And now for something a bit on the lighter side...
(Hey, Stu talks about his vans, so why can't I talk about mine?)
Here's my former "ride" -- 2004 Toyota Sienna CE, 8 passenger model. Great van, treated us well for almost 5 years, and saved my bacon on June 20 of this year...
Attachment 35915Attachment 35916
As you can see, crumple zones work.
I wasn't even going that fast, but both airbags did their thing:
I'll tell you, though, I didn't realize that airbags destroy the dashboard completely. The passenger side airbag punches right THROUGH the dash when it deploys. As soon as my insurance agent heard that both airbags had deployed he told me to start shopping. But I said he hadn't even seen the car yet. Didn't matter, he said, if both airbags go, the car is likely a write-off.
(ps: I'm fine, I was alone in the van, I'm not even sure that I touched the airbags. The other car had a football-sized dent in their bumper, and the muffler hanging a bit, but she drove it home. Mine had the airbags deploy, the hood fold in half, the bumper flipped down, and the rad smashed back, and was towed to the salvage compound. Part of the issue, I think, was that my front end nosedived and went under her bumper.)
The next 6 weeks were a headache. First I had to negotiate a fair price with the insurance agent, which went okay but was just tedious. Then my wife and I quickly realized that 2nd hand 8-passenger minivans were just not really common. That rather made things a bit easier, as I negotiated a new purchase over the phone + email without even driving a van.
How could I do that? Like this:
Not much reason to test-drive, I figured, if you're just buying the same van again. Yup, just got it a bit more than a week ago, 2010 Sienna CE, 8 passenger.
Happiness is a odometer with almost nothing on it (that's km, by the way)
Couldn't get one off the lot, though; it had to come from the factory. 7-passenger vans are everywhere, but the 8-passenger option is just not common. Hence the 6 week wait.
People ask us why we insisted on an 8-passenger. Here's why:
With 2/3 of the rear seat folded, I can still fit four kids in the back, and still have bucketloads of cargo space. We find it to be extremely versatile, I don't understand why it isn't more popular.
And here's one little idea we picked up off the web:
That is a 5' length of clear vinyl carpet runner -- the kind with all the little bumps/nubs on the bottom that people sometimes put on their stairs to protect the carpet. We cut this to fit in the two back rows, and hopefully will help keep the dirt/sand/etc out of the carpet. We'll see how that goes.
So, not quite as funky as Stu's tiny little microvans, but I like it fine.