Ugh. I never thought I’d be writing this post just like I never thought I’d drive a minivan.

Allow me to admit…no…declare…that our main family vehicle is a minivan.

I think Pete once called minivans “the sweatpants of the car world.”

Well, I’m wearin’ sweatpants.

For those of you calling for my man card, just hold on a minute.

There were a few factors here. One was necessity. Two was safety. Three was drivability. But let me tell the backstory of our family cars first.

Car #1

Volkswagen_Jetta_wagonWe were having our first child. We both had two-door, somewhat sporty cars. It was time to trade one in and get something with more doors. We got this brand-new awesome compact German station wagon with a turbo. Sporty-family. Family-sporty.

Well, it spent more time in the shop than I got to drive it. At one point, it sat at the dealership for six months waiting for some obscure part from Germany that really didn’t fix the problem. And then one day the interior of the car caught fire with me and my young child in the car, spewing toxic smoke that landed us on the side of the road gasping for air. BTW, the seat heater burned up the driver’s seat and burned my favorite jeans.

MY FAVORITE JEANS.

Got rid of it that afternoon.

Car #2

2006-toyota-scion-xbThere wasn’t much in the marketplace we liked. We kind of settled on this new Japanese boxy compact car-thing. It was a mailbox on wheels. It was like the designer’s said, “Hey, this is waaay too fuel-efficient. Get that smoky wand-thing and meet me in the wind tunnel.”

Then they were inspired by a loaf of bread.

But it was peppy and my wife really liked it. It was roomy like a clown car. But I felt like I was driving in a tin can. But that’s not why I traded this one in for  a minivan.

Necessity

It was out of necessity. We were having another baby.

Yet that still wasn’t the reason why. Our new baby turned out to be two babies.

Yeah, twins.

So by sheer number of humans, we all couldn’t fit in that little car.

So it wasn’t a clown car after all.

Safety

We covered necessity. Next on the list was safety.

Crash reports. Airbags. Front. Side. Curtains. Blah, blah, blah.

Check, check, check.

Most everything we looked at had comparable safety ratings and airbags and stuff.

But they can’t really skimp on this stuff, right?

“Hey Buck, whatcha gonna do with all those eggshells? I got an idea for this here bumper.”

And it didn’t look as if it caught on fire recently so…

Reason number three.

Drivability

Neither my wife or I wanted some full size earthmover-gas-hog-truck-pretending-to-be-an-SUV.

Nor a van. Hello 1985-want-some-candy-creeper-van.

I was worried about her parking something like those. Having to back up in today’s tight parking lots.

And they rode like trucks.

So minivans here we come.

What made it “drivable?”

We could back it up easily. Not too long. No blind spots.

monroe-oespectrumIt needed to have a nice smooth ride, yet had to be stable at highway speeds. You know…good shocks and struts…I always use Monroe shock absorbers, so those late night drives around the neighborhood getting babies to sleep won’t jar them awake. Plus, a good set of shocks will help prevent any bottoming out when you drive over the inevitable pothole.

Oh, and on the highway it had to have some gumption. You know, you could step on it and be able to merge.

It had to have quality tires, not some off-brand factory deals, but a reputable name brand with a good wear rating.

The Verdict

hyundaiSo that’s it. We traded up. It’s been a good ride—good to us.

Even after driving four kids to sleep on more than one occasion, a few fermented juicebox explosions and countless beach trips, the minivan is alright.

I’m on the second set of tires, and I-don’t-know-how-many-oil-changes. Since we started towing our little popup camper, I’m about to change out my shocks to some new Monroe shocks (Monroe recommends you get them checked at 50k miles, and we’re due for a new set). Good shocks and struts are more important to car safety than you might realize; particularly when you use your vehicle for towing or use it to transport heavy loads, like all of your groceries and four kids and two dogs—but I’ll cover that in a little DIY post.

Most of you know I’m the type to keep stuff going as long as I can. So I think the minivan will be around for awhile.

And I’ll be driving it in sweatpants.

So do you have a minivan? Was it a trade up? Why did you let that one car go?

 


This blog post was sponsored by Monroe Shocks and Struts, for more information on shocks and car safety, check out their website, as well as their Facebook page.

 

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