Thursday, January 28, 2010

Man VS. MiniVan

When I pull into the pick up line at school I always chuckle. There are many SUV type vehicles and a couple of family sized sedans and there are also 2 or 3 other minivans. I feel a kindred spirit with those minivan owners...they KNOW what I'm talking about:

40 months ago, I was not a minivan person and neither was my husband, but with a third little one on the way we were almost prepared to make the commitment. When we pulled into the 3rd dealership of the day after test driving quite a few SUV's the salesman came over, listened to our situation, and promptly took us over to the minivan section "You're gonna love this" he said. My husband and I looked at each other. I gave a famous eye-roll, and then we decided to throw caution to the wind and take one for a test drive.

"Hmmm." Jim said, "This FEELS like an SUV". It kind of did! When perched in the captain's chair you are raised above the road, a feeling we liked and had gotten used to with both our Chevy and our Ford. I immediately liked it...automatic sliding doors, stow and go seating...a stay at home mom of preschoolers' dreams come true, but I stayed quiet at first. I knew Jim would need more convincing.

Back at the dealership we tested out the stow and go, and used our key fob to open all the doors. "Think of how much easier life will be in this roomy vehicle? Please, Honey? I'll be the one driving it 90% of the time..." "But this means we are old" "No, it means we are sensible...nothing wrong with you won't be driving it all the time." "Well...are you sure? Are we 'minivan' people..." "We can be...c'mon let's hear what kind of deal we can get." Not yet fully convinced, "Maybe we can look into a lease.," Jim suggested.

So we decided to lease a brand new, navy blue Dodge Grand Caravan. We settled on the lease for a couple of reasons: 1) our track record showed us purchasing a new vehicle every 2 or so years for the last six anyway, so chances are we'd want a new car at the end of the lease--When I met Jim he had a Cavalier which we upgraded to the Chevy Blazer, and then we went for the roomier Ford Explorer. Now we were settling on the minivan. 2) A lease is a short term commitment, at 40 months we could hand the thing back and get something more suited to our modern family. :)

So now, the end of 40 months is upon us, and I get a little sniffle when I think of letting that van go. Besides a broken passenger door handle (one that broke only months into our lease and we never had fixed), the van has been a pleasure. I love pulling into the grocery store and not worrying about hitting the car next to me when the doors swing open and kids tumble out. I also love when my arms are weighted down with a toddler, a bag, a purse, and a stroller and I can press a button (albeit with my teeth sometimes!) and let everyone inside. For a while there we had one of the passenger seats in the front stowed and I also loved how it afforded me the ability to hop in and buckle children into car seats without straining my back or having my backside exposed for all the world to admire! Also, with a click of the button, the hatch automatically closes and the doors lock as I tend to my corral of grocery bags waiting to be unpacked. And we can't forget that on those blustery afternoons in the pickup line at school, other parents have to get out of their toasty cars and open passenger doors for little ones, when I can stay nice and warm in the drivers seat and, open sesame, allow entrance for Jordan.

Yes, Olivia has found the key fob and pressed the buttons on several occasions resulting in a rush to shut off the "panic" button or a confused look from Jim as he comes in the door from work, "The side door to the van is wide open you know." Oops. Other than that I wouldn't trade it.

But now, I have to, and Jim is trying to make a strong case for anything but minivan. While I am quietly praising its merits, gathering testimonials from friends who have converted to the minivan cult and "can't remember life without it" or "can't imagine driving ANYTHING else," and pointing out situations when the automatic sliding doors and folding seats are indispensable, he is mounting a case for a crossover, another SUV, or anything, ANYTHING that isn't a minivan.

This weekend will tell as we head to the dealers to make a purchase. We've decided to trade in the minivan and perhaps upgrade to a new model...and I've started a rumor that the new van's side windows roll down (a huge perk!) ...we'll see how that pans out. Anyway, no more leasing for us. So this is going to be a long term commitment.

But will it be the decade of the minivan? That is yet to be determined...

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Gimme some sugar! <3


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