Friday, May 28, 2010

Minivan

When I was 30-something weeks pregnant and hunting for a car that would fit three car seats, I was dead set against getting a minivan.  I JUST COULD NOT DO IT.  It was impossible to envision my 5'3" self tooling around town in a short bus.  Plus, having a car that gets under 30 miles to the gallon flies in the face of all that I think is right in the world.  It seemed that our bonus baby meant something had to give so I compromised on the fuel economy and we ended up with a Subaru Forester.

Our Forester served us well until the Turtles needed to move out of their infant seats and into convertible ones.  Vivi got booted from her convertible and moved into a booster seat.  They all fit but I didn't realize that the booster required the actual car seat belt to restrain the child.  That's when our Forester turned into a royal pain in the ass. 

So after 14 months of Forester ownership and a grand total of 6428 miles, I started dreaming of minivans.  Ummm... salivating at the sight of one is more accurate.  Part of this was because there is just no other car I found that could easily accommodate a booster seat, and two non-moving convertible seats.  (Many large SUVs have three rows but you need to fold down the middle row to access it.  That just won't work if you have two car seats installed.)  I just could not imagine any possession giving me more pleasure than a minivan.  I welcomed my fate with gusto, did my research, and took my best car critic to every dealership.  (That would be Vivi who at one point, in the midst of dealing with an obnoxious salesman, turned to me and said, "Mama, why is this guy wasting your time?")

I knew a minivan would mean that I would have to compromise on fuel efficiency even more.  (It also meant that I would finally have to accept  that I am, in fact, a mother to three children.  Something that vaguely figures into my ongoing question of self-identity.)  Nonetheless, I decided it would all be worth it so last week, we welcomed our newest member of the family.  Here she is:


OK, so here's the thing.  I really like this car but it is so damn long that I've already backed into a stone wall.  I haven't quite figured out how to park it in just one parking spot but I hear that comes with time.  (Hopefully, so does the ability to back it up.)  This leads me to wonder why anyone would want a car like this if they absolutely don't need one.  I mean, there are tons of families with two kids who have minivans.  Is it really worth the expense and fuel economy to have the storage space?  Fair readers, if you have a minivan, tell me why.  If you are dead set against them, tell me that too.  How did you decide on the car you drive?

8 comments:

  1. So you will probably hate me for this ... but I drive a GMC Yukon XL. When our twins were born, our older daughter was just 15 months old. We discovered quickly that we had to have a vehicle that not only would accomodate 2 backward facing infant seat, 1 forward facing seat, and a stroller big enough to accomodate 3 and all the "items" that go along with carting them around.

    The only way a minivan would have worked for us was if we had a top rack carrier to put stuff in ... and I just wasn't going to do that.

    Anyway ... I highly recommend that you get a backup camera and a sensor installed that will warn you when you are getting close to something. Once my husband drove the new car, he had his car retrofitted. We think it's a valuable tool when you have multitudes of toddlers around.

    Do I need to apologize for the car I drive? :))

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  2. I drive a "minivan": the Mazda 5. It has two "captain's chair" seats behind the driver and passenger, and for the third row it's your choice: two additional seats, or, when those are folded down, cargo space.

    It seems like a crazy amount of space for me and two kids, but here was my thinking. At a point in the not-too-distant future, M&R will want to take a friend or two with them. The Mazda 5 seating configuration gives me the flexibility for them to each invite a friend along, plus another adult to come along for my entertainment! I feel kind of guilty planning for scenarios that are just that, scenarios, when I could have gotten a smaller car with better gas mileage that would meet the bulk of our needs. But the price on the Mazda was really right ($16K new), and I figured for the times that it would make our lives significantly easier, it was worth it.

    So there you have it, the sordid tale of how I became a minivan owner of sorts. I like to pretend that my Mazda is not really a minivan; not sure how much of that is me lying to myself!

    Congrats on your purchase. Hope it simplifies your life. By the way, LOVE that quote from Vivi at the car dealership.

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  3. Merri Ann-- No need to apologize! I can see just how that would work. :-) When we first looked at the vans and I saw the backup camera, I thought it was just a gimmick. Ahh... that was before I hit the stonewall.

    Snick- I don't think the Mazda 5 qualifies as a minivan so you are certainly not lying to yourself! We thought seriously about getting that car but we couldn't fit our collapsable Maclaren double stroller (which is very compact) in it once we had all three car seats. It's more like a stationwagon!

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  4. When our twins were born, we had my '05 Toyota Corolla and my husband's '90 Toyota Celica. So, obviously, the Corolla became our family car and T just used the Celica to go to and from work. It worked out fine when babies were in the infant car seats and we were using the double snap n go. But once we replaced the infant seats with rear-facing convertible car seats and traded the snap n go for a tandem double stroller things got quite tight. The stroller barely fit in the trunk, and then there was no room for anything else.

    I dreamed of a larger vehicle (a Forester or a RAV4) but a new-to-us vehicle of that type was way out of our price range. Then I happened to find a '00 Sienna being sold from a dealer nearby. It was at the top of our price range, but once I saw it, I fell in love. It was maintained by the dealer, so we had access to all the service records and, for a 9 year old vehicle, it was in great shape. Sold!

    We just have the two kids and that's all we're planning to have, but I find the storage space (with the 3rd row seats folded down) to be perfect for both the stroller and a large grocery trip or purchases from the wholesale club. Perhaps once we're stroller free, all that space will feel excessive, but I image that there will always be kid gear to cart around.

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  5. *gasp* You've succumbed to the dreaded mini-van! Since I bought my Forester right after you, I may be the next mini-van victim when we have our 3rd child. =/ My oldest is in a booster seat that has a harness for up to 65 lbs so that should make things easier... Ah, well. I'll let you know if anything changes. ;)

    By the way, only 6k miles on the Forester???!!!! Impressive. Because after exactly one year of owning ours, it's now 21k miles. Eeps.

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  6. We have 2 kids and a minivan and could certainly survive with something smaller. When we have guests, which seems to happen at least once a month its nice to be able to all hop in one car. We also do a yearly road trip to Canada in which the minivan allows us ample space for all the food we bring up, and beer we bring back ;)

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  7. It's late, so I'll be brief - YES MINIVAN!!! We held out with our twins in the Honda Accord Wagon until they were 2 1/2 and we took a trip from Michigan to Vermont and back. We survived, but we were TOO cozy. We like to travel, and we like to carpool, so often we're hauling our two kids plus another family in our 1998 Toyota Sienna. We LOVE it.

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  8. I've been going about this minivan thing the wrong way. I've been so hung up on envisioning myself driving the behemoth around town to do errands that I've lost sight of the fact that we'll only use it when I am going someplace with all three kids and that it will be our primary mode of transportation for vacations and trips to see family. The rest of the time I can just use our Prius and maybe it will all average out to below average environmental impact. Plus, carpooling is a beautiful thing!

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