In favor of Vans

The folks at Vox Nova have previously taken issue with my characterization of them as Marxist, even though most of their members are pro-liberation theology, they have a picture of Marx on their banner, and their very name, “New Voice,” implies marxist progressivism, like there is a “new voice” in Catholicism as opposed to the “old voice,” which is outdated and pre-Vatican II, etc.

So, there’s a pretty heated voice over there right now against SUVs. The question of a van versus an SUV is not really addressed, that I can see, from skimming the 160+ posts.

Generally, if the question were “SUV vs. van,” I would argue that an SUV is a very impractical machine. It is mostly bulk and has little usable space.

However, it is amazing the dirty looks, horn honks, etc,. we’ve gotten since we’ve been using a handicapped equipped Chevy Express 3500.

Recently, I took the kids on an outing. Because of the size of the van, and because the van includes my electric wheelchair, I was able to do all sorts of stuff that would have required multiple trips in the past, or would have required my wife to be with me.
I was able to pile all four kids into the van, load the van with cardboard ,and drive to the recycling center (formerly one trip with no kids). Then we went to the college and dropped off some paperwork (using the electric wheelchair). Then we went to Earth Fare and bought a cartload of gluten free food. And here is where it got interesting.
We’re driving through downtown Columbia, towards EarthFare, and there’s a Prius in front of us. I think, “I bet they’re going to EarthFare.”
The Prius parks next to *another* Prius. Out comes one young woman. She shoots a nasty look as we drive by in our 1-ton 15 passenger-size van. Now, most experts say a Prius only gives major gas savings on the highway . In the city, it’s not much different then any high mileage traditional car (e.g., a hybrid Civic and a traditional Civic get about the same mileage on short trips). So she spent about 35 mpg just to drive herself to the grocery store in a vehicle that would not have allowed her to run very many errands. I don’t know how many groceries she bought, but probably wasn’t many.
We bought a whole cart full of groceries. *Then* we went to another store (Wal-Mart, I believe) to buy “regular” groceries . We bought *another* shopping cart full. Since I was using my wheelchari and not a “mart cart,” I was able to use a regular cart and fit more stuff. Actually, in some recent trips, I’ve pushed one cart iwth my wheelchair while Allie pushes the second cart.
So, we were able to fit a full load of groceries from two stores into one van on a single trip, when our minivan, with kids and stroller and wheelchair, would only fit a shopping cart full if everyone was buried to the neck in groceries.

Plus, experts also argue that a used vehicle is always preferable to a new vehicle because the environmental cost of building a new vehicle is equal to several years’ worth of gasoline mileage. Since it’s a 2000, I’ve saved those manufacturing costs, in theory, and I’ve also saved an old vehicle from going to scrap. Since it uses a 350 base engine, it should be theoretically possible, in a couple years, to replace its innards with those of a Yukon hybrid.

So, what is the more ecological approach?

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