For decades, minivans have been the ultimate family car, a milestone in the journey of parenting. Practical, convenient (sliding doors!), and spacious, they long have been used for shuttling kids to soccer practice, sleepovers and camping trips, hauling groceries and transporting the dog to the vet, the floor more often than not likely covered in goldfish crackers, soda spills and other unidentified substances.
While minivans are still around, there are fewer models to choose from, and Fiat Chrysler’s decision on Tuesday to stop making the Dodge Grand Caravan in 2016 due to declining sales seems to punctuate the end of an era.
Scorned by many but beloved by others, we asked our readers to share their minivan memories:
"As a parent of twins and former GMC Yukon owner, I don't have a clue how I'd survive without my sport van aka Honda Odyssey. When you have two babies in car seats, you can't really open the doors yourself," said Sheryl Plocher. "And now that they are two years old (and I have a 7 year old), they climb in by themselves. What other vehicle has doors that open with the touch of a button, the roominess for cargo aka diapers, strollers, and groceries? I vowed to never own a minivan, but I never imagined I would end up with twins either. It's a blessing to have one, even though I feel terribly uncool."
David Obelcz has used his 2005 Saturn Relay FWD3 for everything from commuting to running errands to hauling his kayak. "It has proven invaluable for moving and cargo hauling, and I have on occasion used it to carry as many as seven people," he writes. "Snow, rain, hail, mountain passes, blistering heat, long highway drives, hopeless stop and go traffic — it just keeps running, and has proven comfortable for all. Although rated as the worst used vehicle you can buy by Consumer Reports, it has proven reliable, and is close to 150K miles."
Mary Galbreath of Dallas says her family is on its third minivan. "Our 2nd van was a Dodge Grand Caravan and unfortunately it was a lemon and had so many problems. With a family of 6, we put many miles on it taking kids to activities, taking the team places, taking the kids' friends somewhere with them. We love our van, but I do wish they had better gas mileage."
Sarah Zylstra Meyer of Columbia, South Carolina, shared her photo of their 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan during a Georgia snowstorm and says her son had fun "brushing" the snow off. "We love our van, lots of space and great for weekend trips," she writes.
Susan Sanchez-Alegre bought a 2004 Honda Odyssey new when kids were still in car seats. "10 years and 160k miles later we had to say good bye. It was the saddest day ever when the kids tried pulling off stickers they had placed on the back window. Our Honda was the one thing that remained constant over the years of our growing family."
Not to mention a minivan looks right at home parked in the driveway.
"Our Honda Odyssey is the best family car hands down," writes Casey Makel. "Doubles as a party bus for parents night out too."