With all the different types, looks, and styles of minivans out there, choosing the right one can be a somewhat daunting decision. There are just so many things to consider. For starters, you’d want ample space for both the passengers and all your cargo. Fortunately, various minivans feature versatile seating options.
A great example are stowable seats, also called stow-and-go seating. In this guide, we’ll take a more in-depth look at minivans and stowable seats to help you decide whether they’re the right choice for your needs.
- Minivans with stow-and-go seating
- What are stowable seats?
- Pros of stowable seats
- Cons of stowable seats
Minivans with stow-and-go seating
- Chrysler Pacifica: This vehicle comes with the classic stow-and-go seating in its third row, and even the second row can be customized with stowable seating.
- Chrysler Voyager: The 2020 model of the Chrysler Voyager is designed to replace the Pacifica’s base levels of L and LX. As such, only the Voyager LXi trim, which is available as a special-order, comes with the standard stowable seating.
- Dodge Caravan: Much like the Pacifica, the Dodge Caravan comes with a standard third row stowable seating and an optional second row stowable seating.
- Toyota Sienna: Meanwhile, with the Toyota Sienna, rather than the typical stow-and-go, this minivan features a split-and-stow system that allows the seats to be folded down right into the vehicle’s floor.
From this list, it’s evident that the stowable seating option is only available in select minivans, though the good thing is that you’ve got quite a few brands to pick from.
Aside from the aforementioned minivan models, there are also other minivans that come with stowable seats in the second row. Among those minivans that feature similar seating functions, the Toyota’s split-n-stow is the most comparable to the standard stow-and-go. Others, like the slide-n-stow feature of the Kia Sedona, operate considerably differently.
Stow-and-go minivans with the biggest cargo space
Comparing the minivan models we mentioned above, it appears that the Chrysler Pacifica and the Dodge Caravan offer the most cargo space when the stowable seats are tucked away, with the Pacifica featuring 140.5 cu.ft of space and the Caravan with 140.3 cu.ft.
That said, it’s also worth noting that the Kia Sedona and the Toyota Sienna offer even more space for cargo than the Pacifica and Caravan, though having th remove the seating on the second row makes freeing up that space quite a hassle.
With the Sienna, you have to fold the third row seating into the van floor, then remove the seating on the second row to be able to get 150 cu.ft of cargo space. Meanwhile, with the Sedona, you can get 142 cu.ft of cargo space by sliding the second row seat forward then upward so that it rests against the seat on the front row.
What are stowable seats?
To put it simply, stowable seats are rows of car seats that you can fold down completely then stow underneath the floor. This allows you to utilize the entire flattened cargo area, since the folded seats don’t take up space above the floor.
This also comes with the added bonus of being able to maximize the storage compartments underneath the vehicle seats for gear storage- that is, when the seats are upright. In any case, stowable seats are helpful features that allow vehicle owners to maximize cargo capacity without having to remove entire seats from the vehicle.
Stow-and-go seats are typically reserved for the third row seating of minivans, although there are some models that make this feature available for the second row as well. And, sometimes, you’ll also see captain’s chairs that are stowable.
This seating option was originated by Chrysler, and as such, it is primarily available in the brand’ vehicle models. However, nowadays, you can see many different car brands offering the same feature and functionality with their minivan models.
Pros of stowable seats
There are many advantages to having stow-n-go seating in your minivan, from the ample cargo capacity to the variable seating configurations, and many more. We’ll talk about each of these benefits below:
Extra cargo space
The main purpose of stowable seating is to provide a simple and efficient way of maximizing the available cargo space in a minivan. With a large floor space free of clutter and bulky seats, you get ample space for storage, and when the seats are in their upright position, you can still enjoy sizable compartment space under the seats- and of course, passenger room.
You can also customize how much cargo space you’re getting depending on how many seats or rows of seating you fold down and tuck away. In most cases, it doesn’t even matter what type of seat your second row seating is, like whether it’s a captain’s chair or a simple bench.
Variable seating configurations
Another beauty of stow-and-go seats is that you get to enjoy variable configurations in terms of passenger seating, since the seats aren’t typically designed as full-row benches; meaning, you can fold down any one seat (or all of them) as needed.
This means that you can maximize both cargo and passenger space for every trip, whether that means stowing only one or two seats, or an entire row of seating. You can even tuck one or two seats away for the purposes of making access to the other seats easier for your passengers.
Automatic seat adjustment
Usually, the case with stowable seating is that you can also automatically move the front seats just by pressing a button; meaning, there’s no need to manually push and pull the heavy and bulky seats. This is particularly helpful when your hands are full with grocery bags or backpacks for your upcoming road trip.
Suitable for pets
Not only do these stowable seats give you variable seating plans for your passengers, they also make it easier for your beloved furry friends to comfortably sit either on the flat and wide floor space cleared out by the tucked away seats, or on the back row seats with plenty of “legroom” thanks to tucking away the second row seating.
What this means is that using the stow-and-go function is super easy. Even without the button adjustment on some models, you’ll still get simple stowing methods that allow you to maneuver the seats with a tug and pull action.
Cons of stowable seats
Having mentioned all those benefits to using stowable seats, there are actually quite a few drawbacks to them as well, which may or may not be deal breakers to you.
For instance, the materials used on stow-and-go seats are usually firmer and less comfortable than the typical foldable seats. Plus, since the seats can only be tucked away rather than slid slightly forwards or back, the legroom isn’t as much compared to regular seats.
Here are a few more trivias and facts that you should know about stowable seats:
How are stowable seats folded down?
The mechanism may slightly vary depending on the minivan you’re looking at, but essentially, you just have to lift up the floor panel in order to rest the seat against the seatback of the forward-most seat.
Tug firmly on the strap of the stow-n-go seat, which can be found at its base, and this should fold forward and down the seat completely. Then, push down the seat into the storage compartment on the minivan floor, before finally pushing down the floor panel in order to cover the tucked seat.
Are stowable seats removable?
Yes. While the purpose of the stow-and-go seating function is to be able to tuck away the seat and make more space available for cargo without removing the seats from the vehicle, it’s also possible to remove said seats with a few tools and an ounce of patience.
Can stowable seats recline?
Actually, yes. While you won’t be able to push stowable seats forward or back, such as with regular foldable seats, it is in fact possible to recline them, which should make sitting on them more comfortable especially with the somewhat reduced legroom.
Moreover, with some minivan models, you can actually recline stow-and-go seats to an almost completely lying position.
Truth be told, there are not a lot of minivans out there that feature stowable seats. But, with the minivans that do come with stow-n-go seating, you get to enjoy an easy and simple way to tuck away your third (and sometimes second) row seating in order to make significantly more available room for your cargo.
Stowable seats also allow you to enjoy adjusting and customizing your van’s seating configurations. They are also easy to use, which is a must for parents with young kids or the designated grocery runner of the family, since you need to be able to make way for cargo space and passenger seating in a quick and simple action.