Yesterday I polled my Binkies and Briefcases Facebook page to see how many of my readers drive minivans like I do. I asked for their favorite and least favorite features about their swagger wagons.
Are you thinking about what to consider before buying a minivan?
Here’s what my readers and I have to say about it.
Our favorite things
The overwhelming majority of readers who responded were moms who LOVED their minivans. I’m in that camp too. Right now I drive a 2007 Nissan Quest with over 100,000 miles on it, and when it dies I will get another minivan.
Here is what moms love about their minivans:
1. They hold a bunch of people.
“I love my van. I never ever thought I would be caught dead driving one, but with 6 kids my options were limited. My hubby has a 4×4 that seats them all. But it has no boot room. Now even hubby prefers the van for comfort” – Louise
“I love the space for the kids and also that it can fit 7 people. So when we go somewhere with my parents we can just ride together, or there’s been several times when each of the older kids’ has had a friend come over and they all fit.”-Kim
2. They hold a lot of stuff.
“I had a minivan when my kids were younger. It was the best ever! It took my kids and their friends to Disneyland, sports teams to games and practices, carried loads of “stuff”. It was named by my daughter’s friends as “Jet Blue”. It even became the “limo” to the prom one year and held chilled Martinelli’s and chocolate dipped strawberries to make it special. The kids grew up and the van finally died. I cried when I had to leave it on the final day. Thank you, my friend, the minivan.” -Mary
3. The doors and the trunk open for you.
“They are designed to be easy to use. I love that I can open and close doors with a button press.” -Jennifer
“I love that no one has to touch each other!” -Carmen
“The BEST thing about the one I had was that EVERYONE got a window seat, no more fighting about that, and it also kept them separated so I never had to hear ‘mommy he’s touching me!'” -Carol
Plus, the roof is high. A few moms mentioned making the switch once their sons passed the six-foot mark and needed more headroom.
5. The back seats fold down.
If you can get the third-row seats split, this is even better, Because then you can transport three kids AND the chair you just picked up at a garage sale.
My husband actually really likes using our minivan for hauling lumber. He puts it down the center aisle, all the way up to the dashboard. We’ve had 12 foot long pieces of wood stay completely dry on the way home in the pouring rain when we were working on our floating fireplace mantle.
6. There are a million cup holders.
I actually don’t understand why this is such a big selling feature, but apparently, it is. Our minivan literally has 14 cup holders. It was the first thing the salesperson told me and he repeated it no less than five times while trying to sell us the car. But we bought it, so the joke is on us. Cup holders sell cars, people.
“Big bonus is it had the side curtain airbags that went all the way to the back windshield (some of the other trucks the side curtain airbags only went as far as the second row.) What??!! So the children in the back row aren’t protected? Ok, then scratch those trucks that do not offer protection for the whole carful of passengers.” -Julianne
8. The gas mileage is better than many trucks and SUVs.
“In terms of gas, it gets 32 mpg highway which is much more than any other vehicle I have owned.” -Tabatha
Our Least Favorite Things
The wagon isn’t all swagger. There are a few less than stellar aspects to owning a minivan.
1. The sliding doors
While these are one of the best features about owning a minivan because of the convenience, they are also one of the worst.
If you live in a cold climate, they will freeze shut. And you will curse them. This happens to us frequently in the winter here in Pennsylvania, and many of my readers commented with the same concern. When you have young kids in car seats, it is not easy to climb in through the front and get them all buckled into the back rows, especially when everyone is bundled for cold weather and their boots are full of snow.
They can also be a safety concern. One mom commented that her child’s finger got stuck and severely injured in their sliding door.
2. There aren’t a lot of All Wheel Drive options
Again, something for those of us who live in cold climates or rough terrain to consider. However, our van actually does handle better in snow and ice than our Ford Explorer, and several of my readers left similar comments about their minivans handling bad weather pretty well. I’ve been told snow tires make a world of difference here, although we don’t have them. Which brings me to the next point…
3. The tires are crazy expensive to replace.
If you are used to driving a sedan, you are going to be very unpleasantly surprised the first time it costs you about $1,000 to get a new set of tires for your vehicle.
4. The stigma (and its consequences)
There is a large I’ll never crowd when it comes to the minivan. They, like, really hate minivans for no apparent reason other than they just never want to be that person who drives one.
When you are on the road, as far as other people are concerned, you are your car. And when you are a minivan some other drivers do NOT like you, man. I have actually noticed that other people drive more dangerously around me on the highway when I’m in the van, trying to pass us illegally or generally just being jerks. I don’t think it’s my driving because it doesn’t happen nearly as often to me when I drive our other vehicle. It truly is like people just don’t want to be “stuck” behind a minivan, so they drive like maniacs to get around you. This makes me especially nervous because my kids are usually all in the car with me.
Taking the bad with the good, I still love my minivan. But when I go to buy our next one, I definitely want to make sure it has these features:
-One automatic sliding door and One manual. This is what our van has now and I really like it, in case there are problems with the automatic one.
-All Wheel Drive!!!
-A split third-row seat
What about you? Are you for or against the swagger wagon?