Minivans have been unfairly saddled with the lingering reputation of their clunky, inefficient predecessors. Back in the 80’s, minivans were dubbed by my van-loving father as “Ain’t-A-Vans”. He wasn’t wrong. Those early minivans were everything that vans were not – primarily, they could haul nothing. Nothing but kids, kids, and more kids, that is. And if you did want to haul something other than bodies in seats? It required plenty of tools and heavy lifting to get those obstinate bench seats out, and the single side door was all but useless for loading and unloading. And still, after all of that trouble, you’d be left with very little usable cargo space. Refrigerator? Washing machine? Sofa? I don’t think so! Meanwhile, they were also everything that a car was not – sluggish with poor handling and not-so-great gas mileage, and more difficult to get in and out of than a 4-door sedan.
So what has changed? A lot, actually. Instead of getting the worst of both worlds in the old school “Ain’t-A-Van”, you’re now getting a versatile, efficient vehicle that is truly the best of all worlds – a practical, efficient vehicle with good fuel economy, plenty of cargo space and seating for up to 8, all with the smooth handling of a large sedan.
The biggest game-changer? The seating configuration. In most modern minivans, the back bench seats fold right into the floor, easy-peasy, creating a flat surface with a large, open cargo space. Still not enough? Most have some sort of reconfiguration options for the second row as well, allowing owners to create plenty of open cargo space with an ease and simplicity that will make any 80’s dad curse the designers of those early “Aint-A-Vans”.
The second biggest game-changer? Dual sliding doors. It’s so simple, right? Why not sliding doors? Why not doors on both sides? Filling an 8-seater with passengers has never been easier!
But is it cool to drive a minivan? Well, that’s entirely up to you, isn’t it? You could look at your transition from sport coupe or full-size pick-up to minivan as evidence to the world that you’ve traded in the fun and vivacity of youth for the mind-numbing tedium of middle age. Or you could look at it as evidence that you’ve grown into a time in your life where you don’t care so much about what other people think. Instead, your highest priorities have become the safety and comfort of you and your family. And how cool can you really be loading a swaddled infant into the backseat of a Hellcat? You’re a parent. You’ve got dogs. You spend more time at soccer games and Daisy Scouts than you do at monster truck rallies and hip-hop clubs, and everybody knows it. So you might as well accept it. Embrace it, really. You’ll be happier for it, we promise. But if you’re still not convinced, read on…
With seating for eight as an option in many modern minivans, you can fit two average American families in one vehicle. That means savings in gas, parking, and hassle during many weekend outings with friends and family.
Minivans also come with a slew of super-convenient options that most parents will appreciate, like the spyglass mirror (to help keep an eye on the kids), DVD entertainment system, back-up camera (because it can be hard to parallel park while the kids are screaming at each other), side-window sunshades, in-floor storage, navigation, remote start, and power doors and liftgates, which may seem like an absurd first-world-luxury…until you’ve got a bag of groceries in one arm and a shoeless toddler in the other. You’ll feel like James Bond flicking that button on the key fob and watching the doors open all by themselves. Like a special magic that car manufactures conjured up purely for your own personal convenience.
Depending on your needs, a minivan may or may not be the right choice for you – but don’t let pride hold you back from at least considering one. Minivans are – seriously – the most efficient, practical, comfortable, convenient and versatile cars on the road today. And they’re at least as cool as the person driving them.