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Family getting bigger? It might be time to start using the "M" word… Minivan

by Mark Jenkins

As time goes on, families get larger and your “baby” (that amazing convertible coupe) has been replaced.  Now you have a real baby and you need to find something with more storage, more seating, and an excellent safety rating.  It might be time to start shopping for a… minivan.  There, I said it- minivan! Features on minivans can run the gamut from bare-bones boxes to limousine-like luxuriousness.  In fact, there are so many options and choices that it may take a little research to figure out what you want and what you need.

Happy Family in a minivan from Woody's

Minivans are more family friendly than SUV’s
Lots of growing families are looking for a vehicle that will fit their expanding requirements.  Certainly large SUV’s with a third row are worth looking at, and they’re certainly up to the challenge.  But think about this:  minivans offers lots of family specific features not found on other vehicle types.  Sliding doors make it super easy to get the kids in and out of that back row, and it’s nearly impossible for excited kids to ding another car in a parking lot with a sliding door.  Also the van just has more storage space and the larger windows give the kids something to look at instead of the back of a headrest.  I prefer the looks of an SUV over a minivan, but when it comes time to refuel, the minivan is your family’s friend. says the minivan’s average fuel economy is 19-24 combined mpg’s, while the SUV can be significantly less.  Another drain on the family budget is insurance.  The family van definitely costs less to insure than a flash SUV.

Choose the best features that fit your budget
Only you know what your family really needs.  The best way to figure out what fits your family is to get out there and check out some vans.  If you haven’t been #carshopping in a while, some of these features might really surprise you.  Some vans offer in-floor storage for those extra things like sporting equipment, or maybe a built in vacuum for those really messy toddlers.  Safety is always a consideration, so maybe side airbags in all 3 rows, or an “all-around view” camera is what you’re after.   Also, three zone climate control and a rear entertainment system can go a long way during a family trip.

Rear Entertainment System

Is a rear entertainment center worth the extra cost?
If you’re spending lots of time in the van with smaller kids, the rear entertainment screens can be an amazing distraction for them.  Their value quickly becomes apparant if you spend any time on the highway, but they can be just as useful in day to day driving too.  You’ll definitely appreciate them if you’re waiting in the car with 3 kids while mom or dad is stuck in line at the grocery store.  If your kids are a little older, you may be able to get by with less expensive options like a 115V power outlet or two in the back seats.  Older kids are just as happy with tablets and handheld devices, and if they can plug them in… perfect!

Consider the number of passengers, all their stuff and how much driving you’ll be doing.
Still haven’t got is narrowed down yet?  You can easily narrow down a wide field of choices by considering your passengers, payload, and time in the van.  You may not have a family of 7 or 8, but choosing a van with a 7-passenger or 8-passenger capacity might make the difference between nice trips and riots in the back seat.  7-passenger seating means the second row has individual captain’s chairs for the passengers instead of a bench seat.  More seating is nice if you need it, but those captains chairs are much more comfortable.  Are most of your miles going to school and sports practice, or are you taking lots of long trips to grandma’s? Over the life of the van, the difference between 25mpg and 27mpg on the highway can add up to a lot of money.

There are a ton of minivan choices out there, but making an informed choice and getting one that completely fits your needs really isn’t that difficult when you have a 10-acre megalot to browse.  You can check out a ton of different configurations that will fit any budget at the Woody’s Automotive Group!   Since Woody’s is the #HomeOf ZeroFees, you can see your out-the-door price on the web, before you ever talk to an advisor.