Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Drive a Minivan and I Can Parallel Park

2013 Toyota Sienna. Photo courtesy Toyota

Yes, I drive a minivan. No, I never thought I would. Trust me, when I was younger I hated pretty much every minivan on the road. They would swerve suddenly, cut me off, not pay attention to the road, etc. I pretty much thought minivan drivers were horrible. Oh, and the guys driving minivans always wanted to race, which I found incredibly hilarious.

Now I find myself driving a minivan. I'll be honest, it's not a blast to drive. Instead, I have it to be practical, plain and simple. I don't swerve all over the road, but I still see plenty of minivan drivers who do. I also live in a more urban area and so maybe I'm not your typical minivan driver.

Several days ago I was reading somewhere (I don't remember where now) some other automotive writer going off about suburban minivan drivers who seemed lost in downtown areas and struggled to parallel park. I thought it was interesting and it didn't hurt me because I already know I'm not your typical minivan driver. I can actually parallel park my vehicle, without parking sensors or a backup camera. When I first bought my minivan it took me a little time to get used to the vehicle's dimensions and blind spots, but I've driven much larger vehicles in the past.

So after I read this piece about minivan drivers not being able to parallel park, I was sitting outside of a row of shops in the downtown area here. I was parallel parked and was waiting for my wife. I started to notice compact car after compact car trying to parallel park nearby. Almost every single one tried to pull into empty parking spots nose first! One woman put her PT Cruiser up on the sidewalk trying to straighten herself out after pulling into a parallel parking spot nose first.

So I guess stereotyping people by the type of vehicle they drive doesn't always work, but I still give other minivans plenty of space for their erratic driving.


  1. After putting 256K on my wonderful '97 Previa, I decided I needed to begin again with less miles on the car and a few more bells and whistles so I just purchased a 2006 Sienna AWD XLE Ltd with about 77k on it. It's wonderful, but I'm totally embarrassed trying to parallel park it. I could slip the Previa into a space with only inches to spare and parking the Sienna makes me feel (and look I'm sure) as though I have early onset Alzheimers. I know the Sienna is about a foot longer and a half foot wider, but come on! I've been parallel parking for 50 years with all kinds of cars and vans but this one is really tough. Of course it doesn't help that the sonar is squawking at me the whole time. Any suggestions??

    1. The Previa was an incredibly tight-handling minivan, plus it featured better visibility than other large vehicles, so it's understandable that you would be struggling. I learned to drive big delivery trucks, so parking a minivan isn't too hard. With a longer, bigger vehicle, you need to make your steering wheel movements more pronounced and come in at a sharper angle, which is tricky since you also have to be even more careful so you don't take out some poor little Chevy Aveo. I would say find a place to practice the technique.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Steven. Your tips sound useful ~ I'll try them out next time I need to p-park. My grandfather taught me to parallel park between two construction cones and wouldn't let me drive on the streets until I had it down. Maybe it's time to find some cones and get to work. Practice will probably help. Thanks again.