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Minivans Are the New Station Wagon

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author photo by Will Kinton March 2018

It seems like everyone is making a big deal about the death of the sedan at the foot of the now ubiquitous and mighty crossover, but minivans are also undergoing a swift and vicious death, and nobody seems to care. Millennials are turning their back on the family-hauler that defined their childhood road trips, and it's a real shame. The minivan is endlessly practical, with tons of space, great fuel efficiency and a design built with families in mind, yet the desire to not be one's parents is an incredibly strong urge.

As I alluded to earlier, it's essentially the same phenomenon that the station wagon suffered when the minivan first showed up on the scene. New parents of the late 1980s and 1990s who needed a larger car than a sedan or hatchback looked at the station wagons that defined their youth and scoffed, instead choosing to go with a Dodge Caravan, Toyota Previa or Honda Odyssey. These vans fit their niche perfectly -- and soon it seemed that every cul-de-sac in America had at least one minivan, and almost every carmaker had one in their lineup.

But now, it seems like ownership of a minivan is like an invitation to old age and death. People think it signifies becoming a soccer mom or divorcing your youth with a less-than-triumphant resignation. Take my wife's cousin, for example. She and her fiance were looking for a reliable but cheap car that could carry surfboards and friends with reasonable comfort and fuel efficiency. When they asked my advice, I said the answer was clearly a minivan -- and it took them about a month to finally admit I was right. It was absolutely the right choice for them -- but because of that minivan stigma, they avoided it like the plague until every other option was dried up. They're not alone in that sentiment by a long shot.

These days, only a few minivans are left on the market, with the selection limited to five models: the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, Chrysler Pacifica and the Dodge Grand Caravan, which curiously keeps going on, not related to the newer Pacifica. Crossovers are now all the rage, and that minivan selection is only going to diminish as time goes on. Who knows? Maybe the minivan will eventually gain an enthusiast following, much like wagons have since then. I doubt it -- but then again, so did the previous generation who derided the wagon as undriveable.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Minivans Are the New Station Wagon - Autotrader