Are minivans safer than SUVs

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About once a month someone says to me, "Now that I have kids, I think I need a minivan, but I really don't want a minivan. What should I buy?" Early in my career my answer was, "Well, you should probably buy a minivan." Most folks don't like this answer, but more often than not it's true.

Many times when I have recommended minivans, the result was a nasty look and a "potential client" that has become a "lost client." Now I when I get the question, I run off the normal bevy of mid-size 3-row crossovers: the Toyota Highlander, the Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9 etc...all of these vehicles are fine M.A.Ms (Minivan Avoidance Machines). I have brokered deals on dozens of them. Even though my job is to help people find a vehicle that will suit them best, I can't tell someone what to buy. But seriously parents...get a minivan, here is why -

Sliding doors

It is such a simple concept, yet so wonderful. You hit a button and they open or close if you so desire. If someone parks too close to you at the mall, you can still slink into your van. The sliding doors combined with the lower ride-height also means that little ones can get in and out of the vehicle on their own a bit easier than a taller SUV. This means less lifting for you and every opportunity you can take to save your back from hoisting 50+ lbs youngster is worth it. Also, sliding doors gives you easier access to the 3rd row seat.

Captain's chairs

Most minivans will give you the option of getting "captain's chairs" for the second row seat. I say this is a must-have feature. Children especially between the ages of 5-10 will benefit from a "separation zone." Do you really want to hear, "Mom...he is touching me" on the way to soccer practice? Yes, some of your mid-size and large crossovers can also be had with 2nd row captains chairs, but I can tell you that the DMZ gap between your youngsters is much smaller.

You don't really need four-wheel-drive

I am well aware that last winter was brutal and that snow crippled places as far south as Atlanta. But unless you were driving BigFoot (the monster truck) a 4WD vehicle was not going to save you in the Atlanta gridlock. Nor will it necessarily make you "safer" in all the other areas that get inclemate weather. Maybe 15% of car-buyers actually need a legit 4WD vehicle. Even the states that get regular snowfall are much more equipped at clearing the roadways for safe travel than places like my home state of NJ. Also, if and when the epic blizzard does hit, chances are you are going to stay home. But if you insist, know that the Toyota Sienna does have an AWD option.

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