In defense of the minivan

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A few days ago, my friend Jill pulled me aside when I ran into her at an event and said, “Pam. You will never guess. We got a minivan.” I wouldn’t say she sounded excited, but kind of resigned. And kind of shocked. But she had her third child last summer, and I think seeing me get the boys in and out of our minivan quickly at school drop-off made her rethink her opinion of them.

Why so much hate for the minivan?

I’ve never understood minivan hate. It’s just a vehicle. It’s a metal shell with seats that gets us around. If I want the car I drive to represent me, then I’ll cover the back in bumper stickers. In college, the back window of my Geo Storm was festooned with Morrissey decals, Apple logos and Calvin & Hobbes. My minivan is a little less decorated than that car was, but it nevertheless declares some neighborhood pride and that I heart my triplets.

And of course it’s because of those triplets that I have a minivan. Sure, we could have gotten away with an SUV, and I even know a triplet family that kept their Prius for a few years after their trio was born. But I’ll admit that I have my own biases against SUVs. Too big, too gas-guzzling, and the lack of a feature that can be summarized in three words.

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Power. Sliding. Doors. Oh, and it gets better. Remote controlled power sliding doors. When the boys were tiny, I would often have three infant carriers in my arms at once. (One in the crook of an arm, and the other two in my hands.) I could open the doors before I even walked out of the house. Now that they’re older, I am often holding all three of their hands at once. (Two on one side holding fingers, the other on the other hand, along with my keys.) I don’t have to let go of anyone to unlock and open doors. And I don’t have to worry about the boys pushing a door open into the car next to us. At carpool, I don’t have to get out of the car to let the kids out. Just push a button on the console and off they go!

What else do I love about my van, besides its magical doors?

The height: you don’t have to climb into it. They’re pretty low to the ground. Very helpful when your kids are old enough to get in by themselves, but still too short to climb high.

The gas mileage: I can’t say it’s great. I mean, I came from driving a compact that got 30 miles per gallon. But the 17 miles I get now is surely better than the ten a large SUV gulps. And you’d need a large SUV to get as much seating and cargo space as my minivan has.

Flexible seating: Okay, I don’t know how an SUV compares on this matter, but I love that I can fold, remove, and move the seats around in a myriad of configurations. When you have to fit a triple stroller in the back, you need to have a lot of cargo room, especially if you want the kids in the car too.

But in the end, it’s those three little words that get me every time.

Power sliding doors. Swoon!

Share your minivan love in the comments!

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My name is Pam, and I live in Algiers Point with my husband George and my identical triplets Linus, Oliver, and Miles. I work from home as a Happiness Engineer for Automattic. I enjoy reading and photography and sewing (and blogging!)

9 COMMENTS

  1. I’m not real sure how other moms get along without a mini van. We have three boys and having the space is paramount. (he’s touching me… yadayadayada so on and so on). I love my minivan so much that I may not get rid of it once my kids are up in age and out of the house… for me convenience is my coolness or maybe as some other mommies might see it my NOT SO coolness. But who’s keeping track, certainly not me. I drive a Chrysler Town and Country XL Limited luxury traveler.It does everything but wash the dishes…. an amenity coming soon to a newer model I’m sure. Leslie

  2. I’m in the other camp. I had a minivan and upon finding out I was expecting again, we traded in the minivan for a prius. I hated that the van was so big and a gigantic pain to park. Plus the gas mileage was awful (and being from NJ and used to never pumping gas, I hate getting out of the car to do it). So now we are a two Prius family and loving every second of it.

  3. I remember being in high school and actually saying “I will never be caught dead in one of those van things!” and now I’m older and have a husband, son and two large dogs, I can’t imagine a life without a minivan!!!! I will never own another type of car for probably as long as I live. I used to get all excited and say “how beautiful” and “I love you” to all the Nissan Maximus and mustangs…and now I say the same things, but to nissan quests and Honda odysseys. 🙂
    I love minivans!!!!

  4. I LOVED my minivan. My girls always have friends over so I can fit in everyone. AND they both do dance and 1 does TKD so thats a lot of gear. I had an accident and my van was totaled so we are a one car family….a pick up. I MISS my van. I can’t wait till we get enough bills paid off so I can get another one.

  5. Loved the insights in this post into what it’s like to have triplets Pam! We are a two kid family with a Prius right now. I love our car but there is room for only the tiniest adult (or child) to fit in the middle of their car seats. We’ve already started thinking about what brand minivan we might get in the future!

  6. Last year I took the plunge into the world of a minivan as well! I was reluctant but I LOVE IT! Who knew? The magical doors are what sold me as well, it’s awesome!

  7. Don’t know how you do it, Pam! When I think life is too complicated with my one, I will stop and give you a moment of respect with raising 3 cute, triplet BOYS! The minivan sounds great. If the good Lord should decide we need to have 3 children, I’ll definitely keep it in mind:)

  8. Fabulous, Pam!!! You did inspire me to insist on a minivan and yes – the doors ARE amazing! And though I do miss my big SUV, there’s nothing more wonderful than saying, “Get in the car!” and have my two and four year old seamlessly crawl/climb in and buckle up without help while I click the infant’s carseat in at waist-level instead of over my head in the Tahoe. UN-BE-LIEVABLE. Though the minivan might not look sexy, there’s nothing better than FEELING cute and sexy because your back’s not thrown out from the SUV mountain climb with three little ones. I’m sure we’ll return to it one day when the kids are older, but we (husband included) are feeling like we have ARRIVED as we hustle our family of five into the van with a click of a button. Hats off to minivan moms and dads!!!!

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