Car Lust Classic--A Minivan is Better Than What You're Driving
I don't care what your current ride--or even pie-in-the-sky dream ride--might be. A minivan is better. "But wait!" (I can hear you say)... "A minivan will make me look, well, like a minivan-driving loser." Get over yourself. If your self-image is based on what you drive, just put a Ferrari Owners Club license plate frame on the minivan. Awestruck onlookers will assume that your Ferrari is in the shop, which it probably would be anyway.
Minivan vs. SUV
What's that? You need the Escalade to haul the boat to the lake? Let me tell you about towing. In 1992 I hauled 4,000 pounds worth of trailer and motorcycles from upstate New York to Daytona Beach, and back again, using a 1984 Dodge Caravan. It wasn't even the 2.6-liter hot-rod version, but a base 2.2 with three speed automatic. With three drivers, the trip took 21 nonstop hours in each direction, and we repeated it with the same vehicle in 1993. Granted, the engine blew up in Hackensack on the way back north in 1993, but three out of four ain't bad. Besides, today's minivans don't have lame-ass 2.2-liter engines, and ours had 180K on the clock and needed to die anyway. Bottom line, I don't care what the lawyers make them say. A modern minivan will tow whatever a normal person needs to tow. And it'll let you sit nice and high, just like the Escalade does.
But what about when the going gets rough? Surely an SUV is better than a minivan when the road is nothing more than a distant memory? Maybe so, but who do you think you're kidding? Most SUVs--and especially not yours--never make it off the pavement, or if they do it's not on purpose. And sorry, dirt roads don't count as off-road. Besides, a truly avid off-roader is more likely to head into the wilderness in a highly-modified (or even purpose-built) vehicle. Being as near as matters to useless on the highway, that vehicle will have reached the edge of the wilderness on the back of a trailer. It might have been towed by a big SUV or pickup, but it could be towed by a minivan, which would also be able to cope with those nasty dirt roads that you think call for an SUV. You're such a baby.
Minivan vs. Luxury Car
But, really, what is a luxury car these days? The old-school signifiers--a/c, power windows, cruise control, et al--no longer apply, and their high-tech replacements are often more trouble than they're worth. (iDrive or adaptive cruise control, anyone?) You might make try to make a case for exclusivity being tantamount to luxury, but you'd be wrong. It seems hard to believe today, but there were years in which Cadillac sold 250,000 cars. They were all pretty luxurious by the standards of the day, but exclusive? Not so much.
Luxury, in my world, means a roomy, quiet, and comfortable cabin; a cushy-but-controlled ride; and convenience features that are easy to use and work well. Guess what? Tick the appropriate boxes on the option list, and your minivan will swaddle you in luxury. Four occupants (the maximum that can experience luxury in any vehicle) will be way more comfortable than they would be in a conventional luxury sedan, and when the revolution comes they won't be lined up against the wall and shot.
Minivan vs. Prius
Be honest here. You didn't buy a Prius to save gas. You bought it because you think that it makes you appear to be environmentally conscious. Believe me, it doesn't. For proof I refer you to the always-spot-on social commentators at South Park, who devoted an episode to a hybrid called--wait for it... --the Pious. Besides, a fully-loaded minivan, while horrible to contemplate, gets better per-passenger mileage than the Prius. And if image is that big a deal, have "hybrid" painted on the minivan's flanks and liftgate. But better still, get over yourself. (Besides, the Prius looks goofy. What's with those tiny wheels?)
Minivan vs. Genuine Sports Car
Are we talking mid-life crisis sports car, or just sports car? If the former, it would be good to remember that when you toss the keys at the valet and head into a club you have no business going to, you'll still be old, fat, and bald. Or at least that's what those young girls you want to impress will think.
If, on the other hand, you want a sports car because it's fun, then you might want to expand your definition of fun. I like a vehicle that's a challenge to drive. One whose handling limits show themselves during real-world driving, at real-world speeds. A real sports car's handling presents no challenge to the driver until the speed limit has long been left behind. A minivan, by contrast, keeps you on your toes when the road gets interesting.
I will, however yield on one point. If the sports car in question is a ragtop, that single feature trumps anything a minivan can offer. In fact, even if the ragtop in question isn't a sports car, even if it's a clapped out three-cylinder '89 Geo Metro, it trumps a minivan. But other than that, a minivan is better, so get over yourself.
This post was originally published by David Drucker on Aug. 22, 2008--to comment, please visit the original post and comment there.