Recently, a 2014 Toyota Sienna showed up in my driveway. “Have fun,” the incredibly polite gentleman said.
“Have fun?” I thought to myself. “How am I supposed to have fun? It’s a minivan. It’s definitely a very nice minivan, but what the heck am I supposed to do with this thing? I don’t have any kids.”
It’s true. Even at 25, I don’t have any kids. I have a girlfriend, but even as recently as 100 years ago, being childless at 25 would make me the weird uncle who puts too much bourbon in his eggnog and makes Christmas dinner a little awkward for everybody.
I’m not completely anti-minivan though. In fact, I once wrote an editorial that was dedicated entirely to singing the praises of the minivan. As it turned out, what I really needed was a reminder that the minivan is still secretly the best utility vehicle that you can buy. After a week with the Sienna, it was clear that the minivan really does still deserve its crown.
Why is that? Here are the top five reasons.
1. The V6 is deceptively quick
While I love the fact that I live in an area with minimal speed enforcement, the lack of regular supervision means that if an officer of the law decides to randomly camp out, there’s a good chance that he’ll catch me going way faster than the law says I’m supposed to be going. I’m a big advocate of safe driving, but when speed limits haven’t been updated since cars all rode on suspensions taken off of tractors and had drum brakes at all four corners, what’s actually safe and what’s legally considered safe can often be one very expensive speeding ticket apart.
The 266 horsepower V6 that the Sienna packs isn’t exactly making Hellcat levels of power, but for some reason I kept finding myself driving faster than I intended. Once I noticed this phenomenon, I started paying closer attention to the speedometer, and even when I was looking right at it, the needle still climbed way faster than I was expecting.
You’re not going to be embarrassing Mustang GTs from stoplight to stoplight, but anyone who thinks minivans are slow clearly hasn’t driven one lately. If it helps with your pride, just remember that the Sienna makes more horsepower than an E36 BMW M3.
2. They’re the ultimate people movers
Yes, you can buy an eight-passenger SUV, but most of the ones that come with easy access to the back seat cost more than some yachts. I mean, no one’s really going to argue with you that the GMC Yukon Denali XL isn’t a spacious way to move people, but those things will run you something like three Siennas. At more normal-person levels of spending, three row SUVs tend to make it pretty hard to get to the back seat.
Minivans, however, are designed to move people as simply as possible. If you’re going on a roadtrip with more than four people, even if none of those people are kids, you’ll want to drive a minivan.
3. There’s storage for everything
Despite being perfectly suited for college students going on road trips, minivans are mostly designed for parents who need to transport large numbers of children. One of the most important things about children is that transporting them also requires transporting ridiculously large amounts of stuff. Whether it’s all the water bottles, pads, helmets, bags, snacks, and extra clothes that are part of making it to football practice or the eight hundred boxes of wrapping paper that have to be delivered after a school fundraiser, any vehicle designed to haul children is going to be designed to haul a ton of stuff.
If you’re not a child, that means there’s still storage for all of your stuff, too. Have you ever driven a car that has floor storage that perfectly holds a case of beer? I have. It was a Toyota Sienna. Instead of sliding around every time I went around a corner, there it sat, perfectly stored. I swear it’s like Toyota thought of everything.
4. You can haul everything
When you think about hauling things, you usually think of a pickup truck. Unfortunately, the secret that no one likes to tell you is that pickup trucks tend to be pretty limited in what they can haul. Sure, you can haul extraordinarily heavy things, and sure, you can tow even heavier things, but if you don’t live on a ranch, how often are you going to have to haul 8,000 pounds of fertilizer? The answer to that question is, “probably never.”
The hauling that you will probably end up doing with your pickup truck is the kind of hauling associated with helping people move. People love to ask friends who own pickup trucks to help them move. It doesn’t matter if you have a 30-year-old single cab Ford Ranger that can barely haul a dishwasher or if you have a brand new long-bed Toyota Tundra. If you have a truck, people will want you to help them move.
A minivan is almost guaranteed to be able to move more everyday stuff than a truck can. The truck might have the advantage if the object you’re trying to move is wide, thick, and exceptionally tall, but you better bet that if you’re trying to move a bed, a few sets of drawers, a nightstand and a dresser, your best choice is a minivan.
5. You’re mostly anonymous
It may be hard for some people to get their ego around being anonymous on the road, but for most people, it’s best not to attract attention while driving. I mean, when an officer of the law is deciding to pull someone over for speeding, is he more likely to pull over the bright yellow Lamborghini Aventador or the champagne Toyota Sienna? My money is on the Aventador. Make a lane change a little too aggressively and cut someone off? Who cares? You’re in a minivan. No one is going to unleash their road rage on a minivan. There could be a baby on board. Need to pack way more people into your car than it was ever designed to carry? No one is going to notice if you’re driving a minivan.
You basically have free reign to drive however you see fit with minimal consequences. What could be better than that?