Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ode to the Minivan

Last week I tweeted when I got ready to go on vacation. I had managed to get all of the stuff we needed for approximately 1 week of fishing, swimming, and sunning at the lake into the vehicle. We were ready to go. Some in the twitterverse were not impressed by our mode of transportation: a minivan.

MinivanWe own a 2002 Chevy Venture. Unlike the example in the photo, ours is red with the Warner Brothers media package, way cooler than the example shown (even without mountains in the background).

My parents test-drove one of the original passenger vans of the 1970’s. Imagine a delivery van with windows cut out and seats slapped into it. Upper trim lines featured “leatherette” trim. We considered one in seafoam (seasick?) green, but instead purchased a less gas-hungry vehicle when lines began forming at the fuel pumps.

I spent the 1980s in school and training, driving an econo-box. I remember when the first minivans began appearing: built on a car chassis so they handled like a passenger vehicle, but they seated 7 or 8 people without anyone sitting backwards (a la the station wagon). As my own family grew (along with the stuff and friends that come with children), a minivan looked like a wonderful option. We bought one in 1991 after we got our first real jobs and house. One of our vehicles has been a minivan ever since, and we have enjoyed many roadtrips.

We are aware that this vehicle is not considered cool; however, when we looked at SUVs, we could not make the change. Most SUVs hold only 5 people comfortably (unless you go up to the massive models), and achieve about half the mileage we get with the MV (and even less for the bigger ones).

Our “baby” towers over me at 6’1”, nears his 17th birthday, and starts his junior year of high school tomorrow.  In short, our minivan days are numbered. We have completed 125,000 miles with the current van, and we will probably trade it in next year. We do not require a minivan or similar vehicle at this time, and my husband (who drives our bigger vehicle) is beginning to ponder what might replace it. Will a car be sufficient, or should we purchase a cross-over for lake trips?

The minivan will be over soon, gone the way of poodle skirts and the Baby-on-Board sticker. Goodbye to 20 years of a practical vehicle.

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