Choosing the Right Type of Vehicle for Your Family
Life is full of transition. With new stages of life (such as fatherhood), your vehicle needs change. Gone are the days of driving your Z car to work being “Joe Cool.” Sure, you hope to keep that gem in the garage and take her out once in a while, but now you’ve met that special someone and are thinking of starting a family. Or maybe you’re blending families, or adding a new member to the one you already have. Whatever the reason, you have new responsibilities as a dad and may need a new form of transportation.
But what questions should you ask and what should you be looking for in your next family vehicle? This guide will identify the types of vehicles that are available, and the pros and cons of each, equipping you with information to make the best decision for your family’s new ride.
Pros: High volume for people, cargo, visibility, and fuel economy
Cons: Low towing capacity, low cargo volume when all seats are in use
Most mini-vans don’t have high enough towing capacity for pulling a large campers and boats. But they do give easy access for the kids and grandmom and granddad with sliding doors and lift gates. They also allow for movement inside of the vehicle so you can tend to your little ones. Also, take into account that all mini-vans have three rows of seating - some fold down while others are removable. Last but not least, you have options with the second row seating configuration: bench seats or buckets. Remember bucket seats give you access to the third row if you need to get to the back of the vehicle. The Nissan Quest is a great example of a mini-van.
Where to begin… this breed of vehicle has spawned so many different classes that it’s hard to keep up. There’s the SUV vs. the Crossover and they also come in different sizes: compact, mid-size and full-size. They also come with different drive systems: four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or front-wheel drive. Plus, you can chose between 2-row seating and 3-row seating. Complicated stuff for sure, but here's the basic break down.
What is an SUV?
SUVs are based on truck platforms, and they come in a 2- or 3-row configuration and are usually mid-size or full-size vehicles. Good examples are the Nissan Pathfinder, a mid-sized SUV, and the Nissan Armada, a full-sized SUV. Because both are based on trucks, they have either rear wheel drive (for towing) or a serious four wheel drive system (for off-road capability). These vehicles are ideal for the family that has a rural home or live in an area where they get a great deal of snow or rain.
What’s a Crossover?
Most crossovers are based on car platforms, are available in compact to mid-size platforms, and come in 2- or 3-row configuration. Crossovers tend to have better gas mileage then SUVs because they’re lighter and tend to ride better as well. Their drive systems tend to be either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. A good example is the Nissan Murano. This vehicle comes in front-wheel drive, or optioned as an all-wheel drive. If you live in an area that often has sleet and freezing rain, along with wet leaves in the fall, then this is the system for you.
Now that you have the background, it’s time for the break down. The pros vs. cons will help you make this important decision.
Pros: Mid- to full-size, 2- to 3-row seating, room for people and cargo, strong off-road capability, high towing capacity
Cons: Lower fuel economy, rougher ride, ride height could increase difficulty of entering and exiting for older people. No access to 2nd row from front row (as in mini-vans), and size for parking or fitting into the garage
Pros: Compact to mid-size, 2- to 3-row seating, room for people and cargo, higher fuel economy, ride comfort, car-like handling, front- or all-wheel drive, lower ride height and size makes parking easier and leaves more garage space
Cons: No access to 2nd row from the front, lower towing capacity than SUVs, ride height for older people and average fuel economy
This information should give you a good place to start in determining what will best meet the needs of your family. However, before you buy what you have identified as the right vehicle, make sure you consider purchasing options.
Many thanks to Bryan Steward, Automotive Solutions Specialist of BrocSport Engineering, for sharing the expert advice above. Contact Bryan at BryanS@brocsport.com.