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kreb SuperDork
2/12/14 10:20 p.m.

OK, so given that I've had a beer to loosen up, and have managed to retain my man card through two Miatas and a brief stint in musical theater (HOT women btw. But I digress), I have to say that I like minivans. No, I don't spend time ogling Odysseys or Caravans, but have to say - as a do it all vehicle there's nothing better. What other vehicle can easily move 7 people, or 4x8 sheets of plywood while handling better than most SUVs and getting decent millage and acceleration?

Maybe it's my inner engineer, but I admire things and people who get their jobs done efficiently and without fuss. That Miata may beckon you to a fun romp in the hills. That lexus might make you dream that you're Larry Ellison, and that Vette may make you think that you can take on Mike Tyson; but damnit, a Quest might just inspire you to finish that report, organize your desk and diagram your next track car build - all before the mid-morning break.

So let's hear it for the Radar O' Reilys of the vehicular world. Don't be afraid, express your van love!

Derick Freese
Derick Freese UltraDork
2/12/14 10:27 p.m.

If my wife and I were to purchase a brand new vehicle today, it would be a minivan. She's the one that needs the convincing, I think minivans are the perfect vehicle for most people.

irish44j PowerDork
2/12/14 10:31 p.m.

We'd have a minivan if they could tow 5k lbs. Definitely the most pragmatic/functional vehicles out there hands-down. My first car was an old Turbo Voyager where many good times were had. My parents have had minivans for 20+ years now, and still have one even though the kids are long long gone.

That said, I need something that can tow, and don't want to have to add a 6th car to the arsenal.....so SUV it was.

Derick Freese
Derick Freese UltraDork
2/12/14 10:36 p.m.

My mom bought her minivan after my brother and I moved out. She loves it. I swear she makes up excuses for us to all pack in and head out.

kreb SuperDork
2/12/14 11:07 p.m.

It's a little unfortunate that some of the minivans out there (I'm talking to you Honda and Chrysler) have reputations for weak transmissions, because from what I've seen that's a big factor in their towing ability.

RoughandReady HalfDork
2/12/14 11:29 p.m.

Station wagon > Minivan

Boost_Crazy New Reader
2/12/14 11:50 p.m.

After a string of performance cars, the last two vehicles I purchased were minivans. I think having three kids had something to do with it. The first one was a Mazda MPV that I bought non running for cheap to flip and use as a trial to see if a minivan was right for the family. It was, so we traded it in for a profit on a new Sienna. It's not the most fun vehicle to drive, but it's one of the nicest to ride in. The new minivans make better luxury cars then cars do. Heck, you can even get full recliners with pop up foot rests.

Boost_Crazy New Reader
2/13/14 12:03 a.m.

I also didn't think I'd have any urge to mod my minivan. Then I ran across this...


Derick Freese
Derick Freese UltraDork
2/13/14 1:56 a.m.

The only way you'd get me to buy a Honda van is to throw in a supercharger. Sure, the transmission change interval will be like 50 or 60 feet, but it will be a fun 50 or 60 feet

EvanR HalfDork
2/13/14 2:48 a.m.

I miss my Plymouth Voyager sometimes. Unfortunately, Plymouth is long gone, and so are stick shift minivans.

(Don't tell me the Mazda5 is a minivan. It's a 5-door hatchback that happens to have sliding rear doors.)

icaneat50eggs HalfDork
2/13/14 5:34 a.m.

Minivans are far superior to station wagons for functionality. Especially with little kids that have to be strapped into car seats

fornetti14 HalfDork
2/13/14 5:37 a.m.
icaneat50eggs wrote: Minivans are far superior to station wagons for functionality. Especially with little kids that have to be strapped into car seats

Plus when you have a family of 5 + pet, the dog can roam around in the van and eat the old French fries off the floor.

I tow a small open bow speed boat with my van and it does a decent enough job.

petegossett PowerDork
2/13/14 5:48 a.m.
Derick Freese wrote: If my wife and I were to purchase a brand new vehicle today, it would be a minivan. She's the one that needs the convincing, I think minivans are the perfect vehicle for most people.

I'd echo this almost 100% - the only difference is that 90% of the time we really don't need the size/space, so the fuel mileage hit vs. our Fit probably isn't worth it.

ggarrard Reader
2/13/14 6:31 a.m.

We're in the same situation as Irish44j as we need something that will to more than 3500lbs.. otherwise I'd probably still have the Odessey...

Klayfish SuperDork
2/13/14 7:21 a.m.

Minivans are spectacular at the jobs they were designed for. Namely to carry mid to large size families, and all their stuff, to grandmas house or soccer practice or the mall or on vacation. Nothing does it better, not even station wagons (and I love wagons). They have enough tow capability for most non-car crazy families. My Sedona can tow landscape trailers or things like that. I also use it to tow small cars with a dolly, though I suspect not many other minivan owners do. It's handling is competent for a 4500 lb, 6' tall vehicle and that's all I can ask.

I have a tendency to change cars like underwear, but I've had my minivan for 7 years now. That speaks volumes of what I think of it.

I've never understood the "man card" thing anyway. I own a minivan, two Miata and a Nissan Leaf. Last time I looked down, it was all still there.

T.J. PowerDork
2/13/14 8:34 a.m.

Back in the late 90's I had a Windstar that was a very subtle tannish-green-beige color. I swear in that vehicle, I could drive as fast as I wanted on the highway without fear of being pulled over.

Most people driving around in SUVs would be better served by a Minivan. More space for people and stuff, better mileage. Other than towing or overcompensating for certain body parts, I don't know why people drive SUVs.

maj75 New Reader
2/13/14 8:47 a.m.

I've driven a few, and might RENT one if the need arose, but there is no way in hell I would buy one. You can all drink the kool-aid, but they are just not attractive to me.

I've owned a couple of 3/4 ton Suburbans, and that would be my choice for a do it all people transporter, tow vehicle (12,000# boat/trailer) and utility vehicle. Easy to get kids in and out. With three rows of seats, still has a ton of storage room in the back. Yeah, the milage isn't as good, but no mini-van can tow like a Suburban or has the storage room with three rows of seats.

Derick Freese
Derick Freese UltraDork
2/13/14 9:21 a.m.

And that's why they make more than one car.

kreb SuperDork
2/13/14 9:30 a.m.

Well it's heartening to know that I'm not the only one with affection for these things. Very few station wagons can compare in terms of ultimate utility, although I'd like a Station wagon at this point in my life. There are just so few reliable (non-European) station wagons to choose from - but that's another thread.

I owned my Caravan in Ohio, and that thing did a darn good AWD imitation in snowy weather, made a decent contractor's vehicle, great for camping out of and for entertaining my girlfriend I was child-free at the time and didn't care about stigmas. I just liked the thing.

I'm a little surprised that more people don't try to "Butch" them up more often. In terms of being left stock, they're like midsize sedans. But with a bit more wheel and tire, a couple inches of lowering, and the right paint job, you'd actually end up with something potentially menacing (The exception being the delightfully demented turbo-4 Chrysler crowd).

dj06482 Dork
2/13/14 9:34 a.m.

Our minivan has been incredibly useful. We've used it for several trips from the Northeast down to FL, hauling kids on a daily basis, and I've even transported children plus at drum to drum Ford 8.8" axle in ours.

My only wishes were that our Odyssey had a better transmission, a firmer brake pedal, and brakes that stood up to repeated stops better. Other than those items, it's pretty close to the perfect family hauler.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
2/13/14 9:40 a.m.

The marketing people have brainwashed our women into thinking Minivans are "uncool" and that big bloated SUVs are desirable. I can't tell you how many of my female friends have stated "I will NOT drive a Minivan, or a station wagon" This is usually followed by "but those Subaru Outback SUVs are kind of nice" Umm....you do realize an Outback IS a station wagon right? " No, it's an SUV.....it even says so in the commercials.." at this point I usually just bang my head against a wall.

The fact is, most families would be much better served with a Minivan vs. an SUV. The vans get better mpg, handle better, hold more stuff, are less expensive, etc.

If you had to drive a nail into a 2 X 4 would you use a screwdriver? No, you'd use a hammer--- it's the right tool for the job. A minivan is the right tool for most families. I'm sure Dad would rather drive a Ferrari instead of his Mazda 2 to commute in......but it's not the right tool for the job. I find the anti-minivan phenomenon confounding.

also--- Chrysler's "Stow and Go" system is miraculous. It's some of the most useful engineering ever put into a passenger vehicle---- brilliant!

eastsidemav Dork
2/13/14 9:51 a.m.

On my second minivan (never should have sold the first one years ago). The new used one will be more of a cargo hauler than a people hauler for me, but its cheaper than an equivalent pickup or full size van, and more comfortable.

I don't have any kids, but can see the attraction of these over station wagons for parents. When I was a kid, child safety seats were smaller, and you didn't stay in one as long. Nowadays, putting in and removing one of those from a wagon would be awful compared to doing the same in a minivan.

bluebarchetta New Reader
2/13/14 10:03 a.m.

Minivans are great until you have to service something on the rear side of the transverse V6 that's hard up against the firewall and tucked under the cowl. Then I hate them and wish I were working on an SUV.

Or is it just me?

ProDarwin UltraDork
2/13/14 10:15 a.m.

I like them, but I dislike them.

These days, mini-vans are LOADED. I hate it. The biggest car OMG WHAT IN THE HOLY HELL moment I've had recently is when I saw an Odyssey stickered at $50k.

I don't want to pay extra $$ for all of those berkeleying features that kids/dogs/hauling cargo are just going to destroy.

That said, can a "Ram" van be outfitted with seats just like the caravan, only with a vinyl floor and none of those ridiculous options? That would rock.

Also, the mileage sucks. I want the Accord Hybrid/Avalon Hybrid drivetrain in a Odyssey/Sienna.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Dork
2/13/14 10:29 a.m.

I dig the engineering in the Chrysler stow n go... seems like as a car they fall apart after only a few years though (anecdotal: riding in friends 2010 car). I don't get the "quality" feel when I check them out, but then again, you can get a new one for less than $20K. Looking at the KBB True Cost to Own, they don't fare so well: TCO over five years:
Caravan AVP is $39.5
Jeep Unlimited Sport: $37.1k
Forester 2.5: $35.8k
Outback 2.5: $38.0k
GTI: $38.3k
Odyssey: $44.6k
Sienna: $44.2k
Quest: $44.1k
Mazda5: $38.0k

Note: These data points are for the most basic version of each, which is what I'd be shopping personally. I think they get worse the more loaded you go.

Realizing these aren't the most cross-shoppable vehicles, but I am indeed cross-shopping them to replace my '02 WRX wagon for my wife and two kids for roughly that timeframe.

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