In case you couldn’t tell by the title, I’m strongly opposed to minivans. Please spare me your love of minivans. They are just living rooms with wheels. And don’t get me started on how decent drivers become idiots behind the wheel of those damn things! Heard of blinkers? Use them.
My friend, Sara, had twin girls when her son was 21 months. She had to buy a minivan…and it’s one of the reasons why I’m opposed to them. Just watching her climb in the side door with her three little kids, proceed to walk hunched over buckling each of them inside that tiny space and then fold her long legs over into the driver’s seat made my back hurt. Sara spent many years going to the chiropractor. I’m pretty sure it’s the minivan’s fault.
Don’t tell me that you can “haul more stuff” in them either. You need an advanced engineering degree to figure out how to fold all the seats down. Save your “the seats fold so easy now.” Yes, NOW is the key word. In the minivan’s early days, you’d need a small army to pull out that third row seat to just make a quick run to Home Depot. Not everyone can afford the price of a new van with all the bells and whistles. If you’re lucky enough to drive a minivan with the new, fancy seats – good for you. Congrats on dropping $40K on the most un-sexy car on the road!
Why should you drive an SUV then? If you’re tall, you won’t have to hunch over to lift kids into car seats. It will save your spine in the era of being a Sherpa/parent. When my kids played hockey, their “hockey bags” were huge! An SUV’s cargo area will make it easier to carry the crap your kids will need for practice. Not to mention groceries! Sara said that since she had to stack the groceries into the small space behind the third row she was always worried that the bread or eggs would get smashed. Why deal with that? Whenever her family would go to their cottage in northern Wisconsin, they would have to pile everything into the tiny space behind the back seat…only to have it fall out when they opened the door at their destination. When your kids are younger, your car is a tool. Why not use a tool that makes your life easier!
I love the option that all three of my kids can sit in the seat together or I can fold up half/all of the third row depending on what or who I’m hauling around that day. Even my preschooler can fold the seats by himself! Plus, since SUVs are taller I can load things from my waist height vs. bending low to get things in and out. Side note: Once when I had my husband’s sedan I may or may not have thumped my kid’s head trying to bend down to put him in the car seat. Yep, still feel horrible about that!
If you want to make the fuel argument, save that too. My 2005 Acura MDX gets the same MPG running the kids to soccer or the grocery store as your minivans. According to the 2016 stats I found, the top six models get the same mpg as my decade-old SUV. That’s 17-18 mpg either way. And let’s face it, most of the driving minivans do is running kids around town. Why not drive something cool? Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to give up style. Although Toyota’s “Swagger Wagon” campaign was funny, it still doesn’t convince me. Plus, my kids’ booster, car seat and baby “basket” car seat all fit in the back seat of my MDX. Easy-peasy!
Another thing – snow. After living my adult life in Minnesota, Michigan and Colorado I can tell you that snow is a bitch to drive in sometimes. The Twin Cities get ridiculous amounts of snow. (I lived there 13 years.) My Acura MDX just laughed at the drifts and cruised right through! My neighbor, Amy, couldn’t get over the drift from the snow plow in her minivan and it took five of us to push her back into her driveway. Whenever a friend has posed the question via Facebook “What kind of car should I get for the family?” I’ve always been adamantly against the minivan. Especially if they live where it snows! My Acura is all-wheel-drive and a must in snow. What if you’re out of diapers and there’s a blizzard? That’s a DEFCON-5 situation right there with a minivan! If you had a decent car, you could actually get to Target for diapers.
As a kid growing up in Denver, we got stuck in our car on the way to school one morning. It was really stressful – especially before cellphones. My dad heard the traffic report and just knew it was my mom! He traded her car for a Jeep Eagle the next month. We never got stuck again. My baby brother wasn’t even a year old yet. Don’t borrow trouble, drive a car that will keep your family safe in snow! I still remember all the tough weather drives I’ve had since we bought the Acura and I am so glad I have it!
Growing up, when minivans first came out, my mother refused to drive one. (Way to go, Diane!) While I’m not short, my two brothers (6’3″ and 6’5″) aren’t either but we all fit in the back seat of the car…not just to visit grandparents, but once we made it all the way from Iowa to Florida in an old Buick Park Avenue! Don’t tell me you need a minivan for “road trips.” Honestly, are you driving cross-country trips on a weekly basis? If you really feel you need a van for that, rent one once a year for the occasion.
My own family has lived in Colorado for almost three years now. Our Acura MDX has driven on forest service roads to find good fishing spots and went through HUGE potholes in ski resort parking lots. My chariot has went on camping trips with all three boys plus two dogs and all the camping gear. (I will admit that trip was a big tight…we should look into getting a car top carrier if we keep bringing both dogs along!) Could we have done all of that with a minivan? No. The countless trips we’ve made to Iowa and California have been wonderful and comfortable. I wouldn’t trade my Acura for anything!