Why Do I Deny Myself the Minivan?

Photo credit: car and driver
From the car and driver
Adolescent colloquial language is full of jokes, terms that enjoy fleeting relevance throughout the life of the meme it burped into the universe. Like "yeet". Do you know what "yeet" means? Anyway, it doesn't matter, because in a month or two, "yeet" will be on the shelf of rarely used words along with "your" and "so far". But I liked a new tentpole from Tween Patois, the word "trembled". It means means shaken, in the sense of deeply disturbed. And it's a perfect word to describe how I felt when my wife told Heather we should look into buying a Chrysler Pacifica. I was shocked when she said it and again when I found that I agreed with her.
At that point we were about two hours in a drive, heading west into the North Carolina mountains. The Pacifica in question, a 2021 Limited AWD, was filled with skis, a cooler, luggage, and all that bulky trash associated with sub-zero outdoor activities. There were also two children, ages eight and ten, in the manifesto. It was almost easy to forget because they saw Nitro Circus on the UConnect Theater screens that were mounted on the back of the front seats, laughing occasionally, but never the flow of obstructed boredom with a carefully coordinated swipe down the aisle.
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"Why don't we get any of these?" Said Heather. "Every time you test one we all love it. It goes with everything and it's comfortable. What, am I too cool? I don't care if someone thinks I'm cool or not." Neither do I, I say. But I've always found a reason to avoid the minivan. I need AWD, or I need to tow, or maybe I want a plug-in for our next car. Well the Pacifica offers AWD and can pull 3,600 pounds, and there is a plug-in hybrid version. This one can't tow and it's FWD, but with all the money you save on gasoline, you could buy a cool old truck for towing and 4x4 opportunities. Wait - I already have an old 4X4 truck. Why then? Why can't I have this thing that would clearly make life easier for everyone?
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I dont know. I've found the minivan to be the epitome of mainstream luxury. Smoothing the boundaries of daily inconvenience in a big and small way, a four-wheeled concierge. Did you fail to pack up for a weekend getaway until the last minute? Don't worry, sir, just toss whatever you want into the largest suitcase you can find. Don't even think about it. Everything will be fine. And that hypothesis is not that hypothetical, as that is exactly what I did before heading out to the Pacifica. When Heather opened my bursting suitcase, she asked, "How long did you think we'd be gone?"
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And the functions! Oh the features. Heated seats and steering wheel, heated rear seats (spoiled brats), the dope entertainment system on the rear seats, remote start, a built-in vacuum, electric sliding doors! You know the only other vehicle I drove this year that had electric doors? The Rolls-Royce Cullinan. It cost $ 503,000. The Pacifica was less than a tenth of that, and we take it and its kind for granted. And they're not just electric doors - they're remote controlled electric doors. When we got to the house, I found that one of the kids left a door open on the way out of the car. I stood on the stairs and locked it on the key fob, like some kind of billionaire. The minivan really is the private jet for the ground-based masses.
And the Pacifica raced on unploughed mountain roads, accelerated more than enough and saved a lot of fuel. Did I mention it's huge inside? Heather currently has a Lincoln MKT Ecoboost, which appears pretty roomy but has roughly half the interior volume of the Pacifica. Yes, the MKT has 355 hp and would smoke the Pacifica in a drag race. So that's a column in favor of the crossover and roughly that of another Parthenon for the minivan.
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I really don't know what my problem is. Somehow, minivans have been branded as automotive sweatpants, a sign of giving up your cool, younger self and becoming sloppy and lame. But it's really the opposite. I did a mental inventory of the people who drive minivans and they are all cool. Neither of them give a damn what other people think. They got their vans because they wanted to, not out of resignation. A friend of mine in California who has two young children bought an AWD Toyota Sienna a few years ago. I texted him to ask if he still had it and he replied, "Yeah, and I love this thing. It saves so much crap! In fact, I bought a camping toilet that we can use there for emergencies store!" Tell me again how minivan drivers are conformists. I don't know if a car toilet is a good idea, but it can't be said that it's not original.
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Another friend in Maine wrote to me that he had just bought a 2020 Pacifica Hybrid Limited. "They threw in snow tires," he said. And that almost always solves that problem. Even in the mountains of North Carolina, you can drive up the nastier roads if you put on tire chains. I've never owned tire chains, but I've always strived for them.
Really, I think the only final hurdle is the same that kept me from buying a Jeep Gladiator in the depths of cabin fever. That said, the MKT refuses to die and I'm pragmatic financially. We owned the Lincoln for nine years and the only out of warranty repair was a taillight. (And an HVAC mix door on the passenger side that's broken but ignorable.) And it's hard to part with a perfectly good car that pays off and still runs well.
But at some point the MKT will block its transmission or do something else drastic. And then? I could just indulge in the luxury of comfort. And not be shaken in the least.
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