November 30, 2016
What vehicle is right for you: an SUV, a truck, or a minivan? Each offers a unique set of benefits to its owner, from cargo ruggedness to spacious passenger room, and with options that are nearly comparable in price, it can be a tough decision.
Though it may surprise you, an SUV has more in common with cars and minivans than with trucks. The vast majority of Sport Utility Vehicles have a unibody car design that has been upsized into an SUV package-great for style, passenger room, and fuel efficiency (depending on the model), but not necessarily dirty cargo or pulling power. SUV’s often have an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive option, which makes them a good choice for people frequently driving through dirt, mud or who drive in snowy weather. They are also better at towing than vans, but aren’t as good as trucks for that purpose.
By far, SUVs are the most versatile option, ranging from crossover, which drive nimbly like your average sedan, to large, which can easily carry a soccer team and their gear without anyone complaining about being cramped. The adaptability of the SUV makes it incredibly attractive to most buyers-you can find what you need in this class of vehicle without sacrificing cargo space or passenger room.
Trucks are made to haul cargo of all kinds, either in the large open bed or on a tow hitch, but they’re not limited to those purposes. Modern trucks actually drive more like cars than you’d think and often have a four door, back seat option that will seat five to six passengers comfortably. Yes, they are not as efficient as a midsized sedan, but they are not far from SUVs and vans in fuel efficiency and with fuel as reasonably priced as it is, that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. The main benefit of a truck is that it can haul cargo with ease, whether it’s that couch you bought at the yard sale, the ski boat of your dreams, or the 10,000 lb tractor from the family farm. Because the truck bed is separate (as opposed to the unibody design of sedans and SUV’s), you can put extra pressure on it without damaging the entire body of the vehicle. You also can haul all manner of messy loads with easy cleanup-a quick rinse and the bed is good to go again. Try that in a van and you’ll need a carpet cleaner and a lot of patience.
Trucks do have limitations, however. They are high off the ground, which is great for extra clearance when driving off road but may be challenging for small children or older folks to handle. The price can be less than some SUVs, but there are no third-row options so you are limited in the number of passengers you can carry and in the interior storage options. Trucks can also be difficult to navigate in busy cities or when you go down town. Many cities and parking lots have tight corners and parking spaces that seem to be designed by compact car drivers.
Minivans have gotten the reputation of being the nerds of the vehicle world: reliable and nice but with virtually no style. The reality is that a minivan is the best value for the passenger/cargo room and fuel economy. If you’re looking for an easy way to transport people and their stuff with the minimum annoyance factor possible, a minivan is the right choice. Automatic sliding doors (and in some cases automatic back hatch) open with the push of a button from inside or outside the vehicle, minimizing the potential damage to other vehicles and maximizing movement into the three rows of room. Most minivans will seat at least seven people comfortably, with captain’s chairs in the middle row to make access to the third row easier than it is in an SUV.
Minivans drive like a car, but have added height. It gives the appeal of SUVs and trucks without the extra length. Even with all of this passenger room, the cargo space is pretty substantial as well. Many minivans offer an option to hide the third row for additional cargo space. It’s not a truck, but it’s a substantial amount of room that’s protected from the elements. It’s not ideal for hauling heavy or large objects, because if they shift they may move forward into the seating area, but it’s good for big trips to Costco or other run-of-the-mill household duties. Honestly, nobody drives a minivan in a rap video, so choosing this is not about style-it’s about sensibility.