We purchased our first parent-mobile in July 2007: a white Subaru Forester. It's a practical car — some call it a chick car. It's safe, efficient, durable and handles well through all seasons, especially winter. We purchased it when we had our first child, and it's performed well through our second. We'll hold onto our Forester, because it's a good car and has low mileage. However, with two child car seats and endless gear for even small road trips, limited seating and cargo capacity are becoming big issues.
I hate to admit it, but we're the prime demographic and life stage. We've talked just a little about a minivan.
With our interest and lifestyle in a lukewarm shopping mode, I've become aware of minivan manufacturers' recent marketing campaigns that attempt to reposition the dorky parent-mobile as cool. Most notable is Toyota's Swagger Wagon campaign for its Sienna minivan. The company launched a website and series of videos featuring a rapping suburban mother and father who are in love with themselves and their minivan…and then their kids. Minivan manufacturers are resorting to all sorts of similar stunts to inject some excitement and coolness into this otherwise sleepy vehicle category.
But we need fewer advertising stunts and more beef. Minivans, while practical, have become more luxurious with features like modular seating, nicer sound systems, multiple viewing monitors, coolers and food compartments, leather seating, slightly larger engines and remote-control sliding doors. But they're still boring and conservative. My good friend claims the Honda Odyssey won him over when his toddler proclaimed the cockpit looked like a spaceship. That's fine, but he still drives – as my wife calls them — a loser cruiser.
Minivan Design Transformation
We need a transformation in minivan design. A really cool minivan would have edgy styling — inspired by the aftermarket and customization specialists from Pimp My Ride (like they did with this 1998 Plymouth Voyager). A cool minivan would have accessible, modular components to customize your family transporter (like the Scion and BMW Mini car lines do). Think retro grills, window graphics, spoilers and wings, spinning rims, and lowrider suspensions. In addition, minivans should take a page from Airstream, which has packed some of the most clever amenities into its portfolio of retro-style RVs.
Until then, any vehicle suggestions? We're not SUV people.