By on September 10, 2014

mini van. Shutterstock user BoJack

Josh writes:

What is the deal with minivans? I was thinking the other day that as an outdoor person, minivan’s are perfect. They have lots of room for people and gear, AWD (in some cases), lots of roof space, and better MPG’s than an SUV. But apparently I can’t own one because they’re not cool. I could get a wagon though. Isn’t a minivan just a super-sized wagon?

Will minivans ever be cool to own?

Sajeev answers:

What’s the deal with minivans? From public perception, CUV popularity, fleet usage, etc. the “uncool minivan” is indeed a sad reality.  But there is plenty to love here on TTAC, from the Farago era to something brilliantly Baruthian.  My second favorite rental vehicle was the 3.6L Pentastar Caravan: it was quick and comfortable with chassis/suspension/steering components ready to play. No surprise, my fav rental was a white 2011 Crown Vic. But I digress…

Isn’t a minivan just a super-sized wagon?  Not really, even if they (kinda) ended the station wagon era. Uncool minivans are a radical rethink: eschewing the traditional notions of the family wagon and the creepster’s van with the adoption of a modern front-wheel drive layout (Aerostar and Astro notwithstanding) for maximum utilization of a traditional two box design, while adding the styling of a family sedan/wagon for curb appeal. Supposedly the Chrysler minivan’s early concepts were lifted from Ford’s work in the early 1970s: possible since Lee Iacocca famously left FoMoCo after butting heads with Henry II far too many times, and took some design staffers with him…though that’s the subject of some controversy.

Will minivans ever be cool to own? Keep in mind the Minivan was and remains an enlightened design: that will attract people. Just like so many Pistonheads go nuts over vintage wagons these days (especially with wheels you’d expect on a restomod ’69 Camaro), the uncool minivan will come back to win our hearts.

Until then, who gives a crap what people think? Go buy one and brush off the haters, no matter what they say!

[Image: Shutterstock user BoJack]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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198 Comments on “Piston Slap: Why So Uncool Minivan?...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    Just get a crossover, same exact thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Exactly… except for the practicality and the utility and the interior volume. Exactly the same.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Same exact thing but worse (less room on the inside, higher floor to struggle with) – just a matter of time before they’re deemed hopelessly uncool as well.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        I do computer recycling. A lady loaded her Ford Edge up with stuff for us. I was astonished by how short the rear load area was. Even with the rear seats folded, I still thought their was more usable load space in my A6 Avant.

        After I loaded the stuff in my wagon with room to spare, I now know that the CUV seems completely pointless!

    • 0 avatar

      Include me in those who’d take a minivan over any crossover any day.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      I never fail to remind owners of Highlanders, CX-9s, etc. of this fact.

      If it’s got 3 rows, it’s a minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        .
        ” The VW Microbus was the original minivan.”

        You have not lived until you’ve crossed America (Mexico/Canada etc.) in an old VW Kombi with a 36 horsepower engine and a crashbox tranny ~

        Just you , or jammed full of kids or hippies or even a stinking smelly work crew , it’s never a dull moment lemme tell ya .

        I believe the Old Folks told me ” it just builds character ” .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          Dave W

          Growing up we blew engines in 3 different states camping cross country in our ’59 Westphalia.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Few remember that 1959 had a miserable 37 HP engine that died in droves , VW stopped making parts for it prettydamnquick and simply replaced with 36HP engines .

            I wonder if your troubles were one of those ? .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            Dave W

            Nate, yes it was the small engine pushing an overloaded bus with aerodynamically dubious camping gear on the roof so no wonder there were problems.

            On the other hand at least one of those times We were towed to a campground, the motor taken out for a rebuild, brought back and installed (still in the campground) in a couple of days. What can I say, they were easy enough to work on that I don’t recall (ok I was 10) Ever being stranded for as long as a week. Not bad for a foreign car in late 60s.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    They’re the family short bus with better doors.

    No family, no need unless for commercial.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      TTAC Classic Rerun: VanillaDude Rifs on Minivans – 3/11/11
      Updated today –

      First of all, I still have a minivan my wife adores and has proven itself to me as a serious vehicle. As a man, I wrote this a few years ago – but I believe it captures my feelings regarding minivans.

      I believe it is perfectly acceptable for hundreds of thousands of Americans to dump their hard earned wages into a minivan. It is a perfectly suitable vehicle for them. It makes them feel smart and fashionable. They believe the vehicle will make them appear stable, financially well off, and intelligent because everyone knows that people who buy these vehicles must be doing it for other reasons than enjoying a drive because these vehicles suck to drive. Driving a minivan around is like drinking decaf coffee, you taste something familiar, but it has absolutely no kick to it. Driving a minivan is like wearing a condom – you go through the motions, but aren’t feeling anything. Minivan owners recognize that their vehicle is the Bud Lite of transportation. Some minivans, like the Odyssey or the Sienna, is the Michelob Ultra, in that it has even less taste, but a higher price than Bud Lite.

      As the owner of a minivan and the father of a few little kids, the thought of buying a $40,000 vehicle so that it can be pooped, peed, barfed, spilled and destroyed from within seems to be completely insane. Any family vehicle selling for this price is like putting your toddler into disposable mink diapers. The only thing that keeps a family van from exploding from excessive fecal bacteria is the fact that Goldfish crackers contain fecal bacteria fighting antibodies capable of neutralizing van drippings. Maggot filled garbage cans on a summer afternoon have nothing on what kids can do to the interior of a new minivan. People who actually spend this kind of money on a family vehicle need to take a break from what is currently passing as parental wisdom among couples striving to keep up with the Jones. Get a clue and buy a vehicle that can has an interior capable of handling a high pressure car wash hose when your kids inevitably have projectile vomiting episodes in the way-back seats.

      The more options you put into a family vehicle, the more difficult it is to pay off the vehicle, keep it clean and keep it maintained. The manufacturers of these vehicles claim that their products are reliable. Well, what I can tell you is that reality dictates that you do not have the time to fix anything that goes wrong in a $40,000 family vehicle. You have kids, dummy, and you do not have time to sit in a vinyl lounge chair as the dealer fixes your van’s little owies. Another reason is because your other vehicle, (if you can actually afford to have another vehicle), won’t accommodate your spouse and children in a manner that will satisfy them so the idea of taking your $40,000 family vehicle to the dealer for servicing will not be appealing, resulting in your $40,000 family vehicle having maintenance problems. After a while, you will be discovering that all those options, nice plush interior, and other internal parts will start to fester like open sores without wound care. Family vehicles are like ambulances and taxis, they are needed 24/7. The more your family vehicle has, the more than takes them out of action when needed.

      This does not mean not having children. You are supposed to. Your equipment is not merely for recreative purposes. Children are the purpose to life. Like a Monarch butterfly, you have a role to play in the perpetuity of life on Earth. That said, it means that as you tend to your offspring, you are to be intelligent enough to not saddle it with a choice which wastes your wages. That means buying a disposable family vehicle. Minivans are the antithesis of what you are supposed to do with your assets. When you consider how fast any vehicle depreciates, you are committing fiscal suicide, regardless of brand. My Odyssey driving friends bragged about their vehicles resale until they actually saw how fast an Odyssey with a long history of transmission troubles ends up being valued only slightly more than a Chevrolet Lumina without wheel covers. I don’t recall Honda sending their previous Odyssey buyers a check as a refund to help offset their vehicles’ lost resale value, did they?

      The Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna are the Martha Stewart of family vehicles. While they make a fantastic first impression with strangers and impresses people you don’t know, it is a vehicle designed for parents with nothing else to do with themselves than spend valuable family time harping over spilled sippy cups, tooling around with a van filled with cleaning supplies to keep it’s interior from being quarantined by the Board of Health, and worrying about every carpet stain, seat seam, cubholder, DVD player screen and window streaking. Instead of being worry-free, the fact that you are carting around bioharzards in mini-humanoid forms, in a $40,000 vehicle will keep you up at night as you realize how fast your $40,000 is threatened by reality.

      Be smart. Don’t spend more than you have to on a new family vehicle. And don’t touch a used family vehicle unless you have had tetnus shots and a radiation suit to wear as you drive it around.

      Minivans suck. These are the kind of vehicles OTHER PEOPLE WHO DON’T HAVE ONE – often tell you to get. They are like those tiny Smart Cars, or mini kei cars that environmentalists recommend to people they secretly hate. Minivans are for other people – not you.

      SUVs are popular over minivans for a reason.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Really having trouble following this, although there are some nice turns of phrase. Was it meant to be printed in the yet to be perfected ‘sarcastica’ script?

        Even in Canada you can get a decently equipped brand new Caravan for just under $20k. More bang for your buck than any other vehicle.

        And since they have flat floors, unlike CUV’s, SUV’s and sedans or coupes you can actually vacuum and clean up all the spills. Nothing gets permanently caught in and under the seats.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          @ VanillaDude ;

          That was too good not to share with my Family .

          Interestingly , my Son never made messes in our vehicles , our Foster boys OTOH , I try hard to keep them from eating in the car but I keep finding crap and sticky gunk on the rear seats , under the carpets and rear seat etc.

          Maybe SWMBO allows them to have food in the car when I am not there ? .

          -Nate

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Minivans are cool in a “I don’t give a fvck what you think, watch while I haul all this stuff/people in fuel efficient comfort” kinda way. Nicely equipped modern minivans are hardly rolling penalty boxes to drive and most definitely are more useful than crossovers, especially if you get a Chrysler van with the Stow N Go seats that easily fold flat. Any hate from acquaintances will be quelled when you can haul the gang plus gear in comfort. I’d never fault someone for buying a minivan, unless it was a Windstar or early 2nd gen Odyssey.

    • 0 avatar

      They do have that going for them!

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Amen. The Sedona is way more comfortable than the Ranger driving down the St. Augustine for the Drake’s Raid re-enactment, with the middle seats permanently stored in the attic its a good camper van, and its sheer heaven at the racetrack.

      CUV? Why? You can’t get a flat floor in them behind the front seats. My dick works fine, so I don’t see a need to show off while driving.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Tell you what, after a ride in my aunt’s 2012 Sienna XLE AWD V6, I came away thinking it could easily have a Lexus badge on the front. It certainly was not a penalty riding in there.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        We rented a 2013 Sienna for a week. I absolutely hated the styling and the fact that we couldn’t see where the front of the thing was, but that being said…

        it was certainly refined for a minivan. I wouldn’t go with a Sienna for the styling, but I’d buy a minivan in a heartbeat. They’re pretty nice inside!

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    I grew up with and still own a 1984 Toyota Van 5 speed. So I’m definitely in the “they are cool camp”. We have a 2012 Odyssey for our 3 kids now and it truly is wonderful. so much space inside and easy access [thank you sliding doors!]. I think it’s cool even if others feel it’s dowdy or a mommy-mobile.

    And for those that would suggest just getting a 3rd row in your CUV or SUV, strapping a little one into a car seat back there once or twice should be enough to change your mind on that!

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      True. I was unfortunate enough with the first baby to buy a 2000-ish Windstar. It wasn’t awful, but it could see it from there. The lack of refinement, constant dash alerts, and terrible mileage combined with 90% devaluation in five years to keep me out of vans for another 9.
      Just this year we traded our CX-9 (yes, it’s basically a non-van van) on an Odyssey. While it doesn’t have quite the power or handling of the giant-wheeled Mazda, it beats it in every other way for family duty. Way better mileage, good tech (admittedly steep learning curve, but it does work if you can figure out the button sequences), carries amazing amounts of stuff, and because it’s near a refresh and has less demand than SUV’s the dealer came WAY off the price before we even asked. We shopped used, and Odysseys within a couple years seem to hold resale value like Jeeps, buying new was actually the best deal. I miss the Mazda, but the Odyssey’s good at everything except backing up to the right (blind-spot you could hide a box-truck in).

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Some in-laws cart their five kiddos around in a minivan and once you’ve seen the stained and cluttered interior coated with cracker crumbs and wreathed in diaper musk, it really is hard to view minivans as “cool”.

    Get that stigma out of your head and they really are great vehicles if you need room. Dodge used to offer the Grand Caravan in a great shade of metallic orange. In that or black, it had a fair amount of menace about it. I’d own one of those long before I’d be seen in a frumpy Traverse. Which is just as likely to be full of dirty diapers and is in no way “cool”, regardless of what some of the strangely image-conscious parents may think.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I gotta say, the latest Odyssey Touring looks downright sharp in black. Same goes for the Quest in luxo-trim and tinted windows. This is coming from a 25 year old.

    My one concern is that for an outdoorsy person, some of these vans like the Sienna and Odyssey have some pretty low and long front overhangs, and might give you some trouble on forest access roads. My brother has an old 1989 Mazda MPV, and that thing has “seen some sh*t” in its 235k miles. It has a decent 7-7.5ish inches of ground clearance with short overhangs, so even in plain jane RWD 2.6 I4 guise it gets around off the beaten path really well. It’s usually seen carrying 5 mountain bikes and 5 people to a endurance MTB race somewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      Put some tall knobby tires on it your good to go

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        Uh…negative. Back twenty years ago, I was broke and starting a new career…on the railroad. I had no car; my old man had just been put in a nursing home. His Gen1 Dodge minivan sat there; low mileage. Only thing worn on it was the paint, from being outside for ten years.

        I had to use that minivan as a gofer all around a big, modern railroad yard. And in a year, I TRASHED it…damaged the front struts and bent suspension points. Nope, I wasn’t doing flying leaps.

        It just wasn’t up to off-road service. Which, when you look at MacPherson strut suspensions, is a no-brainer.

        • 0 avatar
          mikeg216

          That’s because a gen one Minivan has the same structural rigidity as a vw beetle, modern vans weigh 1500 lbs more and come with 17-22 inch tires, go down to the smallest wheel size and largest tire you can fit and take her easy, I promise

    • 0 avatar
      JGlanton

      LOL, my wife looks at those with great abhorrence, she says that they are extremely ugly and remind her of a hearse. It takes her a long time to settle down after seeing one. Nope, we won’t be seeing one of those in our driveway unless I am playing a cruel Halloween joke.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I just had a conversation with my sister about her next vehicle the other day. She has a Pilot and needs something more narrow because the fools who built her garage door openings didn’t realize that she can’t always give backing and pulling out her complete attention.
    So anyway, my first suggestion for her and her two tween kids was a minivan. Naturally she immediately said no and said “What about a crossover?” She noticed my dramatic eye roll and we discussed the issues facing CUVs and the benefits of, well, anything else.
    She said she thought she needed a 3rd row in case she has to haul some of the neighborhood kids around. My advice was that she’d probably be happier without the 3rd row so she could use that as an excuse to NOT haul a bunch of other people kids everywhere.

    I mentioned the Mazda5, which would honestly be perfect for her needs, especially since she finally realizes she doesn’t need AWD for the 3 times a year we get snow when she doesn’t leave the house. We’ll see where it goes, but I definitely got her at least thinking sedan. I have 6 months before she completely ignores me and get a Touareg.

    I just don’t get the minivan hate. You get the higher seating position most moms want, a ton of extra cargo space, a legit usable 3rd row, and they ride more like a car than even a CUV. But people still make fun of my wagon saying it should have wood on the side, etc so I guess some folks are just slaves to fashion.

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      It’s because “minivans are for moms”, and moms don’t like to think of themselves as moms.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “the fools who built her garage door openings didn’t realize that she can’t always give backing and pulling out her complete attention.”

      That made me laugh, thank you.

      A friend of ours bought a 3 row Pilot because she still fancies herself as outdoorsy even though that phase of life is long buried under children and carpooling runs. That vehicle will leave pavement perhaps once or twice in its lifetime. Goes to show that even “non-car people” rely a lot on emotion and image in their vehicle purchases.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      FWIw, we have an ’08 Pilot, which we have had from new. Except for having a little more power that allows it to roll along at 70 mph, it is inferior in every other respect to our ’96 AWD Previa (which was designed and powered for the 55 mph max speed limit era) and that includes in snow, with both cars having true snows on all 4 wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      “I have 6 months before she completely ignores me and get a Touareg.” Coffee-spitting laugh of the day, thanks! As admitted car fans, I bet most of us have been there when the relatives come home with the completely wrong car – a turbo Santa Fe Sport (it lasted 6 months).

      Weird fact, the Odyssey we have now is way lower than the CX-9 we traded, sporting pretense and all. My wife was actually hesitant because she liked the higher driving position. The other vans didn’t seem that way, just the Honda.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I have to agree ~

    My Father bought one in 1984 and I got to use / drive / ready it for re sale and it was truly a well lain out design .

    I like Panel Trucks , Pickups and Wagons , plus old VW Typ II’s , I doubt I’ll ever buy a Mini Van in spite of SWMBO bugging me .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    People who have 3+ kids and don’t need AWD or significant towing capacity would be best served by a minivan, granted.

    However, what everyone in internet land misses is that families with 1-2 kids, who want a little more space (and AWD, and higher seating position, and maybe a little towing capacity, and and and) than a midsized sedan, and don’t want a large sedan, do not need to skip the 2-row or 2 + occasional third row CUV in favor of a minivan. Does it make sense to buy a minivan instead of a Suburban or Sequoia? Yes. Does it make sense to buy a minivan instead of a CRV or RX350 or Highlander or Grand Cherokee? Only if you want one, and intend on carrying more than 4 people regularly.

    People who aren’t carrying more than 4 people regularly are sick of internet neckbeards with no kids insisting that if you want a CUV you are guaranteed to be better off in either a wagon or a minivan, because no one but internet neckbeards WANTS a wagon or minivan (the people who buy minivans NEED them, there’s a difference).

    And if you say “Mazda 5”, I’m going to say “clownfaced underpowered crapwagon” and then kick you in the shin.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Can a CUV replace a minivan? Depends what else you’re hauling. A few diaper bags, sure. Beyond that, I guess one could add a cargo carrier and a trailer hitch so as not to be suspected of being an internet neckbeard.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        Why is it that the people who like to tell everyone “you only had 1 kid, you don’t need a giant SUV” don’t get “I only have one kid, I don’t need a giant minivan”? We have 1 kid. Currently my wife has an aging MkV Jetta to haul the kid. Which works just fine. She wants a little more space (and AWD and a higher seating position and more luxury) in her next ride, which we’ve targeted to be an RDX. Given that the RDX is, if anything, a little overkill for our needs, why in the world should I buy, say, an Odyssey instead?

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        Yeah. Normal people drive with a trailer. Right!

        People are astonished when they see me back a trailer and not hit stuff. It’s like I just blew their minds!

    • 0 avatar

      You are just saying you prefer a CUV, while I’m just saying I prefer a minivan. Different stokes for different folks and all that.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        No, I’m saying the knee-jerk assumption that a minivan is better at carrying people than a CUV is based on the idea one needs or wants to carry 5+ people. CUV can mean anything from a CRV to a GL63; a minivan is probably better than the Highlander, etc, if that’s what you need, but it’s not a good substitute for a CRV or a GL63, if those meet your needs.

        • 0 avatar

          Diferrenst strokes for …. Again, not for everybody. You like the CRV better for instance, I completely dislike that car. Minivan any day over that.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            But do you understand why someone shopping for a CRV or equivalent might be annoyed by the insistence by the internet experts that a minivan would better fit their needs? I don’t care that you prefer a minivan over a CRV (I honestly don’t like the CRV, way too little power) but I’m annoyed by all the know-it-alls who insist someone who wants a CRV, a compact AWD economy runabout, would be better off with a blimp-hanger-on-wheels minivan and are just too stupid and status-obsessed to realize that.

          • 0 avatar

            That I agree. Buy whatever rocks your boat and go in peace. I’m just glad there are different options. CUVs advantages have been aptly discussed here on TTAC many times and it works for some, probably most at the current time, but not all.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I would not recommend a minivan to anyone with fewer than 3 kids.

          • 0 avatar

            VoGo, I’m assuming you’re in the States. As such, your argument has a point. Being where I am though we have smaller minivans than what’s offered there and they make perfect sense for smaller families.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Taking all factors into account, I cannot see a reason to not go minivan if you have a small family. There are few sedans large enough to comfortably haul both adult passengers and/or large child seats. Your other alternative is CUV, which is IMO engineered just right with long enough doors and rear room for a child’s seat. But throw more than one child in the mix and you’re going to be packed to the brim with man, woman, children, and their crap (not to mention other factors such as minivan fuel economy in many cases and the higher initial expense). The sliding door access to the rear compartment/row beats out the SUV and long wagon like choices (V70, Flex, etc), also in IMO (although this could be argued).

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            28-

            I’ll admit that I’d buy a Flex over a minivan because of the style of both the interior and exterior, and the additional powertrain option. I really like how the refreshed Flex looks. I wish the Flex had sliding doors though.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That’s why I mentioned it was bit arguable, Flex is almost a minivan – it literally only requires the sliding doors. How is the ease of access to the rear row/cargo area from the rear passenger doors?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            “How is the ease of access to the rear row/cargo area from the rear passenger doors?”

            $hitty compared to a minivan. We have a carseat in the middle of the 2nd row. Even though the MKFlex has push button access to the 3rd row/cargo area, the car seat is kinda in it’s way. Also, we folded the rear seats down when we bought the car. they have not been up since. There is a custom WeatherTech mat back there now.

            I’m just hoping Matthew McConaughey’s cool rubs off on my two ton Lincoln wagon. Because I bought a used Lincoln to be cool damnit.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            For your situation it may be ideal, but depending on the number of carseats one intends to leave in simultaneously, running out of fungible passenger room starts to come into focus with a long wagon. I think it varies by state but I believe in mine children are in car seats until they enter college, so my thinking is buy enough car to cover all of your contingencies.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            As we don’t plan on having another child anytime soon, or ever, a fullsize wagon is ideal. My wife’s round trip commute is less than 10 miles, but we regularly drive a few hundred miles on weekends. Small crossovers and midsized sedans don’t have enough room the typical weekend cargo.

            I priortize driving comfort and safety over full utility. Not that minivans aren’t safe or comfortable. I find the MKFlex to be more comfortable and better on the highway while being extremely safe.

            If we were planing on having three kids, I’d be at the Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Plymouth-Eagle-AMC-Renault-Fiat-Lancia-Alfa superstore this weekend convincing my wife to buy a minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “People who aren’t carrying more than 4 people regularly are sick of internet neckbeards with no kids insisting that if you want a CUV you are guaranteed to be better off in either a wagon or a minivan, because no one but internet neckbeards WANTS a wagon or minivan (the people who buy minivans NEED them, there’s a difference).”

      Thing is, those that aren’t obsessed with the fashion value of a CUV realize that minivans offer a vehicle that occupies the same footprint as a midsize CUV, the same seating position, with often better fuel economy and a generally lower transaction price. The ability to more easily haul extra people and stuff is just a bonus for those that don’t frequently use the 3rd row.

      If you want a CUV, that’s great if that works for you for whatever your reasons are. Don’t assume everyone who points out the lower cost/higher practicality of minivans to be a an internet neckbeard, though there is little correlation between minivans and neckbeards.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        The only two minivans I’d actually buy, an Odyssey or a Sienna, are just as in demand, if not more so, than their crossover counterparts (Highlander/Pilot). MPG is within a mpg or two. And quite frankly, I don’t need or want the space/size occupied by a Pilot or Highlander, or Odyssey/Sienna. So most of your stated benefits either don’t exist or aren’t really benefits to many people at all.

        I guess what I mean is, the minivan:CUV comparison makes a lot more sense if we restrict it to 3-row CUVs. But pretending a minivan is automatically better than a 2-row CUV is as silly as saying a Ford Taurus is better than a 3-series because the Taurus offers more room.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “But pretending a minivan is automatically better than a 2-row CUV is as silly as saying a Ford Taurus is better than a 3-series because the Taurus offers more room.”

          You’re right, that is a silly thing to say.

          However, a minivan IS objectively and quantifiably better in general than a 2 row midsize CUV at doing most things the two categories of vehicles do on a day to day basis. Notice I’m not comparing an Odyssey to a compact CUV like a CR-V. Unless one plans to go offroad (the percentage of CUV customers that do is low, even with Jeep CUVs), the minivan just plain does the job better at a lower cost. If people want to pay a price premium for a less practical CUV, that’s their perogative, which is fine.

          I ordered a Challenger as a family vehicle instead of a minivan, so I’m not immune to the lure of the unquantifiable apects of certain vehicles either, but I’m not going to pretend the Challenger is just as practical as a day to day vehicle, even though it was cheaper than a van with similar features.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “However, a minivan IS objectively and quantifiably better in general than a 2 row midsize CUV at doing most things the two categories of vehicles do on a day to day basis.”

            Show your work. Given is that a 2-row CUV satisfies the needs of the individuals in question, so an extra row is not “better”.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Considering the amenities to second row occupants, minivans offer better ingress and egress, more passenger space and versatility with models that have 2nd row folding seats. Consider the comparison of a Grand Caravan to a Journey or an Odyssey to a Pilot for example. Like I said, even if you don’t use it, the 3rd row then becomes a bonus with no practical drawbacks.

        • 0 avatar
          mikeg216

          Love love love the flex put the back row down, drinks chillin in the armrest fridge three moon roofs piano black wood sumptuous leather turbo all wheel drive Xmas radio and enough power ports for an Asian family, it is the best Highway cruiser of the 21st century

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I never tell people with 2 kids that they should buy a minivan instead of a CR-V.

      I tell them they should buy a wagon instead of a CR-V :)

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        Is there an AWD wagon for $25k that’s comparable to the CRV? There’s the Forrester, but that’s basically the same size as the CRV anyways.

        • 0 avatar
          onyxtape

          We have (well, in 4 weeks) 2 kids and we don’t see a need to upgrade from our 3rd-gen Outback and a sedan.

          My sis-in-law has a new gen Forrester and upon last check the rear cargo volume is exactly the same. So I would imagine the newer Outback would have even more rear cargo room.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Why do you need AWD in a non-offroad vehicle? If the weather is so bad that snow tires and a pair of driven wheels won’t see you through, stay where you are.

          Exceptions made if you live on top of a mountain or at the end of a muddy road or some such, but the vast majority of the US is paved and flat.

          Just seems like a collosal waste of money to me. More money up front, more money in gas, and God-forbid you ever have to fix any of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      ‘Chris’ Will concede that if you are transporting parents and 2 kids then a CUV will do the job. However when our 2nd child arrived and we had to transport strollers, diaper bags and portable playpen around, then the need to switch to a mini-van became obvious. The CUV just could not hold everything.

      Even more pressing is the fact that eventually you will also have to transport a grandparent or the kids friends and the CUV has no place to put them.

      And when the kids get older, moving one to the 3rd row certainly eliminates a lot of problems.

      The mini-van provides room for transporting friends/family, the dog, baggage, garage sale finds and when the kids got older it even provided them with pseudo camping when we pulled out the seats and let them sleep in the van overnight.

      No other vehicle is as versatile.

      And as some comic said, a mini-van is the ultimate proof of virility.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      We have two children, but had a van for many years. When they are small, if you’re going somewhere you wind up carrying an amazing amount of stuff such as booster seats and highchairs. When they get a little older, you do lots of carpooling, my wife has had six children in the car many times.

      Then there’s the occasional long trip. We had the four of us, a dog, my wife’s brother, and our niece for a 500 mile road trip. In addition to the people, dog, and luggage, we had a couple of cases of drinks and enough food to make a Low Country boil for 12. I don’t know if you could have fit all that stuff in a Suburban, I know you couldn’t have done it in any of the three row crossovers, but our Odyssey swallowed all that up and everyone rode in comfort.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “We have two children, but had a van for many years. When they are small, if you’re going somewhere you wind up carrying an amazing amount of stuff such as booster seats and highchairs.”

        I’ve always heard this, but honestly, my kid is 2 and I’ve never hauled a particularly large amount of stuff. Diaper bag and stroller is about it, fits fine in our Jetta or TSX. Why in the world would I haul a booster seat and high chair anywhere?

        On carpooling, since kids now have to be in special seats in the car until they’re like 10 or 12, I have no idea how I’m going to haul other peoples’ kids unless I buy a bunch more car seats, and I’m certainly not going to do that.

        If I need to take a long road trip with a bunch of extra family members, I’ll rent a van. I’m certainly not going to buy a van based on a vacation I might take once or twice during ownership.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          “I have no idea how I’m going to haul other peoples’ kids unless I buy a bunch more car seats, and I’m certainly not going to do that.”

          I have a recurring nightmare where I have to install 5 car seats into a minivan and they are all made by different brands. Being a dad is weird.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            We have identical Britax (Roundabout? Boulevard? Who knows) car seats in both of our sedans, and made both sets of grandparents go out and buy the identical seat, and SIL/BIL got their son an identical seat for both of their SUVs, so everyone is using the same G-D Britax and there’s no confusion. At $200 +/- a pop, I’m only buying a car seat for a kid I had the pleasure of making.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            We did the same thing. Everyone has the same basic Britax seat. I find that Britax seats are pretty easy to install. The Chicco travel system/infant seat we had was more difficult to install. The worst was the car seat I requested from Budget/Avis when we went to AZ last year. I spent 20 minutes installing that Evenflo piece of $hit during monsoon season.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          When we had 1 child our 6-speed, Honda tallboy ‘real time All-wheel drive’ station wagon (which was basically a slightly lowered first generation CRV with Honda Fit flip and fold seats) was sufficient.

          When the 2nd child arrived it wasn’t. Nobody else could fit in the back seat between 2 child seats. And the rear hatch couldn’t handle everything that we needed to haul around.

          So, off we went and bought our first Caravan and we kept at least 1 mini-van in the driveway for the following 20 years. Usually 2, but there were some ill advised experiments with 2 SUV’s ( an Explorer with a much too small back seat and a driver’s seat that was too narrow for me with a winter coat on and a Grand Cherokee that suffered far too many reliability problems).

          Owned both a Caravan and a Venture van that had the built in baby seat option. The seats in the Caravan were fantastic. Those in the Venture were awful. But both allowed us to carry additional children without having to purchase additional child seats. An option well worth it.

      • 0 avatar
        Frylock350

        @FormerFF,

        You could definitely fit all that stuff into a Suburban. I know because I’ve done it.

      • 0 avatar
        Macca

        Chris – I’m with you man. We went with a two-row CUV (’14 Rogue) for our first ‘family’ car (one child here) after deliberating three-rowers like the Pathfinder and Highlander. So far, so good. There’s good space for our son’s gigantic Britax rear-facing seat, and we use the shelf system in the ‘trunk’ to slide the stroller underneath the cargo shelf. Works great for us.

        CUVs are hated by 99% of internet gearheads because it’s cooler to eschew popular trends – CUV haters are essentially minivan/wagon hipsters. Sure, minivans offer tons of space and use that space efficiently, but not everyone needs that space and finds any number of CUVs desirable. I don’t look at cargo space per dollar as my ultimate buying criteria.

        The RX is quite large inside – I’m sure it would work well for your family.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      > And if you say “Mazda 5″, I’m going to say “clownfaced
      > underpowered crapwagon” and then kick you in the shin.

      Ok, Mazda5; purchased 7 1/2 years ago. No clown face, less power, 1 less gear, lousy city mileage, cheap in more ways than one. We got one as a second vehicle capable of holding 3 kids in car seats simultaneously. Now that they’re bigger, the Karakuri +1 seat available in other markets would have come in very handy, but alas never available in NA.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      You might rule out for the Mazda5 for very valid reasons, but it’s proof the idea works in a smaller size, just that for some manner of idiocy, you can get about a thousand different small crossovers, and just one small van (and not for much longer). Flawed as it may be, if we compare as directly as possible, what makes a Mazda Tribute or a naturally aspirated CX-7 (vehicles developed semi-contemporarily) so superior? For that matter, my mother-in-law has a Kia Rondo (not bad, although a little too Kia for my tastes) – why’d that fail when the generally middling Sportage soldiers on?

      I’m not about to suggest everyone with kids needs a minivan as I’d still prefer to have something close to the smallest car I can get away with. But as far as I’m concerned, CUVs offer all the detriments of minivans without the benefits. Even the smaller ones, really.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Wait ~ DiNoc fake wood is a bad thing ?! .

    Slather it on with a TROWEL please ! .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’d consider a Chrysler/Dodge minivan IF they were MINI again, especially the short wheel base version, and if I were in the market, but all minivans have gotten ‘way too large.

    If the OEMs would go back to the original Chrysler 1984 size, then they’d have something. I guess they do – they’re called CUVs…

    You just can’t beat a Honda CR-V or a Toyota Rav4 for all-around normal utility, I hate to say. Whether they are really better than the competition, that jury is still out, but the “scoreboard” – sales – say yes.

    • 0 avatar

      You have apoint, if and when North American minivans ever get smaller again, CUVs could face some real competition. Bigger is not always better.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Based on Transit Connect Wagon vs Escape sales or CX-5 vs Mazda5 sales, the small minivan has a long way to go in the US.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes, any small vehicle does. I just like them, is all.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I like them too. Ford just needs to figure out how to drop the price. The Transit Connect Wagon cannot be priced higher than the Escape. It also has a la carte options instead of packages that provide better equipment at a discount. The Escape is $3000 less than the TCW with similar equipment. You have to really want a minivan not to buy the Escape.

          • 0 avatar
            Willyam

            Marcelo, if you see this, do you see the C-Max very much there?

            (No, I’m not proud of the alliteration, please forgive me.)

          • 0 avatar

            No, we don’t get the C-Max here, though we have plenty of really compact minivans from Fiat Idea, Chevrolet Spin, Nissan Livina, plus more than a few Citroëns. To many here, the Fit earns that designation, too. We also get the Mercedes Class A and B.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “You just can’t beat a Honda CR-V or a Toyota Rav4 for all-around normal utility, I hate to say. Whether they are really better than the competition, that jury is still out, but the “scoreboard” – sales – say yes.”

      Yup. That size/form factor is basically ideal for most people who have less than 3 kids. Cheap to buy, cheap to run, easy to drive around town, enough space but not a land barge, etc. I’d probably go with an Escape for myself in that segment, because Turbo.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      They really just need to be called ‘vans’ at this point. The only minivans on the US market are the Mazda5 and Transit Connect (which is kind of industrial for family use), and the Mazda5 going away.

  • avatar
    Toad

    Ah, the minivan: practical, economical, efficient, etc. Alas, not cool, nor particularly attractive. Lots of things in life are practical: Mao jackets, cheap shoes, high rise public housing, belt+suspenders combo, sweat pants. But practical does not equal cool. You just have to decide if you care.

    OK, there is ONE minivan that is kind of cool: the Mitsubishi Delica Wagon http://www.curbsideclassic.com/uncategorized/cohort-capsule-mitsubishi-delica-star-wagon-exceed-for-the-spoiled-child-inside-each-parent/

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    It’s not the MINIVAN that’s uncool, it’s the reputation of the vehicle type – a stodgy, reliable, practical family cargo hauler.

    Remember, even the station wagon was simply the product of the need to transport the family in a practical manner, but eventually they fell out of favor and were replaced by the minivan.

    The minivan may have been cool for a time, or at least not uncool, but again, the reputation of the TYPE caught up to it. Station wagon to minivan to SUV to crossover to whatever’s next.

    Every 15-20 years or so, the basic UNCOOLNESS of transporting the family to all the things families do wears through to the surface of whatever four-wheeled cover was placed over top of it.

    I see the fundamental problem as completely independent of minivan, station wagon or whatever vehicle we’re talking about.

    The problem is that everybody wants to be the cool dad, or the cool mom. Everybody wants to look like they’re somehow combining being a good parent with being perpetually 22.

    You can’t be stylish and fashionable when your vehicle rocks that “kids” smell and has crumbs, scuffs & stains smashed into every surface and crevice.

    To their credit, most people abandon “fashionable” to be good parents, but the fact that the Family Vehicle Cycle of Cool exists at all is testament to this desire to believe people think that you’re “Billy’s cool dad.”

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      Zactly. I tried to say the same thing, but you said it better.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Good analysis. I do think it’s a minority of parents who want to be seen as “cool” in their children’s eyes. Me, I’d like to be thought of as being fun, provided that doesn’t interfere with being Dad. If it comes down being fun or being Dad, being Dad takes the day.

      I can’t imagine any better way of being though of as lame than to try to be cool. I’m not of their generation and have no interest pretending that I am.

      Plus, their music sucks.

    • 0 avatar

      Very sad cultural ethos that relegates families to that status. Nothing cooler than family.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I think that’s a specious argument. Sedans are family vehicles too as are SUV/CUVs and pick ups. They suffer the same abuses under the wraith of their cherubian tormentors as mini-vans.

      When my kids were younger I had a Jetta VR6 and my wife a Mazda 929. I fondly remember the smell of milk that leaked through the seats and festered in the Florida sun. I also remember the raisins, cereal, and severely dehydrated pieces of dried apple and grapes that not only found its way to the floor, but like the milk, were eventually deposited under the seats.

      For whatever reason, and lord knows I don’t know why, other vehicles used as family haulers don’t have the same reputation as mini vans and they get just as messy and have the smells and crumbs and stains.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I don’t see station wagons as family haulers. They are just cars with fewer limitations than a sedan. I am a single guy with no kids who has nearly always driven wagons. There is nothing more aggravating than not being able to fit something you need to take somewhere into the trunk of a sedan.

      On second thought, a trunk would be pretty much the perfect place to stash a kid, assume the soundproofing is good!

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    My dad purchased a brand new full size Ford van in 1975. That was the first year they put the nose on them. I see a lot of that Carousel in the front of that van.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    Minivans are uncool due to the self-loathing of the soccer mom set. Just as wagons were once eschewed for minivans, I feel certain that CUVs will be dumped as the car “those women” drive as soon as the next form factor is thought up. Then minivans will take on the same retro aura that wagons carry today.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    The other thing is that everyone likes to say crossovers/CUVs/whatever aren’t cool either, and if you’re talking Highlander/CRV/Pilot/Traverse/etc, you’re right.

    But there are cool or interesting CUVs, like Cayennes, SQ5s, FXs, Grand Cherokees, X3 35is, LR4s, etc etc etc. Vehicles that have room for the kids, but also plenty of interest behind the wheel, too. And even stuff like RXs and MLs and the like aren’t super cool, but they’re luxurious and rewarding for the owner in ways that “this is the box my kids rid in” will never be.

  • avatar
    DougD

    Yup, I’ll say it again. Minivans aren’t cool, but you can put a lot of cool stuff in them, and with the money you save you can have cool experiences like vacations in foreign lands, and buy other cool stuff that matters, like motorcycles and electric guitars.

    I’m over 40, married with kids. Who do I need to impress with a vehicle?

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    While it isn’t a minivan, I too often find myself building a passenger version of the Ford Transit van on the Ford website. With the ecoboost V6, leather, navigation, and 16″ aluminum wheels, I’m right at $40K. Now I just need my wife to okay me buying a Transit Van…..

    • 0 avatar

      Yes. Totally agreed. I’d totally buy a Fiat Doblò here or Renault Kangoo. Same idea. Does the same thing as a minivan or CUV in an even boxier package. What’s not to like?

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I really like the smaller Transit Connect, and I would consider swapping my C-Max for the short-wheelbase model if I could get one with the options I like for a sweet price ($20K). I probably won’t be able to find one that I like better than my C-Max though. As for the giant Transit, I really want one, but I can’t see myself commuting in one on a regular basis.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          Completely agree. I’ve been bugging the local dealerships since the “unminivan” was announced. I, too, would choose the SWB version. So far none have appeared for a test drive.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The dealership by my house has six of the Transit Connect Wagons. I don’t know why Ford decided to punish them so harshly. The SWB TCW is a nice little van. I find it to be an excellent product. It’s biggest problem is price. The Chrysler vans can basically cost the same, as does the Escape and Edge.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Yes, it’s mighty hard to be looking at minivans and not decide to go GC or T&C. I mean, damn, what you get for the money especially in a Grand Caravan.

            But still, I like small & tall with a 4-cyl. I’m happy to keep driving my CR-V while the market decides how many and which cute utes and unminivans it’s going to make available.

            It’s just an exciting time for us who like form-follows-function oddball vehicles.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Last year I convinced my father to run his 2012 Grand Caravan R/T in the Trophy class at a local drag strip event. He used to be fairly big into drag racing, so it reallt wasnt much of a big deal for him. He did a burnout in it for fun then put a car length on a 90’s Taurus SHO. That was pretty cool.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    It’s not the minivan; it’s who winds up owning one. The minivan is PRACTICAL. It appeals to practical (unkewel) people – and of course to parents, and you can’t get more unkewel than that. So, once the public got over the radical concept of the vehicle itself; and saw who was BUYING it…the minivan’s stock fell fast.

    It has happened before. The Jaguar E-Type was to be an ultra-kewel roadster. But when the only persons who could afford them were palsied playboys, Greek shipping magnates with spray-on tans and blonde girlfriends rented by the hour…it was no surprise that the model became associated with old men.

    So, too, the minivan – it’s the sleeper bargain of the century. Owned two ChryCo minivans, third generation…great cars, even allowing that they were Chryslers.

    A shame how the auto business sometimes becomes more herd-trendy and fashion than about hardware.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      I don’t think most consumers are as concerned with impressing others as people seem to think, I think they’re more self-centered for that.

      I think the minivan has a stigma of “I’m buying this thing for my kids.” I think a CUV has, for the people buying them, a stigma of “I want this so I’m buying it for myself and it fits my kids in it.” It hsa nothing to do with the EXTERNAL appearance, it’s all about the driver thinks about their own vehicle. Let’s face it, no one buys a minivan as a reward for themselves, but you can certainly see someone buying a CUV, especially a luxury-branded one, for themselves (ie because they themselves want it), and that feels a lot better.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        Guess I’m nobody. I bought my Sedona as a reward for myself – for camping at the track, for hauling a small sutlery to historical re-enactments. Hobbies that are the center of my life. Because the Ranger pickup, while it could do most of those jobs, couldn’t do them as comfortably, and was damn near useless for sleeping in on a weekend when cloudbursts were the rule of the day.

        No, some of use find a great deal of pleasure in minivans. Then again, a lot of us remember vanning back in the ’70’s; and still see a use for that kind of vehicle. If the van is rocking . . . . .

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The scores of old people in loaded Town and Countrys disagree that buying a minivan can’t be a reward to one’s self.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Easy fix: only offer it in with a manual transmission.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Reading down all these responses, and thinking back to my first minivan (an ’84 Caravan C/V finished on the inside), I was just struck with an odd thought:

    Back when minivans WERE cool and replacing the station wagon, nobody slagged ownership of one. They were essentially honest vehicles. If somebody drove one, it was usually assume that he/she had to haul something on a regular basis. Yeah, usually kids, but often lots of inantimate object (you should have seen loading and unloading at the SCA’s Pennsic war back during this time – fully half the vehicles there were Chrysler minivans. Then again, what else will easily haul a complete harness of 15th century plate armor?).

    Once they became uncool, replaced by SUV’s and later CUV’s the slagging began. Why? Probably because the replacements aren’t necessarily honest vehicles. You don’t look at someone driving one of them and automatically assume that person either loves/needs to go off-road on a regular basis. Nope, they’re vehicles for those being fashionably fakes (for the most part).

    And the minivan (and station wagon, for the most part) continue on, chugging down the road – honestly.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    I am driving my third GM Minivan. The first was a 2000 Oldsmobile Silhouette, then a 2004 Silhouette (last model year!) and now a 2005 Buick Terraza. The Terraza’s shape helps tremendously with the Amtrak SDP40F custom paint design I have applied to the vehicle. (On Google images, see “SDP40F #622” and you’ll get the idea). The Phase III scheme would not work on most SUVs as they are more curvaceous now.
    My 2006 Buick Rainier is painted to resemble the Milwaukee Road diesel locomotive SDL-39 #586.
    I sold Oldsmobile Silhouettes from 1990 to 2004 and believe them to be the finest quality and style out there. Many members of the Oldsmobile Club keep these minivans restored. One member has 287,000 miles on his 1992 Silhouette. The Terraza is essentially an Oldsmobile as Buick was given that model and the Rainier to replace the Silhouette and Bravada.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “The first was a 2000 Oldsmobile Silhouette, then a 2004 Silhouette (last model year!)”

      Ah, you got the Cadillac of minivans.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I thought Saturn got the Olds U-Body with the death of Olds and the Terraza was built specifically for Buick.

      Overall happy with my Saturn (see below) but it definitely has quirks. Where it counts it has been as reliable as the sunrise and hit 150k miles. Just did the big service and see no reason why I won’t hit 200k with oil changes, front brakes around 180k and new rubber around the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “The Terraza is essentially an Oldsmobile as Buick” I agree but when Olds closed they dropped the Buick/Olds tradition of using the higher end motor and instead gave Terraza the Chevrolet 3.5 60V6 (3.9 60V6 in some cases). I would argue the MY05+ U-bodies were simply Uplander clones as opposed to the previous Pontiac/Olds vans which were enhanced vs the Venture.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Back in October of 2010 picked up an uncool minivan on the cheap – an 05 Saturn Relay with all options but the tow package with air suspension. It’s equivalent SUV brethren would have been $3K to $6K more.

    Last Saturday dropped $850 on getting all bodily fluids replaced, rear brakes and rotors, plugs, TBC, and the ABS sensor wiring harnesses replaced ( a big weakness on W bodies and U bodies, but they are cheap).

    The van now has 150K miles and has been invaluable for house projects and moving. It’s ability to swallow cargo is impressive. I’ve sat seven inside, driven cross country, and subject it to unspeakable abuse on the inside.

    This isn’t a defense for the worst vehicle of the 2000 – 2009 decade (so sayeth TTAC and all the black dots in Consumer Reports). It is an ode to the minivan, that offers a discount due to the uncool factor yet can give you butt war ers, 8 speakers, XM, back up assist, blah blah blah in a package with accessibility, utility, maneuverability, and visibility.

    If you’re buying used, you get it all at a discount.

    If I can get 3-1/3 more years from the van, I got a second set of wheels for $1000 a year – not shabby.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Never owned a minivan but have driven a few.

    I personally love the powerful V6s in the current generation and love the epic depreciation BUT I’m married to a woman (new mom) who fears the “OMG Mommy Mobile” stigma.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I think you did well with the Highlander for the reasons you have previous named, but I wish you luck on future female interpretations, accurate or misguided as they may be.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Dan, don’t you and your wife want to have five kids or something? Give her the options of minivan or Econoline.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’m not really complaining, blame lack of sleep with a two week old in the house.

        I would have gotten a Flex if the resales hadn’t been really high for what was is a slow seller. But yes I’m happy with it my Highlander.

        I love her dearly and I know that since she is just 30 (I’m 37) there is still time for her to mature and get a little more practical. The amazing thing is she can squeeze a penny till it screams but when it comes to cars she is just as irrationally passionate about them as I am. Just that her passion is directed at HUGE SUVs (her faves are the Lamda platform and the GMT platforms) while mine is directed at more muscle car/sports car aspirations.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The sleep will be better and more plentiful. Congrats again. Our rule was that we would both get up at night for feedings (she would pump and I would feed), but we wouldn’t talk to each other. Neither one of us had nice things to say at 3 AM with a screaming baby.

        • 0 avatar
          Zackman

          Congratulations, “Dad” to you and yours!

          Sleep will come – when your last child is around 2+1/2 years old, and occasionally in between!

  • avatar
    iMatt

    You know what’s uncool? A FWD Rav4 or Traverse! What’s the point?? ( Fashionable and rugged looking). Even in AWD trim, some CUV systems seem to be lacking. I imagine a basic Impreza can offer better off road prowess in some* situations.

    I know what I would choose if it were between a FWD “Explorer” and any minivan…

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      FWD and decent tires will get any of the cute utes into far more trouble off pavement than their approach, clearance, underbody protection can deal with.

      Stuck and spinning the tires will get you, at the very worst, a couple of blisters digging and come-alonging your way out. Real pain is putting a branch through the oil pan, or backing up after scraping and seeing the front fascia didn’t come with you. No amount of driven wheels help there.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Umm, CUVs have no intention of presenting offroad prowess, not even in AWD.

      In certain cases AWD is actually worse than FWD with the design used in CUVs.

      And there’s definately nothing rugged looking on anything with an integrated plastic bumper, nothing. I still wonder how people have alluded to the terrain being truck like, uh what?

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    Saturn was given the Relay in an attempt to boost sales as their car models were languishing on the lots. The ION was such a poorly-designed vehicle and by 2004 Saturn was selling rebadged Chevrolets designed by Opel. Buick already had the Rendezvous and the Terraza was a fill-in until the Enclave arrived for 2008.
    Remember that Saturn’s attempt to sell cars under a non-discounted pricing policy worked until about 2001. After that the advertisements would list “market adjustment” prices, like rebates on other GM cars. GM should have stopped the Saturn experiment and instead spend money on Oldsmobile and Pontiac. Those brands would still be here today.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree, but I’d point out the fact Saturn was selling Opel rebadges as early as MY00. The Saturn experiment was essentially one model, the Z-body, offered in coupe, sedan, and wagon configurations for eleven model years. Everything after was either generic GM offered in Chevrolet configuration (Deltas, Epsilon) or Opel.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_L-Series

  • avatar
    Dan

    I don’t do the kids taxi thing so I can’t speak as to the people moving, but I do do the outdoor thing and a new van doesn’t work for it at all.

    The interior space and packaging are great, far better than any SUV. The highway ride and mileage are great too. Then you get to the last couple miles of gravel to the cabin, fishing hole, etc. and you’re wincing at the scrapes while picking around holes and washouts at 5 mph. The two foot overhang into a zamboni chin with 6″ of clearance wasn’t designed with any intention of ever leaving the pavement, and it shows.

    I’m happy to drag the fascias on a 10 year old Caravan I’m into for $4500 but no way would I do it on a new one. That’s not what it’s for.

  • avatar

    It’s so uncool to care at all if others think you are cool or not.
    But then I drive a 1998 Honda Odyssey, the coolest mini van ever available for sale in the USA.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    I have seen some older Ford Transit Connect Vans that were “cool” for outdoor people. No AWD but tons of space, rack on top, bikes inside or on the back, decent gas mileage, you can even make a bed in the back. I have been “building” one on the Ford’s web site – van,short wheel base, 1.6, trailer hitch, you can keep the price down if your careful. Anybody know if there are after market roof rails for the van? Ford only offers it on the wagon for some reason.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      There are a number of places online that sell them (rackattack.com). I’m sure you could buy the parts from Ford too. The rails, plus crossbar, look to be a sub $200 option from Ford.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I am not a fan of the van. That being said, a 2015 Sienna Limited has a rear seat like a Maybach, and I would happily be Chauffeured to soccer practice in one, watching blu-rays the whole way.

    Honestly, minivan fuel efficiency over SUVs is kind of a myth, like small truck fuel efficiency over full size. Let’s say a minivan does about 16/22. A Suburban does 15/21. That’s the same.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Miin-vans are great for the active set. Lots of space for both people and gear, relatively fuel efficient and number of people dependent, you can sleep in it…comfortably. It be great if we had something akin to a Mitsubishi Delica because nothing on offer is rough trail ready but for other uses they’re great.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Wow .

    Seriously interesting reading here .

    Parents who are worried about being ‘ cool ‘ ? . what could be cooler than bringing in the next Generation and having direct input on how they mature ? .

    I hauled my Son around in ’48 Beetle . ’29 , ’30 & ’31 ‘A’ Model Fords , a bewildering variety of clapped out Shop trucks , old Chevies , and pretty much every model Air Cooled VW ever made as well as Motos , always lots and lots of Motocycles .

    We never had to haul so much junk , maybe Parents to day are over protective ? .

    I dunno but my Son has no tats , doesn’t do drugs etc. blah blah yakkity woof woof .

    I’m *very* pleased to see folks actually caring about their kids transport needs .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    zamoti

    I believe that the minivan is uncool because of the roles associated with it. It’s a kid hauler, a juicebox with wheels. In most cases, it’s a rolling toybox and there’s nothing cool about driving a messmobile full of kids crap and oversized carseats. I say this from a position of the highest authority as I am in the thick of driving a messmobile full of toys and oversized car seats. Despite my constant yelling at the kids to clean up their junk and myself vacuuming out all of their leavings, it’s still perpetually messy. It’s not the van that’s the problem (I refuse to call it a minivan as there is NOTHING mini about any of them), it’s the stigma. It’s the automotive equivalent of the BabyBjorn. Some owners are 100% thrilled to be parents and are willing to eschew any form of coolness, they are headfirst into the pool and don’t give a hoot about what others think. Some of us with our more crystalline egos have a hard time with parting our current selves from our cooler younger selves (not that most of us were really that cool, rose colored glasses, etc.) and don’t want to give in entirely. That is our (mine, maybe not yours) problem. The van is just fine; they cost less, get better mileage, have smaller tires, have a less complicated drivetrain, haul more people and stuff and usually have a roof rack.
    However, stacked against the CUV/SUV, one is left to swallow the lack of potential ruggedness and so-proclaimed versatility, even if never used, that an xUV has to offer. Most minivans (excluding the Sienna) are front wheel drive, some can tow a little bit, and almost no modern minvans have high ground clearance. Granted, most kid-haulers never go off road and few tow anything but it’s that the xUV COULD do these things, however improbable it is that such events come to pass.
    I say all of this as I am about to go van shopping this evening and trade off a CUV in the process. I shall have to don the goggles of parental pride as I dive deep into the waters and wash away the faux cool aspects of my younger self.
    I may only pray that Rainier Wolfcastle was indeed wrong.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    An Odyssey EREV minivan with 20kWh of battery under the floor (instead of cargo space) would be a very attractive option for me. Especially in thru-the-road AWD.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    I am in the anti camp, at least based on the vans available int he USA, in Asia its different.
    . Every Dec we rent a minivan for 2 weeks. The rental ones are usualy loaded Chryslers or Toytoas so pretty comfortavble for passengers.

    But thye drive and brake like crap(Chryco), and in an accident you feel there is way less protection than in a nice big suv, load them up and take a bend at even moderate speed and its scary, not phenominal brakes either.

    The only minivan I drove that steered and braked nicely was the toyota and its ride was beyond punishing.

    Lots of us live in the NE, we need awd and some fording ability. the roads here are also relaly crappy, a big suv soaks them up better than any van by far. Plus every snowstorm we see lots of accidents, so that exposed feelign ina van is not a plus.

    Put the crappy ride, poor accleration, poor handling worse braking(when laden) and general feelign of insecuirity into play when driving a minivan and why would you buy one.

    Plus you cant tow a race car aor a boat with it.

    Minivans like camry’s tend to be bought by people who have zero love or appreciation for vehicles, so its also guilt by association.
    Lastly kids also generally think what their parents had was uncool, and lots of parents thjese days were kids who grew up in minivans.

    So yeah they are Ok for a rental if you ahve lots of peopel to move about for a week or two, but dynamicalya pain compared to even a good suv..

    Now if you go to Asia where thye sell the Toyota Alphard, which is bit bigger than sienna and like a private jet isnide, with a very good toyota V6 and good ride, then yeah I woudl love to own a minivan, but not the cheapo crap they sell here.

  • avatar
    BamaSkip

    Really enjoy the site and the B&B. First time commenter. In short, I am all in on vans at this point, having just purchased a 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan to go with the 2012 Chrysler T&C the wife has been enjoying for some time. Bottom-lines include that with 3 young kids, it’s hard to beat the space, the ability to have some separation between the kiddos, and — as many have said — the driving experience is hard to beat (Pentastar + Chrysler + Some Cribbed VW tweaks == Pretty Sweet Decisions and Results).

    Finally, living here in Alabama, there’s a bit of sublte counter-cultural fun in not going for either the mom crowds avoiding the vans at all costs (Traverse’s abound in my part of town, Range Rovers in the tonier burbs), or my brethren going at least F250 or more…..While I definitely see the appeal of having to turn the diesel off to order at the Chick-Fil-A, sure seems easier to buy 2 vans for less than 1 of those.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Just a thought:
    Seems that a truly “cool” person doesn’t care what others think of their ride.
    If you are concerned about the opinion of the masses you are a sheeple, and “uncool” per definition.
    Buy what you want/like/need and enjoy it. Cool.

    Cheerio,
    Bunter

    PS-Love minivans, they are awesome. I even respected them when I was a single.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      I’ve said it time and time again, why do people assume that if you want to drive a vehicle you perceive as being cooler that it can only be because you want OTHER people to perceive you as being cool? I don’t avoid minivans because my friends and neighbors think they’re dorky and unrewarding, I avoid them because I think they’re dorky and unrewarding, and I therefore don’t want to buy and drive one every day. Even if I was on a deserted island all alone.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    I *know* I’m cool because I’ve eschewed reproduction. Deliberately choosing to add people to this sad orb would’ve been uncool. Of course, observing the families of two ridiculously fecund older siblings helped shape my attitude.

    Being cool, my liking for vans of all kinds as well as CUVs automatically confers coolness upon them. I am untroubled by this topic.

  • avatar
    nickeled&dimed

    My next car will be a minivan. Cool doesn’t come into play at all, although I do love the first generation of Chryslers, First-gen MPV’s, Accord-based Odysseys with conventional doors.
    Nothing, however, compares with the ultimate small van, the precursor way ahead of it’s time: the Corvair Greenbriar.

    For me the choice of minivan is not about the kids (0), it’s about hauling stuff, enclosed space (dogs: 2), comfort, and flexibility. The Subaru wagon does O.K. for most things, can put plywood on the roof etc. A minvan would have better power, better comfort, more interior space, and towing capability option. We just took a Prius on a 2,000 mile journey with 2 kayaks, 3 people, and camping gear… it worked, but we’d have taken a minivan in an instant if we’d had one. The Subaru would have been a better choice, but it was just too high a risk for a road trip.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    What bothers me the most about minivans (especially the ones that were available in Europe, we sadly missed out on some nice ones) is that for about 20 years manufacturers knew they could get away with anything, because people with more then 3 kids (or who for some other reason needed 6 seats or more) wold have to buy it anyway. Compared to the minivans I have driven, a CUV just handles and drives better, and doesn’t have a trunk full of seats that are rarely used. I will never buy one unless I need that 6th seat, and luckily, until I need the 7th seat, there are still a couple of options.

  • avatar
    George B

    I blame people who let children eat in the car for the smell that I associate with riding in a minivan. Sort of like houses with carpet in the bathroom. I would be more interested in a minivan without cloth and carpet to absorb odors and get stained. Maybe the Ram C/V Tradesman would be cool.

    http://www.ramtrucks.com/en/ram_cv/

  • avatar
    Fred

    Remember the movie “Get Shorty” Travolta had a un-cool Transvan. Then he became a hot property in Hollywood and so everyone else got Transvan. That is what it’s like when you buy a car to be cool.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I think it would help if they made the minivan more masculine looking.

    A minivan is the ultimate “mom” symbol, so many men don’t want to drive one.

    You know the old line of “you can sell an old man a young man’s car, but you can’t sell an old man’s car to a young man” I think it also works with cars associated with feminine vs masculine. I don’t think I’ve ever known a single man that drove a minivan as “his car” that’s under 50, but I can think of all sorts of ones that drive SUVs that get worse mileage and they don’t need the 4 wheel drive capability.

    I thought Ford was on to something with the Flex, I think many guys would be comfortable driving it instead of an SUV, but they priced it too high IMO.

    But I really dig the concept van shown, and don’t understand why nearly every minivan has to look like a jellybean blob.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Interestingly, it’s women that object to minivans, much more so than men.

      The _whole crossover market_ is largely driven by an increase in the purchase influence of women.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        But do you know many men that drive minivans? I don’t, even dads with large families.

        You’re never going to create a vehicle that appeals to everyone, but if you had a vehicle that younger, single guys weren’t embarrassed to drive, I think it would displace much of the stigma.

        Wagons were considered the most uncool thing on Earth in much of the 90’s, then all of a sudden guys started getting into them (many in the tuner scene) and they became somewhat hip. It wasn’t women than embraced them first.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Please excuse the gender generalizing/stereotyping inherent in this question, but would it be correct to postulate that perhaps the mother who refuses to drive a mini-van might also be a very high maintenance person in other respects.

        Perhaps not the type to bake from scratch, sew/mend, clean-up after sick pets, scrub floors, camp out, use cloth diapers, etc?

        More the type with a nanny/housekeeper, regular pedicure and manicure appointments, only carrying the most up to date smart phone, lunching at chic restaurants and vacationing only at high end resorts?

        Possibly more interested in ‘toy boys’ than mature men?

        Sort of a less exaggerated version of Edina and Patsy from Ab-Fab? Or one of those ‘real house wives’ shows?

        Would June Cleaver complain about driving a mini-van or would she have been quite happy to be seen in one?

        Let the s**t storm begin, I will run and hide for cover. But remember I am only asking these questions based on a hypothesis and not expressing my true opinions.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          My wife isn’t high maintenance and she refused to consider a minivan when we made our last car purchase. She just does not like minivans.

          I wonder what June Cleaver would have been like on Leave it to Beaver if she worked 40+ hours a week.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          My wife doesn’t want a minivan, and is relatively high maintenance, but can afford to be given the 50+ hours a week she works at a demanding career, around which she (and I) take care of our daughter and household. Given that she brings home anywhere between 45 and 55% of the bacon each month, depending on who has gotten the most recent raise, I “give” her the same thing she gives me, the ability to choose any damn well car she wants that fits into our budget and meets our needs. If she decides that car should be a crossover that is 95% as practical as a minivan for 105% the cost, well, she’s still miles ahead of her shiftless husband who keeps an additional car in the garage that meets about 0% of our needs and just sucks up insurance money, tire budget, and garage space.

          This ain’t the 50s, bub, a “high maintenance” chick that pays for her own maintenance has every right to be that way.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          Motherhood has taken an awful beating, in terms of reputation.

          There’s a definite social stigma (think about the word “mom jeans”) around practical motherhood, and the minivan is caught up in it. That same stigma doesn’t really exist for modern men.

          Think about it: women are messaged about how they can be a mom, but not look like one. No one really cares that dads look like dads.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @psarhjinian, actually it might even be argued that just as large a percentage of the population fetishizes DILFs as fetishizes MILFs.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Exactly, since when did ‘mom’ become a pejorative term?

            And personally cannot understand those (particularly fathers) who fantasize about someone a generation or more younger than they are.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          My wife hates minivans and has an inexplicable love for luxury CUVs in spite of having a full understanding of their disadvantages.

          She also bakes from scratch. She cleans up after our pukey cat all the time. She spends all too much time scrubbing toilets and sinks. Our most frequent meal out is the local Indian joint. And even if she were to cheat (which would be incredibly out of character) a “toy boy” would be the last person she’d do it with.

          She says you stereotype too much. And she likes our loaded Subaru Forester which is nearly as practical as a small minivan but, she feels, doesn’t have the stigma. She’d really rather have an X3 but recognizes that the Forester is the far more sensible option for all sorts of reasons and is just fine with it. If that’s the worst irrationality I have to put up with in a mate, I’ve hit a home run.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @psarhjinian

        I completely agree.

  • avatar
    superchan7

    Don’t forget larger hatchbacks. When we were expecting our first child, we bought a Fiat 500L. We made a concession to style and interior quality; otherwise it would have been a Scion xB for its 70 cu ft capacity and craptastic interior.

    These buggers have as much room as your typical cute-utes, without any of the off-roading pretense and costing thousands less. Rear cargo space with the seats up is still dicey for a stroller, but small CUVs aren’t any better.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “These buggers have as much room as your typical cute-utes, without any of the off-roading pretense”

      Aside from things like the Jeep Cherokee and Xterra, do any cute-utes have any “off road pretense”? Most of them are just sold as bad-weather capable + high seating position. I don’t thing one buys a Rav4/CRV/X3/RDX/Q5/GLK/Escape/etc to pretend they’re going rock hopping.

      • 0 avatar
        superchan7

        Right, so if there were no off-roading pretense, it’s an $18k Scion xB vs. $26k CR-V or RAV4. $8k could not possibly be from a nicer interior…it’s the raised ride height and the tougher chassis that must be able to bear the optional AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Hmm…

      Fiat 500L: 23 cu ft w/ seats up

      Honda CRV: 37 cu ft w/ seats up

      Toyota Rav4: 38 cu ft w/ seats up

      That’s a pretty dramatic difference if you ask me!

  • avatar
    marmot

    After 100,000 trouble-free miles and still running and driving like new, my 2006 Sienna LE FWD is certainly very, very cool.

  • avatar
    300zx_guy

    Minivans are cool to own, and are only not cool to be seen in if you have insecurity problems and care if people judge you harshly for making a smart, practical choice for what you drive. Get a my other car is… license plate frame if you think that will help.

  • avatar
    kuponoodles

    1- removable center consoles. I only wish that more CUV/SUV or even MPV’s heck, any car has this option.
    Low for this so that in a pinch, the wife can move to the back and take care of whatever is making the kid scream.

    2- coolness is purely subjective… And usually reserved for those that have time ad disposable income to worry about it. Listing tfhe objective pros and cons of either types will not yield any results or meaningful compromises. Replace the words minivan with station wagon and SUV with compact hatchback…. V-twin vs 1000cc supersport. Same shit, different day right?

    Wanna make minivans cool? Have a bunch of Hollywood and famous sports personalities and teams be seen in them.

    Because we do what TV tells us do.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    My first car, well vehicle, was a minivan – if it can even be called a minivan. I had a 93 Aerostar Eddie Bauer edition with AWD and 4.0 V6. It was kind of a beast, but Betty was a thristy barbag (10mpg if I was lucky). She had that hideous Eddie Bauer paint scheme of some color (in this case turquoise) over beige.

    I liked her because she was mine, but I would have preferred something different. However, for $700 on an 11 year old car/van/thing who can complain?

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    In my old neighborhood, Park Cities, Texas (aka. “the bubble”, aka. “the land that time forgot”), the minivan abruptly went out of fashion about 25 years ago. You could see this in the drop off and pick up line at the village grade schools. On day one of the school year, maybe 5 or 6 minivans (some with outta state plates) were evident. By late October they had all disappeared. There were never, God forbid, any pick up trucks. Early on, the vehicle of choice was a Chevvy or GMC Suburban.

    My sources informed me that the upper and upper middle class pretense was to have “a place in the country”. Since a pick up truck was so déclassé, what was left was the Suburban and its Ford, et.al. counterparts. Why the place in the country pretense was so appealing remains a mystery to me. All of north central Texas just looks like a hot and flat plain to me.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Where the minivan went wrong was in the extended length that made it a full sized vehicle. The original was 175 inches long, shorter than a Corolla is today.

  • avatar
    Slowtege

    Growing up my family had Caravans interspersed with Ford and Dodge full size vans. But it was pretty much Caravans from the early 90’s on. We even had one of the turbo models. Mom got the new car, Dad drove the practical cheap/old car, which included a 1980 triple brown (velour seats!) LeSabre that sailed unperturbed over neighborhood road bumps/humps. Very cool.

    Our ’98 GC Sport in Forest Green was my favorite from a design/aesthetic standpoint (ChryCo ruled the graphic integration game with the sliding door rail as part of the tinted window graphic). Our last one, a dealer demo ’05 model with Stow’N’Go–I cannot say enough about how that is true package design and a welcome user feature–was also good and we had 145k on the original transmission before trading it in. Everyone who’s driven Caravans knows those trans woes. Now Honda owners know the misery as well.

    All this to say that, I never thought minivans were uncool. It’s really hard to argue with the fact that it’s the best looking barn on wheels with practical driving manners. My mom has a Traverse, something still space and people capable (four boys, all over 6′ tall–no small cute things for our family!), but not an obviously-practical-looking minivan. Doesn’t help that the latest generation of Caravans aren’t as pretty as previous ones, even if that 3.6 flies.

    I like my ’97 Z28 6-speed a bunch. It’s a lot of theater and ’90s GM leather smell, but I really dig the Mazda 5–manual of course–for many reasons. It’s the size of the original shorty Caravans, has a stick like they did, and looks great. And I can throw my bikes inside easily (the Camaro holds one as well. hilarious). I don’t care that I’m single, Caravans have been marketed to surfers, and I like the contrarian nature of liking, owning and driving one. But not just yet–I’ve missed having a V8. :D

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