Perhaps this isn't as much about lust as it is grudging admiration and respect. After all, it's hard to really lust after a minivan--if for no other reason that to do so opens you up to merciless ridicule. Not, of course, that being ridiculed for my automotive tastes is anything new.
Before you begin pelting me with rotten produce, please let me explain. The minivan gets a bad rap in this country--it is almost universally reviled as a symbol of dweebish parenthood and mindless suburbia, a scarlet letter attached to soccer moms' chests. Of course, soccer moms now have embraced large SUVs, which are similar to minivans yet inferior in every way that is relevant to family transport. Of course, now the affection of soccer moms has begun to afflict SUVs with the same stigma that large station wagons and minivans have borne for the last few decades.
Okay, so minivans are universally scorned. But why? What are the minivan's crimes? The only crime I can see is that it's too good at its job.
The minivan's job is to haul people and cargo in as comfortable and efficient a manner as possible, and it fulfills that mission admirably. Forget about three-row SUVs. Minivans can carry more people more comfortably than even large SUVs; and with the extraordinary flexibility of seat placement/folding/removal, minivans are unparalleled at virtually everything you'd need it to do.
Need to carry a bunch of kids and their stuff on a road trip? There's no better vehicle than a minivan. Want to haul as bulky a load of cargo as you could in a pickup, but you'd prefer to keep it dry, clean, and secure? Fold down or remove the seats, and the minivan becomes a cargo hauler par excellence. Want to take your buddies on a week-long backpacking trip? You can fit everybody, their backpacks, the food, AND a few cases of beer.
People rightfully rave about the cargo-carrying flexibility of wagons, hatchbacks, crossovers, SUVs, and even oddballs like the Honda Element and PT Cruiser, but all of those pale in comparison with the humble minivan.
As a group, SUVs' sole advantages over minivans are style and sheer off-road capability--and it's not as if today's popular car-based SUVs (effectively minivans in drag) are fantastic at low-range bouldering.
The other day, I posed a question to a few of my co-workers--if you needed the people- and cargo-carrying capacity of a large vehicle, would you really penalize yourself by selecting something less useful than a minivan just to save your ego? And if that's true, just how sad is that? How much are we letting what others think dictate a fundamental part of our everyday lives? A surprising number said they would never drive a minivan, no matter what.
Popular culture is so anti-minivan today that driving one is so counter-culture, so in the face of popular biases, so keeping-it-real, that it's almost punk rock. In a utilitarian way, anyway.
Anyway--what about the Honda Odyssey? In my mind, it's the peak of the minivan mountain. It comes with a smooth and torquey 244-horsepower VTEC V-6, is as silky smooth to drive as its similarly excellent Honda and Acura siblings, and with leather and navigation, you'd have to push the Odyssey pretty hard before it feels at all dissimilar to the excellent Acura TL.
Honda's Pilot and its near-twin, the Acura MDX, are both among the best SUVs you can buy; yet in terms of everyday use, I'd be hard-pressed to find a way in which they are superior to the Odyssey. Plus, the Odyssey even looks good.
Okay, now you can throw rotten produce at me.