An Absurd Lack of 6-Passenger Vehicles

Chevrolet Impala interior

What happens when 6 people need to drive from one side of Washington State to the other, but only own a couple of 5-passenger sedans?

One choice is to bring both cars and coordinate meal and bathroom stops, but that costs twice as much in gas and obviously separates everyone.

Borrowing a vehicle makes sense, but there aren’t many that can comfortably carry 6 people and all the stuff that goes along with 2 adults and 4 kids. The only options are minivans or large SUVs, and each has drawbacks. Large SUVs are nearly impossible to park in downtown Seattle, and minivans are… well… minivans.

After humbling myself, renting a van, and getting the kids and the stuff situated, something occurred to me:

What happened to 6-passenger sedans?

Minivans just aren’t mini anymore. The 2013 Toyota Sienna we rented is the size of a bus, which made maneuvering into a tight parking spot an exercise in patience and 3-point turns. I’ve decided driver’s ed courses should probably include parking a Sienna in a tight spot under a highway between a Tahoe and a Tacoma while listening to 4 kids complain about being hungry.

Talk about being prepared for the real world.

Large vehicles are obviously needed to transport so many people, but do they have to be *so* large?

I remember making the same trip across the state as a kid in a car with a bench seat in front and one in the back. There was plenty of room for everyone, and our stuff was easily swallowed up by the trunk. I also remember a station wagon with “way back” seats that my brother and I used to roll around in, facing the back window, happily passing the hours on road trips by making faces at motorists behind us.

I’ve always said I’d never buy a minivan, and I hold  true to that fact. The kids love the extra room, but I can’t handle the stigma. Or the inability to take my favorite corner any faster than 60 mph. An SUV like the Chevy Suburban is just too huge for daily use, and smaller 3-row vehicles are just too cramped in the third row.

If moving 6 people were to become a regular event, I might seriously consider a used Chevy Impala or Ford Crown Victoria in place of a modern van or SUV.

How big is your family? What do you use to transport everyone?


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Used Toyota Sienna
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Used Chevrolet Impala
Used Ford Crown Victoria


  1. I actually like bench seats in front and column shift. It would be nice to have a fold down arm rest with storage. Best of both worlds. I’m thinking of a Durango for a family car. Smaller than a Tahoe but still RWD.

  2. What happened to 6 passenger sedans? Think about it– What happened is air bags. Most front air bag designs are specifically for 2 people, and most vehicles have evolved to keep the count to two in the front seat, where being in a crash is the most dangerous.

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