There are so many vehicles coming out with hybrid versions or even hybrid only. But the options in hybrid minivan remain pretty slim. It doesn’t make sense that the auto manufacturers continue to focus on making sedans, SUVs and even pickup trucks, but not much attention on minivans. Minivans are hugely popular with growing families with room for bikes and sporting equipment. We won’t mention the ridiculous cup holder war, I think last count my Toyota Sienna had 17!

Speaking of Toyota, they were rumored to be releasing a hybrid Sienna minivan in 2008, but the year is moving along fast and there’s no sign of it yet. In Japan, they have released a smaller minican hybrid called the Estima. As a matter of fact, Toyota made the first Estima hybrid as long ago as 2001. The Toyota Estima (Japan only) seats 8 passengers, and does from zero to sixty miles per hour in eight seconds. Apparently it’s comfortable and has decent storage and is a dependable minivan.

Toyota is the market leader with hybrid vehicles; the Toyota Prius is the most economical hybrid car for sale in North America. Using the same technology, they provide hybrids in the Camry, a bit larger car, and the Highlander, an SUV.

As of the moment, the North American minivan shopper can choose between a small hybrid Sport Utility Vehicle or a cost-effective non-hybrid minivan. The best fuel efficiency available in a minivan is the Mazda 5, it has a rating of 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg for highway driving. The prices start at $18,000 for this six passenger family minivan.

Compare that to the Ford Escape Hybrid, that only seats five, but gets 34 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. If a person does a lot of highway driving, they could do as well with the Mazda that’s not a hybrid. Mind you, there may be tax incentives for buying a hybrid, how the price starts out a lot higher at $26,000.

Hybrid vehicles are tempting, but keep in mind that they are more helpful for people living in the city than people who live in the country, at least as things currently stand. (Technology is changing all the time – so keep your eyes peeled.) Most other minivans get around 16 mpg in town and 23 mpg on the highway.

Sadly the minivan class of vehicle, is the last to emerge on the North American market as hybrids. With any luck the auto manufactures will get with the program and make the hybrid minivans that many of us want sooner than later.