Wisely and Slow the Minivan Doth Go

Back in the 1980s, Chrysler wasn’t doing so hot. Enter the first American minivan. In 1983 the Dodge Caravan and the Plymouth Voyager “transformed mobility for the suburban American family,” according to Business Insider. The minivan quickly became a nationwide family favorite. Even though they’ve taken a luxurious stowable back seat to crossover SUVs as the most popular family vehicles, the minivan remains a wise and practical choice.

the Dodge Caravan in motion, a wise and practical family vehicle
2020 Dodge Grand Caravan

What makes a minivan a minivan?

They are without a doubt one of the most versatile vehicles on the road. While it is not a vehicle exclusively useful to families, it is inspired by the family experience down to the very core of its existence. But what technically makes it a minivan?

The modern minivan holds true to the original architecture of this self-made class of family vehicles. It’s built on a car platform, offering a smoother ride and more urban capability. The floors are flat, and most minivans have either removable or stowable seats to clear the entire rear for cargo.

a refined looking black Pacifica in front of a modern home in the snow
2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle

Designed to make everything easier, they offer the versatility of spacious interiors and passenger seating. But they can still park in any spot at the crowded supermarket on Saturday morning. Sliding doors––which now operate at the touch of a button––are one of this versatile box-on-wheel’s most defining aspects. Love them or hate them. Either way, this feature eliminates the chance of your 7-year-old bashing a door into the 2020 Porsche Cayenne you parked next to.

 Love can transpose to form and dignity

Hardcore minivan love is a thing. As long as there are families who love them, these wise and careful caravans will always improve. And as the years go by, these crew carriers just keep getting, better. They’ve been bullied a fair share for their awkward boxy appearance, but it’s 2020 now and minivans are cool.

They continue to be some of the safest, most practical vehicles on the road. And they take really good care of their rambunctious cargo. Need a cupholder? Cool, your minivan has about 37. Uh-oh, did that bag of soil leak on the way back from the home improvement store? No worries, there’s a built-in vacuum for that. From flashlights to surround sound, these modern marvels have your back.

Is a minivan an SUV?

No. Don’t offend the wise old Town and Country by asking that question. If you want something on a bouncy truck platform, by all means––buy an SUV. The minivan is refined and sophisticated. Have you seen a 2021 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite? Talk about dignity.

Honda Odyssey touring elite trim interior shows why minivans are a wise choice
The cavernous and sophisticated interior of the ever-wise Honda Odyssey

True SUVs––not to be confused with the ever popular crossover––are tall as pickup trucks and just as rugged underneath all that exterior styling. And though there are some incredible family haulers in the segment, a minivan is not an SUV. If you’re concerned about AWD options for snow or winding mountain roads, it’s all good. The Chrysler Pacifica and the Toyota Sienna both come available with power to all four wheels.

a red 2021 Sienna minivan in a desert landscape
2021 Toyota Sienna | Toyota Press

If You Like Your AWD SUV, You Should Thank the Audi Ur-Quattro

The epic family vehicle

So what is a minivan? It is an epic family vehicle that watches over its passengers as they grow up. It’s definitely not unheard of for the child who once got a ride to their first day of school to also take their first licensed solo drive in that very same van. It’s not just a minivan. It’s a wise, honorary family member.