I have never made my personal distaste for the minivan a secret.  Nor have I hidden the fact that I desperately long to be able to take advantage of the awesome minivan superpowers – just without the sinking feeling that driving a minivan would inevitably cause in my soul.

When we added Noah to our family, my desire for an easier-to-use vehicle became even more intense.  As much as I liked my Honda Pilot, getting two kids + infant seat + kid stuff + groceries + myself in and out was beginning to age me faster than driving a minivan would.  And the heavier he gets, the more painful it gets – my poor shoulders need a massage every single night.

The closest solution I’ve found to what I really want, which is the mythical and as-yet-non-existent SUVan – was, as I shared last year, the Ford Flex.


(Which almost every one of you hated with the same amount of passion that I despise the minivan.)

I believe you all used words like “Box on Wheels” and “Stationwagon” – but you that’s just because you’re not seeing it’s British Characteristics.  It’s totally the Mini Cooper’s Baby Daddy – a Maxi Cooper.

FordFlex copy

Also? Because of the Kia Soul commercials with the Hamsters car-dancing in the boxy little Kia, every time Chris and I sit in the also boxy Flex, we simultaneously begin bobbing our heads rhythmically and imagining that we’re hamsters with an odd resemblance to Eminem.


And really, who doesn’t want to pretend to be a rapping hamster?

But my love for the Flex came with three unconquerable problems:

1  They’re a Ford.  And I’m a Honda girl.  Or at least Toyota.  Maybe even Nissan.  But NOT Ford.

2.  As I said, everyone hates them but me.  Which means that there are very, VERY few used ones available.

3.  They just came out in 2009 and are ludicrously expensive, so even buying a used one was way more than I wanted to pay.

So the Flex got shelved in my “impossible” file.

And after I resigned myself to the death of a dream, I resumed my whining on Twitter for Honda to make a true SUVan.

And because of my incessant whininess, the one and only Serra Honda Man himself issued me a challenge.

Who is the Serra Honda Man?

Here’s an introduction – and if your curiosity is killing you after the first installment, many more episodes can be found on YouTube.

I would say I know him in real life, but that wouldn’t be accurate.  Like Spiderman, he keeps a low profile when in superhero form.  But I DO know his altar ego – who happens to be the General Manager of the same Serra Honda.

At any rate, he issued me a challenge: drive a 2011 Honda Odyssey for THREE DAYS and still be able to honestly say that minivans make me feel old.


Although I feared that my core beliefs about life might be shattered, I accepted his offer.  And so, I will be driving a brand new, with that awesome new-car-smell, 2011 Honda Odyssey from Wednesday through Saturday.

And then I will tell you what happens to my grasp of reality – if anything.

Will I stand behind my firm beliefs in the need for an SUVan and hatred of the minivan?

Or will I crumble to the temptation of magical sliding doors and kid-helpful minivan superpowers?

Will the Odyssey make me feel like a Hamster with Rhythm too?

Or will it make me instantaneously age by 10 years as I’ve always feared?

Chris says I’m totally going to get spoiled rotten.

What do you say?

Disclaimer: This is not a review, a promotion, or an advertisement for Honda, Serra Honda, rapping hamsters, Ford Flexes, or even the Serra Honda Man himself.  I am not being compensated in any way, but am simply risking my understanding of life in the name of science and blogging.

61 thoughts on “Belief System Status: In Peril.

  1. I predict that you are going to love it. I was so hesitant to get a minivan, but I’m a true convert. We have a Chevy Uplander and LOVE it.

    Once you go minivan, you never go back! (At least until the kids are older!)

  2. Interesting….I would love to test drive the SUVan because it looks so cool! Btw, have you seen the vehicles that look like cubes?

    1. I LOOOVE the Cubes!!! I especially love that crazy window in the back that wraps around the car. If they made those in Rectangles (i.e. bigger), I’d totally want one.

  3. I have to admit, I don’t even have kids and I kind of like driving a mini-van. We rented one to go to the beach with some friends a few months ago and I felt like I was queen of the road!

    It totally could have been that I just enjoyed sitting up higher but I must say, I was super impressed with all the fun gadgets!

    Girl, you can totally rock a mini-van!

  4. And therein lies the rub of having more than one kid… As the proud parent of an only child, I can purchase vehicles without the soul-crushing conundrum of mini-van aging complicating the decision tree (did that make sense at all???). I would offer you a recommendation of the Escape but it’s a Ford, so no dice.

  5. I think you will end up loving it. I don’t have kids but both my parents and Sister has a minivan (not Honda though) one is a Chrysler and the other a Toyota. And I have to say even though I love my little Nissan Sentra, when my Nephew is who is 2 is going somewhere with us it is much easier to get all his stuff in the van. Really you don’t feel old or uncool. They have so many gadgets and stuff now some have more stuff than a regular car.
    Plus you probably won’t be needing a shoulder massage everynight.
    Good luck and enjoy!

  6. You will love it! My minivan is the only car I’ve ever owned that I adore almost more than the children in it. Totally worth feeling older for :).

  7. I am so, so with you on almost every level. I am a Honda girl too, hubby and I currently own a Honda Civic and a Toyota Tundra. In the past I have owned a most-wonderfully-beautiful & sporty, blue 2003 Civic Coupe, a Accord Sedan, and a useful (but ugly) Element. I will NEVER drive a minivan and am completely on board with a HONDA SUVan. Thankfully, I only have one child so I don’t have the dilemmas that you do. All I can say is, I’m so glad you won’t be buying the Flex, not because it’s pretty hideous, but because it’s a Ford! :D You are probably going to love the Honda Odyssey, but can you REALLY get over the fact that it is, most definitely, a minivan? And if you can, and you buy one, will you go into a state of self-loathing for sinking to the place you swore you wouldn’t sink to? Just trying to be helpful! :D

    1. Yes, these are all thoughts that must be considered, for sure. But two kids does make it intensely harder to stick to one’s vehicular convictions.

      My favorite car ever was my dark blue 2006 Honda Civic. And Chris drives a Toyota Tacoma – so we really are almost exactly the same!

  8. BTW, I don’t dislike minivans for the “old” feeling, I dislike it for the stereo type regarding who drives them, and I don’t like the “look” of minivans.

  9. Ha! I literally JUST posted a blog on my car buying experience, and I have to be honest: even with two kids, a minivan was nowhere close to being on my list, much less in close proximity to the top of said list. Can’t wait to hear the results of your experiment.

  10. I think you will love it! I drive a mini van and you feel like there is so much room. I am looking for another and have seen the new 2011 hondas and I am soooo jealous. Is it going to be top of the line?!

  11. I’m interested to hear how this experiment turns out. I have already resigned myself to the fact that our next vehicle will be a minivan. Adding the third child in June will push us to the max, even with the third row seat.

  12. I’m really interested in what you’ll think. I keep having that nagging thought that I very well may need to get something in the SUVan category before too long, and have the exact same feeling about a minivan bringing about a slow and painful death to my meager soul.

  13. I applaud your bravery for trying it out! :)

    I was always against the stereotypical “soccer mom” SUVs — until I sat down in the one my mother-in-law has and drove it for a week. I loved it so much that I bought my own two weeks later! (and just bought another recently!)

    Here’s to hoping for a great trial! :)

  14. We upgraded from a 1998 Nissan Pathfinder to a 2011 Toyota Sienna. Oh my – it is amazing! We test-drove the fully loaded one, could not justify the extra cost, but went with the LE AWD version. SO amazing, SO much room, SO awesome. I promised myself I would never own a mini-van… but really – how much more awesome can it be than a Swagger Wagon? http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBcQtwIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dql-N3F1FhW4&ei=aCu3TbW0BIXc0QHE49DqDw&usg=AFQjCNECxn2WkvhKA1o-YXpHPWWZDG5yCw

  15. I am with you on hating the minivan so I am looking forward to hearing your review. Of course…driving a 2011 anything would be a great experience!

  16. Aren’t those rapping RATS?

    I have a Odyssey (2007) and love it. You’ll get over yourself and embrace the convenience of it after a day or two-you’ll see!

  17. As one who also struggles with what a minivan does to her “image” ;), I think you’ll be missing out if you don’t love it.

    The space, visibility, gadgets and ease of a minivan cannot be matched. You’ve got style points elsewhere…just capitalize on those!

    Too bad Serra Honda Man doesn’t want to giveaway a minivan via your blog. Now THAT would be awesome!

    1. Yes, a minivan giveaway would certainly be a hit, wouldn’t it? Maybe he wouldn’t notice if I gave away the one he’s letting me borrow? ;)

  18. The main reason to love the minivan is when Ali is older. Your vehicle will become the main transportation for the group of pre-teen/young teen girls. If you’re quiet enough you will learn EVERYTHING that goes on at school – who likes what boy, who doesn’t like boys yet, what teacher is strange, what subjects they think are cool, what they’re interested in now (note..this changes daily) ..the list is endless. DO NOT pass up this opportunity!

  19. A minivan will not age you. It will show that you have matured to the point where need outweighs a teenagers notions about what defines you. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. If you let me ride in it thursday night, I promise not too say I told you so when you buy it!!!!

  20. Oh girl, you are gonna love it! I have been driving a 2002 Honda Odyssey since 2001 and I am gonna drive it till it dies. It is road-worn and weathered on the inside. Believe me, our “clean” van would be someone else’s “dirty” van, but it is still going strong.

  21. Living outside of Detroit, I probably have more experience with Ford than most. I have heard from countless people that they were unsure about the Flex at first. Yet after the first week, I have not heard of one single complaint about them. Every person who has one, RAVES about it. (And again living in Michigan I probably know more people who own them than most.)

    A minivan is a minivan, no matter how many gadgets you put inside.

    1. I really, really REALLY wanted a Flex – I’d really gotten over the Ford thing and had even embraced it. But the prices – oh my. Also, if I was going to get one, I wanted one with second row bucket seats so that the third row was accessible. But apparently not many people took that option, because they’re really rare to find. But really the deal breaker were the prices. (sigh)

      If I moved to Michigan would the be cheaper?? You know, like Birkenstocks are a fifth of the price in Germany? :)

  22. Oh dear. This is very grave indeed.

    I actually liked, and still do, the Flex. But your list does look unconquerable, as you said. Especially if it’s too expensive. You’ll always regret going above budget.

    I predict, though, that you will like the mini-van. Back in the day, a friend and I swapped my convertible for her mini-van for a day, not for an experiment, just because I needed to haul some people. And I have to say I liked it. It drove like a car and had all the stuff. (I remained awesome on the inside.)

  23. Noooo! They are pulling you over to the DARK SIDE! Don’t do it! You will love it just because it is a brand new car! The Pilot is pleanty big for two kids! We plan on keeping ours when/if we have a third and possibly even a fourth! Just going to pack them in there like sardines. :)

    We have some friends who have three kids (ages 6, 4, and 2) in a older Ford Explorer! That’s the second smallest SUV (with no third row seat)!!! I figure if they can manage that I can fit my two into a Pilot easily.

    Well, so long, my future van-driving friend. I hope the transformation is not too painful.


  24. Yep, you are going over to the dark side. I don’t know anyone that test drove one and could just walk away from it, which is why I refused to even look at one before I bought my Armada. :)

    If you decide to buy it, you may want to consider negotiating over email. I have a friend who bought one last week. She would get quotes from several dealerships in the near vicinity and then email them all with the lowest price to beat. It was awesome. Not sure if this would work given you know the manager. But you could make a fun spreadsheet!

    You may want to push that test drive back a day. I would hate for the storms or hail damage the borrowed car.

      1. Whew! I am so glad. I kept thinking about you and this possibly not even bought damaged van. Can’t wait to read the review on it.

  25. Love the new family picture!
    That is so cool that the honda guy is going to let you test drive a brand new Odyssey for 3 days, bring it to small group Thursday night, I’d love to check it out!
    I predict that you fall even more in love with all the minivan super powers, but still won’t be able bring yourself to be one of those minivan owning mamas :)
    We hope to be minivan owners by the end of this week! Can’t wait to test out of of it’s super powers!

  26. I wish you all the luck in the world with this one. I was literally forced to give up my beloved PAID-FOR Explorer when we got pregnant with Jake, because we couldn’t fit three car seats across the rear seat. I made the move to an Odyssey … never even test drove it. Was so disgusted that we couldn’t afford the gas on a monster SUV that I had to go to a van … that I drove to the dealership (was about as pregnant as I am now and threw up multiple times during the “wheeling and dealing”), made the deal and left.

    The salesman drove the van home behind me as I led in the Explorer, so I literally never drove the van until the next day.

    Long story longer, I STILL MISS THE EXPLORER. The van is fine; it’s actually got more bells and whistles than I’ve ever had in a vehicle. But it’s a VAN. I’m not quite sure I’ll ever get over it. ;)

  27. I sooo wouldn’t be any help in this department since I’ve loved mini-vans forever. It’s probably the efficiency freak in me but they are just so handy. I like SUV’s but need one that will fit more than 5 people and LOTS of groceries, but since I don’t care for the huge SUV’s a mini-van is my option. And I love mine. Hope you find what you’re looking for though!

  28. I just can’t want to hear the results. It is great you are getting to drive one and that will be the deciding factor. You will know if you love it or hate it for sure.

  29. I must have missed the minivan phenomenon, or else it never hit my part of the country, because all my age-appropriate car fear is reserved for the dreaded soccer mom SUV. :) We seemed to skip right from wood panelled station wagon to SUV on the Island where I grew up, and so never picked up on the mini van stigma.

    The only good thing about the SUVs, that I can remember, is that sometimes my mom let us climb out of the car Dukes of Hazard style when we were so boxed in on either side by huge SUVs that it was impossible to open the doors (very small parking spaces back then). /grin Every time I park next to one now I have to stifle the urge to climb out my window and slide across my hood.

    I can’t wait to hear about your expeirence with the Oddessy… it looks very stylish (for a van) in the picture.

    1. Funny! SUVs are super awesome and totally acceptable down here. But I bet our kids (the mini-van avoiding SUV drivers) will feel about SUVs what we feel about minivans!!

  30. I drive a Nissan Quest (2006) and love it! Whenever the wheels finally fall off (which should be any day now that it is paid off) I totally want a Nissan Armada. It kinda looks like your SUVan idea.

  31. We have a Town and Country and I love it. We had a Jeep Liberty before and had to get bigger when we had Gracie. Ryan wants to get me a 4 runner or expedition but I am perfectly content with my mini van……until I drove my brother Tundra (truck) now I want to drive a massive truck….felt like the king of everything and everyone hauling down the road in that bad boy!! Enjoy the next few days!! I think you will like the roominess if anything!!

  32. Oh my! You will LOVE IT! We had a Rendezvous prior to Baby #3 which they don’t even make any more. It is an SUV that is very van like. BUT, we only kept it about a week or so after bringing Baby#3 home. We bought a Honda Odyssey and it is AMAZING! Oh the Room! We were like little kids excited over the MANY neat little features it has. LOVE being able to adjust the seating so many ways and being able to get from the front seat back to the back seats so easily which is so convenient with a baby. Excited to see what you think of it!

  33. I can’t wait to hear about your experience with the mini-van. I predict that you’ll be able to appreciate the gadgets and convenience but won’t be ready to buy one yet. I don’t think I could bring myself to go the mini-van route. Of course, I only have one child, so I don’t have quite the struggle I would have with multiple children. What do you think about getting a large SUV — like a Toyota Sequoia? I drive a 4 Runner, and it’s been great, but I could see how it would be nice to have something bigger if I had more kids. It now has 253,000 miles on it, and we’re planning to drive it until it falls apart, so if it hasn’t fallen apart by the time I have another kid, I guess I’ll have to make do. :) I also have a Pontiac GTO that I bought before I got married. I knew it wasn’t practical, but I wanted to get a fun car at a time when I didn’t have to worry about practicality. I’ve had a lot of people assume that I would get rid of the GTO when I had Rachel, but I’ve kept it becuase it’s a good date night car, and if I’m going somewhere by myself, it’s fun to drive it. Would you keep your Pilot if you got something else? You could at least feel cool knowing that you have a “cool” vehicle even if you aren’t driving it at the moment.

  34. We bought a vehicle after baby #2, since we knew there would be a third coming along someday. I REFUSED to buy a minivan. There was no amount of convincing anyone could do to sway me. So we bought a Ford Freestyle. They have since been renamed by Ford to the Tauras X and honestly I’m not even sure they still make those…but I do enjoy my car. It is a type of SUVan but without the magical sliding doors and even though it has room for passengers, it lacks in storage space for long road trips (which we take often). I now WANT a minivan! But can’t justify it as my Freestyle is perfectly functional. Good luck with your 3 day test drive. I’m jealous. My friend has a Honda Odyssey that I have driven and I love it!

  35. can’t wait to hear your review… my husband SO wants a flex (or a minivan would be fine also) I HATED it, we went and looked and I didn’t like it to begin with, but after sitting in it, now way I can deal with three kids in it, my pilot is still a better bet. I HATE minivans, but I told him I would rather drive one than a Flex – yeah it was THAT bad (for me)… so at this point I am holding strong with my pilot and we will fit three seats in there I tell you, we will do it!

  36. You’re going to love the comfort… and will always be cool! I figured it out: The problem with the minivan is similar to Long Butt Jeans: just look at the back end of a minivan and the back end of an SUV. ’nuff said.

  37. I am in agreement with your hatred for the mini-van, especially the stereotype that goes along with it. BUT, I only have one child, so who knows how I’ll feel if/when we have another. We have the Lexus RX now and I absolutely love it. It has a ton of space for groceries, strollers, the car seat, and it’s super comfortable. It’s my favorite car that I’ve owned. We have friends with 3 kids and they drive a Toyota Highlander and like it.

    I will say that if I ever were to get a mini-van (when hell freezes over) it will be the Honda or the Nissan ones. :) Can’t wait for your review!

  38. I LOVE my Honda Odyssey! My kids do too. They are now 19, 16, and 13. There is so much room. When I purchased mine, my oldest was adult size while I still had child sized kids. We all fit so comfortably. Many of the other vans we tried were only made for little kids in the back. I love that I can take my seats out and lay the back row down. I keep thinking I will get rid of it and get something smaller, but I just can’t part with it. It is so comfortable and versitile. Did I mention it has 10 cup holders! I know, overkill but so handy for all kinds of things. I love that I can sit in the front seat and open both of the back sliding doors, or open them with a push of a button when my hands are full. It drives nice, rides nice, and is a lovely blue. Oh, and prior to this I had the Honda Pilot. I love my Odyssey!

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