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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Minivans RULE + How New Car Smell is Like Cilantro

Most years when we go out east for our annual summer adventure, Toyota generously lends us a car to try out on the trip. This year we drove a Sienna and, as a result, I have decided we need to have a discussion. A minivan discussion.

why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

First, a confession. I drive a minivan. (AND my girls play soccer. Go ahead, call me Soccer Mom. I can handle it.) Nate drives a Toyota Prius and I drive a Honda Odyssey, so we pretty much fit into all kinds of middle-aged Californian stereotypes. 😉 Anyway, back to minivans. We bought the van about 6 months after Owen (our third child) was born. We went to the lot to check out the Pilot with ZERO intention of buying a minivan. Guess what we ended up driving off the lot? That’s right. We gave in. We decided that it was ridiculous to pay more money for a car (in this case, an SUV or crossover with the optional third bench) that didn’t really work for our family of 5. So, we bit the bullet.

I am SO glad we did. I have zero qualms about driving a minivan. It’s the best for about a million reasons. You can push a button and open all your doors! The doors slide! There is TONS of storage space even when you have 8 people sitting in your car! And people TOTALLY think you drive the coolest looking car! (Okay, maybe that last one isn’t exactly accurate…)

why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

Years ago when I started my relationship with Toyota they lent us Sienna. It was before we had our own minivan and, quite honestly, I didn’t love it. The user interface just wasn’t that great, as great as all the extra space was.  Fast forward 6 years or so to this summer, driving the latest Toyota Sienna. I love it just as much as my Odyssey. In fact, I don’t even know which one I like more! Plus, the Sienna comes with an All-Wheel Drive option, which is ideal if you live in a place with weather. So my previous advice of, “The Odyssey is totally better” is now “Just choose the one you like better for whatever small reason you can find because they are equally awesome.”

Here are a few things in particular we loved about the Sienna.

1. Two sunroofs! We marveled at the gloriousness of the second sunroof!

why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

2. The “infotainment” interface is great, and I like the display better than the Odyssey. Plus, the positioning of the screen is perfect so there is never any glare, making it visible at all times.

why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

3. The memory positions for the drivers’ seat are super handy.

4. This particular Sienna came with sensors that alert you to people in your blindspot as well as beep when you’re backing up, etc. We could have gotten this on our Odyssey if we wanted but opted not to spend the extra money. That said, I LOVED the feature very much when I was using it and it made me wish I had it at home.

5. I love Toyota’s keyless entry and startup system. Here’s how it works: if you have the key on your person, when you are close to the car you just touch the door handles and the car unlocks. It’s so super duper awesome and works beautifully. You can also lock the car by touching a spot on the handle when you get out. I pretty much just left the key safely in my purse the entire trip, it was great!

6. There is just so much storage space. I’ve already mentioned this, but it is worth mentioning again. And it’s very easy to put the back seats up and down if you want even more storage. We have driven the Toyota Highlander for a few summers and, as much as I loved that car, with 3 kids and all our luggage it was PACKED. We never even came close to filling the Sienna on this trip, even with other people’s luggage thrown in with ours.

why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

7. Lots of space for “tickle trains.”

why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

8. The Sienna really is the Swagger Wagon. It even played awesome old school rap for me.

why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

The model we were driving did not have an eighth seat, which we could have used a couple times with all the family we were visiting. But other than that, I have no complaints. The Sienna was fabulous!

why we love the toyota sienna and minivans in general!

Oh, are you wondering why new car smell is like cilantro? My sister-in-law Cora, my mother-in-law Pat and I all thought the car smelled really strong. It kind of got into our nasal cavity, like we were breathing it. But NO ONE ELSE knew what we were talking about. We decided it must be similar to the cilantro gene, you know the one where some people think cilantro tastes like soap? Apparently new car smell has a similar effect on a small percentage of the population. 😉 Like how I brought it all back to food, there? I can ALWAYS bring the conversation back to food.

Okay, time for some CONTROVERSY. Do you drive a minivan? Are you adamantly opposed to them? Do you secretly wish you had one but don’t have the guts to drive a Swagger Wagon? Even my sister-in-law who has no children said that the minivan she drives for work is the BEST. See? EVERYONE loves minivans! That’s my supposition, anyway. I think the people who say they don’t are just lying 😉 So, speak up! Tell us what you think!


  1. 1

    I can see the appeal of it – the space, the convenience, the ease, but I.JUST.CAN’T.
    LOL, I see myself as the eternal party girl of 25….even though I’m a happily married mom of 40-something. hahaha!

  2. 2

    I love my minivan! I’m on my second Grand Caravan and can’t imagine driving a smaller car with less room. Many of my friends have moved onto smaller crossovers now that our children are in their teens but not me!

  3. I absolutely love my 3rd row SUV, but sometimes I think the convenience of a mini van might be nice.

  4. 4

    I desperately want a minivan. They are awesome. And it would totally come in handy occasionally for work. I’m 28, single, and have no kids of my own though, so I just can’t justify the expense when I have a perfectly good CRV that is paid off.

    • my friend wendy was the same way – she even had a CRV! she eventually had 3 kids and was able to “justify” it, but she wanted it long before that point!

      yeah, stick with your paid off car…but once that one dies, take the plunge! 😉

  5. 5
    Kim from PA

    We do not have children, so a minivan does not seem like the right move for us BUT, I do a lot of business travel and rent lots of vehicles. I will gladly choose a minivan for long trips (and have many times)over a car any day. And, I never have a complaint about driving it…I have rented Sienna’s and liked them. Minivans work well when I have to transport clients & coworkers too!…..always enough space for luggage and adult passengers.

    Your cilantro-new car smell analogy is too funny. I drive a Jeep Trailhawk with leather seats. It’s just about a year old now and my husband says the leather stinks and is too strong. We need to always have a window down or he gets nauseated.

    I don’t even notice it.

    • okay, that is SO funny with your husband and the smell! it really was cracking me up, I asked everyone who got in the car if they felt the same way I did and everyone except cora and pat were like, um, what are you talking about? 😉

  6. 6
    Lynn BB

    We got a Chrysler minivan when my oldest was 2 (now she’s 23). It served our family well! In fact, my son has it at college now. It’s hanging in there (barely) and he loves having it. He’ll be moving himself from one apartment to another thanks to the van and uses the removable middle seat as a chair in his room.

  7. WOW I love how your luggage fit in the back!! what a fabulous spacesaver!!

  8. 9

    We are a minivan family! We love ours! It is great for kids, family, outdoor adventures, and home projects!

  9. 10

    LOVE all the bells and whistles—so much nicer than in my minivan days 🙂

  10. That storage is insane! And I love the double sunroof!

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