Home » Minivans Have The Hardest Life Of Any Car, So It’s Time To Stop Calling Them Uncool

Minivans Have The Hardest Life Of Any Car, So It’s Time To Stop Calling Them Uncool

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“Oh, I’ll never drive a minivan,” I often hear from my friends. “They’re so uncool.” This has been the refrain from pretty much anyone in the Millennium generation for decades now, and yet it makes no sense. To call a minivan uncool is like saying a decorated soldier or a weightlifter or a farmer is uncool; you don’t have to like them, but there’s no way in hell “uncool” is the right word. And so today, on the second edition of the “David’s Takes” Sunday Op-Ed, I argue that minivans are the toughest cars on the streets, and that for that alone, they deserve respect.

Stop by any car dealership and have a look around at the various different vehicle shapes — the trucks, the crossovers, the body-on-frame SUVs, the sedans, the hatchbacks, the minivans, the wagons, and on and on. The vast majority of these noncommercial machines will live coddled lives. Even the trucks, with their heated leather seats and air suspension, will likely never see a hay bale in their beds or a trailer on their hitches. Most of these vehicles will be used as commuters for the entire duration of their soft, cushy lives. But one of those vehicles will live a lifetime of suffering; it will be beaten up from the day it’s brought home from the dealership to the day it gets forklifted onto junkyard jack stands to be pilfered for parts. Even in the afterlife, it will receive only ridicule from the masses, and will never truly be appreciated for its considerable sacrifices.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

That vehicle is the minivan.

Let’s take it all the way back to day one; the van has just come off the assembly line at Windsor or Hanover or wherever, and has made its way onto a lot in Yadkinville, North Carolina, where a young couple, Meghan and Bill, are browsing for a new vehicle to hold their rapidly-growing family. “Yeah, we’re on number three and four now — they’re twins!” the couple tells the dealership salesperson. “We love our Cherokee, but it’s just not roomy enough for the car seats. We really like the van over there,” they continue, pointing.

So the salesperson lets the couple take a test drive with their kids, who have yanked open the sliding doors and are bouncing around the rear, yelling and screaming. “Mom! This thing is awesome! Look, I can even stand!”

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“Ok Kaden, that’s great, but I need you to put your seatbelt on and sit on your booster,” Meghan replies.

“But mom, we’re only going on a short—”

“I don’t care, Kaiden! Get your ass in that seat!” She’s a bit frustrated. Buying cars can be a stressful ordeal.

Kaiden pouts, but then sits and starts playing with his iPad.

An hour later, Meghan and Bill have traded in their Jeep Cherokee, and are cruising back home in their massive house-on-wheels. Meghan loves the vehicle, but you can tell that Bill’s eyes have glazed over a bit, and he feels dead inside as he stares out the window at a brand new Ford Bronco on a neighboring dealership lot.

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You see, Bill grew up with a 1991 Dodge Caravan as his family runabout, and he’s therefore got it in his head that minivans are uncool. After all, if your dad — the most uncool person in most children’s’ minds — used a vehicle to drop you off at soccer practice, then this vehicle cannot possibly be cool. This is basic math.

It’s A Grueling Life For A Minivan

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The van I grew up with. As you can see, it lived until my five brothers and I were adult enough to drive it and do dumb shit with it. Like get it stick in our front yard.

For 12 years Meghan and Bill shuttle their children around in the van they bought from that dealership, taking their four youngsters to soccer practice, piano lessons, Boy Scouts, birthday parties — the whole lot. And in this role, the minivan excels. This is why Meghan and Bill had bought the machine in the first place — to haul their kids around, and though Bill finds the van deeply uncool and even a bit emasculating, he knew there was nothing else that could do this job better. So he deals with it.

Over that time, the family puts 150,000 miles on the van. Timmy learns for the first time how to use a fork while sitting in that second row; the practice necessary to make that happen results in huge mounds of food on the van’s carpet. Kaidynne fits all his baseball gear in the cargo area, but the whole inside of the car has to deal with his sharp cleats, which do a number on the back of the front seats. The third child, Johnny, and the fourth Child, Liz, love the outdoors; they have their dad take the van out into the woods and unload/loading it with firewood and wet tents and tarps and backpacks and other equipment.

Sometimes — especially when they were young — the kids fought in the back during road trips, they had digestion-related accidents, and as they grew older, the bodily fluids that used to drench the van’s carpets with were replaced with Coca-Cola and ice cream and Gatorade.

The van shrugged it all of, and continued diligently transporting Meghan and Bill’s most precious cargo, along with their friends and various equipment associated with after-school activities.

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Then, after 12 years, the kids became teenagers, and it was time for the family to move on and get something a bit safer, as the van was now missing a lot of safety features standard in the newest crop of people-haulers.

So what happens to a minivan when it gets old and needs a new home? Does it go off into low-mileage retirement like a classic sedan might? Does it become a commuter car like the trucks and crossover SUVs it once shared a dealership lot with?

No, the van — which just spent a dozen years getting vomit and juice and the family dog’s diarrhea spilled all over it as it frantically drove around to get a bunch of kids to the right places at the right time — now enters an even tougher phase of its life, and the final one. It becomes a cargo van.

After ~15 Years Of Tough Family-Hauling, Life Gets Even Harder For Minivans

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You see, an old minivan’s value is extremely limited. Nobody’s going to buy an old one to carry their kids around to school and to soccer practice, because families typically don’t want their children riding in aging, unsafe vehicles that could break down due to age. Check out my 1994 Chrysler Voyager diesel 5-speed in the image above. I bought this thing for $600. Why? Because nobody wants it. It’s never going to be a family vehicle like it once was, and it’s never going to be a weekend toy because no matter how old it is, nobody’s ever going to consider a minivan a classic; they’re just too “uncool.” Of course, I strongly disagree, which is why I bought that one from Germany, and am treating it like any of my other vintage classic automobiles.

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Still, I’m an anomaly, which is why I knew that only two fates could befall an old van like mine. It could 1. Go straight to a junkyard. or two. It could become a cargo van for a small business.

Paint vans, delivery vans, welding services-vans, fencing services-vans, lawn services-vans — there may not be any more family-hauling duties in an old minivan’s future once it reaches a certain age, but you can bet that the vehicle’s retirement is going to be a back-breaking affair, and that the vehicle will meet its demise completely filthy, dented, smelly, and leaky. Every single ounce of utility will be squeezed out of the vehicle that raised Bob and Meghan’s family, and then that van will sit at a junkyard where nobody will pick any parts off of it because nobody gives enough of a damn to do their own repairs on a minivan, and a few weeks later the van will be a metal cube ready to be melted into an I-Beam.

How Can Something This Tough Be ‘Uncool’?

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So we can sit in our cushy full-size pickup trucks that we’ve never taken off-road or used to tow, and we can point and laugh at minivans. We can call their drivers “poor schmucks,” and tell the world that we won’t be caught dead driving these uncool, sliding-door equipped machines that our uncool parents used to shlep us around. But just know that we’re wrong. Minivans get beaten up from the day they’re purchased to the day they’re sent to the junkyard. They get scratched and bruised by kids who don’t know how to be careful, because of safety advancements they become chopped liver in the eyes of families once they reach a certain age, and then the only use for them is to haul around ladders and gallons of paint for a small house remodeling business that hires reckless teens who don’t give a damn about the junky old minivan their boss told them to use to get to job sites.

For minivans, there is no mercy. And in a country where we value hard work and sympathize with fatigue and injury, surely we can realize that we’re wrong about these big sliding-door-equipped people haulers. They’re anything but uncool.

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Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
4 months ago

If “Bill” resents having to drive his kids around in a minivan, he should get a vasectomy or latex.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
4 months ago

I actually had a cool minivan because it had a stick shift. I kinda wish I’d been able to keep that ’93 Voyager.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
3 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Please don’t summon the Voyager guy

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
4 months ago

I think minivans stand out to us because here in America they’re perhaps the only non-commercial bodystyle that people buy solely for practicality. In Europe they have the ludospace; in Japan they have the Toyota Pro/Succ; in ASEAN markets they have AUVs like the formerly truck-based Innova; and in Aus they have the 70 series Land Cruiser. These are all types of vehicles that no one buys for image—they’re workhorses through and through. Bought new, run hard, and then run even harder used. Isn’t that how cars ought to be?

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
4 months ago

The 70 Series Cruiser, sadly, has become an image vehicle now. They are too expensive to buy and run into the ground. Most I see have a suspension lift, recovery tracks permanently mounted to a purpose built rack, a roof top tent, a roof top solar panel charging a deep cycle battery to run the beer fridge… all topped off with personalised number plates and the shiniest paint you’ll ever see. They are increasingly occupying a space that I guess the “bro-dozer” does in the states.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
3 months ago
Reply to  PajeroPilot

Yeah but in rural areas they’re still just about the only vehicle you see—usually beaten down, decade plus old examples. There still hasn’t really been anything to replace it just yet, though I do see what you mean with the new ones being image queens.

Leighzbohns
Leighzbohns
3 months ago

the new ones will be used ones soon enough, and will go on to their highest calling of being beaten to fuck work trucks.

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
4 months ago

The family hauler until I was 12 was an 80’s Toyota Tarago. That nameplate is unique to Australia, ours was a rebadged Toyota Townace, the Tarago later became what every other country calls the Previa.

It was bronze in colour with oh so rad maroon and yellow graphics on the sides, a beige and maroon velour interior and not one, but TWO sunroofs… called moonroofs for some reason. Also included were two seperate, independent air conditioning systems – these definitely had to be switched off to ascend a hill.

To this day, I’ve not met a car that was better at moving kids, their friends and all their crap than that Tarago. Yes it would have been a bitch to work on, with the engine under the driver’s seat and yes it was gutless, with its 1.8 litre carbureted motor struggling to pull our family’s very light weight camper trailer or a 14 foot sailing dinghy on a trailer. But it had shit tonnes of room and every one of the 8 seats was comfortable with ample head and leg room.

Now a Dad myself, the family transports have been a station wagon, and now a 7 seat 4WD. Both might look cooler, be more powerful and in the case of the 4WD, can tow and go off road. For moving kids though… people movers, sorry, minivans, shit all over both.

Minivans are the thinking parents’ car!

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
4 months ago

I got so wrapped up in the lives of Meghan and Bill, I totally forgot that I was reading an article about minivans!

Chris D
Chris D
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob Boxbody

Nice satire – kid named Kaden/Kaiden (what’s the difference, it’s a stupid name?), dog making a mess, kid eating food and spilling all over… definitely satirical but illustrative.
How about leaving the dog at home unless it’s going to the vet, and not giving the kids pudding and mashed potatoes on the way home? THAT is what makes minivans uncool – the nasty food and bodily fluid stains.

I would love a manual transmission first-generation Honda Odyssey to convert to electric, but I think they were all automatics. That would be about as functional as a vehicle could get.

Now Meghan and Bill had better not name their twins Jaden and Zaden, although they probably already have. Ol’ Bill has my sympathies, but it’s his own fault.

Fordlover1983
Fordlover1983
3 months ago
Reply to  Chris D

Manual swap from an Accord, maybe?

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
4 months ago

I have always been a fan of utilitarian vehicles. My first car was the only sedan I ever bought, and I only got it because I could not find a station wagon (VW squareback) quickly enough. VW busses are minivans and I have had a bunch of them. So very utilitarian. We traveled the US and Canada in a VW bus on our honeymoon. I commuted in a Vanagon Westfalia for years. When kids came along and the Subaru wasn’t big enough, a Quest came into our life. I obtained a Previa from my brother’s estate, and we had it for a long time. Kids are gone, no minivan, but I still have a stationwagon, two crewcab trucks, a (what is a Prius AWD anyway), and my spouse’s SUV. Still I miss having a minivan. Embarassing our youngest in the Previa is another story for another time.

The Dude
The Dude
4 months ago

Minivans are way cooler than most SUVs.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
4 months ago

The Renault Espace is cool.
Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong in every way.
I think that if minivans were less blobby and more brick shaped they would be cooler. Anything that disguises itself is not cool.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

As an American I long for foreign minivans. They are so much cooler than ours… I was recently volunteering in another country and saw Hyundai Starias and Citroen Spacetourers for the first time, and they look like Star Trek shuttlecraft on wheels. I’m convinced you simply couldn’t sell those in the U.S. without everyone suddenly realizing “holy crap I need that” and flocking to dealerships to pay whatever it takes to leave with one. The Staria’s based on the Santa Fe for cryin’ out loud, they could totally bring it here and federalize it, but they won’t because they’re already selling a minivan here that fakes being an SUV because marketing. We could have an actually really cool minivan, but no, we get one that pretends to be something it isn’t instead.

I am Dr. Wu and I am with you
I am Dr. Wu and I am with you
4 months ago

Three thoughts:

  1. Didn’t Dexter Morgan drive a minivan to transport his tools and such?
  2. Where I work, at a major university in the midwestern U.S., minivans are used to transport cadavers.
  3. In China, they are informally called “面包车“ which literally means, “bread car” or “bread loaf car”.

That is all.

Maymar
Maymar
4 months ago

I don’t remember for the whole series, but there was a long stint Dexter drove a second gen Ford Escape.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Maymar

He drove a Wind star when he was with plant lady

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
4 months ago

Let’s hear it for the bread loaf cars!

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago

I wish modern minivans were still more mini, but I have always been a fan. You can’t love wagons for their practicality as much as I do and not also appreciate minivans, haha. One very well may be our next family vehicle if the Element ever dies even though we only have one spawn. However the reason we don’t appreciate minivans as much as we should in this country David is that we appreciate the idea of hard work a lot more than we do actual hard work, so trucks that give the impression regardless of of how much work they do are preferred by the masses.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

Minivans meanwhile are the automotive equivalent of sweatpants. If we could just be honest with ourselves and everyone around us and give up on being fashionable to impress strangers, we’d realize so much of life could be easier and more convenient in the comfortable and relaxing embrace of sweatpants and minivans. Functional in all occasions, fashionable in none: The right choice.

86-GL
86-GL
4 months ago

A family member gave us her old SWB Chevy Venture after she decided it was too ‘old and unreliable’. I drove the beans off that thing for a year, and loved every minute of it!

Any free [running] car is a good car of course, but I absolutely loved having a compact yet spacious vehicle I didn’t give a shit about. Toss in a bunch of dirty bicycles, bulky tool boxes, furniture, construction waste, scrap metal, let the dog hang in even when he was covered in mud, etc. Honestly it got decent gas mileage and was even kinda fun to drive with the V6.

Eventually the brake lines all rusted out and it was decided we needed to play the professional, and we bought a nice pickup truck. It basically does all the same stuff, same gas milage, except people don’t treat me like I’m homeless when I role up in front of a business. Vans are great, but it’s nice having your passenger space separated from all the messy crap you need to haul. Owning a nice pickup is like having a traditional luxury sedan and a junk trailer all in one, and I fricken love it. Obviously a new van would be more comparable, but you don’t really haul stuff regularly in a 50k minivan if you want it to stay presentable.

I would be more onboard with minivans if they didn’t cost so much, and get such middling gas mileage. As it stands, compact crossovers like a Honda CRV are more than enough vehicle for your average nuclear family, and outperform the van in every way other than sheer interior volume, for less money.

Sarah Blikre
Sarah Blikre
4 months ago

I didn’t really want a minivan mostly because I don’t like driving big vehicles, but after it was clear that my middle-of-the-road-compromise Mazda5 was just not big enough, I bought a 2008 Odyssey and I love it. It’s like a luxury spaceship compared to the base model shit boxes I usually buy.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
4 months ago

My sister-in-law and her family are in the market for a new car to replace one of their SUVs, and their requirements include second-row captains’ chairs. I suggested the Kia Carnival for its excellent second-row accommodations and superior Costco-hauling ability … and immediately got shot down because of the m-word.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
4 months ago

Or, hear me out, minivans are awesome.

Any vehicle where you can have a table INSIDE the cabin for you to play card games with your friends is cool in my eyes.

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
4 months ago

I’ve had a mini in my fleet for years. A buddy of mine, who drives a quad cab Dakota, jumped in mine the other day. He exclaims, “This thing is huge!” After I told him that’s what his mom said, I was like, No shit! I can haul lumber IN the van that he can’t put in his tiny bed. Or 8 people, or just two, or tow 3500 pounds and get WAY better MPG. My FWD does great on the snow, never stuck. I’ve had four people, a huge load of groceries and an 85″ TV in there. Or 5 people a huge load of groceries, a set of tires, and more. There is no vehicle that can do a wider range of things well, with less compromise than a mini van. And I don’t give a shit what someone thinks of me at a stop light for driving one. They’re stupid.

S Chen
S Chen
4 months ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

I have a 2022 Sienna (hybrid) and I love it. It’s not super fast but it’s actually decently fast when you put the pedal down. In normal driving, it gets great MPG and is quite comfortable. My other car is a 2022 Model Y LR which is super fast (accel boost) and faster than any car I’ve ever owned in my life.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago
Reply to  S Chen

I think it’d be fun to put the supercharger from a Lotus Evora on the same V6 in a Toyota Sienna. Who wouldn’t love a ~400 hp sleeper minivan?

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
3 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

I’ve harbored thoughts of someone doing a sleeper van. I know the Japanese do these crazy anime looking kitted out vans. Not that. Maybe a subtle lowering tasteful but larger alloys. Just the stuff that matters. Maybe another 100 horsepower. I don’t want to do it, but I want to see it done.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
3 months ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

I know Honda Odysseys in particular are surprisingly tunable. I’ve seen some crazy 1,000+ hp Odyssey builds out there…

D-dub
D-dub
4 months ago

Those in the club know that an old minivan is the way to go for your local crap-hauling needs. Laugh at those fools getting in a bidding war over that rusted out Taco, knowing you can haul twice as much yard waste to the recycling center in your $1000 minivan.

Last edited 4 months ago by D-dub
Dan Manwich
Dan Manwich
4 months ago

When I see a bunch of kids in a minivan, I think “This person has given up on life and has chosen the best vehicle to accommodate their children’s daily routine” (lame). When I see a bunch of kids in an SUV, I think “Wow, I bet after this family gets out of this Chic-fil-a drive thru, they’re going to off-road to the top of a mountain to go hang-gliding” (very cool).

Last edited 4 months ago by Dan Manwich
Chris D
Chris D
4 months ago
Reply to  Dan Manwich

Eating at Chic-fil-a is giving up on life, much worse than driving a minivan.

World24
World24
3 months ago
Reply to  Chris D

I actually had Chic-Fil-A for the very first time last year.
I’ll agree with this statement!

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago
Reply to  Dan Manwich

Screw that line of thinking, you know full well 90% of SUV owners will never take them off road. They only exist to avoid drawing the attention of people who think judging you by your vehicle’s body style is okay. Minivans are bought by rational people who know what they need and that a minivan will do all of it exceptionally well with very little compromise, and I can respect that, having found from firsthand experience that minivans are the ultimate do-anything vehicles and all else is foolishness.

Also screw judging people for driving minivans, grow up.

The Mark
The Mark
3 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

I do not know Mr. Manwich but I read his comment as being very much tongue-in-cheek.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
3 months ago
Reply to  The Mark

Yeah, my reply was a little harsh. I’m just personally rather tired of negative minivan stereotypes even in a joking sense, as it still convinces people not to buy vehicles that would be perfect for their use case out of fear of judgement.

Last edited 3 months ago by Austin Vail
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
4 months ago

As the youngest of seven siblings I’ve never understood the “we’ve got kids we need a minivan” sentiment.

List of cars in my family’s driveway growing up (in order of appearance):
Datsun pickup
Chevy Caprice
Pontiac 6000
Toyota Camry
Another Toyota Camry
Mazda Protege

If you need a luxurious minivan to haul all your kids around at once you are doing parenting wrong.
That approach is sure to drive you mad.

You can only have so many kids within a given span of time.

My mom was smart about it.
She managed a fleet of shitboxes to get us around instead of one vehicle that pretended to cover all the bases.

When you have seven kids one or two are surely able to stay home and take care of the few that don’t fit in the family hauler when another few need to to be taken somewhere.

Next thing you know your oldest sister is driving you to school in the oldest shitbox while mom is shuffling off with other siblings in the newest shitbox.

Then, one fine day, there’s an older sisters shitbox left decaying in the driveway.
That becomes your shitbox.

The Pontiac 6000 is now mine, so long as I can keep it running.
Just gotta keep it going till my youngest sister gives up on the Protege.

We fight amongst each other for car keys and automotive freedom while mom drives the newest Camry, not to be touched by our grubby, gas money stealing paws.

Minivans… who needs em?
The fight over those keys would have been a nightmare.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
4 months ago

Not everybody can afford to run multiple cars.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
4 months ago
Reply to  Ben Chia

Not everyone can afford not too.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
4 months ago

I mean, I dunno how the math will work out, but how much would it cost to insure/tax multiple cheap cars, versus one slightly more expensive car? Honest question.

86-GL
86-GL
4 months ago

Sounds like an interesting childhood.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
4 months ago
Reply to  86-GL

The best we could make of it.

S Chen
S Chen
4 months ago

When my kids were very young, we drove them in a compact SUV. We only got our minivan now that they are almost teenagers. It’s great with all the space and the comfort. Plus, minivans are practically luxury vehicles when you get one of the higher trims.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
4 months ago
Reply to  S Chen

We simply couldn’t afford that type of luxury.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago

If you want all those kids in one vehicle at the same time (which is valid) for the sake of family road trips and other activities, minivans are very much the way to go. You can fit many kids and all their stuff in one vehicle, and strap whatever doesn’t fit to the roof rack. Family outings and vacations made simple.

If your living situation doesn’t really allow for fun family outings and road trips, then sure, shuffle around a fleet of old cars amongst you. But minivans do make a lot of sense as the ultimate versatile workhorse.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
3 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Family outings and road trips were usually made possible by roping in neighbors, aunts and uncles…
There’s room for so and so in aunt Coline’s Roadmaster…
So and so can ride in uncle Terry’s Suburban…

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
3 months ago

I have 6 kids. We’ve had a mini since we had two. Can you get by otherwise? Of course. We have the ability to haul my entire family in one shot. Which we have done albeit infrequently. Mostly for a holiday or something. My oldest are getting older and one has just gotten their first ride, so maybe we won’t need that anymore. But when we did, we had it, it was great, and why not?

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
3 months ago

That’s how we’re playing it with our family of 5 + big dog. 6 roadworthy vehicles (several more not), 4 on the road right now, I’m the fleet mechanic. Our only minivan was a 2010 Mazda5 with a 5 speed which is actually kinda fun to drive, off the road now, but will probably become my daily driver this year.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
4 months ago

Compact pickups have the hardest life of any car – they get bought by a guy who drives to an office and maybe goes camping and hunting a few times a year, then by a teenager as a first car through college, then by a landscaping business, then a metal collection guy who tears the bed off and installs a stake bed, then they’re flat towed to Mexico where they complete another cycle of the above, then shipped to North Africa to be used as a taxi before ending life as a light technical for an improvised army.

Last edited 4 months ago by Rabob Rabob
Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
4 months ago

Every time my 5 year old throws his door open at 1000mph…i think awfully hard about a minivan.

Honestly, the AWD hybrid Sienna is awfully appealing. Great efficiency, AWD, a lot of comfort inside, and the ability to haul just about anything / road trip with ease.

If they could make the seats easier to remove, and make it a plug-in…I’d think awfully hard about it.

side note, had a several month long Pacifica rental for work testing a few years back…that thing was awesome. The stow and go seats are a modern fucking marvel.

Last edited 4 months ago by Detroit-Lightning
Kurt Hahn
Kurt Hahn
4 months ago

Are you serious about your kid opening the door while driving? If so, check your user manual on how to deactivate the rear doors inner handles. That way only you can open the rear doors, from the outside, regardless if they are locked or not.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Kurt Hahn

I think 1000 mph is the speed of the door opening.

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
3 months ago
Reply to  Kurt Hahn

Fortunately no, just how he opens the doors in parking lots when parked.

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
3 months ago
Reply to  Kurt Hahn

My youngest granddaughter (at 18 mo or so) would open the back doors on her mother’s Jeep from her forward facing car seat. Pretty exciting when going around a corner. I had to show her mother how to activate the child lock, but then her mother complained about having to come around and open the door.

Kurt Hahn
Kurt Hahn
3 months ago
Reply to  Hondaimpbmw 12

Those safety locks/latches must have prevented a few very ugly and sad accidents…simple but effective.

S Chen
S Chen
4 months ago

We have a 2022 Sienna and if you feather the pedal, you can easily get 36-40 MPG. If you drive like everyone else, it’s more like 32 MPG, but still pretty good for a huge 5000 lb car. The fact that the second row doesn’t come out doesn’t bother me as I don’t haul stuff. I just wanted the first class second row seats. The maintenance on the Sienna (and most Toyotas) is quite simple. In 2 years and 22k miles, all we’ve done is 2 oil changes and 4 tire rotations.

I wish I would have been able to get a Platinum trim but had to settle for the XLE Plus as this was during the vehicle shortage and it was almost impossible to even find a Sienna.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
4 months ago
Reply to  S Chen

For reference, my automatic 2007 Yaris (a nanovan?) gets around 36 MPG driven with traffic (mostly fairly gently, with the occasional ramp or hurried overtake), and while it may have five seat belts, it’s really more of a four-seater, with enough room behind for a week’s groceries for two… while your van can accomplish twice that, while weighing twice as much, moving just as rapidly, and getting effectively the same fuel economy. The hybrid Sienna really is a marvel of engineering, as long as you like the seats in place.

Side note, nobody gets out of the back of the Yaris without the front passengers’ say-so. 🙂 Obviously, this door arrangement is only really suitable for those who don’t have rear passengers in car seats.

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
3 months ago
Reply to  S Chen

That efficiency is pretty amazing, and probably should be talked about more. Like, everyone went bonkers about the maverick (for good reason) but the Sienna doing this w/ AWD is just as impressive (but that goes back to the entire premise of this piece, i suppose).

CUlater
CUlater
4 months ago

Pacifica Hybrid well recommended. Batteries kill off the stow n go bins, but the seats are removable and not that heavy or difficult to remove without tools. I think my current overall average is 32 mpg.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  CUlater

I recommend the shitbox route. Buy a well loved Dodge Caravan for a few grand and worry less about resale.

Chris D
Chris D
4 months ago

If you can drive above the speed of sound, then more power to you. If your 5-year-old kid can open the door at that speed, he’s on his way to becoming an Olympic gold medalist.

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
3 months ago
Reply to  Chris D

Haha yeah maybe i didn’t word this that well. I’m not signing him up for private lessons at this point, but yeah…kids opening doors in parking lots is an adventure.

SonOfLP500
SonOfLP500
4 months ago

SUVs are so cool!!
You have to clamber up into them through swing doors, the space inside is compromised by a high floor and huge wheelhouse and suspension intrusions, they’re unnecessarily heavy, they get crap mileage/range, the tyres are expensive and noisy, changing a wheel is a drag, the ride and handling can only be made reasonable by expensive and fault-prone suspension design, they’re prone to roll over in crashes, they’re increasingly dangerous to pedestrians, cyclists and other road users… what could be cooler than all that??!!

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
4 months ago
Reply to  SonOfLP500

Well, you COULD take your SUV off road. But you never will because you paid a fortune for it. Much more than a minivan.

86-GL
86-GL
4 months ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

Yup. The best off-road vehicle is always any vehicle you don’t care about.

S Chen
S Chen
4 months ago
Reply to  86-GL

My XLE Plus Sienna, which is a mid-grade trim) cost $50k OTD. Minivans aren’t cheap these days. They have lots of features that push the price upwards.

86-GL
86-GL
4 months ago
Reply to  S Chen

Of course, I’m thinking more of the cast-off 20 year old minivan.

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
3 months ago
Reply to  S Chen

I won’t argue that they’re exactly cheap, nothing is, but a new Sienna is AWD and hybrid. With the average new vehicle transaction price being $48k, it’s not expensive either, pretty close to average. If you wanted an SUV with those features and seating for 7, with that internal volume, you’d be looking at a full size, and it still wouldn’t be as big inside. A full size SUV starts at what, $65k? Wagoneers and Tahoes are $80-110k?
If you need bigger towing numbers then your decision is made, otherwise that Sienna will do everything more comfortably and get roughly twice the MPG.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

Oh I dunno. I’ve taken a 4cyl Caravan off pavement in Death Valley and it did just fine.

SonOfLP500
SonOfLP500
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Pinto manual wagon with 6 people off pavement in Monument Valley in 1980 and it did just fine (apart from tailbone pain for the person sitting on the diff housing).

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  SonOfLP500

We had Pinto wagons growing up. Many memories of rolling around in the cargo area (seat belts? A/C? What are those?) until the Mojave desert heat, dehydration, tobacco + exhaust fumes, the hum of the differential and blaring AM radio finally brought blissful relief from the Sandman.

Those horrible dehydration headaches waking up though…oy!!

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
3 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

My brother in law bought an 06 Sienna AWD. He then sends me links to lift kits and what not. I went down that rabbit hole. I had no idea people were doing that, but I love it!

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
4 months ago

Minivans are proof that you scored. Therefore, minivans are cool, the ultimate “parent/man/woman card,” if you’re into positive traditional gender role affirmation.

Here4thecars
Here4thecars
4 months ago

I love minivans. I drove a Chevy Astro in the late 90’s and it was the most practical, most versatile vehicle I have ever owned. With the seats in, I could haul my kids around. Take out the seats, and I fit an entire PA system, small lighting rig, and my own bass guitar backline when I went to work. With just the 2nd row installed, it was perfect for carrying two kids and enough cargo to go camping, or whatever. I feel like the lack of respect for minivans also is reflected in their value on the used market. A minivan can do a lot of things you would ask a truck to do, but they are quite a bit cheaper than trucks on the used market.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
4 months ago

Sorry David, minivans are not and never will be cool in the sense of being hip, save a couple way out there exceptions like the Renault Espace F1 build. Nonetheless, they should be accorded great respect as the amazing utility vehicles that they are. Unlike your family man in the article I loved our minivans because they were the perfect vehicle for our family needs, and also unlike your family man in the article I was never in the least embarrassed to drive something that I knew was getting the job done better than any other compromised vehicle would be doing.

Need to haul 7 or 8 people and still throw some strollers and random crap in the back? Check. Able to fit car seats? Check. DVD player for the kids? Check. Need to remove or stow the seats and move boxes or other random stuff? Check. Wife and kids mostly uninjured in a wicked crash where they got crunched from both ends? Check.

Our last minivan wound up getting handed to a contractor friend who used it as his pickup and hauled a lot of large stuff around.

We are empty nesters now and have no need of a minivan anymore but I will never regret having them and I am grateful for the hard, thankless life our minivans lived while we needed them.

S Chen
S Chen
4 months ago
Reply to  OrigamiSensei

I think even after the kids are grown and left the house, I could see myself still having a nice high trim minivan, with basically the same features as any high trim SUV. I don’t ever hardly carry big loads in it. I just like having a large comfortable car with lots of bells and whistles. I wouldn’t care less what someone else thinks of the car I bought with my own hard earned cash.

CUlater
CUlater
4 months ago
Reply to  S Chen

Hear, hear, kids are young adults now, but just re-entered the Van Life … Still hauls everything under the sun, including grandchildren.

Elons Backdoor Musk
Elons Backdoor Musk
4 months ago

Bought my first minivan in 2021, a Carnival. I’ll probably have one for years to come.

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