We’re looking for a mini-van or equivalent, and it seems like the industry really wants to sell us something less useful for more money.

While our Audi’s been in the shop, two of the replacements were mini-vans, and we had an epiphany when we put in the two kids in car seats and there was still room for luggage and camping equipment. So some sort of loaf-of-bread-shaped vehicle seems to be in our future.

The invaluable Consumer Reports Cars makes a convincing case that the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey are pretty well the cream of the mini-van crop, with the Hyundai/Kia Entourage/Sedona being worth a look. The Toyota looks much nicer but they say the Honda handles a little better and can turn off half its cylinders while cruising, to save gas. Not that either of them is a gas-saver. They’re pretty reasonably priced though.

Well, I like cars and I like driving fast, so I wondered what was up-scale from the vans; something that might be a little less ugly and a little faster and a little slicker. The answer, unfortunately, is SUVs.

I hate SUVs with a passion; I am not willing to spend a penny for the ability to drive off-road because I don’t, and they’re ugly and pretentious and overpriced and generally stupid. But if you want to go upscale and still want seven seats, you’re looking at an SUV.

There’s one interesting option, the Toyota Highlander, which you can get with a hybrid engine that’s received good reviews and gives you good mileage around town, which where we’d be, mostly. But it’s got 38 cubic feet of cargo volume compared to the Sienna’s 70. Hrmph.

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September 09, 2006
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