I’ve never had anything against minivans. Maybe it’s because I drove my mom’s minivan a lot in high school, or maybe because I’ve just always driven cars for their function and economy over coolness. (Except, I did have a 1985 Bronco II when I was in college. Even though the paint was peeling and — with no warning — my rear right wheel fell off while I was driving down the Interstate, it was still a pretty awesome car.)
That’s right, we bought a minivan. And when we did it, we cried zero tears for our youth or coolness.
Tom and I have been looking forward to this for years. We have a sedan and, even though we completely love it, after we buckle two kids into the car seats that are five times bigger than they are and then pack in 15 requisite Lightning McQueen toys and 32 dolls and doll accessories, plus diapers, wipes and emergency snacks and sippy cups — there was barely space for Tom and me.
In fact, one day soon after we told David about the baby, we were driving and David piped up, “Mommy! When the new baby comes where will it sit? There’s no room in our car because all my toys are in it!”
We love our minivan, and not just because we now have plenty of space to fit a pony in the back if the mood strikes us.
Through a car-buying-expert-friend, we got inside intel that the best time to buy a van (or car) is right before the New Year, so even though we were planning to wait until closer to the baby’s arrival, Tom started researching. I let him know early on, my only requirement was that it had heated seats. Tom was much more picky and checked on things like mileage and model year. Actually, he checked on a lot more than that. I know, when I say “research” you’re picturing an evening with Kelly Blue Book. But what I’m talking about is hours and hours spread over several painstaking weeks. There were emails and phone calls and vans transported across state lines. There were spreadsheets — multiple complex spreadsheets that contained, as Tom said, “Everything I could ever want to know about buying a minivan.”
Which, to me, meant there was at least one column labeled: Seat warmers?
After all that research, we decided on a Toyota Sienna. Red, because it’s David’s favorite color. Actually it’s maroon, and it actually is just a coincidence that the van we wanted happens to be David’s favorite color. But that doesn’t stop me from saying, “David, what could you possibly be whining about? Remember, Mommy and Daddy bought you a red minivan. Eat your broccoli or we’ll switch it for purple.”
Now that I’ve been driving it for a few weeks, I have a question for car makers: why don’t ALL cars have sliding doors? Never again will I have to gently open my car door and rest it against the car next to mine while I try to squeeze an infant seat out of the car. Never again will I worry about my toddler, or a strong gust of wind, slamming the door into the car parked next to us. Sliding doors make so much sense.
We bought the van through Carmax, so we had tons of awesome vans to choose from. Speaking of, we had a great experience at Carmax. Huge inventory with lots of new vans coming available, lots of help finding the right one (but not too much help if you know what I mean), amazing warranty options, and the whole hassle-free pricing is awesome — it really takes a lot of the stress out of the process. Our car-buying experience was really easy and really great. The kids even got two new toy cars of their very own.
When we completed the purchase and loaded everyone up for the first time, I turned around in my (heated) seat and glanced at the Cheerio-free seats, the toy-free floor, and asked the kids, “Are you guys so excited to trash this car?”
They totally are.