Automobiles

The Return of the Minivan

From soccer moms to Generation X

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It's boxy, bland, and relentlessly practical, but in an age of diminished wealth and high unemployment, maybe that combination doesn't sound so bad. Despite those qualities, or because of them, the minivan is making a comeback.

Sales are up, new models are appearing, and the woman who once did the blog "Rage Against the Minivan" has fallen in love with one. "In marketing campaigns featuring heavy-metal theme songs, rapping parents, secret agents in cat masks, pyrotechnics and even Godzilla, minivan makers are trying to recast the much-ridiculed mom-mobile as something that parents can be proud—or at least unashamed—of driving," reports The New York Times.

This is known as reinventing the wheel. Minivans became popular in the 1980s because they offered so many things—abundant seating, ease of entry for young children, decent fuel economy, and cargo space without excessive bulk. For a generation in its fertile years, they were the solution to every need.

Except one: the perennial urge of many baby boomers to believe they are cool. Our parents knew better than to expect hipness to coexist with diapers and PTA meetings. But the postwar generation is the one advertisers asked, seductively: "Who says you can't have it all?"

Apparently, though, the urge to be awesome has carried over to Generation X. That explains why automakers are trying so hard to convince them that basic, functional transportation is not a fate worse than fiery death.

Toyota is selling the Sienna as a "Swagger Wagon" after hearing consumers lament, "I don't like being the soccer-mom joke or feeling like I've given up all trace of my identity to be a parent," according to marketing manager Richard Bame.

Good luck with that. Portraying minivans as radical is like trying to sell Kansas to snowboarders.

It's also largely pointless. The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who, when they have kids, worry they are no longer cool, and those who, when they have kids, think being a parent is cooler than anything they've ever done. The latter group will consider a minivan. The former won't, even if you paint a skull and crossbones on it.

For those captivated by parenthood, the appeal of stylish wheels is (or was) nothing compared to a car that could carry baseball gear for an entire Little League, transport a flock of first-graders to Chuck E. Cheese's, get double-digit gas mileage, and ride appreciably better than a Conestoga wagon. In my book, coolness was a consolation prize for the poor mopes who were missing out on Indian Princesses.

But some people feel differently, which is why the rise of minivans was accompanied by the rise of something far less sensible: the sport-utility vehicle. With its truck frame, macho looks, and off-road capability, it allowed Americans to drive station wagons to the grocery store and ballet lessons while pretending to be Marlboro Men (and Women) riding the range.

Never mind that SUVs typically carried fewer passengers, got worse fuel economy, handled like front-end loaders and had a regrettable tendency to flip over. Plenty of people were desperate to overlook all these shortcomings rather than be publicly unmasked as parents.

The SUV's cherished dirt-eating, boulder-climbing feature was generally unneeded by suburban parents. For that matter, it was greatly exaggerated. One of the more surreal experiences of my life came when the people at DaimlerChrysler refused to honor the transmission warranty on my son's Jeep because—prepare to be shocked—he had taken it off-road.

Maybe Generations X and Y are getting past the drab associations that once hung over minivans. Sales reached about 450,000 last year, up 9 percent over 2008. But that was still only about a third of the total at the peak 10 years ago.

How come? Because the industry has figured out a different way to capture those buyers looking for the best features of a minivan. SUVs and "crossover" vehicles have acquired smoother rides, third-row seats, and better fuel economy. In essence, millions of Americans are driving minivans disguised as trucks—sheep in wolves' clothing.

Maybe minivans will take a bigger share of the market as some consumers decide they might as well have the real thing. But with all their interior space, minivans can't carry the one thing many motorists must have at all times: their illusions.

COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

NEXT: It's All Greek to Me

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  1. Good morning reason.

    The missing alt-text, combined with the White faces in the image, is proof of Chapman’s racism.

    1. Hmm… For some reason I am not seeing the alt-text when I scroll over. Was it removed?

  2. This is why they’re retiring the Space Shuttle fleet. The market is being dominated by the sleek and sexy Soyuz reentry capsule.

  3. I’m not that old but I’d still rather have a station wagon over a minivan or SUV!

    1. Like a ’57 Nomad? Many of those older station wagons from the 60s and 70s had big blocks.

      1. My dad had a ’68 Belair wagon with a 327 when I was a kid. In addition to hauling back dead deer from the fall hunt, it also used to lay two big, black stripes when provoked.

        My brother and I thought it was SO COOL when he’d floor it and kick down the transmission when we were on the hwy.

        Plus the backward-facing third row seat – SO stealth. Good times…

      1. for duh…I had an Audi S4 Avant, that was one awesome grocery-go-getter. The M5 would look nice in my driveway…

      2. In the late ’80s, I got around with the previous family Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon, with a 6.6 L V-8.

        To accelerate, you didn’t depress the gas pedal — you called out “all ahead two-thirds” to the engine room crew.

        Going from zero to 10 mph took awhile, but interestingly enough, once you got off the line, the acceleration was pretty good — and it just kept going faster and faster. Cornered amazingly well, too — that big wide wheelbase under the hood you could land a CH-53 on.

    2. I agree. But they hardly make station wagons anymore. And all the European ones are way too frikkin expensive.

  4. After my sons were born, I bought a Volvo V70 to avoid a mini-van….

    One roadtrip to Florida cured that illusion and bought a Town and Country shortly afterward. The van is much easier to access with kids, carries everything easily. Especially when we take the dogs with us. The wagon is cramped and tedious by comparison. Even the fuel economy is comparable with the van getting 24-26 and the V70 getting a little better at 26-28.

    Mini-vans were popular before Toyota’s new round of marketing and they may be making them more interesting to a few more people. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the vans were already popular because you can get the cargo capacity of a Yukon with 25mpg+.

    1. Your illusion was thinking a Volvo wagon was a cool alternative.

    2. We went with the ford Flex which is, I think, the best compromise between a Mini Van and the CUV. You trade in a little space and the sliding doors for a vehicle with a 350 HP turbo-v6. It was a trade we were happy to make.

      1. The Flex is great if you’re willing to shell out just shy of 40k.

        No thanks.

  5. Good Morning Suki!

  6. Wow, Chapman… Really? This is what you decided to write about? Did Car and Driver ask for a published piece when you sent in your resume?

  7. Yo, Stevo! Didn’t the New York Times just do this piece two days ago? You know, “Mocked as Uncool, the Minivan Rises Again”? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01…..amp;st=cse

    OK, still nursing that hangover. I understand. Anyway, two days old beats two years every time! Making progress, dude! Making progress!

  8. I bought a mini-van after my kids had moved on. It’s perfect for my greyhound-crazy wife. We haul dogs from the farm as a volunteer activity, or take road trips to greyhound events.

    I still want a truck for the dirty work around the house, but I don’t regret losing my cool and getting the Sienna.

  9. If you have more than two kids, minivans are about the only vehicles that can accomodate the booster seats. You could paint them plaid and make them smell like day old tuna, and parents would still have to buy them.

    1. No one should have more than two kids!

      1. Some of us are able to successfully mate.

      2. My girlfriend and I plan to have 4 kids when we’re married. I don’t conform to the rules Ted Turner and other smug liberals like to implement on us.

    2. Hey…plaid is my favorite color.

  10. First, I am genuinely shocked about the Jeep warranty.

    Second, is the Toyota marketing actually working? If so, how? I don’t understand it at all.

    1. I’m surprised that San Francisco is allowing the Toyota advertising. They’re marketing to the CHILDREN!

  11. The funny thing is that automakers *could* improve the image of minivans with advertising that showed their superiority for outdoor adventures. What’s best for those activities is not a vehicle you can drive off the roads into the wilderness but a vehicle that will haul your friends/kayaks/skis/backpacks/ climbing gear/mountain bikes to the trailhead, and minivans do that better than SUVs. But automakers, I think, hesitate to run ads like that because it might hurt SUV sales.

    1. This is exactly what I used my dad’s old minivan for in high school/college. It was superior to the jeep in every aspect, from hauling friends and gear to handling and great gas mileage. On the East coast, there are not that many trailheads or river takeouts that you have to access by off-roading through mud and boulder fields, so a 4WD vehicle doesn’t make much sense.

      Didn’t stop me from buying another Wrangler and modifying the hell out of it, though, once I had the income.

      A minivan is our next vehicle purchase. We need something that can get the kids, dogs, tents, and bikes out for our adventures. The Forrester cuts it for now but I can already see we’ll need more room soon.

      1. Forrester plus trailer hitch plus lightweight trailer

        http://www.letsgoaero.com/ProductDetail.asp?Pid=29

        I have one of these, they’re great.

      2. When I was single and young, I bought a minivan and took out the rear seats because it so easily hauled all my gear. I guess I could have bought a cargo van, but the gas mileage wouldn’t have been as good.

    2. I race sailboats and most sailors use minivans or regular vans ( no extra chairs or carpeting to get wet) to haul their equipment around. It’s convenient to be able throw wet stuff and people in the back and go. Then wash up and hang to dry when you get home. Cave diving is the same. Cave diving spots abound with the ubiquitous white Chevy vans–and these places are out in the middle of nowhere. Of course, I drive a Corvette. I hate kids.

    3. I have a 2005 Sienna that goes off-road to my middle-of-nowhere desert property pretty well. Only thing it can’t handle is deep sand. (Bring a shovel, 2×6’s and a lot of drinking water. And earplugs, so your kids don’t needlessly expand their vocabulary while Dad excavates away under the 110 degree sun.)

  12. I don’t think Car and Driver would accept this piece of fluff.

    I’m with Alan, I think he’s got a hangover so bad that he decided to rehash a New York Times piece to meet a deadline.

  13. If this minivan’s rockin’, don’t bother knockin’.

  14. MINIVAN: NO
    RAPEVAN: YES

    1. What sort of mural would Steve Smith have painted on the side of his minivan?

        1. YES! A thousand times, YES!

        2. SF, you can’t link to that without also linking to the Amazon reviews.

          1. A pic of the rape van might have been posted somewhere. Maybe.

      1. I think it would be more like this:

        STEVE SMITH VAN

  15. Form follows function.

    Geeze.

  16. I can assume from the marketing campaign referenced in the pic that a mini-van will turn you in a scarecrow-skinny balding hipster and a big-hipped sexless harpy that resents the fact that no one is interesting in her flabby labia and slack vagina any longer.

    They both look like they smell of shit, formula, and regret. This is supposed to sell me a product? This is being presented as an aspiration? Or it is supposed to be a comfort after I’ve thrown my life away to whelp a couple of little assholes with good odds that one will be in rehab and the other pregnant sometime in the next 15 years?

    The only thing worse than people yammering about their kids is them yammering about awesome the shitbox is that they hollowly drive around while waiting to die.

    1. And people say libertarians have no sense of humor.

      1. Hey, Sienna-Mom is cute. Maybe not Lobster Girl cute, but cute. SugarFree, I’m thru with you, professionally.

        1. yeah, I’d hit that.

      2. The only thing worse than people yammering about their kids is them yammering about awesome the shitbox is that they hollowly drive around while waiting to die.

        You have reached the plane of fully enlightened understanding and may now leave the temple.

    2. “a scarecrow-skinny balding hipster and a big-hipped sexless harpy that resents the fact that no one is interesting in her flabby labia and slack vagina any longer. They both look like they smell of shit, formula, and regret.”

      Ok, I have to admit, this was masterfully done.

      1. Yes it was.

        After reading that, I’m glad I’m finished with that part of my life or I would probably be putting the barrel of a pistol under my chin right about now.

    3. So, I guess you won’t be buying a minivan in the future?

      I don’t know if I’m supposed to buy the product based on the couple in the pic. I don’t think I identify with them, or maybe I just don’t want to. They make me a little uncomfortable, frankly, like watching my parents dance to Seger’s Old Time Rock ‘n Roll.

      1. “They make me a little uncomfortable, frankly, like watching my parents dance to Seger’s Old Time Rock ‘n Roll.”

        OK, close second.

      2. It’s their desperation to hold on to something they obvious never had that rankles my hackles, I think.

        Due to viscous levels of TiVo, I rarely watch commercials, but my pathologcal interest in pop culture makes me watch a few now and then. This campaign is extra-irritating. Especially the one where the mother’s deep self-delusion and narcissism while flirting with two policemen nearly results in her infant dying.

        1. The newest Toyota commercials with the curly-haired, blond kid yammering about how cool the minivans are drive me nuts. This is the first time I’ve ever wanted to beat a kid to death with a baseball bat.

          1. What kinnath said. The blonde kid nearly made me wreck my TV…fortunately, I found the remote before I found a brick to throw at it.

            1. Agreed. If you are basing your car purchases on a 5-year-old’s definition of “cool,” please give yourself a vasectomy with a band-saw.

            2. Send me an invite when the mob forms to beat that kid.

            3. I’m glad I’m not the only one who, upon seeing this commercial, wanted to beat the stuffing out of that little brat (or at least hold him down & shave that filthy mop off his head).

          2. Guess you don’t have kids then.

            1. Never felt the need to beat my children. You just have to instill discipline starting when they learn to walk.

        2. Leaving the baby bag on the roof would result in the infact dying? WTF?

          1. Baby-bag? Sorry, I thought it was the baby based on the policemen’s reaction shots.

        3. In her defense, that was a diaper bag on the roof of the car, not the kid.

    4. I don’t think the blond woman is that unattractive. I mean she is not like model attractive. But she is not horrible. You are a little harsh.

      1. Isn’t that Dee Dee Meyers?

        1. Learn how to spell.

          1. Oh, Meyer, you don’t know when to quit!

    5. Thanks for reminding me why I’m still single. No regrets.

      and slack vagina

      Is that what the garage door opener is for?

    6. The blond is an actress named Rachel Drummond. Maybe I have low standards, but I wouldn’t kick her out of bed.

      http://rachaeldrummond.com/photos

      1. I can tell from those pictures she’s a pain in the ass.

        1. What woman isn’t?

          1. Like the saying goes, “No matter how hot she is, or how awesome you think she is, somebody is tired of dealing with her shit”

  17. And it’s still being hammered on home – the necessity that the only solution is to buy one of these Iacocca-ripped-off-the-Japanese-idea-and-took-credit shitboxes – witness the “4’9″ is the magic number! Till then your pumpkin needs a booster seat” government produced ad in heavy rotation on the non-prime cable channels lately. There was no market for ’em when you could just chuck about 10 kids in the back of the pickup, and occasionally yell at ’em to not sit on the sides while you were taking corners… fucking safety nazis.

    1. Iacocca-ripped-off-the-Japanese-idea-and-took-credit

      The same man who gave us the K-car.

      1. The same man who gave us the K-car.

        You say that like it’s a bad thing.

        1. The same man who gave us the Mustang.

    2. In all fairness, the Japanese kind of ripped of the French on this one.

  18. I’ve always disagreed with liberals who hate on mini-vans, Hummers and “McMansions.” People buy those things because of useful features. If you have kids the space in a min-van is very useful for vacations and trips to the store.

    People who complain about how widespread such things have become need to be reminded about the story of labor leader John Lewis caught by reporters coming out of an operahouse smoking a fine cigar. When asked how such an image fit with his championing of working men he said “Boys, nothing is to good for the working man.”

    1. What makes you think “McMansions” have useful features? I’ve never seen buildings designed with so much wasted space as the latest round of foreclosed tract mansions in my area.

    2. My only problem with McMansions is the government subsidies.

  19. Why the fuck do people buy a minivan or station-wagon just because they have a couple of kids?

    1. See my post above. Space. Cramming kids into tight spaces produces noisy conflict.

      1. Typical yanks (and every other anglophone country). Just administer, or threaten with, a spanking.

        1. But, but, if parents did that, we wouldn’t have to ban Happy Meals.

        2. That’s how things used to work, but unfortunately in today’s America it only takes one busybody or neighbor with a grudge to call child services on your ass and make your life hell.

          1. Sounds like a neighbor in need of a spanking. And by spanking, I mean beatdown.

        3. Oh bullshit. You try driving for thirteen fucking hours to visit the grandparents. You can beat the the crap out of them as many times as you want, at some point, it sucks for you just as much as it sucks for them. A minivan makes it suck a lot less.

        4. Just administer, or threaten with, a spanking.

          Right. Because doing that over a long trip (or even a long drive) is so much fun.

          Can I force my kids behave in a cramped car if I have to? Sure. Is it a lot more pleasant for all of us if I don’t have to? Hell yeah.

    2. Re: dbcooper,

      Why the fuck do people buy a minivan or station-wagon just because they have a couple of kids?

      For the same reason they buy multi-bedroom, multi-bathroom houses when they have kids – to have some FUCKIN’ QUIET TIME, for a change!

      1. This site really needs a “Like” button.

    3. I had a Saturn SL2 (the smaller sedan) and two kids under 2. The simplest trip to the grocery store could present challenges, especially if I wanted to actually get any groceries home. The trunk did not have much real estate once you pack in a stroller. Forget going anywhere with the dog and kids, too, unless poor Ben wanted to ride the roofracks.

      The space is practical and necessary, esp. given the requirements to have safety seats, booster seats, no kids under 12 in the front seat…I really give my mom credit for being able to manage it all in a ’78 Nova with three kids under age 5.

      1. But as people have mentioned, there were no safety Nazi precautions twenty years ago. My dad used to pick me up from school when I was six on his motorcycle. He handed me my Ultra-Man toy helmet and I scrambled onto the back. He also used to drive my brother and I around while he sat on my lap in the passenger seat in his Vette. No seat belts; hell, no top either–it was a convertible.

        1. You Dad sat on your lap while he was driving? OK, that’s too kinky for me.

    4. you can’t fit three child seats in the back of a compact or mid-sized car

      1. Even if you can, you’re going to wreck your back putting a kid in or out of the one in the middle.

    5. it’s the the three kid threshold that is critical.

      1. True. At that point, you switch from man defense to zone.

    6. Because, sometimes you need to carry a bit more than your couple of kids, or carry your kids and their junk.

      It’s not what you typically carry that defines your requirements but what you occasionally need to carry.

    7. Why the fuck do people buy a minivan or station-wagon just because they have a couple of kids?

      Because they want to?

      Why do people buy rifles and plink at cans? Why do people skydive? Why do they buy single malt scotch, watch Glee, smoke dope, wear mismatched socks, or scratch their balls when they feel like it? And most importantly, why the fuck do you think anyone needs to justify his particular preference in wheels to you? Or anyone?

      Here’s a thought! This is a forum on a site dedicated to the proposition that individuals can do whatever the hell they want, provided they pay for it and don’t step on anyone else’s toes. So how about you shove your smugly self-righteous question right up your arrogant ass, where it belongs with all other poking of nose into other folks’ business questions? Cheers, mate.

  20. Minivans are awesome. We have two–I drive one happily. Nothing better for moving lots of stuff and people.

    Disdain for minivans reveals a weak and gullible soul who has swallowed whole the 100 years of relentless image-making spewing out of Detroit.

    A car is aboiut transport, not schwanz size.

    1. A car is aboiut transport, not just schwanz size.

    2. Yep. People forget that and all they care about is how cool they look in their ride. A car for me is a means to get from point a to point b, safely. Thats why I will have my car until it becomes too expensive to fix it, since its just transport and I really don’t want to pay the cash (and taxes) to get a new one.

      1. And clothes are just about covering your body and protection from the elements. That’s why I wear this 20-year-old Hazmat suit. And I’ll keep it until it becomes too expensive to fix.

    3. That’s really sad. If you’ve never really enjoyed driving, you’re driving the wrong car. You jerks who joke about small dicks and compensation really have no idea what it’s like to experience a fine driving machine.

      I’m sure there are those out there that truly are compensating for something with their cars, but you who like to sneer at anyone driving a performance car reek of petty jealousy–what failures are you attempting to compensate for?

      1. Buying for image and buying for utility are two different things. Utility is different things to different people — for some, it’s a functional people-mover that comfortably meets all needs. For others, it’s horsepower and handling.

        I love driving. While I hate BMW (and most German cars) for their reliability, I find the 3-series to be an absolutely enjoyable driver’s car. I’ve owned (and participated in track days with) a performance motorcycle, and few things in life are as exhilarating as cranking a bike over at speed and feeling your knee puck sliding on pavement.

        What do I drive? A 10-year-old Ford Ranger w/ 130K miles. Why? Because for going to work and back, I don’t want a vehicle that’ll entice me to drive fast on public roads and get ticketed constantly. I bought it 7 1/2 years ago and it’s been paid off for 6. It’s comfortable as hell (actually the most comfortable vehicle this 6’5″ 250 lb guy has ever driven — long trips are a BREEZE). It’s great for hauling stuff. It has a manual transmission — I always have, and likely always will, hate driving automatics; about the only thing I think might draw me away from a manual is a CVT. About the only thing I don’t like about it is the lack of cruise control and relatively low gas mileage.

        I don’t sneer at *anyone* for driving a performance car. Especially people who know how to responsibly take that car around a racetrack at high speed — for which it’s truly suited. But to claim that someone who buys a truck, or a minivan, or a Prius, or an economy Civic doesn’t enjoy driving is incorrect. There are lots of tradeoffs in life, and while someday I’ll probably put together a sports car or get another bike — primarily for flogging like a madman around a racetrack — it’s a tradeoff I can’t make at this time.

      2. albo wasn’t smearing people who genuinely like performance cars, as opposed to those who buy them to cover up their insecurities. Rather, he was defending minivans from those smear them for being “uncool”. And people get their kicks in different ways. Good for you if you get it from driving; not everybody does, nor should they.

        1. Ok, fair enough. Perhaps I generalized overly. However I have known a substantial number of people who like to look down their noses at drivers of performace cars while claiming sort of moral high ground supposedly granted them by driving a shitbox A-B machine.

          If the kind of car one drives doesn’t matter then why does it allow some to place themselves on that kind of perverse moral pedestal?

  21. I love my Honda Odyssey.

    BTW, the couple in the picture is from a series of marketing videos that Toyota put out called “Swagger Wagon”.

    If you watch the videos, the picture will make more sense to you. I think the videos are funny, but I’m in the right demographic.

    And for all of those people who put “image” in front of utility and happiness, I say get a fucking clue.

    1. ‘And for all of those people who put “image” in front of utility and happiness, I say get a fucking clue.’

      Or even better: To those same people, get some therapy to see why you’re so goddamn insecure and care so much about what others think of you.

  22. How about an all electric minivan???

  23. I am a car person, so I find minivans distasteful. If I had like five kids, I suppose I would buy one. But I would still rather have a small SUV to drive just because I refuse to own an ugly car. That said, minivans are great if you are into outdoor stuff like triathalons or hiking and the like. If I did that, I would probably own one out of necessity.

    1. I’m a car person, too. I DO love my minivan, but my love may be enabled by the fact that my wife drives the thing on a daily basis, while I get to drive a small, semi-quick sedan with a stick shift.

    2. I drive a six speed convertible Vette. I would rather own a car whose engine combusts children than actually have fuckin kids and have to buy a minivan.

      1. I thought about buying a six speed convertible Vette, but then I woke up and realized that where I live, I’d probably never get out of second gear. Sure, I could daydream of the Autobahn at the stoplight, but it seemed like a waste of money.

        I bought a vacation house is a sunny foreign land instead.

        1. Probably a smart move–We’re planning on leaving the country permanently and I require a warm place to live. Right now, I’m in FL (hence the convertible). And I know I’m gonna regret posting this, but I get out of all my traffic tickets ’cause my boyfriend’s a cop.

    3. I am a car person, so I find minivans distasteful.

      NO minivan thread is complete without a link to this:

      “A few weeks later, we were on our way to the Michelin facility, anticipating a meeting between the V6-powered Honda van and not one, but two examples of everything that a sports car is supposed to be….”

      http://grassrootsmotorsports.c…..s-revenge/

      1. That is a great article and true. Cars are better now. Anyone who has actually owned an old one knows that. But, there is more to a car than how reliable it runs.

      2. A modern vehicle can beat a 50-year old sports car. Not impressed.

        There are 4-cylinder cars today that can keep up with a 60’s V-8 and modern V-6’s that can outperform them.

        1. A modern vehicle can beat a 50-year old sports car. Not impressed.

          Well I’m impressed. I’m impressed that modern cars are so effing much better that a 4000+ lb, front-wheel drive, 7-seat, people-mover of a minivan beats a 40-year-old Porsche — not just in a straight line (which is just power/weight after all) but also on an auto-cross course.

          1. Well, it depends on what the intent of your original post was.

            If it was for HAHAHALOOKATYOURLITTLEDICKSPORTCARDRIVER, no that doesn’t persuade me that minivans are so awesome because they can outperform a 50 year old Porche. It’s not uncommon knowledge how good cars are today compared to the 60’s even with all the gummint mandated junk on them.

            OTOH, if it was to show how far automotive engineering has come in that time, yes, it damn impressive. The fact that you can buy a V-6 pony car for < $30K that will run a 14 second 1/4 mile and get 30 MPG and use daily in relative comfort and is massively safer to drive, is hugely fucking impressive.

  24. I hate the Toyota ads — but I’m not in the target demographic either.

    The day I picked up my 350Z, I told the dealer the best part was knowing that both of my kids were driving mini-vans.

    1. Part of what bugs me about minivans is that they are a symbol of how we arrange our entire society around spoiling children. For decades people had families, some of them large, and the kids piled in the back seat. There weren’t any DVD players or toys or constant distractions. And gasp, parents made their children behave. Now we have to have a minivan and all this space even though we have fewer kids. Yes, part of that is the emergence of car seats. But not all of it. A lot of it is that parents won’t say no to their kids and arrange their entire lives around keeping their children entertained. Parents of the past were parents and took care of their kids and gave them a good home. But they also were adults. They did adult things. And they kept their kids in perspective. Their entire lives did not revolve around their children. I think that was healthy. The world isn’t all about children, although providing a good home for children is obviously essential. But there are other things in the world. And kids’ time will come when they are adults. I think the rise of the minivan is in some ways a symbol of our society losing sight of that.

      1. I have two kids. We survived their youth with small Subaru wagons. I could load up myself, three boy scouts, and a bunch of camping gear into a late 70’s 4-wheel-drive Subaru wagon and head into the Az wilderness for a weekend of roughing it.

        My kids each have two kids, and they somehow felt compelled to get minivans. I swear they load half the crap from the grandkids bedrooms into the minivans just to come over for dinner.

        1. You guys just sound grumpy and old.

          Even though there is some truth in what you say.

          However, you know, things change over time, and I think saying things like “there’s no good music nowadays/parents don’t know what they’re doing/today’s kids are shit” is evidence of a dying mind.

          1. People ask me why I drink old fashioned. I tell them it is because they don’t make a reactionary.

            In all seriousness. I have no illusions about the past. The past sucked. And things in many ways are better today. But, my experiences with children in this generation tend to be generally awful. And it is not the kids’ fault. It is the fault of parents who seem to be overgrown adolescents.

            1. I’m stealing that line:

              “People ask me why I drink old fashioned. I tell them it is because they don’t make a reactionary.”

            2. “People ask me why I drink old fashioned. I tell them it is because they don’t make a reactionary.”

              Best quote of the thread.

        2. I would say the difference is the fact that car seat and seat belt laws have changed how many kids you can load into a given car. My 4 door truck should be more than enough room for a family of foor but after two car seats where do I put any luggage or granparents?

        3. Fausch, you’re right, especially when you throw in safety-crazed mothers who won’t allow the least amount of flexibility, like letting the kids out of their car seats for a 5 minute trip to a restaurant so that you can remove the car seats and take only one car.

          1. Maybe my sarcasm meter is broken, LM, but you can go to jail if you’re caught driving around with a kid under 4’9″ who is not in a car/booster seat. At least in NJ you can.

            I take DD1 for rides in the Jeep without the car seat, but only when we’re at our friends’ farm. I would not be caught dead on a public road without both of my kids in car seats.

            1. You’re ok, I wasn’t being sarcastic. One of my biggest peeves are safety-crazed mothers, but I should know there is no way to win a battle against a safety-crazed mother. (Which they all are in my experience).

              BTW the law is not relevant to me other than as a factor that increases the risk of a negative government encounter.

              That risk can be managed, especially if you are cramming four kids in the last row of a minivan with heavily tinted windows.

              1. I would love to be able to hop in the car without battling the car seat, or just dash into the post office or convenience store without wrestling both kids out of the car, but it’s just not possible.

                I do care about my kids’ safety, very much, but could do without the paranoia and fear of public scrutiny over my choice to transport them in a manner I feel is safe, or to leave them in a locked, not-running car for a minute while I get some milk at Quik-check.

                My biggest fear about my kids? That someone will call DYFS on me and have them taken away. I don’t want to leave any openings for someone to point a finger.

        4. We did that for a while, bring everything we own with us. Now we have a bigger vehicle and take less because we’ve learned we can do without it. My wife still has a huge ass purse though.

          1. Where do you find ass purses? I think I might need one for a few months while I work off the baby weight.

            1. Target or Kohl’s. It’s where my money goes to die.

        5. And when I was a kid, I shared a room with my sister, and played games with sticks for toy guns.

          That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have loved to have a nerf blaster, and I did love it when I got my own room.

          Kids are spoiled, but that’s the whole point of advancement in life. Kids in some places are lucky to have food, or to be able to go to school. We should be celebrating that kids get cool stuff nowadays (provided they are still taught reasonable values) rather than deciding that the specific amount of spoiled-ness/deprivation we grew up in was the absolute perfect level for producing proper children.

        6. Your kids have minivans because they remember being crammed into the back seat next to their brothers and sisters, and cousins and friends and god knows what else for god knows how many hours until everyone is pissed off and cranky by the time a small. well punched voice croaks out ‘are we there yet?’ for the ten millionth time and some adult says ‘yes! goddamit now get out and shut up!’.

          All the garbage and space allieviates that somewhat.

      2. I think this may be partially true, but minivans area also an artifact of child safety seat regulations. Can you even imagine getting two car seats in a SMART car?

  25. Volvo XC70
    Best Compromise. I love it.

    (one kid only though)

    1. I love those cars. If and when I have kids, that is what I will buy.

      1. You’ll be able to use the money you get from selling the BMW motorcycle to offset the cost.

        1. I will never sell the motorcycle. I will own that until I die.

            1. The wife loves it to. We will never sell it.

              1. Trust me. The second Junior pops out, all that motorcycle love will be immediately and irreparably transferred to the ankle-biter.

                Mothering takes the usual amount of female irrationality to low-Earth orbit.

                1. Honestly. my wife would never make me sell it. And I would divorce her before selling it anyway. And she knows that. I married her for a reason. And one of those reasons is she knows what things are non-negotiable and was willing to embrace those things. I am very lucky in that.

                  1. That’s funny, I have the same deal with my gf. I told her straight up that if she makes me choose between her and any of my cars, she’s going to lose.

                    Not because I value a car more than her, but because I demand she value and respect my love for automobiles – and if she doesn’t, I don’t want to be with her.

                    1. plus i hate that manipulative guilt-trip shiot.

    2. I’ve had an XC70 for 3 years now. The seats are awesome and I can pull my boat with it. My S4 destroyed it from 0-60, but my S4 destroyed many ‘sports cars.’ As a family-oriented wagon…I dig it with big shovels.

  26. Alright, lets get down to cases, commentariat. What do you drive?

    Mr. Dean: Toyota FJ Cruiser.

    Mrs. Dean: Mercedes E63 AMG.

    1. Honda CRV, and the SugarWife drives a BMW 325i.

    2. Wow, Mrs. Dean got the better deal, by far.

      1. She’s the gearhead. And believe you me, she’s earned it. Got it used (lease turnback with 30K miles). You save about a dollar for every mile its been driven.

        It truly is one awesome machine. The engine is actually signed by the guy who built it.

        1. Ohhh, I have aching, burning lust and envy in my heart.

          1. Stubby: 98 Chevy Blazer. We paid 5000 for it in 2001, when it only had 30K miles on it, because it lived through T.S. Allison and the insurance company totaled it. After Hub got finished with it, you couldn’t tell it was submerged. Just big enough for my 1 kid and the 2 nephs I frequently transport.

            Mr. Stubby: 79 Chevy step side truck. Everything under the hood is new and modern but it can’t be insured for anything but liability. When the kid was in a car seat he transported her in the truck – in the GASP front seat. There’s like ten feet between the front seat and the front bumper and it’s massive. So, being in the front seat provides the same level of safety as being in the back seat of a regular car, or so we imagined.

            I will have my very first new car the day the kid goes to college.

        2. The engine in my vehicle is signed by the guy who built it, too.

          Me.

    3. Re: RC Dean,

      I have a Nissan Quest 2004 and an X-Terra 2000. I drove the family from Santa Cruz to San Diego in the X-Terra back in 2008. In 2010, I took the family to two trips from Houston to Laredo in the Quest. Definitively for long hauls with the family, nothing beats the minivan – nothing.

      Top… men.

    4. Same with SugarFree. What’s wrong with you guys?

      1. She makes far more money than I do. And why have a nice car when I’m mostly just schlepping to work and hauling around my filthy dude-friends to disc golf courses?

        1. Disc golf?

          You disgust me more every day.

          1. Overweight science fiction geek plays disc golf. Shocker.

    5. Mr. Kinnath — Nissan Exterra (winter months) or Nissan 350Z (the rest of the time)

      Mrs. Kinnath — Subaru Forrester (outstanding winter performance)

      1. If I could have a commuting-only car, I’d get a Honda Fit. Not sure why, but I’m blown away by the interior design of that car. The crgo carrying options are awesome and I’m 6’4″ and can fit comfortably in the front and back of it, with the front seat adjusted for me.

    6. Buick Lacrosse.

      Let the jokes commence (bonus points if you come up with one I havent heard before).

      1. Um, the senile priest at my church who just retired drives a Lacrosse?

        1. How many alter boys fit in that thing?

          1. Depends on how they’ve been altered.

    7. We shock our liberal boomer neighbors with our vehicle collection. I love it.

      Mercedes Benz C280 4matic
      1998 Honda Civic (my wife’s old car from being single that she refuses to part with)
      1966 Mustang (V8, factory AC, Pony interior) my old car from high school I recently bought back
      BMW R1150 motorcycle

      It is fucking great to see the looks you get from some doofus driving by in his Prius. I like to tell them the Mustang runs on polar bear skins.

      1. I like to tell them the Mustang runs on polar bear skins.

        Bullshit. Everyone knows they run on panda blood.

      2. Nice. I would kill for a late 60’s, early 70’s muscle car, which is why I religiously watch Jackson-Barret and Meccum auctions.

        1. Thanks. My Mustang is a small block 289. I think the Benz would probably beat it in a drag race. But it is still fun to drive. And the first generation mustangs are just lovely to look at. It is just an iconic car. Like owning an old JAG or a mini. When you think 1960s, you think Mustang. True icon of an era, even though it is not particularly valuable for an old muscle car.

          1. It’s the ’67 Mustang or nearly any ’69-’72 Chevy, Olds or Pontiac car for me.

            1. Oh, or a ‘Cuda or AMC Javelin.

    8. ’04 Mitsubishi Outlander. For a single guy, its perfect. The bike fits in the back, but there’s no open bed to make you “truck buddies”.

    9. db: BMW 128i / Ford Ranger
      Ms. db: 2000 Toyota Corolla (she’s in the non-car-person camp)

    10. Mr. JW – Ford Five Hundred

      Mrs. JW – Ford Freestyle (AWD wagon version of the 500)

      I have to admit the 500 has been faithful and H-U-G-E for comfort, but daddy’s next car will be fun.

      Neither the missus nor I have any desire for the minivan. All 4 of us and all of our shit fits fine in the Freestyle for vacation.

    11. Lexus IS-F.

    12. Me: 82 CJ7 Jeep

      Him: 89 Chev Suburban

    13. I drive an 07 XC70, she drives an 06 New Beetle convertible (but not for too much longer since we are having a baby this summer).

    14. Mr. LeSigh: Volkswagen Passat V6 4Motion

      Mrs. LeSigh: Mini Cooper Clubman S (AKA The Clown Car)

    15. 2002 Nissan Maxima. All about the engine and the 6-speed manual.

    16. hehe pattern here

      Mr. Jay 89 Jeep Wrangler (also 47 Jeep CJ2A

      Mrs. Jay 87 MB 560SL

      Nothing built this century.

    17. Me: Modified ’00 Toyota Celica GT-S. The autocross car. Fun as heck, gets 35 mpg, and I can fit two big dogs in the back seat for short trips if I really have to.

      The Wife: ’03 Mazda Protege5 wagon. Great combination of practicality (fits the dogs much easier, nice back seat) and fun (decent acceleration, good brakes and suspension). Should last us until we have more than two kids, at which points she’s volunteered to get the minivan so I can keep having a fun car to drive to work.

    18. I just bought (last week) a 2011 RAV4 with the V6. My last car was a 1998 Jeep Cherokee with a (crappy) V6. Like night and day.

    19. In order of Use
      1994 Jeep Cherokee
      1939 Chevrolet
      1969 AMC AMX (however, currently up on jackstands)
      1957 Ford F100

      Plus I got a couple of projects

    20. In order of usae

      1994 Jeep Cherokee
      1939 Chevrolet
      1957 Ford F100
      1969 AMC AMX

      And some projects (namely an Alfa Romeo 2600, a Condor A350, and a 1931 Ford Model A)

    21. ’03 Honda Civic coupe. Pretty bad winters where I live, so between the road salt and the fact that a healthy portion of the population seems to forget how to drive on snow every year, I don’t want to put a lot of money into a car. It’s actually very fun to drive – handles a lot like a go-kart. The 2-door configuration actually makes it better for hauling objects by putting all the cabin space up front (I can fit a double bass in the passenger side), but it doesn’t seat more than 2 comfortably.

  27. Mr. Corduroy: ’96 Suburban
    Mrs. Corduroy: ’04 Toyota Sienna (she’d much rather have a Lexus R400)

  28. It’s not just the marketing. Minivans look better and are more functional than they used to be.

  29. Me: 2004 Mazda 3
    Wife: 2006 Honda Odyssey

  30. I’ve got a Sienna. Great, reliable transport for my family of six.

    What’s interesting to me is the idea that someone would buy a car because they saw a commercial for it.

    1. Cars are about emotion. I will freely admit I have bought cars on looks alone. Certain cars, like old MGs and Triumphs, are renown for being rubbish. But would own one in a minute.

      1. First car was an MG Midget. Mechanical rubbish, to be sure, and caused lots of head- and wallet-aches.

        But it sure was fucking cool. Wish I had it today.

      2. First car was an MG Midget. Mechanical rubbish, to be sure, and caused lots of head- and wallet-aches.

        But it sure was fucking cool. Wish I had it today.

      3. I had a 71 MGB that was unreliable as hell…but I wish I still had it.

  31. Minivans were a spark of pure genius. They may not be cool, but they are functional, economical and, I have to admit, a pleasure to drive. I have driven many vehicles, but for driving around with the family, the minivan came as the quintescential solution to a major problem.

    1. I believe the Odyssey and the Sienna are both on auto bodies. The former is supposed to handle a bit better, but the Sienna drives pretty good, too.

      1. This is true and why I bought the Odyssey and not the Sienna. Drives like a luxury car, not a truck.

    2. The Odyssey has one of the best automatic transmissions I have ever driven. These transmissions have had reliability problems, but in executing its function, I am still sometimes amazed how well it does.

      I generally hate automatics. I had a beautiful new Volkswagen Passat and I finally had to get rid of it after only a year because the automatic in it was so terrible. I downgraded to my Mazda 3 with a stick and I was much happier.

      1. I, too, prefer a standard transmission (our cars are both stick), but the automatic in the Sienna seems pretty decent. It’s handled mountain driving on vacation with no problem.

  32. I got my ’93 Mustang when my kids were little, cause “we only have two, they’re small, and they’ll fit in the back seat.” All true – then we had my son.

    THEN we got a Ford Aerostar, then a Windstar – both fine, did the job. We eventually moved back to sedans when they were older (fave was a 2000-something Lincoln LS V8 – very fun).

    I do not foresee EVER owning a soul-sucking, lifeforce-depleting minivan again. Minivans, Camrys, Sebrings and old Tauruses just suck the life directly from the marrow of your bones and deposit it into hell.

    1. PS Sold the ’93 to daughter #2’s boyfriend this spring, and got Mrs. Almanian and me a 2011 Mustang 5.0 Convertible. She’s a screamer. The car. Well, not that Mrs. A…um, I love the Mustang AND Mrs. Almanian…that is all.

      1. I find it utterly amazing that they can get well over 300 horsepower out of a V6 production engine.

      2. Pah. Mrs. Dean laughs* at your pathetic 300 hp as your car tumbles in the vortex created when she passes you in her 500 hp highway predator.

        *Maniacally, of course.

        1. He has the 5.0, which is a V8 and puts out 412 HP. It is also going to be geared different. It goes from zero to 60 in 4.3 seconds which is only two tenths slower than your AMG. Unless Mrs. Dean is a much more skilled driver than Almanian, she is not blowing him off the road.

          1. Mrs. Dean got full marks at Texas Motor Speedway driving a NASCAR vehicle. Kept it pegged at the limiter (150? 170? mph) most of the way around. She’s looking into how to defeat the limiter (155 mph on the AMG). Says it makes her feel, well, cramped.

            I, personally, count it as a success whenever I get out of a parking lot without actually striking anything.

            1. The AMGs are insane. I would love to trade up to one. But honestly, living where I do, I wouldn’t get much fun out of it. If I can ever get back out west, I would have to look at getting one. This really is a golden age of muscle cars. The power you can get for relatively short money is amazing. Your AMG would leave most of the 80s supercars for dead on the track and so would Alaniam’s Mustang. That just amazes me.

              1. When you look back even ten years (forget about 20 or 40), it is astonishing the engineering advances that have been made in cars. More power, more efficiency, more reliability. The number of cars that are 300 hp + with mileage in the 20s or better is amazing, and when you used to pray for $60K miles before a major mechanic’s bill, now you expect at least 100K.

                1. Yup. My little C280, with its 2.8 liter V6 loves to rev and gets about 27 mpg on the highway. It is essentially a baby benz. Yet, it goes from zero to sixty in under seven seconds. To put that into perspective, a 1984 Corvette with the top end V8 only went zero to sixty in six seconds. I am getting mid 80s sports car performance out of a midsized sedan that sells for under 40K new even with the Mercedes brand premium. Just amazing.

        2. Goddamn, you chose well.

          1. Thought I’d come back – I forgot to add that we also have a 2011 Ford Fiesta, and a 2011 F250 4×4 (towing, boat, etc.) and a beater ’94 F150 2wd.

            And I have a 2006 Ninja ZX14 just FOR ME – cause everyone else is a skeert to ride on it. It is the definition of Stupid Fast. I love it – only done 160mph so far…:)

            Plus my ’99 Sportster Sport (1200 of course) for fun on backroads when I feel like it. It is, of course, significantly slower the The Mighty Ninja. But it’s REALLY fun to ride.

            And a 22 foot ’96 Four Winns Horizon with a 351 Ford engine…skiiing, tubing, etc.

            Have a Kawi KLX250S coming for some dual-sport plinking this spring…

            A man’s gotta have his toys 🙂 Between the vehicles, the guns, the guitars, the drugs and the booze, I can’t believe I’m still alive…GOD I love this country!

  33. Even if minivans didn’t exist, there are plenty of aspects of parenthood to remind you that you no longer possess even a smidgeon of cool about your person. Spit-up stains on all your clothes just to name one.

  34. I have several ninjas minions who are instructed to abduct me and take me to a professional deprogrammer should I even open a brochure for a minivan.

  35. Cheech and Chong drove a van.

  36. Nick: 2002 V6 Mitsubishi Galant, Patriot red, spoiler, 162k miles. I know no one cares and it doesn’t turn heads but I have loved this car since the day I bought it brand new and still do. I will drive it until the apocalypse.
    Mrs. Nick: 2003 Mitsubishi Outlander from my mother-in-law who wanted something new. Can’t beat free, only 86k miles.

  37. Alright, lets get down to cases, commentariat. What do you drive?

    Currently, in order of miles actually logged:

    Honda Civic wagon (1990)

    “heavily modified” Porsche 914 (1973)

    GMC 4wd pickup (1984)

    “cafe racer -ized” Yamaha xs650 (1979)

    No wives no kids no problems.

    1. Sweet, 914! Love those little guys…roller skates!

  38. there’s no open bed to make you “truck buddies”.

    Bumper sticker I have seen:

    Yes, this is my truck
    No, I won’t help you move

  39. I would kill for a late 60’s, early 70’s muscle car, which is why I religiously watch Jackson-Barret and Meccum auctions.

    Get an AMX (a REAL one- ’68 ’69 ’70, with short wheelbase and no back seat; the handling is diabolical, but they are fun as shit to drive); you never walk out into the parking lot and ask yourself, “Now, which one of those is *my* AMX.”

    1. You almost read my mind. I wanted an AMC Javelin for more years than I could remember. I haven’t seen one on the road for at least 20 years.

      1. In high school we used to go to a racetrack that featured a demolition derby every other weekend where the only car you could use was a Gremlin.

    2. You are a man of my own heart.

  40. the only thing worse than being stuck behind another slow-ass minivan, is being stuck behind amazingly-slow one w a handicap parking space tag.

  41. “The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who, when they have kids, worry they are no longer cool, and those who, when they have kids, think being a parent is cooler than anything they’ve ever done. The latter group will consider a minivan. The former won’t, even if you paint a skull and crossbones on it.”

    There’s a 3rd group: urban hipsters — the Stuff White People Like set — who think they’re being “ironic” or “artistic” or “unique” by doing things most people think are lame. Add in their irrational hatred of SUVs, and the minivan is a match made in hell.

  42. Late to the conversation, but:

    sage: ’92 Ranger until a month ago when it puked water all over the Costco parking lot. Now after driving that for 15 years I’m in an ’06 Altima that is loaded. I feel spoiled by this ride.

    Ms sage: ’03 Forester. Love that car too.

  43. Looking at the woman in that photo makes me never want to have sex again. And it doesn’t matte if she wears a size XXXXXXXXXXXXXL smock; it’s painfully obvious that her ass is so enormous, if they stood her in front of the minivan, she would completely blot it out.

  44. I really can’t stand the balding douche in the Toyota commercial, and I’m standing exactly in the bullseye of their target market. In one of the commercials he says he feels like Toyota bottled his essence and poured it all over the car. Good God. (Yes, they’re just actors, but I can’t think of anything Toyota could have done to leave me with a more negative impression of their minivan.)

  45. Me: 1987 300zx turbo
    wife: 2002 Altima

    And the Altima is probably slightly faster than the 300, another example of car technology improving. It’s got the 3.5 V6, a tuned down version of the 350z engine. Amazing that a 4 door sedan will go neck and neck with a 15 year older, top of the line at the time, sports car!

  46. My wife and I can’t wait for self-driving cars. We plan to stick the kids in a self-driving minivan and tell it to drive them somewhere while we relax.

  47. IT’S NOT A STATION WAGON!!!!

  48. Meh. In our house we call them “Bimbo Boxes” (h/t Neil Stephenson).

  49. I’ve been subtly loobying the missus to get a minivan for the family (1 kid, another planned, 2 dogs, both of us into gear-intensive sports). That obnoxious Toyota family set my efforts back several years at least.
    My car: 09 Subaru Forester XT
    Hers: 99 Lexus RX 300, which cannot emerge from an oil change with less than a $600 repair bill these days.

    1. I understand Subarus can be expensive to fix, but don’t go to the shop too often either.

  50. 1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager with ~ 170k miles on it. Before that, a 1989 Dodge Caravan SE (4 cylinder with turbo). Both purchased as hand-me-downs from my mom. Both good at hauling buddies and gear. Maintenance has been a little bit of a pain, but I think that’s more the Chrysler product than the minivan design.

    Once the current one finally dies, I’m getting a pickup.

  51. “…we’ll slam into 4-wheel drive for a scoop of rocky road.”

  52. 2005 Dodge Magnum mit der 5.7 Hemi. I bought this thing new because the (now) ex already had a minivan and I needed a second vehicle to haul three car seats. I have no idea how Chrysler couldn’t make money on these things, it is a friggin ball to drive.

    1. Mrs. Dean had one of those for awhile. Pretty nice highway car, and the Hemi was pretty sweet, but the build quality was crap.

  53. B.P.: 1997 Toyota 4Runner; 1975 Mercedes 300 Diesel

    Mrs. B.P.: 2006 Toyota 4Runner

    Joint: 1998 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

    Two Toyota SUVs (useful in Colorado), and we’ve not yet auto-accelerated through a farmer’s market.

  54. Ultimately coolness is directly related to impracticality (i.e. the peacock’s tail). Practical, as in ‘this will do all I need for minimal cost’ is actually good but not particularly cool because it’s the path associated a person with limited resources (whether that’s true or not is something else)

    But, from deep in our evolution, there is long standing, cross cultural social cred from having enough resources to spend on glittery things that are not necessary.

    Having said that, I think the Toyota ‘rapper’ videos are incredibly stupid advertising. Simultaneously they ridicule their prospective customers by painting them as pathetically trying to ‘act cool’ while at the same time alienating their real customers: the practical, value oriented buyers.

    1. You hit the nail on the head in the first paragraph, but I think some might argue that the peacock’s tail has a practicality all its own. Something about evolutionary advantages and mating.

      It’s the whole reason my second car is a 1979 Triumph Spitfire with a 1969 GT6 powerplant. The first is the more practical 2002 Subaru Outback, but I like to leave the ski rack on during the off-season. Peacock’s tail and all that…

  55. Young married couples who think being parents is the “coolest” thing they’ve ever done are going to enjoy their lives and their children’s lives.

    Parenthood, while at times difficult, will prove to be the most wonderful times of their lives and their children will cherish the memories of the joy their parents brought to their lives growing up.

    1. agreed

      the best thing for a kid is a parent who actually likes them, but keeps them in line

  56. We purchased a Chrysler Town & Country in 2001. It is much smoother then the decked out Jeep Grand Cherokee we bought in 2002, in fact it has been one of the best “cars” I have ever had. I still drive it today.

  57. no minivans allowed by my wife – we both drive full framed, full sized V8 cars. Plenty of room for passengers, dead people in the trunks, and the awesomeness of getting under 15mpg in the city.

  58. People who think that their possessions will make them cool can never be cool. True cool is earned through behavior, not bought.

  59. Whether its an SUV or van or station wagon, every American seems to think its their god-given birthright to drive a 1 or 2 ton machine whose manufacture and operation requires more energy than Emperors of old had access to.

    1. damn straight!

  60. If Reason is libertarian does it make a difference that I rather drive an Explorer than a Caravan? Why I prefer the Explorer to the Caravan is no ones business but my own. Ayn Rand would punch you.

    1. Ah yes. Because Rand’s tolerance for different viewpoints on design and aesthetics was legendary.

  61. Nothing beats the practicality of a minivan. I still drive my 1998 Sienna (128k miles) and owned a Previa before that. My kids are now grown and my other car is a luxury import, but I’m thinking about replacing my Sienna with……you guessed it, another Sienna. Even as I approach my golden years, the idea of having a minivan capable of moving large items (great for kids changing apartments), taking six people comfortably on a trip,and hopefully someday taking my unborn grandchildren around holds alot of appeal. Whats the point of buying another smallish luxury car when we already have one? A minivan rounds out our two-car fleet nicely. I never cared what the neighbors thought about our minivans and I have no intention to begin worrying now!!

  62. I always thought that the ideal family car would be a sporty, high performance minivan that would make both mom and dad happy. Maybe the car companies have finally heard me. The irony, as Chapman alluded to, is that the car-based minivans always drove better (dare I sat “sportier”?) than the clunky panel trucks with windows (i.e. SUVs).

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