After ten years of arguing, I finally convinced the wife that we should get a minivan. Actually, I gave up on one and wanted an SUV. She decided we’d have more room for our two kids and her parents, in the minivan.

I have to say, the minivan is pretty spectacular.

First off, we wisely chose not to pay depreciation- we got a 2005 van from Carmax, with their super-duper guarantee.

Which means that for less than a new van, we got something that was fully loaded in 2005. Leather, heated seats, and ALL the extras. Yeah, it has a few miles, but with kids we put about 5000 miles a year on our vehicles. Used will last us quite a while.

But as much as I’m enjoying the minivan, with all that increased interior cargo space and old man-comfort, I have to take issue with something. The minivan’s image. Even my wife remarked how a minivan is a woman’s vehicle. Say what?!

Okay, for the record, my dream vehicle is a jacked up, AWD minivan with roll bars, off-road rally lights and all the luxuries. I want to be able to go anywhere, in Cadillac luxury. With plenty of room to spare. Our current ride falls a tad short of these goals: It’s FWD, but does have traction control. No rally lights, but it has some tremendously bright fog lights. I realize in a roll over it wouldn’t fare so well, but to be honest, I drive like a grandpa, so I don’t envision any rollovers in the immediate future.

In looking online, I see there’s lotsa hatin’ goin’ on for minivans. I can see where Jimbob Singlepants might prefer a 4×4 truck to haul carcasses around in the hunting season, but I don’t have that need. Nor am I going through middle-age anxiety and need a car capable of being driven four times as fast as the legal speed limit. Nope, I’m a dad. I have two girls, a wife and a dog. I need more room than a truck can offer.

In my online research to determine the origins of minivan hate, I looked at a bunch of sites online. One, Why Minivans Suck sums it up in several ridiculous points:

1. They’re too big
2. They’re too big for drivers stuck behind them
3. They’re full of screaming kids
4. The people who drive them have no business driving something that “big”

First off, when is big unmanly? And when do women EVER want to be considered big?

Should I care people behind me can’t see? They can’t see past tractor trailers either. Are they going to follow a big rig to a truckstop and tell the tobacky chawin’ driver he’s driving something better suited for soccer moms?

“Full” of screaming kids? Hey, it’s a van, it can hold, volume-wise, way more than it has seats. My 91 Toyota Camry, that was “full” of screaming kids. Nowhere for the sound to go but in my ears where it began liquifying my brain. Thank God for the internal capacity of the minivan so I have some room for those bouncing banshee soundwaves.

There are loads of drivers on the road that shouldn’t be. I don’t think it matters one bit whether they’re on a Japanese crotchrocket motorcycle, in a middle age super car or a big honkin’ 4×4 with huge mudders. Most people don’t buy their vehicle based on need. At least, not until they become a parent. Then it’s budget first, need second.

Minivans are not HUGE. They’re mini. Duh. The vans of the 70s, like the Ford Econoline- those were huge vans. Minivans are much smaller and easier to operate, what with the 12 windows and oversized rear view mirrors. And who could possibly not see you in a minivan? No danger of being rear-ended.

Yes, Minivans do help moms. In our modern Mom-does-it-all-Dad’s-a-boob society, the minivan could help with child and household chores. Like soccer practice and grocery shopping. But they do more. Much more.

When was the last time a mom ran down to Home Depot to buy a sheet of drywall to repair that hole in the wall caused by the rowdy kids? That’s dad’s job. And a sheet of 4 x 8 drywall fits in the back of a minivan much easier than the pick up truck, or Crown Victoria. And it stays dry.

What about the drive in? Surely dads go to that as well. Why take dad’s truck, forcing the kids to ride (illegally) in the bed, when you can take the DVD entertainment system-on-wheels?

But the real decider for why minivans aren’t just for mom goes back to the size. The internal size. Most moms are smaller than dads. Yet minivans can accomodate folks up to 6’4″ tall. They have plenty of shoulder and elbow room. More than in any SUV I’ve ever ridden in (except maybe a Suburban). Why would a tiny mom need all that room?

Stow N Go seating? Why, throw in a tarp and I could put JimBob’s deer carcass right in the back. Hopefully it will actually be dead when I do so.

Minivan’s can accept trailer hitches. When was the last time you saw a mom launching a small boat for some fishing with the soccer team?

Do mom’s need all those internal 12V adapters? My van has five! three up front! I know kids want to charge their Nintendo DS’ on the go, but clearly gadgets fall much more in the dad domain, and my minivan expects the driver to have two gadgets just for him/herself.

Minivans aren’t just for chicks. They’re for families. They meet a need for space, luxury and utility quite nicely. And unless Mary Kay gives one out as a sales prize, I don’t expect to be seeing any pink minivans anytime soon.


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  2. Nice post, trog. not as full of piss-n-vinegar as your usual rants (which I love, BTW), but nice and informational. This particular piece is, actually, quite timely, as me, my Mrs. and our football team are looking for a new van of our own. Sadly, we haven’t found anything which fits both our budget and our needs. If you know anyone who has at least a 9 passenger van which runs well and has some basic amenities, like say, heating and air, and they’d like to donate to a needy family (MINE!), please let me know. We’re bursting at the seems over here. Later, pal:)

  3. Wow, what timing. I was JUST lamenting the chickification of the minivan- that totally unfair stereotype that minivans are feminine. Chrysler wasn’t listening- instead they are perpetuating the myth with a stupid-ass “Man Van”.

    It’s a special Dodge Grand Caravan with “man” features. Like racing stripes. A lowered chassis. Over sized, chrome wheels. A black interior with red stitching. Performance suspension and a ginormous sound system.

    Man Van? More like Ghetto-Man Van.

    What the Hell? Why do car manufacturers think man=race car? On the contrary- all I see driving sports cars are little malnourished, pantywaist metrosexuals, who think squeeling tires = macho. It doesn’t. I don’t care how fast your car, how much nitrous or chrome you add to it. You little punks are still asking for an ass-whoopin’. One you will surely get because you spent too much time eating Doritos and Mountain Dew instead of bulking up on meat, cheese and potatos. As a result, you have the physique of a girl. Which explains all the hair care products and body perfume.

    A Man’s Van would have a trailer hitch. An extra 6″ of ground clearance. AWD. Rally lights. A spare, full-sized tire on the rear hatch. Front and rear winches. Diamond plate floorboard for the driver. Brush Guards. A dual gas tank, for extended operation in the wild.

    A Man Van wouldn’t rely on faux race car looks. It’d back it’s manliness with horsepower and unbridled ruggedness. “Dodge” wouldn’t be the name of the manufacturer- it’d be a warning to anyone even thinking of stepping out in front of it. Mike Rowe would consider driving one to his next Dirty Job.

    A Man Van would have full sized rear seats too. So you could haul your screaming kids to football practice, or your best buds to the super bowl. The Roof would have a protective coating so that when you actually used the upper roof rack you didn’t have to worry about scratching paint.

    Stow N Go seating? How about with carbon fiber backs so you could throw lumber, deer carcasses or your favorite tools in the back with no worry about knicks or scratches.

    Finally, a Man Van would be multi fuel. Not Hybrid multifuel. No, Deuce-and-a-half, M35, Mil-spec multifuel. Where you could burn gas, diesel, cooking oil, jet fuel, or any flammable liquid that would fit in the tank. This wouldn’t be to combat gasoline prices or save the ecosystem. It’d be to get you anywhere and back, gas stations or not.

    Chrysler thinks racing stripes are manly. The only stripes they really know are the yellow ones on their backs. Because they’re too chicken to make a real man’s ride.

  4. “I don’t care how fast your car, how much nitrous or chrome you add to it. You little punks are still asking for an ass-whoopin’. One you will surely get because you spent too much time eating Doritos and Mountain Dew instead of bulking up on meat, cheese and potatos. As a result, you have the physique of a girl. Which explains all the hair care products and body perfume. ”

    That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

    Next time, Trog. BTW, when are we going to have another mancave get-together? I’ve been hankerin’ to watch the entire Die Hard series…or at least the first couple of movies…after which I’m sure I’ll fall asleep. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

    Next time, pal:)

  5. Well, ignoring all the blatant sexism . . . not sure how much of it is meant to be ironic, and how much real. . . . I would just like to add that many of today’s “mini”vans are actually BIGGER than many of the vans of the 70s. Check the dimensions.

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