PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Look at that line of minivans, SUVs and crossovers heading out of town this weekend and tell us summer hasn't started.
The calendar and the Northern Hemisphere's proximity to the sun tell us summer's still about a month away, but for parents sacrificing their cool personas for bulky warm-weather vacation vehicles, summer's already begun. 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.
Unfortunately, it's also a minivan. When you've resigned yourself to one, you've waved goodbye to any semblance of social status you once held. 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 to get home and nothing more exciting than a trip to the theme park in your future.
SUVs tried to inject some adventure into the family car by starring in commercials climbing rocky terrain and winding their way up coastal cliffs. It may have been a mom or dad behind the wheel, but to the outside world they were suburban adventurers in rugged vehicles straight out of Jurassic Park. Their insatiable reliance on lots of fossil fuels only drove that point home.
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It's been a while since minivans ceded ground to SUVs and those hulking beasts gave way to crossovers, but the minivan's reputation never quite recovered. The broad minivan market of the 1980s became a three-van race between Honda's Odyssey, Toyota's Sienna and Dodge's Caravan. Plenty of families will still take those vehicles on Memorial Day trips, but for those drivers whose fragile self esteem can't bear implications of practicality, the folks at Kelly Blue Book offer 10 vehicles that put up a sporty, urban and not-at-all parental facade: