The minivan is one of the most universally appreciated yet reviled vehicles on the road. Perennially uncool, the minivan has often been a badge of shame foisted upon families, but it doesn’t have to be. At least if you start thinking about it differently. Here are seven reasons you’ll get over minivan-shame as a parent.
Minivans Make Dollars and Sense
Take two popular people haulers, the 2016 Chevrolet Traverse and the 2016 Honda Odyssey. Both seat up to eight passengers in three rows, both start in the low $30,000 range, and both have a V-6 engine. The Odyssey minivan has the edge in the fuel economy department, however, with an EPA-estimated 19/28 mpg city/highway versus the Traverse’s 15/22 mpg. The Honda’s 462-mile range, when compared to the Chevrolet’s 396 miles, means more time between fill-ups, which is a boon when you’re trying to get home and get little Timmy to bed.
They Have Automatic Sliding Doors
Have you seen the nifty falcon-wing doors of the new Tesla Model X SUV? The front doors open and close without help, too, but in a normal fashion. Only a few other vehicles, such as the Rolls-Royce Dawn and the lowly minivan, go out of their ways to open and close the doors for you. Take it from a parent of an energetic young child—when you drop into the driver’s seat of a minivan, exhausted, and realize you’ve left not only the tailgate wide open but also both rear doors, there’s little that’s as wonderful as reaching an arm up, pressing a button, and having everything close on its own.
They Offer Front-Seat Comfort Features
Once you’re in that front seat, you get to enjoy some wonderful features that aren’t exclusive to minivans, but in conjunction with all of the other features, they will help you get over your minivan shame. We’re talking heated seats, ventilated seats, power adjustments, and individual climate control for the two front passengers separate from the rear passengers. Some like it hot? If you’re already sweating from lugging the kiddos around, you can relax with the ventilated seats on full blast and a nice, cool breeze on your face.
Minivans Aren’t Terribly Slow Anymore
A 2015 Honda Odyssey Elite we tested went 0-60 in just 7.9 seconds and passed a quarter mile in 16.1 seconds at 87.1 mph. Take, for example, a 2014 Lexus IS 250, which by most accounts looks like it should be a sporty car, and it is. The Lexus does 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds and finishes a quarter mile in 15.6 seconds. Just half a second separates the eight-passenger kid hauler from the sexy four-door luxury sedan.
There’s Room for Regular Humans in All Three Rows
With the exception of the extended-wheelbase Ford Expedition or Chevrolet Suburban (both sip significantly more fuel than any minivan), fitting full-size humans in every row of a vehicle can be a challenge at best. Ever sat in the third row of a Mitsubishi Outlander? Me neither. Couldn’t fit. It seems like they design these things for petulant children in need of a time-out. In minivans, if you do need to fit people in the way back, it’s actually doable. How doable? A 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander has 28.2 inches of legroom in the third row; a 2016 Honda Odyssey’s third row, on the other hand, has 42.4 inches of legroom. You decide.
Fold the Seats Down, and Minivans Are Really Useful
If you’re running errands between dropping the kids off and picking them up, you’ll find that when you fold the seats, a minivan is really useful. In the 2016 Honda Odyssey, when you’ve made the proper moves to fold the second and third row, you’re rewarded with 148.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Could you transport already-inflated pool toys? Probably. Large boxes? Certainly.
Minivans Sweat the Small Stuff
When you drive a minivan, you realize that the designers have taken the time to make sure the little things are there. They know you’re going to be schlepping kids, so they build a trash-bag ring into the center console facing the second row. They know life gets messy sometimes, so the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica both offer a built-in vacuum cleaner. Need to communicate with the passengers but don’t want to turn your head? The Toyota Sienna has Easy Speak, which is a microphone that projects the driver’s voice through the van’s audio system. It’s details like these that will have you breathing a little bit easier as you get through the daily grind with children. And a not so shameful minivan.