Sunday, July 10, 2011

Badass Minivan

"So we bought a minivan. No kids, but we own a minivan. Go figure."

The Minivan
That was my post on facebook yesterday and judging by a few comments, I got some raised eyebrows. "Why in the world would someone without kids ever own a minivan?!" Well there are reasons, both practical and indulgent. Yes, indulgent, but I'll get into that later.

First off, the vehicle that we replaced was my 2001 Ford Ranger pickup. I'm going to miss that pickup, but it was tired at nearly 128,000 miles. It still ran like a champ, but there were suddenly more than a few problems with it -- a slipping transmission being the most significant. Also, this truck was seldom compatible with city living/driving. It was great for those hauls to the city dump every so often, but as a daily commuter, it was awful. Poor gas mileage and a pain-in-the-neck in small parking lots -- with an extended cab, it was a long truck! -- made me curse the vehicle more than praise it. The writing was on the wall; it was time to replace the truck.

Next, it would be nice -- and less expensive (probably) -- to buy a car. However, most sedans seat 5 adults maximum (4 comfortably). My wife owns a receptive tour company (KBC Tour Company); a number of times per year she would have a need to provide a tour to 2 couples or a family. Our other vehicle -- a Mazda Tribute (SUV) -- was just too small. In these cases she would be forced to rent a minivan and the her profits (if there were any) would plummet. She could not cost-effectively conduct business by having to rent a minivan every time she had a group between 4 and 6 people.


There. I've said it. I've always been a pretty practical guy and these things are wonderfully practical. Good driver visibility, cargo carrying capacity (remember, I'm replacing a pickup), decent fuel efficiency, and they are comfortable. I don't like all minivans. It was only until Chrysler and Dodge came out with their current versions of Town and Countries and Caravans that I thought minivans became mildly attractive. Despite all their practicality, I wouldn't have considered a minivan until these models were introduced. The T&C is a little more well-appointed than the Caravan, but I like 'em both.

Puppy Bailey!
We spent the morning and the better part of an afternoon at Schlossman's in Brookfield considering the differences between the models (and prices!) and we finally came home with a 2011 Town & Country Touring model (link). The thing is awesome. I've not had a vehicle with this many features. It may be a pedestrian, suburban vehicle, but it has the feel and styling of a higher end automobile. Particularly cool is the 30GB hard drive that I've already loaded with a bunch of my favorite tunes and the picture viewer that now displays Bailey's face every time we turn the key. ("Turn the key" is figurative. All you have to do to start the thing is press a button. That's going to take some getting used to!)

Despite what should be my midlife crisis, I've never been motivated to own a "sexy" vehicle. My ego has zero connection to the type of car I drive. I'd rather arrive at my destination safely, comfortably, and with the ringing of heavy metal still in my ears.

This probably means only one thing: I've already passed midlife and am now just comfortably settling into being old. ;)

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