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My Husband Is Staunchly Anti-Minivan. But They Look So Useful!

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We need a new car real bad. Our 2002 Volvo V40 is still chugging along, but she bears the scars of overuse and a particularly obvious bumper injury sustained when a texting UPS driver rear-ended us. Her backseat is littered with Cheerios and Goldfish, kid books and used tissues. Our two toddler seats barely fit there, leaving a space in the middle that was just big enough for our cocker spaniel (but then he died, unrelated to the lack of backseat space). She’s carried us between Brooklyn and Burlington too many times to count, but we’ve simply outgrown the compact wagon.

Naturally, my mind travels to minivan land. My husband, however, refuses to go there with me. He actually forbids me from crossing the border myself. The minivan, you see, signifies the end – the real and true and final end – of his life as he knew it before kids.

While I was pregnant with our first child, my husband fought me on things like a receptacle specifically for diapers, a surface expressly for changing those diapers and the need for multiple baby carriers (a sling for the newborn days, a Baby Bjorn for facing forward, the Ergo for everything else). He eventually gave in on those and several other points, and we now own what seems to be required reading, feeding, playing, strolling, wearing and sleeping gear for our demographic. And it’s mostly really useful stuff. I’ve got a good track record on the kid front. Why, then, wouldn’t we simply fall in line with the boxy seven-passenger vehicle of our choice?

I remember the first minivan my parents ever owned: a bright red Caravan circa 1992. Its back and “way back” seats allowed the four of us kids to stretch our legs, avoid having to touch each other (remember summer trips with sweaty, sticky thighs in a non-air-conditioned sedan?) and meant that nobody would have to sit in between my parents in the front seat. We rode in that Caravan all the way down to Disney World from Vermont without a major sibling incident. The space it provided was practically life-changing.

The fact that my Dad still drives a minivan tells me that it was not a terribly traumatic decision for him back in the day and that the soccer-mom staple proved itself quite functional. But times have changed. Dads have changed. If it was the norm a generation ago for dads to withhold affection and emotional support, it’s now the norm for them to withhold some small part of their identity that ties them to their pre-fatherhood selves. For my husband, that piece of himself apparently rides shotgun in his car. Who knew?

So I’m trying my best to be understanding of this, while simultaneously grumbling about leg room and cargo space (the fact that I regularly use the term “cargo space” in earnest reinforces just how much of a grown-up I’ve already become). I’ve researched crossover vehicles (it’s a very broad category), SUVs (can we honestly drive a gas hog with a clear conscious?) and other wagons, but I’ve yet to find the perfect non-minivan option. Any suggestions? My husband will love you if you convince me that such a thing does exist…

(Photo: Comstock Images)

9 Comments

  1. Lindsay Cross

    August 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Well, I hate to make a sale pitch, but we decided to go with a crossover, the Kia Sorento. It has a third row that folds down. To be honset, with the 3rd row up, there’s VERY little storage space. But normally we keep the third row down and have plenty of room. It gets 32 miles per gallon, so I don’t feel too guilty on that front.

    In all honesty, it was me who didn’t want a mini-van. But we found something with a lot of the mini-van perks, plenty of room, entertainment system for the kids, etc. I realize that “crossover” is being applied to almost anything now-a-days and they are all very different. But we did find one that worked for us.

    • Mel

      August 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm

      I really like the Kia Sorento, and wouldn’t mind buying one if my husband and I decide to have multiple children. (I’m anti mini van.)

  2. lee

    August 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Dodge is actively marketing a “man-van”. Maybe it’ll be less painful?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IixlOe8HuOQ

  3. Meredith

    August 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Some options: Toyota Venza, Mazda CX9, or it depends on exactly how much space you want, but I hear that, oddly, the Prius has lots of space, too. We dig our Outback but there is not a ton of leg room, though the way back is great.

  4. Jos

    August 23, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I really like those Honda Elements. They come in very nice colors– oh and they are SUV’s that you can actually hose down if they get too many cheerios on the floors with a seriously good environmentally-conscious bent. But I also like station wagons. I think they are nice and they can fit a surf board or stroller in back…

  5. Bailey

    August 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I am very anti-mini van for many of the same reasons you’ve said your husband is. I already feel like parents are expected to stop being cool, fun people once they have kids and owning a mini van feels so cliche. Not to mention, I recently dropped my son off at swimming lessons and saw not one or 2, but 8 minivans (I counted) parked outside.
    We have had a Honda Pilot for over a year and I am in love with it. I am already plotting how I will fit a 3rd carseat in the middle row so that I can keep my cargo space and not have to deal with anyone getting in the 3rd row. It’s not as easy as a mini van, but we have plenty of space and our gas milage usually averages about 18 mpg- not great but definitely not as bad as some SUVs.

  6. maryandthemoon

    August 24, 2011 at 10:32 am

    i’m the one that’s anti-minivan. remember those commercials where the kids are asking if the parents would fight a bear to keep them safe? then they go on to ask about the minivan. well, i’d fight a bear in a heartbeat but can’t see myself in one! our solution was the Vibe by Pontiac – a four door hybrid between minisuburban and station wagon with a very convenient hatch back; the Murano would be another good choice and it has a bit more room. best of luck keeping daddy happy!

  7. shane

    December 13, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Embrace the minivan! Why the hate? New ones go faster than muscle cars of years past and when you have a basement flooding with water and need a shop vac-throw that sucker in and floor it back home. Bet you never though about drifting a minivan, well let me tell ya-those new ones can handle it.

    Not that I would, but hey, plenty of room to keep er rockin on hot and bothered moments!

  8. Pingback: What to Expect in a New Car When You’re Expecting | naptimemomtog

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