Along with our new baby, Helena, came plenty of stuff. I’m talking a stroller, a car seat, a portable playpen, toys, diaper bags and the list goes on.
Kara and I are finding that going for a short trip requires bringing much of that “stuff.” Our sedan isn’t going to work as the primary family car; We will need to get something bigger.
For many, getting a “family car” conjures up memories of the family truckster in one of my favorite movies National Lampoon’s “Vacation.” Chevy Chase takes his family across the country in a faux wood-paneled station wagon.
For me, the words “family car” brings up far more pleasant thoughts. We had something similar to the truckster growing up. My parents had three different Ford station wagons over the years, including one with that wood paneling like this one: Link to a picture.
Ahhh, the Country Squire option. Our station wagons are still etched in my memory. I remember the vacations we took in them, asking, “Are we there yet?” from the back compartment. I look back on those wagons and their vinyl seats with incredible fondness.
The Houses weren’t the only ones to drive these highway behemoths. Station wagons were all the rage in the 60s, 70s and into the 80s. They fit eight to 10 people easily and came in a variety of colors.
Then came the minivan. The minivan revolutionized the family car. Station wagons fell out of favor and families of the Reagan/Bush/Clinton era starting buying these vans with sliding doors, captain’s-chair seating and plenty of room. Chrysler was the pioneer of the minivan, and soon, all automakers were on board with a model: Link to a picture.
But families of the 21st century want something different. Minivan sales are falling and the new thing is the “crossover” — Ford and GM might stop making minivans altogether.
Crossovers are built on a car chassis, like station wagons, so they get better gas mileage than SUVs, usually with the security of all-wheel drive, and in some cases the room of a minivan. They’re also better looking than minivans. We kind of like this new crossover from Buick called the Enclave. It looks like, well, a cool station wagon!
I’m a little nostalgic and I want Helena to have wonderful memories of whatever car we choose. It’s kind of funny … what is old is new again. The crossovers of today, are sort of like the station wagons of yore. It’s nice to see this type of family vehicle back again, but let’s leave the fake wood paneling in the history books.
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More: WFSB.com’s Automotive Section