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We recently acquired a minivan. Half of my readers just mentally snorted at the wretched direction my life has taken. You pity me.

The other half of you have actually been inside a modern minivan. You know that a minivan is the mullet of automobiles, and by that I mean it is all business in the front, and a party in the back. It's a little slice of heaven on wheels. I love my minivan. Yeah, I said it.

We were forced to consider minivans because our Toyota Highlander had an annoying noise that wouldn't go away. It sounded roughly like "Mom, there isn't enough leg room! Make someone else sit in the back next time!" We tried turning up the volume on the radio to drown it out, but that was only partly successful. So we started looking at minivans.

After extensive shopping we narrowed our minivan choices to either a Honda or a Toyota. The Honda had an edge in back seat comfort, mileage, and console layout. But the Toyota salesman assured us that after a few years of use the Honda would rattle apart and spontaneously dissemble itself in our garage. He said we would one day come out to the garage and find nothing but a pile of parts, each one trying to crawl away from the others. The Toyota, by way of contrast, was built tight, our salesman explained. It would survive a nuclear attack without the tires getting out of alignment. This was all suspiciously difficult to verify, given that it involved the future. And Google was silent on this issue. So we went with the comfy back seats. It seemed the quieter option.  

Our minivan is packed with so many features that it changes the entire driving paradigm. In the old model you had a driver and several passengers. Now you have a pilot and a full-time manager of tech support in the front, with several disgruntled users in the back. From the moment the humans enter the minivan, the manager of tech support gets busy. My wife, who I call Spock during family drives, is responsible for the navigation unit, synching the BlackBerry to the speaker system, adjusting the XM satellite stations, loading the DVD, instructing occupants about how to move seats, locking and unlocking doors, and so on. Her job is never done because the users never stop submitting change orders.

As pilot, I try to tune out everything but the sultry and sometimes scolding voice of the navigation unit. If I allow myself to get invested in the tangle of tech support and political issues bubbling over in the rest of the vehicle I will lose concentration and drive into a ravine. Although I'd be lying if I said it isn't a tempting option after the fifteenth change order gets submitted, just before I fire up the rear bumper video camera, and the distance sonar, and start backing out of the garage.

The XM satellite radio is a wonderful invention. It has an endless variety of music. But for reasons I haven't yet discerned, all we ever hear is Daughtry and Lady Gaga. I would be fine with this arrangement if Daughtry didn't sound like two mules dragging a barn door over crushed stones. I need to talk to Spock about that, but she is always buried in work orders.

My point is that minivans are wonderful. If you like Daughtry.
 
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+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 6, 2009
The most important thing about driving a minivan is to train your teenagers to understand that just as guns are assumed to be loaded unless checked, so too driveways are assumed to be glutted with small children who find the rear bumper of a minivan to be their favorite place in all the world to play. Always make sure to back up a minivan very slowly, so as to give any small children who are playing behind the vehicle sufficient time to scream or perhaps move out of the way. But not so slow that they think it's some kind of game and hop onto the bumper. That can have adverse consequences as well.
 
 
Apr 6, 2009
All I'm saying is that the "Jackal" from Day of the Jackal operated out of a minivan. In the shabby remake in any event.
 
 
Apr 6, 2009
My favorite XM channel is 202- Opie and Anthony. However not for children, extremely funny and not watered down with CBS content. You may have a differing opinion since they trashed your comic strip about a month ago and had everyone doing your Mashups, but to each their own. i think you got more fans from it.
 
 
Apr 6, 2009
I pity you for both the fact you're driving a mini-van and also that all that technology "party" ends up only serving to annoy you, which effectively makes it useless. You should've invested in a really fast sports coupe like I just did. Sure it's only got enough leg room for a double amputee to fit comfortably, but with the increased speed, you'd only have to plug your ears for a few seconds and you'd be at your location. Problem solved.
 
 
Apr 6, 2009
Okay, I hope I'm not the first to suggest this, but instead of DVD, CDs, XM radio and the like, what ever happened to conversation? We survived trips, without air conditioning, without radios, in the past. And we talked. Sure, sometimes yelled, screamed and cried, but we communicated directly with each other, without texting. How about a low tech trip once in a while?
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 6, 2009
Toyota sales associates will always talk about legendary quality. However, from what I have seen of Toyotas, their quality claims are a load of crap perpetuated by Consumer Reports. You made the right decision. The only minivan I ever dove was one of the originals, The Ford Aerostar, it was a fun car. Minivans do have the appeal of amazingly practical.

What amuses me more about your post is the subtle subtext. You mention change orders and work orders too frequently. Change orders are the bane of construction and are in part what gives the construction industry its reputation as being one of the most corrupt industries. How is your house building project coming along?
 
 
Apr 6, 2009
Great post Scott! You made a good choice in minivans from a reliability and features point of view. Also, the fact that it was probably produced here in Ohio is a boon to American workers.

I like how you took the time to comment about how salesmen try to dis the other guy's product. That is a pet peeve of mine. A sales person should be able to extol the virtues of his prodcut, not try to get you to buy because the other guy's is bad.

Thanks also to paying hommage to the Star Trek fans by dubbing your wife Spock. I would have chosen Uhura or Yoeman, but to each his own!
 
 
Apr 6, 2009
Yes, Scott is evil for buying a car that was manufactured in the US instead of one manufactured in Mexico! We should be giving more of our money to those companies and their executives who have been so irresponsible and ignorant of their effect on the environment. Shame on you Scott!
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 6, 2009
It's a shame GM, Ford, or Chrysler don't make minivans. Our economy thanks you.
 
 
 
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