Minivans Should Die

Honda Odyssey crash test

I suppose there will always be a place for minivans, but that doesn’t mean I would want to own or drive one. There will always be a place for garbage trucks, too.

My case against minivans is simply that they are bulky, unsafe, expensive, poor-handling gas-guzzlers that cater to the American desire to: a) make living rooms out of their cars, and/or b) haul a lot of unnecessary junk, including people.

Maybe, with $4.00 gas a reality and higher prices coming, those long, impossibly cozy, cross-country family trips—you know, with grandma and the dog included—will become a thing of the past.

Maybe the idea of buying a car to haul 4’x8’ sheets of plywood (for the few times a year you may actually need to do that) will finally collapse, along with the ego trip of buying big-box store stuff and doing your own pickup and delivery.

But first, Americans will have to look differently at their day-to-day transportation needs, and I admit that’s a tall order. Family needs come first, don’t they?

Here’s Melissa, whom I quote at length from a forum on minivans vs. SUVs. She has a Dodge Grand Caravan.

Just today, we drove down the street and found some of our neighbors were having a yard sale. We purchased the Little Tikes climb & slide cube. All we did was put down the seats in a 1-2-3 and literally slid the cube right into the van. No hassles and DS was able to stay right in his seat without anything coming near him. My in-laws were here for Easter and we drove around with them. It was so nice. We put one of the second row seats down and left the third row up so they were able to sit “limo style”. They were very comfortable in the back.

…I love the van. It is super comfie. We have a 6-disc changer and have the power to have DS watch a dvd in the back and listen to it with the wireless headphones while we listen to the radio. I love the fact that I can change the radio or adjust the volume by hitting a button on my steering wheel.

She and her hubby had “kicked around” (LOL) the idea of getting an Expedition or Suburban, but finally settled on the van, and they just love it. The year she wrote this was 2004, and not a lot in the American lifestyle has changed since then—except the economy.

Carmakers marketing minivans don’t have it as easy as they used to, and some, like Nissan with its 2011 Quest, have gone back to the tried-and-true sell of practicality. But fully optioned, the Quest comes with a nearly $48,000 MSRP, and that is pretty outrageous. Vans are better made now, and competition from crossovers and hatchbacks is getting stronger, although for many these aren’t acceptable alternatives.

I still hate minivans. Do you hate ’em too?

—jgoods

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8 Comments

  1. No, thank you. My wife and I will keep our in the city *suburban* (pun intended) minivan; we will sacrifice “cool” any day for practical, which conversly is essentially what SUV owners are doing – sacrificing practical for “cool”.

    How large of percentage of American SUV owners live in a less than readily accessible area and need the 4-wheel drive and additional clearance? My observations of the daily pristine appearance of the majority of Cadillac Escalades and Chevy Suburbans, etc. it doesn’t appear to be the case. Again, the “coolness” factor outweighs the practical.

    Maybe SUV owners are stating their “individuality”? Just like those who have tattoos, except now every other person has a SUV and/or has a tattoo. It’s more unique to have a minivan or be clean skinned this century.

    Some of our friends have a Dodge Journey, we have a Dodge Grand Caravan. Same engine, same gas mileage, but the Journey has less passenger leg room, less elbow room, and less cargo space than the Caravan does. So what’s the advantage, other than looking “cool”? https://www.cargurus.com/Cars/compare/Dodge-Grand-Caravan-vs-Dodge-Journey_d653_d1135

    My days of giving a rat’s ass about whatever others may think about what I drive went away in high school.

  2. I bought a used Mercury minivan from my sister as a second vehicle so we could get rid of a couple of car payments after I retired. I’ll admit that I’ve never been a big minivan fan, but it’s turned out to be a very usefull vehicle. It’s quite a bit bigger inside than my Trailblazer so I can haul things without having to hook up my trailer, and it’s been perfect for helping get my disabled 87-year-old father around with his wheelchair. Besides, our dog loves it so that’s good enough for me.

  3. This is a pretty lame article aimed at nothing but create a flame war, for or against minivans. Obviously the car market speaks for itself, regardless of the author’s personal opinion.

  4. Totally agree best decision especially were it snows quite a bit and with potholes that are the size of basketballs@ Jon Furse

  5. I have absolutely no use for minivans. The only one my family ever owned was a gutless piece of junk that spent more time in the shop than on the road. Luckily, it finally bit the dust so we got rid of it and bought a Suburban. That was the best choice we could have made. Gas mileage was similar even though the Suburban had a 350 and the minivan had a little 4-banger, and we ran the Suburban to over 300K miles before the transmission burned out towing a car. Never had any lack of power and could go so many more places than the minivan ever could go, not to mention the huge increase in cargo space for camping out and such.

    Essentially, if someone is considering getting a minivan, they may as well get a wagon or older Suburban, depending on where they will be taking it. I say Suburban rather than SUV because older Suburbans are much more reliable and durable than any other SUV on the market. Minivans are over-sized, underpowered, wastes of money.

  6. People who hate minivans have never owned one- they are incredibly versatile, roomy, comfortable and way better on gas than any of those Tahoe/Expedition/whatever behemoths.

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