Earlier today I reviewed the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, arguably the biggest minivan news since Volkswagen chickened out from giving us the modernized Microbus we all really wanted. The Pacifica is impressive, sure, but it’s lacking something that every minivan built needs to have: a real trash management system.
Yes, the Honda Odyssey and now the Pacifica have options for integrated vacuums, and while that’s great, it’s not nearly enough. The real scourge of the minivan – really, any car that hauls human larvae on a regular basis – is little bits of trash.
Wrappers, juice box straws, bits of paper, wads of gross moist things wrapped in tissues, diapers full of loamy, dank wastes, blister packs, abandoned french fries, apple cores – these are the contents of almost every minivan’s second row floor. These are not little prim granules of sand or dust you’re going to suck up in some integrated vacuum cleaner. These are full-on undesired objects, and they need to go in the garbage.
As it stands today, in the Year Of Some Of Your Lord 2016, to deal with this sort of thing you need to actually go through your car’s floor and find and pick up the offending garbage by hand, deposit in a bag or some other receptacle, and throw that in the trash. Like some kind of filthy goddamn animal. It’s time for a new way.
At least Honda acknowledges the problem, and the Odyssey includes this little trash bag flip-down ring. Sadly, it’s not even remotely up to the task it’s being asked to perform. It’s like bringing a fistful of gummy worms to a gunfight.
Aftermarket car trash cans look like chintzy crap and are so small they overflow within a day – and you still have to deal with trash stench inside your car. This is no solution. What is needed is an actual integrated trash management system, and I think this is how it could work:
Central to the system is a large (yet easily carried by a single person) trash bin, mounted under the floor of the car. Access to the trash bin is via a sliding door set into the floor. You have trash in your car, you slide open the bin door, sweep or kick or throw the trash in the bin, and then close the door.
Perhaps the door could be motorized, if you wanted that real premium feel; it’d work either way. The door would have a nice liquid-and-stench-proof rubber grommet as well. The door could be carpeted on the top side if you wanted something that blended into the car’s floor, or it could be honest and obvious. Either way works.
Once the bin is full, it can be slid out of its housing (again, this could be a motor-driven process, or it could be pulled from its slot via simple muscle power; fancy vans can get the motor-assist one). Once out, the trash bin has a pair of handles. At one end is the handle used to help slide the unit out, and at the other is a combination carrying handle/dump flap release lever.
You carry the bin to a trash or recycling receptacle hold it over the opening, pull the release handle that opens the dump flap, dump out all the gross trash, and close the flap.
If you want or need to, you could hose it out, or you could just slide it back into position in the car. Easy, right?
Why hasn’t any manufacturer come up with something like this yet? They do focus groups; they’ve seen how trash-filled minivan floors get. This could be such a simple system to implement. It’s just holes, bins, little doors. There’s no real technical hurdles here.
So, minivan manufacturers, I’m challenging you: show me a good trash management system. The first minivan with a real, workable setup for dealing with the constant and inevitable trash will be a colossal winner in the market. I’m absolutely certain of this.