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  • Parenting from Pop's POV

All-new Outlook on Minivans

I think you could make a legitimate case to blame our new minivan on the bossa nova.

For starters, blaming it on the bossa nova is a time tested responsibility shifter, no matter what “it” is. In the case of a mini van purchase, I see a sound argument being made that without the bossa nova, or as it’s commonly known “the dance of love,” we would not be in a situation where we needed a car with three rows of seating. Without the bossa nova, we could get by in a Fiat 500 or even a motorcycle. Maybe it wouldn’t even be we but just me, and I’d be of meandering the country flat footed, sniffing out the real America and sporting an excellent beard.

But no, no. The bossa nova. The dance of love.

And yet the truth of the mini van, especially this minivan, the all-new redesigned 2014 Honda Odyssey (or as my kids have affectionately named it, “the all-new”), is this: I wanted it before I had need for it.

 

photo-1Proud new owners of the all-new, completely redesigned 2014 Honda Odyssey

Okay, if I didn’t have kids at all I would certainly go with something a little more bitchin’, but if you have kids and you want cargo space, you want a minivan. Here’s why, first by process of elimination.

What, do you think you look cooler in a sport wagon? I didn’t. I had a fine European sport wagon for the past five years, black with leather seats and wood trim, and I felt cool in it exactly zero times. It worked, it was practical, it drove just fine. But with a double stroller in the back and crackers mashed into the upholstery, no, it wasn’t cool.

How about a giant SUV, or a crossover? Are those cooler? Do you look less like a soccer mom when you’re lumbering along when you’re behind the wheel of a gigantic four door vehicle, as opposed to a gigantic sliding door vehicle? What is it, exactly, about the door hinge that makes the giant SUV so awesome?

1974MercuryColonyPark

In order for your family + cargo car to be cool, you have to be deeply committed and invest in something vintage, like the VW Vanagon (half-points for the VW Eurovan) or a full-size station wagon, like the Mercury. An army issue Hummer, or an old Land Rover? Sure. I should say here that even knowing very little about cars, I think it’s safe to say that any such vintage vehicle is inherently more dangerous, more expensive and less reliable. You gotta be pretty good with a socket wrench if you want to feel cool while you’re broken down on the side of the road, two kids having meltdowns in the backseat.

Cool is not an option. So why not go for the car specifically designed to make driving your kids around as easy as it can be?

Like, you know the hooks for the car seats? How you’ll tear the skin off your knuckles trying to get them in? You won’t in the minivan. They put those hooks right on top, where they’re easy to get to.

In the commercials, they show the automatic doors as being a feature for when your hands are full. They’re not. They’re there because they know that opening the door is just one more thing you don’t want to do after a day of chasing around your kids. You can’t handle opening the door, you shouldn’t have to. (Also, it saves you from slamming the door in your kid’s face after you’ve lost your shit trying to get him in his car seat for fifteen minutes (five minutes? Who cares?) while rivers of poop run down his sibling’s legs.

The minivan is not just a vehicle – it’s a playroom. You can park that little Debbie in the drive, take a seat or two out and let the kids have at it. It’s not quite big enough to play hide-and-seek, but they’ll figure something out.

Plus safety features, technology features, same on gas as the sport wagon, blah blah.

Am I completely lying to myself? Definitely not. Have I become a true American consumerist buttwad? Possibly. Did I feel like exactly that as I drove to Ikea on a Friday afternoon with my family in the all-new Honda Odyssey? More than a little bit.

But you have to make moves, you have to make adjustments. That’s a lot of what the game is. I’m here to talk about it honestly. Judge me as you will.