Due to obvious reasons, I began my Grand Minivan Challenge two days late.

On Friday, I packed up the two kids and headed to pick up our borrowed ride from Serra Honda.

Ali wasn’t quite understanding the concept of a car store, so I got grilled all the way there…

“So how are we going to pick it up off the shelf? Isn’t it too heavy?”

“We don’t have to pick it up – we’re going to drive it.”

“Oh. So they’re on the GROUND??”

Obviously, the kid isn’t too observant of car lots.

When we arrived and were being treated like royalty by the Serra Honda Man, all Ali could talk about was how extremely badly she wanted a smoothie, of all things.

(Enter SHM’s mental images of an entire grape smoothie spilled in the back seat of his top-of-the-line 2011 minivan…poor guy.)

I assured him that no smoothie purchases would be made.

Which made Ali immediately contrary.  The entire time I was strapping her into our borrowed car and sliding the door closed, she was calling out to him, “My Mommy’s Pilot is my favorite car here! I don’t want to borrow your Odyssey! MY HONDA PILOT IS BETTER!!”


She certainly didn’t win herself any Customer-Of-The-Year nominations.

So.  The Test Drive.


First of all, I will definitely award it Cool Points for the new body style.

You see, one of my readers, Angie, helped me dissect my subconscious dislike of the minivan shape.

If cars were a pair of jeans, then minivans most definitely have The Dreaded “Long Butt”.

I don’t know how I never realized that Minivans were Mom Jeans.

Caravan Rear

Long, flat butts all around.


As compared to an SUV, which has a much more stylish, curvy rear…


And then I realized: the fronts of minivans are no better – they’re…saggy.  Like, I-Nursed-A-Dozen-Kids saggy.


Now I’m certainly pro-nursing (OBVIOUSLY), but let’s not be in denial – it does cause more than a bit of saggishness.  And nobody wants their sag mirrored in the front of their car.

Even the older models of Odysseys have quite a sag to them.


…as opposed to SUV’s….yup – they’re perky.






And so, with that minutia of analyzing the plight of Long Buttishness and Saggyness in the Minivan genre, what I did appreciate about the 2011 Odyssey is that it’s shape is much less Mom Jeansy.

It has a nice butt…

…and it has an SUV’s level of perk. 


Here are a couple of things I didn’t like about it:

* Despite it’s generous number of cupholders, it did not have a cupholder within reach of a strapped-in kid.  In my Pilot, Ali has a cupholder AND a storage rectangle in the door.

(This seems trivial until you have a four-year-old drop her grape smoothie in the floorboard because she had nowhere to set it and got tired of holding it.)

* The driver’s area was much further away from the second row, making it very difficult to drive while holding Noah’s paci in to mitigate his favorite tradition of car screaming.  Once he is old enough to behave in the car, though, I might really appreciate that extra air space between us.

Here are some other things that I did like about it:

* The dashboard information panel was a geek’s paradise.

In the days before having the carry on an endless conversation about fairies and favorite colors while driving, I would actually entertain my mind by figuring my gas mileage in my head.  Now that I am not allowed that time of mental wandering, it was fun to be able to simply look up and see the glorious statistical heaven.

* That same geek-out stats screen automatically becomes a back-up camera when you put the van in reverse:

…as opposed to my Pilot, which, due to a LACK of backup camera, has a rear end that looks like this:


* The automatic opening and closing rear hatch.  My Pilot’s rear hatch is so heavy that it takes both arms to close it, so I can hardly use it anymore since I’ve always got a baby in one arm.  The Odyssey’s opens and closes with a click of a button.

* Instead of a sunglasses holder in the roof (which I always forget is there in my Pilot and spend 20 minutes searching for my sunglasses), it has a kid-mirror.  LOVE.

(Notice my arm? Yeah.  That’s how we roll. Car-Hatin’-Baby-Style.)

I was really hoping that the Minivan magic would extend to Noah and he would suddenly love car rides, but alas.  It was not to be.

Ali, however, had a change of heart.

After watching Tinkerbell in the car and discovering the fun buttons that open and close the sliding doors, she begged me not to take it back – Pilot Who??

But when we did return it, I think she got some superhero inspiration…



…I have a feeling that “Playing Spiderman” may be replaced with “Playing Serra Honda Man” at our house.

So. The bottom line…

Would I be able to drive a 2011 Odyssey without feeling like I lost my identity as a person?

As shocked as I am to say this, Yes.  It was cool enough that I could handle it. 

Does this apply to all minivans everywhere?

No.  I definitely did not become a Generalized Minivan Convert.

Would I choose a 2011 Odyssey over an SUV?

Not at this point, but maybe when the kids are a little older.  A comparably-priced SUV would have a lot of the same features minus the sliding doors, and although they were nice in tight parking spaces and in the garage, they didn’t make life that much easier at this time.  I think that when both kids can get in and out and buckled by themselves, sliding doors would be golden.

Am I going to get any new vehicle right now?

No.  Until Noah learns to enjoy the art of the car ride, I’ve come to realize that my Pilot, albeit painful to get him in and out of, is the best option – because I can drive and pacify simultaneously.

But the bottom line is, Honda totally deserves props for figuring out how to overcome Curse of the Minivan Long Butt and Saggy Front End, no plastic surgery necessary.  If only it were that easy in real life…

27 thoughts on “My (Three Day) Life as a Minivanning Mommy.

  1. I have a tough time with minivans because I drove a station wagon as a teen. They’re the same to me, BUT in terms of comfort during long rides and such, those things can not be beat. I rode in one to/fro NOLA last month, and it was wonderful.

  2. Thought I would let you know that my Expedition has a cool feature….on the 2nd row the middle seat individually slides up making it MUCH easier to reach those screaming babies (not that I know from experience or anything) :)

  3. we test drove an Odyssey a few weeks ago-and surprising I enjoyed the same features you did! (that kid mirror-totally created by a woman). Did you take yours grocery shopping? I did. And that was my selling point. When I can click a button and all the doors open the kids can hop in and i can click and close their doors while still loading groceries…in the rain-pure genius. but todd didn’t see that as a selling point to spend the money. =(

  4. Funny stuff, Rach. My van is definitely sportin’ some long butt. But then again, so do some of my jeans… Or my butt in my jeans. Or something. :)

  5. Whew! I’m glad to hear you are not converting!
    That means we can still poke fun at Lindsay for her minvan-love. :)

    Obviously since its just the two of us, we have no need for a van, but we sure love our Pathfinder! We have the No Minivan Pact in place for when we ever do have kids…I think those of us who grew up driving the minivans as teens are more averted to them as adults.

    And I really love how Ali has such brand loyalty…lol

  6. I hated my old car (hand-me-down from my parents) because it had holster hips. I strongly suspect the saggy front minivans subconsciously add to my disdain of them (as I most certainly require a perky vehicle). Well that, and the “soccer mama” stereotype.

  7. How about a Toyota Highlander? With the extra seat in the trunk you can haul two kids and two friends when necessary but on regular days you are in a perky SUV.

    1. I’m pretty sure the Highlander is the Toyota version of my Pilot (it has a foldable third row as well), so yes, that’s what I’m going to stick with for now.

  8. How in the world can you drive with your arm in the backseat for any amount of time? That has got to hurt!

    My Armada has auto lift gate, auto 3rd row folding, 10 cup holders (2 are within reach in the second row with the captain chairs), rearview backup camera, parking sensors in the front and back, Dvd player, and all that geeky dashboard information (isn’t it awesome). Just saying :)

    Now that kid mirror looks great, but not enough to make me buy a minivan.

    1. Yes, it is horrifically painful. But still less painful than listening to Noah’s car scream.

      The Armada sounds nice! The name also makes it sound like you’re steering a whole fleet of ships, though. ;)

  9. Haha…you make me laugh Rachel. It was a bit of a shock to me when my husband wanted to get a minivan last September. I’m only 25 and we only have one child (with another due in July), but I thought I was much too young to be driving a minivan. After testing some out, I totally saw the benefits of having one and caved. We’ve had our Kia Sedona since then and I love it. I love all the extra room we have when traveling mainly.

    Good luck with your testing!

  10. lol about Long Butts and Saggy end! Idk where my suburban falls…. I’m glad you semi-liked it! I don’t like minivans that much, I prefer SUVs or Trucks. :) The only minivan I like is the Toyota Sienna! Have you looked at that?

    1. No, I really prefer Hondas to Toyotas, and Odysseys to Siennas, despite Toyota’s awesomely genius You Tube Videos, aka Swagger Wagon. :)

  11. I loved this post! It was so hilarious! We have two kids and road trip a lot so we are thinking about getting a mini van. Right now we have a fashionable Toyota Camry and can’t seem to pull the trigger on actually buying a mini van. It seems like such a big step in the mommyhood direction that I don’t want to take. Having a van is TOTALLY like wearing mom jeans. So perfect!

    1. Good luck with your trigger pulling! I had a Civic before I got my Pilot, and I don’t think I could have done that with two kids!

  12. Hilarious post. I love the comparison of minivans to Mom Jeans. My dad told me that he and Mom were considering getting a minivan after they went on a long trip with friends who had one. That sounded so weird coming from the people who drove two-door cars for my entire childhood. I guess if we took a long trip we could borrow theirs and get the roominess without having to jump off the minivan cliff. :)

  13. Glad to see you enjoyed the all new Honda Odyssey! It’s a great riding vehicle that doesn’t lose cool points for being a “minivan”.

    I just wanted to address a couple of points I’ve seen here in the comments. The center “Magic Seat” in the 2nd row will slide forward a good 5-6 inches, making pacifying Noah quite a bit easier. Andthe 3rd row seats fold flat into the rear with just one hand. Granted, they’re not automatic. But they can be collapsed in about half the time of the automatic folding seats in the Toyota (not sure about the Nissan time, but I’m betting they’re similar to Toyota).

    But don’t take my word for it. Come by Serra Honda and check out the new Odyssey for yourself. :-)

    1. Thanks so much, Brandon!! After people started talking about second rows moving forward, I wondered if the Odyssey’s did too and I just didn’t discover it. Good to know – 6 inches makes a huge difference when you’re holding a pacifier in! Thanks again!

  14. Lol, love the mom butt comparison…so true! I have to admit that the minivan you drove definitely doesn’t look like the typical minivan, much more SUV like. That built in kid-mirror is awesome! As is the click of the button doors. I think that is my one and only dislike about my Pilot. I can close it with one hand but it is definitely a full body manuever. Not so handy. Maybe if you keep working on the car companies they will create the perfect SUVan!

  15. LOL – this is great, definitely the mom jeans of cars… I think we are about to take the plunge into the minivan (odyssey) world. With two kids that are older (soon to be 7 and 4) and the baby on the way, it is just a much more practical car than my pilot (and roomier)…. I am going to be very sad to let it go, but the storage the sliding doors and the ease of getting to the third row have sold me…. that with the HORRIBLE gas mileage of the bigger SUVs I would have to trade up to have the same space. I will NOT wear mom jeans however!

  16. Glad to hear you at least enjoyed your few days of minivanning! I’m loving the new design on this year’s Odyssey…multiple times I’ve seen them driving down the road or in my rearview mirror and done a double take because I couldn’t tell if it was a van or SUV at first. My CR-V has the mirrored sunglass holder as well, and I’m thinking that will come in very handy one day. :)

  17. I had to go back and re-read this after reading your recent Honda post and add my two cents about the Odyssey. I don’t know if these things differ from the 11 to 12 models, but that middle seat in the middle row, slides up and back to give you optimum kid reach.

    I really just love it so much and I was FIRMLY against vans. It is literally the nicest and most convenient object of any kind I have ever owned!

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