Don’t let the other moms (or dads) judge you. The minivan is where’s it’s at for a number of reasons. Let us illuminate what it would look like to get behind the wheel of one of these gentle giants, and why it may be the best fit for you.
First Things First
What’s a minivan? Minivans are, well, small vans. They are made for maximum comfort and safety, with lots of storage space and a reputation for being soccer-playing-kid approved. This is probably because a minivan is the king of transporting large groups, like, say, your kids’ soccer team, the Mighty Whirling Dervishes. Usually, minivans:
- Have rows of seats that are accessible via two traditional front doors and one (or two) sliding middle-body doors
- Removeable seats (or rows of seats) for maximum cargo space
Yes, this is a dream-machine for the family vacation. It’s height and weight make visibility and safe handling key features. And, believe it or not, these bad boys now get close to the same gas mileage as their smaller contemporaries.
The Advantages and Drawbacks
Like any car, the minivan does have its pros and cons.
- Many minivans handle like small passenger cars
- Minivans can store a lot of people (and dogs and luggage and fruit cakes and trombones and whatever else you want to store)
- Minivans have excellent crash safety ratings, probably because they were designed with large families and a lot of kids in mind.
- Minivans offer excellent visibility due to their height and design.
- Minivans don’t always get the best gas mileage, so check the mileage on the specific model you’re interested in before you purchase!
- Minivans don’t usually sport four-wheel drive. Sorry, no off-roading.
- Minivans can be expensive.
- Minivans usually have a low ground clearance.
- Minivans usually can NOT be used as towing vehicles, so a family vacation to the lake with your boat may be difficult.
- The height and design of minivans can make sharp turns, whipping winds, and other dangerous driving conditions more dangerous.
If you think the pros outweigh the cons, then we say huzzah! Indulge us as we offer advice on how to purchase your minivan:
- Research the fair market value of the model you want before you head to the dealership so that you have a baseline price from which you can start your negotiations. This is especially useful since minivans can get pricey.
- Minivans actually come in two sizes, compact and regular. You should consider how you will use your minivan before you buy one. What will you haul? If you have a smaller family, maybe you want a smaller minivan (with the smaller price?). Ask the dealer!
- Consider fuel economy! Don’t assume. Ask about the mileage.
- While minivans are generally safe, safety ratings still vary. Ask about the ratings of different models.
- Know the limitations of a minivan. You won’t be able to tow much or to have the best traction since almost all minivans are front-wheel drive. This is helpful to know before you buy a minivan for a trip to the Yukon.
- Research the features of minivans. These days, minivans have lots of handy extras, including things like GPS, entertainment systems (for when you don’t want to actually raise your child hands-on), and Bluetooth capabilities. If you’re ok with a price hike, you can get a lot of luxurious features without having to buy a luxury car!