Miserable middle-aged man is melancholy in his minivan

Forty-something. Two kids. Three or more if you’re really lucky. Mortgage. Family vacations. Endless kids’ activities. Ridiculous costs for everything. A job that’s completely not what was your intended career path. A loving wife who directs all of your tasks and activities. Let’s not even mention your sex life. This is your life. 
Then, there is you. A former athlete with a 40-inch waist. Gray hairs are creeping up if not already here. You’re only balding if your genes are just right. Your knees and back make noises. Deep down inside you is an eager twenty-something version of your own self. You see him, you feel him, you believe in him… until you look into the mirror with your glasses on. Crap. You are your father. You have become Clark W. Griswald but Christie Brinkley in a Ferrari ain’t there. 
To keep moving this life forward you need a proper vehicle. Get over it, a Miata isn’t the answer, it’s a cry for help. You need a proper minivan. Yes, a minivan. And now there is a man just like you who can tell you that the Chrysler Pacifica is the right minivan for you. 

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35 responses to “Miserable middle-aged man is melancholy in his minivan”

  1. JayP Avatar

    Not me.
    Gone this long without a minivan. If I go van, I’m getting the real honcho.

    1. nanoop Avatar

      I don’t mind minivans, I can still look over their roofs.

      1. Zentropy Avatar

        Surprised that Opel can still be driven, smashed up as it is.

        1. nanoop Avatar

          The current Opel lineup here is pretty attractive to many UV buyers (Mocca, Crossland, Grandland), and given the lead time for car development my guess is that GM has a lot to do with it.
          The old Vivaro, being a shared flight between Renault and GM commenced years before the Opel merger, sold a million per year – I guess that’s a success Renault would like to continue.
          Does anyone know how Vauxhall came up after the deal, are they still GM or Renault, are they under Opel or above/next to it?

          1. Rover 1 Avatar
            Rover 1

            Vauxhall remains as ‘British’ RHD Opel. The JV with Renault will end, and a new van based on a Peugeot/Citroen platform will go into production. Holdens and Buicks based on the current Opel platforms will stay in production until replaced with GM based platforms, which IMHO will be inferior. Don’t believe me? Compare an Impala or a Malibu to a Regal, or a Cruz to an Astra.

          2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

            The very existence of Vauxhall continues to surprise me. It must be entirely down to the perceived ‘loyalty’ of certain ‘patriotic’ buyers. However, I would have thought that the ‘German-ness’ of the Opel badge would bring a wider appeal.

          3. Zentropy Avatar

            I was actually just poking fun. I’ve never seen one of these before. Other than the character line that suggests the top face of the cabin has fractured and might slide off, I like the styling. Boxy is good. It’s much more interesting than the U.S. minivans.

          4. nanoop Avatar

            Those are around since more than a decade here, millions. I can’t fathom how you’d do without them!
            Yes, the design is not quite on par with neither Renault nor Opel standards…

  2. Fred Avatar

    Yea it served it’s purpose, so now I have a wagon, which in all honestly isn’t that far removed from a Minivan.

  3. Sjalabais Avatar

    Can I get “The Emasculator” as a flashy chrome font sticker? Asking for a friend.

  4. Alff Avatar

    Rented one for a family vacation last year. While my cars are significantly “cooler” this was nicer than all of them. I wouldn’t kick one out of the driveway.

    1. nanoop Avatar

      Don’t fall for the rental car effect: every time I’m driving a Cheap Unattractive Vehicle (CUV) my thoughts go “this isn’t so bad, it’s actually nice” – yeah, because there is no 18 months of garbage accumulation, and they vacuum it for me…

      1. Alff Avatar

        Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t lay out the cash for one. Nevertheless, we’ve had at least one minivan in the drive for most of the last 25 years. The Pacifica was way more plush than the fleet-spec vans my wife uses for her floral business.

  5. GTXcellent Avatar

    Hmmm, I can’t decide if I should use the John McEnroe “You cannot be serious” or do I use Robert Hays from “Airplane” questioning Leslie Nielson with a “Surely you can’t be serious”?
    Either way, you’re joking, right Kamil? Right?

    1. Kamil K Avatar


      1. Kamil K Avatar

        Hey! Wait a minute! I have a head full of beautiful brown hair, I’m waist 34(ish), and i have a cute wife. And a 4Runner. And an Integra. And two shit race cars! I’m doing fine.

  6. Harry Callahan Avatar
    Harry Callahan

    My 40’s were wonderful. Raising my kids was the most rewarding chapter of my life. Paying a monthly mortgage is far better than paying rent. Vacations and kid’s activities were highlights of my life. My wife and I do well managing our lives together, and the other part ain’t bad either. So glad this is my life.
    Do I regret driving a 2001 Mazda MPV those years? Not in the least. Sure, it was slow, had an awful 4-speed trans. But my family had some GREAT adventures in that thing. Hauling around the Pinewood Derby track for Cub Scouts may have been the highlight. Maybe everyone should drive Mazdas…..?!

  7. GTXcellent Avatar

    ‘Put it in D and you’ll never feel it shift. You’ll never feel much of anything anymore’
    huh, maybe this Emasculator edition is the right answer.

  8. Zentropy Avatar

    I’ve kept the waistline fairly trim and have all of my hair, but otherwise, you pretty much nailed it.
    I long ago embraced the minivan for practical reasons, but I wouldn’t be driving one if we’d stopped at two kids. But regardless, I wouldn’t drive a crossover. A “real” SUV, sure, and definitely a legitimate station wagon (if RWD or AWD).
    Either way, the Pacifica isn’t right for me. I’ve rented them several times and came away unimpressed. The transmission and touchscreen ergonomics drove me nuts.

    1. Wayne Moyer Avatar
      Wayne Moyer

      I own a 2012 Grand Caravan and looked at the Pacifica one time when I was at the dealership. More as a of case because it was there than because I wanted to upgrade. I found it to be overly plasticy in a way that the Caravan isn’t. Which is really saying something. It just feels like there was a lot of cost cutting in the vehicle. I couldn’t see any justification in the price.
      Which is probably why the Dodge is still for sale along side the Pacifica and you have to ask yourself a question. How many Pacifica vans have you seen?

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        In my mind, the Odyssey is hard to beat. Or the Flex, for that matter. But one thing that annoys me with these electric doors: Some owners here say that opening/closing them by hand will break them. That can’t be true, can it?

        1. Wayne Moyer Avatar
          Wayne Moyer

          I’ve had mine for five years now and it had 30k on it when I bought it . I have 112k on it now I have used the manual mode on my doors plenty of times over the years. Mostly the drivers side. This is the part where I’m supposed to say “And no issues.” but won’t. My drivers side door works about 90% of the time. You just go pull the door handle to close it and it creeps along like its off track except that it isn’t. Once it closes the electronics work again.
          Chrysler quality!

          1. Sjalabais Avatar

            That right there is the true emasculation in my mind: It’s probably okay to have self-closing doors and whatnot for the few occasions one can’t close the door conventionally. But creating something that then doesn’t work right if you just want to close a door by hand…makes med oddly mad. And customers pay for it, of course.

          2. Wayne Moyer Avatar
            Wayne Moyer

            I bought the van used. Very lightly used in this case. So I didn’t have a choice on things like the doors. My Ford Freestar and Mazda5 both had manual doors and I wanted that on the Dodge. Less electronics to fail. This was the right price.

        2. Zentropy Avatar

          I’ve heard that manually operating power sliding doors (and power hatches) is not recommended, but I’m not sure if it’s outright damaging or if it just throws off their calibration. I was hauling lumber in our minivan one day and manually pulled the hatch down as far as possible after loading. After getting home and removing the lumber, it took the hatch a few cycles to “understand” where it needed to be. Of note, my old (2004) van had a manual cutout switch (allowing the doors to freely be moved), but I don’t find one on my 2015.
          If the Odyssey had been revised when I bought my ’15 KIA, I may have gone with the Honda, but the 2015 Odyssey felt dated, flinty, and noisy in comparison. The new model looks nice. (Both my father and sister own Flexes, an SEL and Limited EcoBoost respectively, and I like them, too.)

      2. Zentropy Avatar

        I was pro-Caravan until renting one during our recent Pacific NW vacation. I like the overall design of the older van (boxy beats blob any day), but the materials and fit/finish in my opinion were at least a decade behind the times. The interior of the Pacifica (even in rental trim) was vastly superior, and the NVH was much more refined. The Caravan didn’t lack for power, even though the engine sounded like a giant squirrel-cage fan at full tilt.
        If I were a dyed-in-the-wool Mopar guy with a family, I think I’d have to go with the Durango, despite the fact that I think most SUVs/CUVs are packaging failures.

  9. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    I made it through my 40s and two kids with a hatchback and a sedan. All I needed was a roof rack for the bikes. I also still have a 36″ waist so I feel neither middle aged spread nor the need for a minivan. What I want is another pickup truck.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      I’m currently jonesing for a pickup, too. Either an old full-sized, or a new-ish small one.

      1. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

        Yeah, i’d like to find a 95 or 96 F-150 with a 300 6 and a 5 speed, the official truck of the middle of nowhere.

  10. theskig Avatar

    I’m 39, with a 4yo daughter and still rockin’ my 3 door red GTI.
    Fu** the family!! 🙂

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      With one kid, maybe even two, you can drive whatever you want. Get to three or more, and the field narrows considerably.

  11. bluehillsmike Avatar

    Skipped minivans entirely. Went from 83 Custom Cruiser big rwd with back facing third seat to Suburbans and never looked back. All kids grown up still drive Denali XL–and F350 King Ranch, with a bit of modded Stang GT thrown in for good measure. Trying to talk grown up musician son into Caravan but he can’t stomach the thought either. Looking for used Aztek for him. Heisenburg!

  12. mdharrell Avatar

    Wow, this makes it sound awful to be in one’s forties. I’m glad I’m fifty instead.

    1. kogashiwa Avatar

      You skipped them?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Sometimes it feels that way.