Why Are Minivans Considered Uncool?

2018 Honda Odyssey white minivan near the water and bridge in Hong Kong

If you ever shied away from buying a minivan because you didn’t want people to make fun of you, you really missed out. So many people consider minivans “uncool”, but the logic behind their reasoning doesn’t stand up. In this guide, I’m going to break apart this stigma.

People consider minivans uncool because they’ve historically been big, too heavy, underpowered, and used to transport kids to soccer practice. The fact is that minivans have come a long way over the years. They are highly practical vehicles that offer incredible luxury and comfort for affordable prices.

I’ll start by presenting some factors that explain why minivans have a bad reputation. From there, I’ll talk through some points that actually make minivans some of the coolest vehicle options on the market.

Are Minivans Actually Uncool?

I know that I won’t change the market’s opinion with a single article, but I don’t think minivans are actually uncool. I think they’re highly practical and they’re a very useful car to own.

Fleet of Mercedes-Benz black minivans parked

Unfortunately, practical and cool aren’t synonyms. A lot of people understand what minivans are used for, and use that reasoning to explain why minivans are uncool.

Throughout my life, I’ve seen minivans die away, and it’s pretty upsetting. This year, there are only 4 minivans to choose from in the American market, and that’s down from 5 in 2020. I know this means that minivans could be ushered out due to their unpopularity and stigma, and I would hate to see that happen.

Why Minivans Get a Bad Rap

Looking back, I can come up with a few reasons why minivans are considered “uncool” by a lot of people today. I grew up riding in the backseat of a minivan, so I can attest to all of these reasons.

They Used to Be Very Underpowered

Back in the day, minivans were incredibly slow, too bulky, and very heavy. Their 0-60 times were “eventually” pretty much across the board.

I don’t know exactly why this was the case, but it was my experience in every minivan I drove or rode in. It seemed like the priority was to fit as many people and cargo in a vehicle and keep it as inexpensive as possible. As a result, the performance was the last consideration on the list.

2022 Honda Odyssey minivan close up of the engine in Hong Kong
2022 Honda Odyssey – Engine

As you probably know, underpowered vehicles are typically uncool. We like to go fast and take hard corners, and that’s simply not possible with minivans.

Over the years, the performance has improved quite a bit. It’s at the point now where 0-60s can fall in the 7-8 second range. It’s still not impressive, but it’s better than it used to be which is good enough for me.

There Aren’t Many Options

As I mentioned, there are very few options when it comes to minivans. Compare that to the hundreds of options you have for sedans and SUVs, and you’ll realize more about the cool factor.

A fleet of Chrysler minivans outside a car dealership

Since there aren’t a lot of options, you’re going to make compromises when you buy a minivan. When there are tons of options, you can essentially hand-craft the car you want to drive. With minivans, you get whatever is available, then you learn to deal with it.

As a result, people were forced into a vehicle that they didn’t really want, simply because it had the space for their family. If you can think about it from the reluctant parent’s perspective, they would probably find the vehicle pretty uncool since it doesn’t have the features they’re looking for.

They’re (Generally) Not Aesthetically Pleasing

I’ll try to say this without upsetting any minivan owners: minivans are really tough to look at. In general, the body styling is abysmal, and they look horrible. On the inside, it’s pretty hit or miss. I’ve been inside minivans that feel like spacecraft cabins, with tons of technology and comfort scattered across the cabin. In others, it feels more like a holding cell that you have to deal with until you get to your destination.

Styling is not high on the list when it comes to designing a minivan. Also, it’s hard to make a big vehicle look really nice without sacrificing other qualities. For instance, you can make a minivan more aero and look sporty, but you’ll lose some headroom, elbow room, and cargo space.

2014 Chrysler Voyager driving down a street with restaurants in the background
2014 Chrysler Voyager

Since the minivan is meant to optimize space and comfort inside, the styling has to take a backseat.

If a car doesn’t look cool, it’s hard to convince someone that it’s cool. The only rare exceptions are “sleeper cars” that are intentionally designed to look shoddy from the outside and then blow you away with the interior and performance.

In general, since minivans look bad from the outside, a passerby will assume it’s an uncool vehicle.

They’re Customarily Used for Families and the Elderly

Next, I want to talk about the stigma. Since minivans have so much space and comfort, it makes sense that their biggest customers have families or transport elderly people around. In either of these cases, you’re lumped into an “uncool” space.

A minivan made for elderly and hanicapped people with the door open and ramp visible

It got to the point where minivans are simply called “Soccer Mom Vans” since they are often times used to drive kids around. A stigma that’s not nearly as cool as the BMWs and Audis of the world.

Cool Perks of Minivans

As I mentioned, I happen to think minivans are pretty cool. They serve a great purpose and they’re the best at what they do. If you need to be convinced, check out this section. I’ll talk about the different perks and features that I find so cool about minivans.

Tons of Storage

Above everything else, a minivan offers a ton of storage. It has more enclosed cargo space than any consumer vehicle on the market. Most minivans even have floor sections that flip open and offer even more space.

2018 Honda Odyssey cargo space trunk of the minivan
2018 Honda Odyssey – Cargo Space

If you’re going on a road trip or moving out, find out if any of your friends have a minivan. It will make the experience way more enjoyable.

Do you know what’s uncool? Having to take three trips hunched over the steering wheel with a sedan filled with junk from your apartment. The cooler option is reclining in your minivan and getting it done in one trip.

Very Comfortable Inside

I also need to revisit the idea of comfort. As you might have noticed, more expensive vehicles tend to be more comfortable. It’s become a standard that if you spend over a certain amount of money for a vehicle, you’ll be greeted with great climate control and leather and wood trim.

With minivans, these features come standard on even the least expensive options. You could wind up spending less on a vehicle and getting more comfort.

Interior view of a 2022 Honda Odyssey minivan with reclining rear seats
2022 Honda Odyssey – Reclining Seats

On top of that, you have the unavoidable fact that minivans are equipped with more headroom, legroom, and elbow room. You could fill a minivan up with basketball players and you won’t hear any complaints during the whole trip.

After getting in a minivan, you’ll likely refuse to sit in uncomfortable seats in the future. That might mean making your car seat more comfortable, or just sticking with minivans in the future.

Plenty of Seating

A minivan can comfortably seat between 6 and 8 people, with an emphasis on “comfortably”. To get a 3-row SUV that does the same, you’ll need to spend more and sacrifice a lot of space. In fact, the third row of an SUV is customarily tough to get into and pretty uncomfortable.

Mercedes-Benz Vito Tourer 124 CDI
Mercedes-Benz Vito Tourer 124 CDI – Interior

With a minivan, every seat in the cabin is comfortable. With elderly passengers, you won’t have to worry about them being uncomfortable, regardless of which seat they’re in.

The coolest guy at the get-together is the one that can fit the whole party in their vehicle as they go out to dinner or the next destination. It avoids the uncomfortable conversation of figuring out who is driving who and which cars have to be taken.

They’re Inexpensive

Another thing to point out is that minivans really aren’t that expensive. You can get a brand-new Kia Sedona for an MSRP of $32,300. That means you can easily leave the dealership paying less than $30,000, as long as you know how to negotiate

If you compare that with a 3-row SUV like the Nissan Pathfinder, you’ll see MSRPs upwards of $34,855. You’re also compromising on the cargo space and comfort as you look for SUVs instead of minivans.

Honda Civic MSRP sticker price cost close up

With that money you’re saving, you can buy upgrades for your minivan that make it even cooler.

The used market for minivans is also very inexpensive. They tend to lose their value pretty quickly, which isn’t great news for people who buy new minivans and want to resell them. However, it’s great news for buyers. It means you can pick up a 5-year-old Sedona for around $16,000 (according to a search on CarGurus).

They Have TVs in the Cabin

A lot of modern minivans have a ton of technology in the cabin. One of the best inclusions is TVs on the back of headrests and coming from the ceiling. You can use the built-in disk player to watch movies, hook up to cable stations, or even play video game consoles on these TVs.

View of the rear of a GMC Savana Conversion Van with a large LCD TV for the rear passengers luxury
GMC Savana Conversion Van – Interior

I always get excited when I pass a minivan and see them playing something on the onboard TVs. It’s like the passengers are flying first class on an international airplane — I can’t help but get jealous.

Great For Camping & Travel

Growing up as a kid, my parents used to take me and my siblings to Florida in a Minivan. There was always plenty of space for all of us not to mention the amount of cargo my mom would pack for the trip. Trust me, there was a lot.

A couple relaxing in a red minivan in sleeping bags traveling camping with the rear back door open near the Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland

Minivans make a fantastic family transport for any type of vacation. Whether it’d be for just transportation and storage, or actually setting it up to sleep inside, it’s easy to re-configure the seats or altogether remove them if needed.

Retro Vans are Definitely Cool

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention cool vintage retro vans. The one that pops up in my mind almost immediately is the Volkswagen vans from the ’50s & ’60s. Synonymous with surfers, fun, family-friendly, and definitely cool-looking.

Young people having a good time on the beach during summer road trip vacation travel in a VW Volkswagen vintage retro minivan

Although there were many changes throughout the years since they were produced for decades, In my opinion, the earlier versions have the most appeal for many. They’re definitely underpowered, but don’t forget, they’re from an era where driving 80mph on an interstate wasn’t the main goal.

Vans like these are really made for taking the backroads and sightseeing the beauty along the way. Modern minivans share the same essence as these vintage vans, except they have all the modern amenities to keep you comfortable and safe on the road.

Conclusion

I just talked about why a lot of people consider minivans uncool, and why I have a problem with that idea. Minivans are incredibly practical, inexpensive, have plenty of room inside, and offer some of the most luxurious seating for 3-rows of passengers on the market.

To learn more about different car myths, explore the rest of my blog. I also have a list of recommended products that can help you care for your vehicle in the future. Leave a comment below if you agree or disagree with what I said in this guide — I would love to hear your opinion.

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Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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