Tuesday, January 18, 2011


After ten years of arguing, I finally convinced the wife that we should get a minivan. Actually, I gave up on one and wanted an SUV. She decided we'd have more room for our two kids and her parents, in the minivan.
I have to say, the minivan is pretty spectacular.
First off, we wisely chose not to pay depreciation- we got a 2005 van from Carmax, with their super-duper guarantee. Which means that for less than a new van, we got something that was fully loaded in 2005. Leather, heated seats, and ALL the extras. Yeah, it has a few miles, but with kids we put about 5000 miles a year on our vehicles. Used will last us quite a while.
But as much as I'm enjoying the minivan, with all that increased interior cargo space and old man-comfort, I have to take issue with something. The minivan's image. Even my wife remarked how a minivan is a woman's vehicle. Say what?!
Okay, for the record, my dream vehicle is a jacked up, AWD minivan with roll bars, off-road rally lights and all the luxuries. I want to be able to go anywhere, in Cadillac luxury. With plenty of room to spare. Our current ride falls a tad short of these goals: It's FWD, but does have traction control. No rally lights, but it has some tremendously bright fog lights. I realize in a roll over it wouldn't fare so well, but to be honest, I drive like a grandpa, so I don't envision any rollovers in the immediate future.
In looking online, I see there's lotsa hatin' goin' on for minivans. I can see where Jimbob Singlepants might prefer a 4x4 truck to haul carcasses around in the hunting season, but I don't have that need. Nor am I going through middle-age anxiety and need a car capable of being driven four times as fast as the legal speed limit. Nope, I'm a dad. I have two girls, a wife and a dog. I need more room than a truck can offer.
In my online research to determine the origins of minivan hate, I looked at a bunch of sites online. One, Why Minivans Suck sums it up in several ridiculous points:
1. They're too big
2. They're too big for drivers stuck behind them
3. They're full of screaming kids
4. The people who drive them have no business driving something that "big"
First off, when is big unmanly? And when do women EVER want to be considered big?
Should I care people behind me can't see? They can't see past tractor trailers either. Are they going to follow a big rig to a truckstop and tell the tobacky chawin' driver he's driving something better suited for soccer moms?
"Full" of screaming kids? Hey, it's a van, it can hold, volume-wise, way more than it has seats. My 91 Toyota Camry, that was "full" of screaming kids. Nowhere for the sound to go but in my ears where it began liquifying my brain. Thank God for the internal capacity of the minivan so I have some room for those bouncing banshee soundwaves.
There are loads of drivers on the road that shouldn't be. I don't think it matters one bit whether they're on a Japanese crotchrocket motorcycle, in a middle age super car or a big honkin' 4x4 with huge mudders. Most people don't buy their vehicle based on need. At least, not until they become a parent. Then it's budget first, need second.
Minivans are not HUGE. They're mini. Duh. The vans of the 70s, like the Ford Econoline- those were huge vans. Minivans are much smaller and easier to operate, what with the 12 windows and oversized rear view mirrors. And who could possibly not see you in a minivan? No danger of being rear-ended.
Yes, Minivans do help moms. In our modern Mom-does-it-all-Dad's-a-boob society, the minivan could help with child and household chores. Like soccer practice and grocery shopping. But they do more. Much more.
When was the last time a mom ran down to Home Depot to buy a sheet of drywall to repair that hole in the wall caused by the rowdy kids? That's dad's job. And a sheet of 4 x 8 drywall fits in the back of a minivan much easier than the pick up truck, or Crown Victoria. And it stays dry.
What about the drive in? Surely dads go to that as well. Why take dad's truck, forcing the kids to ride (illegally) in the bed, when you can take the DVD entertainment system-on-wheels?
But the real decider for why minivans aren't just for mom goes back to the size. The internal size. Most moms are smaller than dads. Yet minivans can accomodate folks up to 6'4" tall. They have plenty of shoulder and elbow room. More than in any SUV I've ever ridden in (except maybe a Suburban). Why would a tiny mom need all that room?
Stow N Go seating? Why, throw in a tarp and I could put JimBob's deer carcass right in the back. Hopefully it will actually be dead when I do so.
Minivan's can accept trailer hitches. When was the last time you saw a mom launching a small boat for some fishing with the soccer team?
Do mom's need all those internal 12V adapters? My van has five! three up front! I know kids want to charge their Nintendo DS' on the go, but clearly gadgets fall much more in the dad domain, and my minivan expects the driver to have two gadgets just for him/herself.
Minivans aren't just for chicks. They're for families. They meet a need for space, luxury and utility quite nicely. And unless Mary Kay gives one out as a sales prize, I don't expect to be seeing any pink minivans anytime soon.

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