There’s no way to be cool about this so I’m just going to say it: I love my minivan.
I can hear your ridicule already. Its mere name, the diminutive ‘mini’, subjects it to mockery. Aside from its full-size namesake, the minivan is a misnomer. The mini is bigger than a wagon or a cross over, and is bigger inside than an SUV. In other parts of the world the minivan is known more accurately as an MPV, or multi-person vehicle.
Our MPV seats seven legally. It can fit six adults without anyone’s knees touching. Try that, you SUV flesh-touchers. Unlike the SUV, the extended cab of a minivan can become a familial lodge on the road. If you take out one of the mid-seats, as we did on our first major road trip—a five-hours, 350-mile thrill ride—and put the two toddlers on the bench seat in the way back, there can be serenity on the open road. They could spread out with their stuff in arms’ reach. My wife and I switched off playing flight attendant by walking between our seats. She was able to read. I was able to nap. We only stopped once. If getting there wasn’t half the fun at least it was pleasant. We can go camping without worrying too much about the elements because if it gets too scary or too wet we can fold down the bench into a bed, pull up the middle seats, and sleep in the sweet canopy of our minivan.
Like so many people before us, we bought our 2002 Honda Odyssey with 110k miles on it when we moved from the city to the suburbs two years ago. It’s part of the adventure in the city to take the kids by bike, by bus, or by train, to avoid the hassle of driving whenever possible. Work was accessible and preferable by public. In the suburbs, you drive. To the cleaners, to the play dates, to the strip malls. We tried going it with one car—I’d bike to the train station, my wife would bike eight miles to work—but the kids were outgrowing our bike carrier. When we both needed the one car coordinating our day became as big a pain as driving in the city. We were not intrepid enough to bike in the weather, to go grocery shopping by bike, to ride the kids to picture day at preschool by bike. We tried and it sucked: it was not worth the self-righteous pride of going it with one car. Enter the minivan.
The minivan is the true SUV: the suburban utility vehicle. Do you SUV-touters (usually minivan haters), know that driving on your lawn does not count as off-roading, therefore you’ve never really used your sport-utility vehicle for its intended purpose? Such a waste. Or the absurd crossover, which is an SUV body on the same car frame as a minivan. This is not a truck; it’s a station wagon. The minivan is more versatile than either the truck-van hybrid of the SUV or the car-wagon crossover. When I take out the mid seats and fold down the back, that’s 88 cubic feet of space. The back has been filled with plywood, snowblowers, a rented aerator, a foosball table, my daughter’s bedroom furniture. Virtually any home repair can be satisfied in only one trip to the Home Depot with my minivan.
The minivan—despite the now standard V6, which means, with its lighter body, it can take most SUVs off the line—is built for comfort. The minivan can be a party on wheels, great for road trips, tailgating, and necking with your wife on date night. I mentioned how the back seat folds down? Yes, the minivan is for lovers.
According to an Edmunds analysis, “Minivans generally have the best safety ratings, have flexible interiors and great fuel economy.”
With gas prices expected to exceed $4, you SUV dweebs can have all the unused sport you want. With the money we save on fuel economy we’ll be able to use our car. Minivans also have better resale value; I recently got a solicitation from the local Honda dealer to buy our Odyssey back at $1500 over fair market value. That’s just about what we paid for it used two years ago.
My minivan is the best car I’ve owned.
I’m not trying to persuade anyone of anything, except that people who choose an SUV over a minivan are illogical and irrational. I’m just saying that the minivan stigma in American is steeped in stupidity. Ultimately, a person’s vehicle preference is a matter of style. And we all know there is no accounting for that.