chrysler Pacifica offers 140.5 cubic feet of unobstructed cargo area. And when the seats aren’t stored under the floor, the under-floor compartments could double as storage compartments for small items.
Most minivan stowable seats can’t be pushed backward or forward. However, like regular foldable car seats, you can recline them to ensure comfortable sitting and naps.
Pros and Cons of Minivans with Stowable Seats
Stowable seats are probably one of the best features of minivans. But despite being useful, they have their downsides. Let’s see if the pros far outweigh the cons:
1. Easy to Stow and Unstow
You don’t need an extra pair of hands to stow and unstow the seats. Part of the reason is there are no seats for you to remove from the van.
FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) minivan models come with the iconic Stow ‘N Go Assist seating. This lets you slide the passenger seat forward by pressing a button, so you can easily stow the second-row seat. To return the passenger seat to its starting position, press the button again to slide it forward.
2. Provides Additional Storage
Aside from being convenient, the under-floor compartment can also serve as your extra storage space when the seats are not tucked away in the van floor. They’re usually large enough for storing:
- Travel essentials,
- Grocery items,
- Your children’s stuff, and whatnot.
Chrysler Pacifica and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid are also available with plastic cargo bins, which fit in the under-floor compartment for the second-row seat. They’re removable, so you can take them out and fill them with food, beverages, ice, or other things you need for your camping trips and picnics.
3. Offers Flexibility
Minivans have always been known as multi-purpose vehicles. With the addition of stowable seats, these vehicles become even more versatile. Some minivan models offer hundreds of ways to configure the stowable seats in either row—or just a few of the seats in each row—to suit your needs.
Chrysler Pacifica is one of the most versatile vehicles on the market, partly thanks to its power-folding third-row seat. You can remotely store the third-row seat in the floor storage compartments if you need more cargo space. Or, if you want to see better out of your rear-view mirror, push a button to lower the third-row headrests remotely.
4. Good “Stealth” Van Homes
Because of the pandemic, there’s a growing number of people converting their vans into a full-time shelter or camper. A minivan with stowable seats will be perfect for you if you don’t want to make permanent structural changes to the interior of your van. You can always take the seats out of the compartment and return them to their original position.
Not Always Comfortable
Some people find Stow ‘N Go seats uncomfortable. Compared to foldable leather car seats, they tend to have thinner foam and less plush. Plus, people who sit at the third-row seat may sometimes feel cramped because of the reduced legroom.
However, it doesn’t mean you won’t find minivans that offer comfortable seating. Take, for example, the more expensive Toyota Sienna models. They feature split-and-stow seats, which are generally comfortable and supportive. The second-row seats can slide far forward and backward, so you can have more legroom if you want.
Some Chrysler minivan models with stowable seats, like the Dodge Caravan, have been reports that take more time to accelerate. Now, it’s not yet obvious if the seats are entirely to blame, but if you’re shopping for a new minivan, it’s important to consider this.
The Best Minivans with Stowable Seats
With the growing popularity of the three-row crossovers and the Dodge no longer in production, choices for minivans that feature stowable seats have become limited. Below, we’ll talk about some of the top minivans that still offer stow-and-go seating:
1. Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler Pacifica (2021) can accommodate seven to eight passengers, depending on if you get the bench seats or bucket seats. It’s technically the only three-row minivan in its category with the Stow ‘n Go seating, which allows you to fold the second- or third-row seats into the floor.
The front seats of the Pacifica are spacious and relatively comfortable. They also offer top-notch visibility in all directions. But since the seats at the back are meant to fold flat into the van floor, they can be uncomfortable to sit on during longer rides because of insufficient padding.
Aside from the Stow ‘n Go seating, the Chrysler Pacifica (2021) also has other seating upgrades. One of these upgrades is the ventilated, heated front seats available on the Touring L trim level.
Here’s how it works:
- The heated seats use a long-strip heating element that the manufacturer placed between the upholstery and the actual seat.
- When you flip the switch on, the heating element resists the electricity that flows through it in order to produce the heat needed to keep the seats warm.
All the seat upholstery is made of Nappa leather. This type of leather offers a higher degree of luxury and quality than the typical leather for car seats. It’s softer, more pliable, and more natural-looking.
2. Chrysler Voyager
If you want a less expensive alternative to the Chrysler Pacifica, the Chrysler Voyager is possible. It features seven-passenger seating and a powerful V6 engine, which provides good fuel mileage. It also boasts of other good features, including:
- Sufficient cargo space
- Heated front seats
- Heated, leather steering wheel
- Stow-away seats
- Standard vehicle technology (e.g., Apple CarPlay and Android Auto)
So, is the Chrysler Pacifica better than the Chrysler Voyager?
Technically, both 2020 Pacifica and 2020 Voyager are mostly the same vehicles. The only significant difference between the Pacifica (Hybrid) and the Voyager is their weight. The former is heavier because of its electric vehicle (EV) drivetrain and battery pack.
2021 Chrysler Voyager L Trim Level
The 2021 Chrysler Voyager L trim level has a standard third-row Stow ‘N Go seating. The second-row seating has no stowable seats. With the second-row storage bins, the third-row seating provides sufficient cargo space for whatever you and your family need.
The Voyager’s second-and third-row seats aren’t as spacious as those of its competitors. However, it should provide plenty of room for adults to stretch their legs in the first row.
The cargo area itself measures 32.3 cubic feet if the seats are all up. It could extend to 87.5 to 140.5 cubic feet when the third-row seats or second-and third-row seats are folded, respectively. That’s already a good amount of space for cargo, but it’s still considered below average compared to other minivans.
3. Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid has room for seven passengers. It has 32.3 cubic feet of cargo space at the back of the third-row seat, 87.5 cubic feet at the back of the second-row seat, and 140.5 cubic feet at the back of the first-row seat. It’s a lot of cargo space, but it still falls behind what other minivans can provide.
The Pacifica Hybrid has Stow ‘N Go seating. However, because of its electric vehicle battery, only the third-row seats fold into the van floor. You need to remove the second-row seats if you want to make more room for cargo.
On the bright side, the first-row and second-row seats provide plenty of headroom and legroom to allow average-sized adults to sit comfortably. The third-row seats are roomy and well-cushioned, but tall passengers might find themselves feeling cramped during longer trips.
But it doesn’t lack storage compartments. It has many cubbies and slide-out bins for storing your small items. It even has a holder for an umbrella.
Overall, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is comfortable, spacious, and stylish. Aside from the third-row Stow ‘N Go seats, it has other good features, including:
- Automatic power-sliding doors
- Leather upholstery
- Heated second-row seats
- Steering wheel (heated)
- Heated and ventilated front seats
- Second- and third-row retractable sunshades
- Front passenger seat that’s adjustable eight ways
4. Kia Sedona
The Kia Sedona provides good value for the affordable starting price, intuitive driving technology, and comfortable and smooth ride. Despite these impressive features, it pales compared to the more expensive, all-wheel-drive Chrysler Pacifica regarding the number of features.
Unlike the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, up to eight passengers can sit in the Sedona. But if you take out the second-row middle seat, it can only accommodate seven passengers.
The second-row seats of the Sedona come standard with Kia’s Slide-N-Stow seating system. The third-row seats feature a split-fold seating system. The sliding option makes it easy to unload and load the middle seat to create more cargo space.
Average-sized adults would feel comfortable sitting in the first- or second-row seats. They’re wide and spacious. However, the third-row seats are best reserved for children for short-distance trips.
The Kia Sedona has similar features as Chrysler minivans. It also comes with an eight-way, power-adjustable front passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, heated and breathable front passenger seats, and leather upholstery. There are also fifteen cup holders in the Sedona, which is pretty impressive.
Although it doesn’t have the Stow ‘N Go seating, the Sedona minivan is still worth considering. It’s easy to use, comfortable and provides adequate cargo space. As for your child’s safety, it received the second-highest rating of Acceptable from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is something you should consider in any minivan design.
Conclusion – Minivans with Stowable Seats
Over the years, the minivan market has shrunk because of the growing popularity of car-based crossover vehicles and SUVs. So, your choices for minivans with stowable seats are mostly limited to Chrysler minivans (e.g., Pacifica, Pacifica Hybrid, and Voyager) and minivan models from other manufacturers, like the Kia Sedona.
And as you can see, Stow ‘N Go and other versions of it have upsides and downsides. Some people even feel it’s not a great feature at all. One of the most important questions you need to ask yourself when shopping for minivans with stowable seats is: Are you willing to trade-off comfort for functionality and more cargo space?
Nonetheless, stow-away seats are still an amazing engineering and interior packaging feat. If they match your needs, we highly encourage you to take the next step and check out what the latest minivans with stowable seats have to offer you.