They say the two happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the day they buy their boat and the day they sell it.
By Susanne Kerns
I think the inverse may be true for minivan owners: I begrudgingly entered my life as a minivan owner ten years ago, but grew to love the comfort, space, and flexibility it offered. It was surprisingly sad to say goodbye when I recently traded it in for a new car to enter my next stage of family chauffeur duties.
Our new car had big shoes to fill: I still wanted the flexible seating (the third row was a must) and cargo space of my minivan, but was looking for something a little more stylish to celebrate our new stage of life: having kids who are old enough to open their own car doors without the risk of causing body-damage to the car parked next to us. Our solution: the Volvo XC90. After breaking it in, I can confirm it was a perfect choice or our family.
Volvo XC90: the Perfect Minivan Replacement
Here are the top five reasons we chose, and love, our Volvo XC90 – priced from $48,350 and up– for graduation from minivan life.
1. Tons of cargo space – Or at least a half-ton. That’s literally how much this half pallet of sod that I loaded weighed. Even the guy at the turfgrass company couldn’t believe I was able to fit in ninety pieces of sod (and still be able to safely see out the rear-view mirror, in case any police officers are reading this.)
2. Plenty of human space – Our kids are 15 and 10 now so although we no longer need a car that accommodates the space and installation-contortion requirements of car seats, we still need the flexibility to carpool several sweaty friends, and their equipment, home from lacrosse camp. The XC90’s third row was a must-have for us and still leaves room for storage in the back.
3. So beautiful – The first time I configured my car on the Volvo website and saw the final result, I actually gasped. The design, trim and color choices are gorgeous. After much hand-wringing, I went with the blonde interior and am so glad I did. The main deciding factor was when I was cleaning up my minivan for trade-in, I bought this “Car Guys” leather cleaner and was amazed by how it erased ten years of mistreatment and neglect of the seats. I knew if it could wipe away a decade of goldfish and dirty shoe residue trapped under car seats that wiping away a little sod dirt would be no problem. Plus, Volvo’s Denim Blue metallic paint color makes my heart go pitter-patter. Do I feel a little shallow for caring so much about looks? Yes. But she’s also beautiful on the inside – where it really counts.
4. We loved our first Volvo – Back before our minivan, when I was five months pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I did the overseas pick up of a Volvo V50 which I drove for five years until my son was born and we went into full minivan mode. Aside from it being dependable and fun to drive, I always loved how “solid” it felt. No parts every got wobbly, nothing felt plastic or cheap. Everything felt sturdy, well-made and much more expensive than the actual price of the car. Side note: if you ever have the opportunity to do the overseas delivery for a Volvo, do it. You get a low, no-haggle price on the car, plus a free trip to Sweden. We kept waiting for there to be a catch, but it was just a wonderful opportunity to us to have a special experience with our new car.
My own not-necessarily-logical reasons
After a month of researching and test driving every car in the three-row SUV category, we had narrowed our options down to the Volvo XC90 and the Audi Q7. The final decision between these two cars came down to two personal-preference issues.
First was the placement of digital consoles. The Audi Q7 has a screen that pops out of the top of the dashboard, which I’m sure some people love, but I found it distracting to have in my peripheral vision. This was the same reason I ruled out the Lexus, (that, and because the front grille design made me feel like it’s angry at me. Like I said, these are the “not-logical” reasons.)
The main je ne sais quoi reason is impossible to nail down to one particular feature. The best explanation I’ve found was when I was doing my car-buying research and read an article comparing these same two cars, someone mentioned that they felt like the Audio Q7 is a really beautiful office and the Volvo XC90 is a really beautiful living room. It may not be quite as sleek or nimble, but it has a sink-into-it feeling that I prefer.
The Car is My Second Home
My car does essentially serve as a mobile living room for our family and dogs. It doesn’t need to be sporty or break any 0-60 records. It does need to be safe, comfortable and a place I actually enjoy being during long waits in the school pick up line. (For ultimate “waiting for your kids” comfort, I highly recommend upgrading to the Inscription model’s four-way power-lumbar seats.) Despite all the luxury features of the car itself, I have to admit that my favorite busy-mom luxury feature is that the Volvo app on my phone pings me when I forgot to lock the car and lets me lock it remotely with the push of a button.
Whether you consider luxury as having the space to haul literal tons of garden supplies, or a cul-de-sac full of kids or one important client you’re schmoozing on the way to a fancy dinner, the Volvo XC90 is a great option for those of us whose families are outgrowing our minivans.