Parenting: When did minivans become SO un-cool?

December 13, 2010

My mom had one when we were younger. It was a Dodge Caravan and if my memory serves correctly, that model was one of the first "minivans" to hit the American car market. My brothers and I liked it a lot because it was roomy, and, well, it was roomy. And that roominess prevented more than the usual fraternal fighting between us.

Oh, and mom's minivan also had a cell phone in it. Back then we called them "car phones" because no one carried them around, they just stayed in your car. I remember each phone call costing us about a dollar. Yes, mom charged us per call. "Car phones" were expensive.

Anyway, I don't remember mom becoming the subject of ridicule for choosing to drive a minivan, I don't remember a neighbor driving by and saying "you gave up!" and I certainly don't recall my parents "coolness" factor going down at all.

So when did it become "un-cool" to drive one of these things? When did purchasing a vehicle with sliding doors on the sides prove that you are no longer a fun, adventurous young adult, and instead a boring parent enslaved by your children?

Who knows. Maybe you have an idea. I'm sure you could figure out a way to let me know (wait, here's an idea, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Matt-ODonnell/92168272835?ref=s).

Meanwhile, here is an interesting take from a person who calls him/herself "Orange Mango." This person was answering the question of minivan coolness on the website AnswerBag.com.

"Orange Mango" types:

    "Minivans are un-cool for a bunch of reasons, here goes:

    1) They are a box with wheels, the polar opposite of a sports car, no aerodynamics, no rumble, no performance, no flashy colors, no appeal!

    2) They're practical, name another car in the history of the auto industry that was both practical and cool...okay maybe one or two but that's about it, those cars are definitely the exception!

    3) No individuality, they all look basically alike, just think of the profiles for the Odyssey, Sienna, Sedona, MPV, Venture, Windstar, Grand Caravan...Mechanically, sure they are not all equal, but really, do any one of these vehicles look any better or worse than the others, not to me, they all look the same.

    4) They symbolize the end of your youth & the beginning of your "responsible" years. Run a poll of people under the age of 25 asking, "If you could be given any car that retails for less than $30,000, which would you choose?" Would any minivan make the top 10 ...the top 50, I don't think so. And don't hand me the argument that this question is for anybody, not just people under 25. Last I looked, most people in their 30's aren't going around gushing about the relative coolness of cars, it gets mentioned & that's about it.

    5) People buy these cars because they need them, they have kids, tons of groceries, new things for the house, they need the space. Today's "Mom & Dad" own these cars. Through history the Station Wagon & the big boat cars of the 60's & 50's necessary for the family of the day have never been cool...heck the covered wagon even fits this category (think...Michael Landon going from Bonanza to Little House on the Prairie) Mom & Dads vehicle is NEVER cool."

This is just MY opinion, hope it's useful!

Maybe you have seen those "Swagger Wagon" commercials for the Toyota Sienna minivan (here is a link to its YouTube account).

Obviously, the makers of the Sienna fall into the "hey, minivans are way cool!" category. Go ahead and watch a few of them, they are nicely done.

Oh, and if you're wondering (if you weren't, you wouldn't have gotten this far) my own family does not own a minivan. Therefore, we have not "given up."

Or we're just not "way cool." Yet.

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