The uncool minivan- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    The uncool minivan

    How did the practical minivan get such a bad rap and the gas-guzzling, environmentally unfriendly SUV become the cool icon as the family vehicle? As hard as the automotive industry tries to change the staid and boring perception, the minivan continues to be the ugly Betty of the automotive world.

    Minivan owners raise your hand and stand proud. Below is our review of the 2009 Kia Rondo where practicality wins over style.

    Some pain is physical and some is mental, but one that's both is dental.

  2. #2

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    Nice review. I don't mind the car's profile, but it is pretty ugly up front. BTW, the "continued on page 2" link is broken.

  3. #3
    PCC
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    Quote Originally Posted by bustamove
    How did the practical minivan get such a bad rap and the gas-guzzling, environmentally unfriendly SUV become the cool icon as the family vehicle? As hard as the automotive industry tries to change the staid and boring perception, the minivan continues to be the ugly Betty of the automotive world.

    Minivan owners raise your hand and stand proud. Below is our review of the 2009 Kia Rondo where practicality wins over style.
    I'm actually sort of anti-SUV. If I were to buy one it would be a first generation Bronco or an International Harvester 400A, fixed up for trail crawling. The problem is that I don't do such driving and don't feel the need to, so I will be driving my wife's minivan whenever my mid-sized sedan isn't large enough to do the job and I will not hide my face in shame.

  4. #4
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    My beater/bike transporter is an 89 dodge caravan that I've had for 7 years and paid $800 for. I can fit 4 bikes and 4 people inside the thing. Its basically my truck that can also seat 7 in comfort when needed. I'm a single 33 year old dude so I did catch some flak for buying it but then when people need to move crap they call me lol. Their SUVs are either too fancy or their floor to roof space is too short to fit anything bulky.
    Last edited by canker; 04-30-2009 at 10:17 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufudufus
    Nice review. I don't mind the car's profile, but it is pretty ugly up front. BTW, the "continued on page 2" link is broken.
    Thanks for the notice. The link to page 2 has been fixed.
    Some pain is physical and some is mental, but one that's both is dental.

  6. #6
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    "ain't no man if you don't got a van"

    I really wanted one, but unfortunately a deal on a sedan came up that was too good to pass up. I hate having to dismantle the bike when I want to travel with it on the inside of the vehicle.

  7. #7
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    Respect the Van....

    ....2007 Honda Ody.....I notice I am driving to all our destination trips for Mtn Biking....hmmm...well that is the one of the bad points on the mini van....still love it though...very handy...even sleep in it occaisionally when it is raining on camping trips....
    There are two paths you can go by but in the long run........

  8. #8
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    2008 Honda Ody here
    Just sold a 97 Town & Country to get the Honda.
    I will always own a minivan.

  9. #9
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    Wifes van is 2006 Honda Ody. Love it.

  10. #10
    AOF
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    I am a proud minivan owner, what I don't get is how the a 4 wheel drive station wagon made more box like is "cool", especially with less gas mileage, I mean how many really use them for their intended purpose?

    The first SUV:
    AMC Eagle station wagon

    -Dan
    My LBS

    Take advantage of every opportunity to ride your bicycle!

  11. #11
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    Manual is manly, right? What about a Mazda 5 with a manual transmission? I think I'd take that over the Kia any day.

  12. #12

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    How about a review of the Kia Soul? Looks like it could be a decent bike hauler.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by AOF
    I am a proud minivan owner, what I don't get is how the a 4 wheel drive station wagon made more box like is "cool", especially with less gas mileage, I mean how many really use them for their intended purpose?

    The first SUV:
    AMC Eagle station wagon

    -Dan
    I've always wanted one of those things.

    Lots of minivans use to be available with manual trans up into the mid 90s. In 89/90 you could get a dodge caravan with a TURBO and a manual trans . Mines a turbo and modified but its still an automatic.

  14. #14
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    SUVs are the new the minivan

    Especially the Ford Exploder. A favorite of soccermoms who like the "safety" of a behemouth to protect their children in a crash, rarely taken off-pavement, used mainly as child transport (despite a slick marketing campaign pitching them as rough-and-tumble transport for the mtb/kayak/rock-climbing set). I trace their rise in popularity to the mid-90's legions who wanted a vehicle to carry multiple kids to sports practice, school and the grocery store but didn't like the image of driving a minivan. The poor quality of that generation of minivans didn't help their reputations either.

  15. #15
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    You can lease a Honda Ody for about $200-$250 a month with 0% financing and $2500 down with 12,000 miles a year. I dont think thats too bad if you have another vehicle to drive once in awhile to save the miles.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufudufus
    How about a review of the Kia Soul? Looks like it could be a decent bike hauler.
    Working on it. I put in my request to test the Kia Soul and waiting for it to be scheduled.

    Last week I missed the opportunity to drive one around for a few minutes, but I got totally distracted by too many other cars in the lot. Now that I know someone is interested in the Soul, I'll give it more attention.
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  17. #17
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    We just picked up a 2006 Ford Freestyle which is not an SUV or a van but it gets 19-25 mpg's has room for 6 (7 available) and is AWD. I actually started out looking for an SUV then a wagon like an E320 wagon but found out that Freestyles have horrible re-sale values so we went that rt. I am also a big fan of driving MANual transmission equipped vehicles but there just weren't any that fit our criteria. I am planning on getting another vehicle to quench that craving because the stick in my Jeep is less than gratifying.

  18. #18
    PCC
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    Quote Originally Posted by AOF
    The first SUV:
    AMC Eagle station wagon

    -Dan
    Sorry, but I have to disagree. The International Harvester Scout, which came out in 1961, is regarded by a lot of folks as one of the first, if not THE first SUV. Arguably, the Jeep can be called the first SUV, also.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interna...arvester_Scout

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by PCC
    Sorry, but I have to disagree. The International Harvester Scout, which came out in 1961, is regarded by a lot of folks as one of the first, if not THE first SUV. Arguably, the Jeep can be called the first SUV, also.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interna...arvester_Scout
    all citations of wikipedia articles are void.

  20. #20
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    I guess...

    ... the only real difference between a gas guzzling SUV and a gas guzzling minivan is that a minivan is smogged under passenger car standards and and SUV falls under work truck standards. Still, 15 mpg either way is doing twice the damage than a Camry or something like that.

    OTOH, a minivan also has to meet passenger car safety standards, which are way higher than SUV standards.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by PCC
    Sorry, but I have to disagree. The International Harvester Scout, which came out in 1961, is regarded by a lot of folks as one of the first, if not THE first SUV. Arguably, the Jeep can be called the first SUV, also.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intern...arvester_Scout
    Wiley's Jeep Wagon in the late 40s?




    How about the first range rovers in the 40s? Aluminum construction, full time 4wd, Power take-off. All sorts of good stuff.

    Speaking of the Jeep Eagle... I still dream of the modern German knock-off:


  22. #22
    JmZ
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    '03 Mazda MPV here.

    Rack on top. Hitch on back. Lots of bikes if needed, while seating 6 decently. 7 with kids.

    Decent gas mileage, good safety, decent pickup. It isn't a sexy vehicle, but the bikes can ride inside and be secure (and get better gas mileage), or on top if room is at a premium, it handles pretty well on the road, decent in the snow, can haul a decent U-Haul trailer.

    It's practical, and therefore boring. It does make me wonder if it was lowered just a hair, with a bit stiffer chassis and a turbo or supercharger on it... how many people would that surprse on the open road? Not a practical idea, but an idea that makes me smile.

    Didn't want an SUV in '03, still don't want one today (a sports car on the other hand...)

    JmZ
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by AOF
    I am a proud minivan owner, what I don't get is how the a 4 wheel drive station wagon made more box like is "cool", especially with less gas mileage, I mean how many really use them for their intended purpose?

    The first SUV:
    AMC Eagle station wagon

    -Dan
    Meh first SUV...First 4x4 crossover subbie type car.
    First SUV? jeep Wagoneer.
    CDT
    2006 Grand caravan btw
    And hey are those kids mtb'ing?!?!?!
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bustamove
    How did the practical minivan get such a bad rap and the gas-guzzling, environmentally unfriendly SUV become the cool icon as the family vehicle? As hard as the automotive industry tries to change the staid and boring perception, the minivan continues to be the ugly Betty of the automotive world.

    Minivan owners raise your hand and stand proud. Below is our review of the 2009 Kia Rondo where practicality wins over style.

    Yup, definitely practicality over style (what style?).

    J.

  25. #25
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    Well, I am all van now. Just had to sell my mega cab last week. The wife's 2005 Kia Sedona is the only vehicle for the family now.
    There is an upside, I just picked up a sweet Yakima rack off craigslist, so the weekend family rides can continue uninterrupted.
    Oh yeah, ANYTHING looks cool with the proper rack on top.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtaffe
    Especially the Ford Exploder.
    My Truck

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    a big late model V8 suv pollutes less than a small 4cyl economy car from the 90's..

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomsmoto
    a big late model V8 suv pollutes less than a small 4cyl economy car from the 90's..
    Mostly because of CARB regulations that have increasing standards that stress tougher clean air rules. Can you say that a late model V* produces less hydrocarbons and pollutants than today's 4-cylinder engines?
    Some pain is physical and some is mental, but one that's both is dental.

  29. #29
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    Tilted Photo Alert!

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomsmoto
    a big late model V8 suv pollutes less than a small 4cyl economy car from the 90's..
    I doubt it. Maybe less than a 4 cyl from the 70s, but not 90s.

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    i dont doubt it.. actually ive seen so many smog dynos to back that up i cant even count how much its been proved. its more of a hard fact, not opinion.

    Can you say that a late model V* produces less hydrocarbons and pollutants than today's 4-cylinder engines?
    no, of course not. but thats like asking if you're cleaner after your 10th shower in a row versus the first shower. you were clean the first time, its splitting hairs emissions laws are incredibly strict. cat light off time is almost instant.

    the guy in the new 2009 suv is more "green" than the guy driving a 90's economy car. just keeping it in perspective. the general public is VERY unaware of modern emissions technology.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomsmoto
    i dont doubt it.. actually ive seen so many smog dynos to back that up i cant even count how much its been proved. its more of a hard fact, not opinion.


    no, of course not. but thats like asking if you're cleaner after your 10th shower in a row versus the first shower. you were clean the first time, its splitting hairs emissions laws are incredibly strict. cat light off time is almost instant.

    the guy in the new 2009 suv is more "green" than the guy driving a 90's economy car. just keeping it in perspective. the general public is VERY unaware of modern emissions technology.
    Depends on how you measure "green". CO2 is not included in the emissions standards (yet). The 2009 suv is putting off more CO2 than the 2009 econo car, the 90's economy car, or the 80's econo car. Assuming you have minimal amounts of unburned gas, then more gas = more CO2. There is really no getting around that at this point. A new car that gets 20 mpg is putting off twice the CO2 as a car getting 40 mpg.

  33. #33
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    Depends on if you think 0.06% of the atomsphere (CO2) is a problem or politics.

    J.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ80
    Depends on if you think 0.06% of the atomsphere (CO2) is a problem or politics.

    J.
    Both.

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    But emissions are not the only measure of how green someone is.

    A guy who buys a new car encourages automakers to make more cars, and the amount of resources and pollution it takes to produce a car is huge.

    The world is already producing far too many cars, because people choose to replace their old one with a new one as soon as it gets a scratch on it, rather than putting some effort into keeping it running.

    A new car runs cleaner than an older one, that's a given. But surely the amount of pollution caused by manufacturing that new car greatly exceeds the difference in pollution emitted by running an older car vs a new one.

    I always buy used cars (even though I could easily afford new ones) and the environmental aspect of it is one of the factors in that decision. Of course I'm not talking about 20 year old pieces of junk that spew toxic amounts of pollution, but 3-4 year old cars.

  36. #36
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    My engineering background makes me skeptical. I understand CO2 absorbs long wave radiation better but several facts really bother me:

    1. Mars is undergoing global warming right now and it is doubtful that our carbon production is causing that (i.e. it is the mutually shared sun).

    2. The current warming phase began back in the 1400's and it is doubtful that the manmade CO2 is an issue.

    3. We keep finding dinosaur relics in high latitudes. Dinosaurs are reptiles and need warm weather - wamer than it currently is now in northern latitudes. That implies the normal operating range of the planet is much wider and much warmer (and much colder) temps are normal.

    4. We can't model the weather effectively for tomorrow much less predicting climate change. There have been massive problems with all of the current models.

    I'd lay my bets more on the politics than on the CO2 being an issue. The conundrum for the environmentalist side is that this makes the case for nuclear power - a source of energy they have long fought. I don't think I'd give much thought to the CO2 out put of my vehicle except for the cost of operation.

    J.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ80
    My engineering background makes me skeptical. I understand CO2 absorbs long wave radiation better but several facts really bother me:

    1. Mars is undergoing global warming right now and it is doubtful that our carbon production is causing that (i.e. it is the mutually shared sun).

    2. The current warming phase began back in the 1400's and it is doubtful that the manmade CO2 is an issue.

    3. We keep finding dinosaur relics in high latitudes. Dinosaurs are reptiles and need warm weather - wamer than it currently is now in northern latitudes. That implies the normal operating range of the planet is much wider and much warmer (and much colder) temps are normal.

    4. We can't model the weather effectively for tomorrow much less predicting climate change. There have been massive problems with all of the current models.

    I'd lay my bets more on the politics than on the CO2 being an issue. The conundrum for the environmentalist side is that this makes the case for nuclear power - a source of energy they have long fought. I don't think I'd give much thought to the CO2 out put of my vehicle except for the cost of operation.

    J.
    No offense, but an engineering background does not really matter very much in this case. A science background might help though. It would help you understand how utterly unqualified you (or I, even with a science background in a different field) really are to make a meaningfully judgment call on something this complicated. Or maybe a science degree in a field actually related to the matter, like those who overwhelmingly feel that there is some warming going on that it out of the ordinary and likely due to the high COs levels. I'm sorry, but I will believe that before someones layman's armchair diagnosis of the matter.

    But to address you points:

    1- What convoluted logic makes that in any way relevant?

    2- Oh, no, not like what has happened this century.

    3- The earth used to be a bit warmer overall, so what?. Utterly irrelevant point. The fact that climates have changed over history is in no dispute. You are not understanding the problem.

    4- Really? I think they do a pretty good job, overall. I find it rather reliable. Nothing is 100% sure, but I've come to find that taking the weather report into account and planning accordingly works out much better than ignoring the weather report. I can assure you, if there are massive problems with the current models, YOU have no idea what they are, you are just repeating what you hear or read of some internet sight.

    As far as politics, look who is on each side of this issue (environmentalists vs big oil, coal, and countless other business interests who benefit from the status quo) and tell me where the money, power, and influence is. It is NOT on the side of the environmentalists. Yes this is a political issue. Were it not, we would have been addressing it and actually started doing something about well before now.

    Who are you going to believe? Scientists, or oil and coal lobbyists?

    A big problem is that most people do not understand what the "scientific community" is. Just because a few people start web sites and throw a few graphs up, they don't represent the scientific community. Some lab sponsored by oil companies or some other business group does not speak for the scientific community. White house lawyers editing reports to downplay environmental warnings are not the scientific community. Al Gore is not the scientific community. Researchers publishing in respected peer reviewed journals, THAT is the scientific community.

  38. #38
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    Well, I guess we disagree.

    Who am I going to believe? It's not "who", it's "what". I'm very interested in getting to the facts in this , I do a lot of reading on it, and I study the science in detail. So far, I find the "conclusions" that are drawn in the press and by the politicians to not be conclusive at all and typically not very fact or well supported. There is a LOT of disagreement about who, what, when and even if in the scientific community.

    So, yes, the engineering background does apply (it's all science based one way or another just depends on how you come at it) and I've got it in spades and in a graduate level to boot.

    So, yes, I'm very skeptical - like all good scientists or engineers ought to be.

    But to clear one thing up - if Mars is heating up too and we share the same heat source (the sun), then perhaps that is a highly significant factor in our warming too. Should the sun be heating up, and there is evidence to support that, then that would - of course - be not irrelevant.

    At any rate, this is not the place to debate a theory on global warming and it's validity and I didn't intend on getting into an argument on that. So forget I even brought it up (I apologize). Otherwise, I'm happy to debate that pro and con elsewhere.

    J.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta
    A new car that gets 20 mpg is putting off twice the CO2 as a car getting 40 mpg.
    I want you to prove that statement. Just cause a vehicles engine uses the combustion of fuel more efficiently does not necessarily mean it produces more or less pollution. MPG is NOT a proper indicator of emissions. A proper figure is "emissions per gallon".
    One could argue that the more efficient an engine is the more CO2 is produced because combustion is cleaner. So a 40mpg vehicle (vs 20mpg) could produce more CO2 and less CO.
    Also the quality and efficiency of a cars emission control system varies from vehicle to vehicle. The Acura MDX is a ULEV vehicle and my CRV is a LEV. I get a lot better MPG out of the CRV. What's the difference? The cost and quality of the emission control system.
    There is just to many variables to make such a blanket statement IMO.

  40. #40
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    You completely missed the point of that statement in the context of that post.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta
    You completely missed the point of that statement in the context of that post.
    I see what you are saying. You are referring to both vehicles driving the same amount of miles. If both have to drive 400 miles and both combust perfectly with 100% CO2 exhaust, then the 20mpg vehicle will use double the fuel amount to go 400 miles and thus put out double the CO2. So yes I missed your point.

  42. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADDam
    My Truck


    +1 for the license plate!

  43. #43
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    Ive always liked vans and minivans. Never had the nerve to buy a mini.
    My Dodge tradesman conversion was probably the most fun(inside) vehicle I have ever owned. Used to transport, motocross bikes, bicycles, and females.

    New I settle for a small wagon, toyota matrix, much rum for 2 1/2 bikes inside. and I have Thule roof rack.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by bustamove
    How did the practical minivan get such a bad rap and the gas-guzzling, environmentally unfriendly SUV become the cool icon as the family vehicle? As hard as the automotive industry tries to change the staid and boring perception, the minivan continues to be the ugly Betty of the automotive world.

    Minivan owners raise your hand and stand proud. Below is our review of the 2009 Kia Rondo where practicality wins over style.

    Here's my problem(s) with minivans... after owning one versus what we opted for later

    I drive a 4-door Jeep Wrangler jk 2WD, and my wife drives a Kia Sorento 2WD. My Jeep has 205 hp that is averaging 18mpg city, the Kia has 192 hp averaging 17mpg. Both of these are comparable to the mileage of our minivan which got 17 city as an average. So not much in the wallet changed when buying gas.

    Minivans have unibody constructed chassis', both of our SUV's were purposefully picked to have a traditional body-on-frame construction to better take the abuse of the roads where I live. Having grown up in a family of mechanics, and based on my own experiences, a unibody constructed vehicle will not last given a rough surface to travel on over time.

    The gearing/torque and suspension of both the Kia and the Jeep are better for hauling a trailer. Which I do at least once a month.

    Better ground clearance... helps in the fields around my house, going fishing, etc.

    The cost of the minivan was $8k more than my Jeep, and $10k more than the Kia.

    The van came with a 3/36000 warranty, the Jeep has 100k, and the Kia 60k.

    Neither the Jeep nor the Kia look like a suppository. (just a personal preference in vehicles for me...)

    Now this is not to say that I didn't like the minivan, it just isn't what we needed on a daily basis. If a person were to stay on the highway, and simply needed to haul more people regularly... they're great. For us, not so much.

    I know not everybody has the same situation, and for most rugged durability isn't a must, but the common misconception that the SUV is of no use... well, that's simply not true. My family of 5 make very good use of them every day.
    Trying to win hearts and minds, but willing to stomp them if necessary.

  45. #45
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    I agree ^ sometimes suv's get a bad rap

    I average around 22-23mpg (combined city/hwy) in my 2000 Chevy Blazer, sometimes for mpg its not about what you drive its about how you drive, because ive had friends with the save vintage truck getting 15-16mpg. I use its 4x4 capability all the time and tow with it. At this point i don't need to seat 7, i need off roading ability and towing. Although someday (knowing my girlfriend like i do) i will need the minivan. I wouldn't mind driving one daily, i would want awd for getting around in the snow. And i could throw my bikes around inside easily

  46. #46
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    We live the sticks in Minnesota. For most of January and about half time through the rest of the winter, we're in need of AWD. Ground clearance is important for snow and for some back roads/snow drifts.

    We would have a hard time without an SUV.

    J.

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    Posts
    1,267
    Transporting 3 kids and a dog pretty much necessitates a van of some kind these days... Went on a weekend trip and brought the bikes. I've now decided its time for a roof rack. Carrying 4 bikes on the hitch rack and one in the car (thankfully the youngest is on a 16" wheeled bike) PLUS clothes and sleeping stuff for 5 pretty much fills the minivan up.

  48. #48
    mtbr member
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    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    1,176
    My V8 Explorer gets about 25 hwy/17 city. Much better than my old truck that got 8mpg no matter where you drove it:

    adam michigan karate monkey

  49. #49
    Aquaman
    Reputation: G_Blanco's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    419

    Minvan owner here

    After my wife totaled our Mazda Tribute when she hit a bear we bought our first minivan. We did not set out to buy a van it just worked out that way. I had a list of half a dozen types of cars and scoured the internet for them. We found the van on craigslist and lowballed em and got a great deal on it. Then added a hitch rack and Yakima box that were both from Craigslist and it worked out perfect
    I think the minivan and SUV are pretty equal in overall cost, environmental impact and safety. It just boils down to personal taste. My taste is practicality, reliability, and cost. I am not really into cool any more and I will be the first to admit the minivan is not cool.

    On a separate note my van was in the shop the other week and I rented the KIA Rondo. Despite that it looked kind of silly I really liked it. Lots of room and cargo space. Not bad power for a 4 cylinder. It looks like it will go into the list of replacements for my commuter car.


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