It's not quite summer yet and the kids aren't out of school, but Memorial Day weekend is when the line of minivans headed toward family vacations starts forming.
It's tough to knock the minivan for being good at its job. It's spacious enough to hold the entire family and its gear, comfortable enough to keep everyone sedate for hours on end and has enough power under the hood to slide through lanes of vacation traffic like a sleeker car half its size.
The downside: It's a minivan. When you've resigned yourself to one, you've dropped the veil of illusion. Families weren't driven to SUVs in the 1990s and 2000s because they were more convenient. They were roped in because they weren't an immediate signal to those around you that you had a family, children in the back, potentially a mortgage payment waiting for you when you get home and nothing more exciting than a trip to the theme park ahead.
The SUVs and all their commercials featuring vehicles climbing rocky terrain and winding their way up coastal cliffs implied an escape that never was. Maybe you were mom or dad inside, but on the outside you were an intrepid explorer ready to pull offroad at any moment and send the prairie dogs ducking for cover.
It didn't help that carmakers began abandoning minivans altogether and ceding ground to the SUVs. The broad minivan market of the 1980s became a three-van race between Honda's Odyssey, Toyota's Sienna and Dodge's Grand Caravan. Plenty of families will still proudly trot out those vehicles for their Memorial Day trips, but for those drivers whose fragile little feelings simply won't put up with the implications of practicality, the folks at Edmunds offer 10 vehicles that put up a sporty, urban and not-at-all parental facade:
10. Volvo XC60
Volvo killed off the last of its trademark wagons a few years back, which is why it started affixing that XC label to everything remotely wagonlike. The XC60 is Volvo's base crossover and comes with all the safety features parents love, including a five-star crash safety rating, low-speed collision avoidance system, pedestrian detection and a driver-attention monitor that issues a warning if the driver appears to be drowsy at the wheel. But knowing you aren't the average mom or dad -- just a free-living cosmopolitan urbanite riding out the next 18 years until you can renew your theater membership and drinking engagements -- Volvo has thrown in Sirius XM satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth hands-free communications and other fun little toys as distractions. The good times haven't ended: They're just on an inconvenient break.
9. Toyota Prius V
Even the Prius V's website declares the inevitable: An icon grows up. That cute little Prius you used to rent from Zipcar for weekend road trips and grocery outings back when you lived in the city has followed you out to the 'burbs and transformed into a wagon. So what if its combined 42 miles per gallon now lag behind the 50 of the original Prius. The V's 67.3 cubic feet of cargo space is considerably larger than the original-recipe Prius' 39.6 cubic feet and is closer to that of compact SUVs such as Toyota's RAV4. No, you're probably not going to be parallel parking this one as much, but those grocery runs are getting a lot bigger now that there are more mouths to feed. Besides, it's still the most fuel efficient vehicle on this list. That has to count for something, even if it's not quite as sexy as the smaller model you remember.
8. Subaru Outback
The Outback has been comfortable with its role as the upper-middle family ride of choice since it was a glorified Legacy wagon. Now it's an almost full-size crossover with roughly nine inches of ground clearance, 70 cubic feet of maximum cargo space and combined 27 miles per gallon that's practically in CR-V/RAV4/Sorento territory. Though it isn't always a must for summer vacation driving, the Outback's standard all-wheel drive is still the dealmaker for families who have to brave tougher conditions for the rest of the year. For cold-weather lacrosse parents, this basically is the minivan.
7. Porsche Cayenne
This beast gets 22 miles per gallon on the highway. It gets a whopping 300 horsepower and tops out at 142 miles per hour in its base model. It comes with toys including the Porsche Communications Management system to link your various media and electronics, a rearview camera and Bose surround sound speakers. As much as the 24 cubic feet of rear space and 63 cubic feet of combined cargo space want to make the argument for this vehicle as a family hauler, it's a more of a midlife crisis with a motor. So why buy one as a family car? Because you're far from alone. The Cayenne is Porsche's best-selling car in the U.S. by far. That's a lot of parents who want to truck the family around, but still cling desperately to their sports-car dreams.