I received a phone call this weekend from a buddy who is in the market for a new car. He’s got three small kids and was wondering what would be the best choice for his next new vehicle. His current ride (believe it or not) is a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria and while it’s the size of a house, it just doesn’t offer the versatility that he and his family need. Now, while he admits to needing more space, he doesn’t want to go down the minivan road just yet as he simply feels that at 36 years old, he’s still to young. Over the course of our 45 minute call we went over the particulars of what he needed from a financial, utility and usability standpoint until we narrowed down his choices to either a new cross over, a full-sized SUV or the dreaded (not really) minivan.
Thankfully his budget is around $40,000, which means just about everything is on the table. First he wanted to know about cross over vehicles like the 2011 Nissan Murano, 2011 GMC Acadia and Ford Edge. What people need to know about crossovers is that they are not, I repeat NOT, SUV’s. Their unibody construction means that while they may be equipped with an all-wheel-drive system, they’re still not really suited for off-road use. They’re also, with the exception of the 2011 GMC Acadia, simply not that roomy on the inside due to the fact that they generally share a platform with an already existing automobile. The 2012 Nissan Murano for example shares much of its underpinnings with the 2012 Nissan Altima, a car that’s already a bit short on size. This means that if you try to cram in a car seat, a few small children and some luggage, that you may in fact find that a few problems arise.
Next up were the SUV’s. Most SUV’s today, while still more suited to on-pavement running, have more off-road prowess then their smaller, crossover siblings. For 2011 there is also a whole host of new units on the market like the 2011 Ford Explorer and 2011 Dodge Durango, as well as old favorites like the Toyota 4Runner and Nissan Pathfinder. These guys are usually larger, have third-row seating capabilities, more power and provide you with larger storage capacity. The con’s are that they are pricey and generally have poor fuel economy.
Lastly we come to the minivan, a vehicle that, truth be told, I love. To me the minivan is probably the most useful vehicle on the planet as it provides the best of all worlds. Most models today come with all-wheel-drive capabilities, seating for up to seven, loads of storage, full entertainment systems and plenty of power. The downside though… they’re simply not cool. I have a feeling my buddy is going to go with an SUV as it’s more his style, but I know that deep down in his heart, he knows the minivan would be the better choice. Oh well… I tried.