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Take A Seat

. . . to accommodate the family; leave it behind to make room for business.

Who says you can't have your commercial van and a people-mover, too? That's the concept some minivan manufacturers had in mind when they designed family-friendly minivans with removable rear seats. This marriage-carriage trend economizes on transportation costs by serving two purposes: On weekdays, you leave the seats in your garage so there's plenty of cargo room for business needs; on weekends, you just pop the seats back in for family trips.

Of the 15 minivans you'll find in dealerships, only a few offer removable seats. Double-duty 2001 vans include the Dodge Caravan at $19,160 (all prices street) and the $24,430 Chrysler Town & Country. The split benches come standard in the Caravan Sport package and fold independently so you can remove and store one or both of them.

The $20,675 Mazda MPV's center seats can be removed by folding them flat and pulling them forward. These seats can also slide apart to become captain's chairs or slide together to form a bench. The MPV's third-row bench stays in the van but can be folded into a floor well. Honda's $23,900 Odyssey offers a similar seating system. Nissan's $22,439 Quest GXE model is equipped with back seats that unload for garage storage.

Jill Amadio has reported on the automotive industry for 23 years as an editor and consultant.

Christopher Elliott is an Orlando, Fla., writer and independent producer who specializes in technology, travel and mobile computing. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and online. You can find out more about him on his website or sign up for his free weekly newsletter.

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This article was originally published in the March 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Take A Seat.

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