When people first heard that I was looking for a minivan, they often turned to me–with empathy pooling in their eyes–and asked “and how are you doing with that decision”? Almost as if becoming a minivan driver is akin to a serious illness.
But the truth is, I am not worried about turning in my cool card. In fact, I think I was probably absent the day those were handed out. If anything, I think driving a minivan makes me feel like a more capable mother–what with the cavernous trunk, room for myriad carseats, and front and back vent control. I had no qualms about becoming a minivan mom, in fact, I have looked forward to it for years.
I’ve been driving the same 1999 Chevy Cavalier for the past nine years.
Two years ago, faced with a bunch of repairs, I wrote this post over our dilemma of whether we should trade our car in or not. We ended up fixing a few things, letting the rest slide, and the car carried us to Colorado and back as well as many other places without any issues.
My old car is still chugging: sure, the driver’s seat is stuck in one position (when Saia drives it, his knees are up in his armpits), the back two doors are hard to open, the glove compartment has been broken shut for years, and the headlights take twenty minutes to turn on unless you hold the levar a certain way. And, yes, the car shimmies and shakes if you push past 75 miles per hour (we’ve had this looked at, and fixed twice), but then who really needs to drive over seventy-five miles per hour? No one! Built in speed control! No tickets for us!
Despite of (or perhaps, because of) these lovable quirks, I’ve been dreaming of getting a new-to-us vehicle for years. So we started saving, then we used up our savings when we launched Saia’s business, and then we saved again. We finally had the money stashed away for a new vehicle! Yay! Then the hunt began…
My eldest brother had mentioned to me years earlier, that he had wished they would have made the jump straight from a car to a minivan rather than buying a mid-sized vehicle in the interim. They now have three kids under five, and a minivan is just what they need. This made a lot of sense to me. Getting my rather large-sized toddler in and out of the car was difficult. Every day, I would morph my body into various shapes to carefully lift him in and out of his carseat. While I completed this maneuver, I dreamt of a minivan. We want to have more kids–so why buy a smaller vehicle when we will probably have a third kid (which would REALLY make a car a difficult choice) in a few years?
So I set my sights on minivans. I dearly love to research, and through all my research of the most reliable minivans on the market, I narrowed it down to Toyota Siennas and Honda Odysseys. Armed with the years that had the least amount of problems reported, I turned to Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and local dealerships to find a vehicle.
As it turns out, both Siennas and Odysseys are difficult to find with the mileage we were gunning for (about 100,000 miles). People tend to hold on to this vehicles, so while the market was flooded with tons of other minivans, the two that I was specifically looking for were are to come by. The only ones I ran across for months were either 1. Salvaged vehicles or 2. Over 200,000 or even 300,000 miles! No one seemed to want to let go of their family vehicle.
Then, thanks to Facebook Marketplace, we found one for sale in our price range and with the odometer reading for which we were searching.
We spent an entire day, driving Omaha (an hour and a half away), picking up the vehicle, driving it to our mechanic, driving it back to Omaha, and then driving home empty-handed. It was exhausting. But at the end of the day, we had offered the sellers a much lower number, and they had declined. So while we walked away with our cash in hand, we had still wasted a day of effort. But then, much to our surprise, the seller contacted us a week later and had not only fixed several issues that had worried us about the vehicle (they replaced the cracked windshield, and put four new tires on the van!), but came down to within $500 of our offer.
Within the week, we had a minivan in our driveway.
I spent a morning getting it licensed, installing our two carseats, and then taking it for a spin around town with Gideon happily in his carseat in the second row.
Now, I have two questions for my readers.
- What type of decal should I put on the back so that I can tell it apart from all the other silver minivans? Choices below.
2. What should I name this vehicle? I’ve been racking my brain for literary or movie characters with gray or silver hair (Gandalf? Gibbs? Mother Gothel? Ursula?). I need your help!
I cannot tell you how gleeful I feel about driving a minivan. It is ten years newer than our car–which feels like a century of newness. It is built like a family vehicle: with a million cupholders, a special mirror that folds down to see what is going on in the backseats, front and back environmental controls, two DVD players, a huge amount of cargo space, and plenty of room for carseats.
When I am driving it around town, people might just see a nondescript gray minivan, but I feel like I am driving a candy-apple corvette, with flames down the sides.