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What's Wrong with a Mini Van?

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I recently gave up my convertible for an SUV, but why am I so opposed to a mini van? People who have them love them. Those who don't, swear they will never go there. Why?

mom with child and minivan

Angela Chee: When we were going through our search for a new car, many people had helpful suggestions. Both my dad and my father-in-law said, "Why don't you get a mini van?" Both my husband and I looked at each other, cringing on the inside, and said, "No, I don't think that's us. We're not ready for a mini van." What is that supposed to mean? Will I ever be ready for a mini van?

What's wrong with one, and why are we so attached to our vehicles? Is it officially making the statement that we aren't the fun couple anymore, and are all about schlepping our kids and their stuff around? Or maybe it goes back to high school, when the only car I could drive was my parents' wagon. Remember those? We didn't care that much -- at 16, it was nice to have anything to drive, but it wasn't exactly the coolest cruising to parties in a "mama mobile." So is the new "mama mobile" a mini van? I'm a mama and I'm proud, but part of me still doesn't want to drive a mini van or a wagon.

I'm expecting my second child in December, and my son is only 16 months old, so that means two car seats. In addition, my mother-in-law is with us often, so that is already five seats. Then when my parents come to visit, it would be nice to be in one car, so that will be seven. So a mini van would make sense, but usually it's just me and the kid(s) in the car, so why should I get this big vehicle just in case I need it?

I suppose at some point, practicality takes over ego, and you just get what is right for your family. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with a mini van. In fact, my friends love theirs, and I think if I end up having a third, or if my kids just have too much crap to fit in the car, I'll consider it, but for now I'm fine. No mini van for me!

FYI -- we ended up getting an SUV with a third row that seats seven if needed, and I'm quite happy with that, for now.

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20 comments so far | Post a comment now
Pamala September 5, 2009, 8:38 AM

I never thought I’d get a mini-van but I hate SUV’s they’re too big so when we were car shopping I needed something high enough to get my child in the car without bending over. So one option was the Mini-Van. I drove it and loved it. Frankly it has better gas mileage than any SUV did that I looked at. It didn’t drive like a tank, it sits a bit higher so I can see over cars and it has automatic doors which meant I can open the doors and let my child get in if I have a ton of stuff in my hands, which has proven handy more times than not. Also it’s been great for tight parking spaces because the doors don’t swing open. And it’s not a large SUV so it doesn’t take up a bunch of space, I can actually fit my car into most standard compact parking spots.
It’s great for camping as well, can pack up the back full of stuff. And I have 8 seats should I need to transport people, which comes in handy for my playgroup and car pooling.
So I think overall it was well worth the purchase.

Natalie September 5, 2009, 8:51 AM

We’re also not mini van people, but with our 3rd baby on the way (and one in a booster with one in a convertable carseat), we HAVE to get something else. We’ve decided on a large 4 door pickup truck for now, and once we have that paid off, we’ll get an SUV with a 3rd row. I will never be one of “those” moms with a mini van. I’m trying to hold onto my coolness with all my might, and a minivan just rips that coolness away.

Jaime September 5, 2009, 10:45 AM

I used to be against mini-vans, swearing I would never drive one. Then I became pregnant with my 2nd child. My husband talked me into a mini-van, kicking and screaming, and now I am so thankful he did! My oldest can get in by herself because she doesn’t have to climb up a high SUV. And I can lift in the infant car seat without feeling like I am going to get a hernia. Who cares if it isn’t cool? It has saved my back and made life SO much easier!

Jenny September 5, 2009, 11:35 AM

I have to admit the same as the other ladies I swore I would never ever get a mini van….we’ve now had ours for a year and I love it, I never have to borrow a truck from someone when I buy furniture, I have tons of room for road trips and never have to take two cars when going out with a group of friends.

But yeah I don’t get why mini vans are considered uncool but they really are…it’s hard to rock out in a mini van.

Mama2Four September 5, 2009, 12:22 PM

I never thought I would be okay with driving a minivan. When I became pregnant with my 3rd I gave up my little car and he gave up his smaller SUV and we now have two minivans and they serve our purpose, they were affordable and I could care less about my “cool factor.” Things don’t define me, who I really am is what matters. Who says you can’t “rock out” in a minivan? I do it all the time!

Monica September 5, 2009, 1:15 PM

For most people I know with mini vans the biggest problem they always have is that when you get together to go somewhere everyone always assume that you are driving. They don’t ask. The assume and don’t even bother worrying about whether or not you have the gas or the money to fill that bad boy up. And then when they are done they don’t offer gas money.

ame i. September 5, 2009, 1:59 PM

When my daughters (now 9 & 11) were small, I had an 8-seater mini-van and loved it! I removed the middle seat in the middle row when they were in carseat/booster seats to make it easier to buckle them in. There was even enough room behind the 3rd row seats to store my late-husband’s wheelchair or the double side-by-side stroller I used when they were little. The only downside was when the auto-slide door decided it was going to try to eat people. I had it worked on many times,but when one of our 6’2” 200 pound male friends was barely able to escape, we disconnected the cord.
I traded the van in for a Pacifica 2 years ago and it works out great for us. I can fold down the back row seats to carry stuff (did so today to take my 9 year old’s bike, scooter, and 2 suitcases to a sleepover), it is easy to drive and park. Love it!

Pamala September 5, 2009, 2:39 PM


Now they have sensors so the doors won’t shut on anyone. Handy little feature they have now. Works out really well.

Kelly September 5, 2009, 5:52 PM

I have 3 young kids and 3 car seats & seat belts to handle everytime we get in and out of the car. I have to say the minivan we bought when I had my second baby was a back saver, it’s much easier to get in and out of. I do have to admit though that even after having the minvan for as long as we have, I still feel a bit dorky driving it sometimes.

Jenny September 5, 2009, 6:54 PM

Um…I said you can’t rock out in a mini van…let me rephrase that, you CAN rock out in a mini van but the only one who thinks you are cool is you lol…

Don’t take this as a personal attack, it’s not, I drive a mini van too

christina Matthews September 6, 2009, 10:32 AM

I just can’t be bothered to worry about whether or not I’m too “cool” for a minivan. I have twin 2 year olds. We looked at SUVs, but they are on a truck chassis, which is less safe. Also, I couldn’t justify an SUV based on the emissions exemptions and frankly god-awful gas mileage. My ego ultimately could not compete with my conscience. It’s not like I’m going to drive it forever, and if someone else is going to judge me as “uncool” for my vehicle, well, that’s just not the kind of person I am interested in knowing.

milajila September 7, 2009, 7:21 PM

i had a mini van many years ago. I got it with my second child. I got rid of it before my third child. now I drive a Maxima. I hated that mini wan and it had nothing to do with being cool. For one it was always cluttered and the kids thought it should be that way. Two it was just too big and too slow getting on the express way and ever where else I just felt like I was in the way. I still hate them. I don’t worry about if other people can’t fit they just have to get a rid from someone else. I have step children and when they come into town we just pile up in the Expedition for the time they are here and that fits us well. I just can’t be bothered with a mini van. I know they are suppose to perfect for families but I’m a sedan girl and I just can’t get away from that. So I’m glad there are a lot of people who really love them. Coolness is old when you have children!

Anonymous September 7, 2009, 10:11 PM

Mini van = yuck. NO WAY. they’ll have to pry my truck keys from my cold dead hands

PlumbLucky September 8, 2009, 5:39 AM

I refuse to drive one, based on both gas mileage and the refusal to be the defacto bus for in-laws. Not exactly sure how (translation: I was amazed too), but I have actually had two RF car seats in the backseat of my little hatchback four-door.

Kristin - September 8, 2009, 10:13 AM

Take it from the experts at; Families come in all shapes and sizes, as do family cars. If you do enough research, you’ll find your perfect fit. A car that is totally functional but also fits your personal style is out there. Keep looking!

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