Yo, I Drive a Minivan


I never liked minivans. Swagger wagons are for soccer moms, and I won’t let my kids play soccer. (Because I’m mean.) They’re for parents who put those stick-figure decals on their rearview windows, the ones that represent each family member plus pets. (Again, I don’t do that because I’m mean.)

Like most people, I want to drive something cool. My first ride ever–at age 17–was a Dodge Ram D-50 4 x 4, a boy-magnet in high school. Anyway, when we decided to shop for my new car earlier this week, I told my husband I wanted something with a third row, preferably an SUV. (I’m going to skip the politics of global warming for brevity’s sake.) We had a Mercedes R-350 crossover, and I just didn’t like its indecisiveness. Were you a car or a truck, R Class? It handled like a station wagon, plus it was dented and had some engine problems.

To start, I picked out a used Lincoln Navigator at Liberty Lincoln/Mercury on Route 3. My dad worked at the Ford truck plant in Kentucky for 25 years, a job that put me through college, so I felt an obligation to love the SUV. But I didn’t. I felt like Puff Daddy (Diddy, whatever) behind the wheel. Then I drove an Infinity QX56 SUV at Fette, and it was even bigger. I wasn’t comfortable test driving it onto Route 46 because I don’t drive Mac trucks. I decided that SUVs are still awesome, but there’s no way I can parallel park one on Church Street.

Our next stop wasn’t planned. On a practical whim, I asked my husband to take me to Toyota Universe on Route 46. He said sure because a new minivan costs the same as the used SUVs. It took me 10 minutes to fall in love with a white Sienna, and my husband scratched his head. He didn’t want a minivan, but this was my car, the kid-hauling car. The salesman at Toyota Universe dropped the price, and my husband dug that. Plus, the seats were so comfortable; the doors slid open with the remote control key; and the DVD screen was big. This car, a bloated white boat, handled like my inlaws old Lexus. It was a much smoother ride than the trucks we’d tested. Another plus: Even a monkey could park it.

So as of Wednesday, I’ve been rolling down the street in my own swagger wagon. So what if I take it to the GAP? It’ll be great for trips Mountain Creek Water Park. I’ll drive it to Costco–maybe even soccer practice one day. A few of my Facebook friends didn’t approve of the purchase and tried to talk me into hipper crossovers. I got their point. It’s just a fact that minivans aren’t cool, and I’m totally down with that. My Sienna is like my favorite car ever.

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  1. I think I’d prefer driving a mini-van over a Sport Utility Vehicle (or whatever that stands for these days).

    Still, I’m hanging onto my four door sedan as long as I can. We rented some kind of Dodge when the in-laws were in town, and I hated driving it. Huge, funneled gas like a college sophomore, didn’t fit neatly into parking spaces, my line of sight was screwed up, and now – knowing what I know – I’m even more wary of crossing streets as a pedestrian.

    We’re thinking about the Mazda 5 as a compromise once it comes out as a hybrid. Thinking.

  2. Aaahh yes. Had the same wants. Non minivan with a 3rd row. Then test drove the Honda odyssey and before we knew it, splurged on the touring edition. Van feels bigger than our old NYC apartment, and one year later I couldn’t imagine carting our family around in anything else. Go celebrate and have it valet parked.

  3. How exactly did you feel like Puff Daddy?!? Would it be safe to say that you felt like Pat Boone once you were in the mini van?

  4. Does anyone over 17 (or not in a “mid-life crisis”) really care about “cool” when buying a car? The idea seems a little ridiculous, esp. for parents that have to tell kids about making proper choices regardless of what “looks cool”.

    …Andrew (a happy Sienna owner)

    …though the Sienna has a design flaw for too young kids: The parents don’t have a way to control the kids’ video display w/o some uncomfortable gymnastics with the remote control. A friend’s Odyssey (I believe) has parent controls on the front console. Once the kids are old enough to use – and fight over – the remote (or to reach the video player), this becomes less important.

  5. Is it possible to get these cars without video monitors? Does anyone read, do Mad Libs, or play state license plate games anymore?

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