2011 Odyssey and 2011 Sienna: One Month Of Minivan
January 12, 2012
I spent the last half of December driving our Sienna and then the first half of this month driving our Odyssey. It was 30 days of both bliss and malaise.
The bliss part is simple. The minivan is the hands-down, ultimate family vehicle. It kicks ass like Schwarzenegger kicked ass in Commando. There's space for everything. The power sliding doors and power liftgate are super convenient. The seating is highly configurable. There's comfortable room for adults in the third row. There's loads of storage space. If you have kids (like I do), it truly is a luxury to own and drive a minivan. Life is just easier this way.
Malaise is harder to pin down. But it seeps into your soul after days and weeks of constant minivan-ness. The minivan is big. It's boxy. It will have kid safety seats permanently installed. All of your crap will be floating and rolling around inside because you're too tired to clean it out and, well, there's still space to sit, right? It can become like a redneck front lawn inside.
A minivan is the least sexy thing on wheels. It's the equivalent of going grocery shopping and seeing this guy. Automakers can call their minivans Swagger Wagons or Man Vans or style them so that they have a lightning bolt on the side. No difference, though -- the things will still look like they smell like diapers. With a minivan, your life gets one more level of domestication added to it.
In the end, I'm OK with the latter. I'd buy a minivan. Their strengths are totally worth whatever downgrades in image (real or imagined) occur.
But I understand the suckiness, too. Just let me keep my Corvette, too, OK?
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor