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Maturity and the Minivan

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Maturity and the Minivan

Bill Crittenden
October 5, 2014

Kia's got one gutsy new minivan coming out with the new 2015 Sedona, and not because it's fast (it's not) or can do something no other minivan could do before (it can't), but because it's returning to a segment that's been written off for dead with a, "whaddaya YOU lookin' at?" attitude.

Of course the articles I read came with a lot of minivan hate in the comment sections. It annoys me to no end so many auto enthusiasts just can't acknowledge that the world needs more than V8-powered sports cars. This "everybody should be like me because my lifestyle of Z/28 Camaros and SVT Mustangs and Mercedes AMGs and Lamborghini posters only is obviously the only valid love of cars" attitude just makes the people with it come off as the Gwyneth Paltrow of car guys: laughably ignorant to the realities of the 99% of people in this country who aren't hardcore performance car guys with deep pockets (or $5 posters of what they'd buy if they had more money).

That's great, you love Corvettes and Vipers and M5s. Enjoy it, those are great cars. But you're just a dumbass if you think everyone should have one and an asshole for going out of your way to mock those whose life requires a vehicle that won't do 200 miles an hour.

Besides, what better vehicle is there than a minivan for all-around practicality? Status and image aside, there isn't a vehicle class on the market that offers the features and capabilities of a minivan. Chevy Suburban-sized interiors without the Suburban-sized thirst for gas (as long as you don't need the Suburban's towing capacity). All wheel drive nowadays. Big crossovers like the Ford Flex come close in room and features, but just lack the sliding doors that are the trademark minivan feature, which are often power remote sliding doors in recent model years. I had a toddler and a Chevrolet Venture at the same time, this feature is damned useful.

If you consider that the major differences between large crossovers and minivans coming down to styling, sliding doors, and the baggage on the word "minivan," and then look at the sales numbers, it looks as if the world didn't turn its back on the minivan so much as a vehicle as it turned its back on the minivan as a word, trading the convenient sliding doors to avoid the "soccer mom" label.

Ditch the label, keep 95% of the features. We're a vain but practical people, aren't we?

That Venture I had was denim blue and felt like a well-broken-in pair of jeans to sit in and drive. And I was married and I did have a kid, so who was I trying to impress besides myself? The minivan is the vehicular equivalent of putting away the silk shirt and $250 Nikes of your late teenage years and putting on a knitted cotton polo and $15 boat shoes because they're practical and comfortable and you've realized that the only people who are impressed by flashy expensive crap aren't the sort of people you want to be around anymore.

Not that I was ever the silk shirt type, but I did have a nice satin shirt, some sweater vests, and an appreciation for Infinitis and Audis. A few years later it was golf shirts (even though I don't play) and khaki shorts and Walmart knockoff Chucks and hoping that the Menards had a baby changing table.

The minivan is definitely a grown-up's vehicle. If you don't understand it, or don't understand why so many still drive them, maybe it's because you're just not mature enough yet.

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