We get it, people hate minivans. No matter how practical, sensible or spacious minivans are, the uncool factor of them makes them repulsive to fashion-conscious parents looking to for a family shuttle. While it’s never been sold here, the Renault Espace has long been a standard bearer for practical people carriers where space is more important than style.
Introduced about the same time as the Chrysler minivans debuted in the States, it eventually became a model to emulate to make a successful minivan. However, decades of neglect turned it into a big expensive thing nobody wants. Naturally, Renault is concerned and thinks it’s time to change up its Espace formula. According to Autocar, they’re turning it into a three-row “cross between an MPV and a crossover.” We’ve been here before.
It’s a cross that didn’t work well for the Chrysler Pacifica (nobody bought a more expensive, short-wheelbase Town & Country) or the Mercedes-Benz R-Class (nobody wanted a fatter, uglier GL). Ford Flex? Still not exactly setting sales records. As comfortable and spacious and grand-sounding as these crossvans or miniovers, they’ve never been the segment busting successes as promised and I thought automakers had generally given up.
If the rumors are true, it’ll be interesting to see what Renault pulls off for a new Espace. As far as minivan-type vehicles go, the Espace has been a good-looking vehicle – way better than a lot of the failed minivan rivals that have arrived in the US over the years. It would be a shame for it to ditch its practical shape for something uglier and less usable.