Shoulder pads, banana clips and leg warmers were all the rage in the '80s, when the minivan came to be. Those fashion trends fell by the wayside when the decade ended. The minivan hung on, but the '90s brought about a new breed of family-friendly vehicle – the crossover. The beginning of the end of the minivan. Maybe.
Two moms drive up to a soccer field. One mom pulls up in a minivan, the other in a crossover. Who's cooler?
Apparently, the crossover takes the cake as the trendy kid in town. The sales figures for these vehicles – sleeker-looking mashups somewhere between an SUV and a station wagon – accounted for 29.4 percent of U.S. auto sales in 2012.
Over the last decade, the crossover's sexy, "I'm ready for anything" look has gained popularity, leading to downward trending sales of the minivan – and its "soccer mom" stigma.
"I wanted the van when the kids were young. I really appreciated it for the remote sliding doors and so many convenient options," says Sue Clarke of Troy, a mother of two. "I did choose a crossover to replace my minivan."
But hold on to your steering wheels – like those comeback leg warmers, the minivan's not dead yet. This market segment grew by 12.9 percent last year. There's even a song celebrating the minivan, "The Swagger Wagon," featuring a pair of arguably hip young 'rents, that regularly gets hits on YouTube.
"I do like the functionality of my minivan," says Mary Jo Gaddie of St. Clair Shores, mom of Jillian, 9 and Robert, 21.
And Chrysler, often cited as the creator of the minivan, isn't throwing it in reverse just yet.
The automotive manufacturer seeks to woo back buyers with a more romantic look for one of its brands – either the Town & Country or the Dodge Caravan.
The brand that doesn't get the makeover will be reinvented and travel the crossover route.
Which one would you choose?