Think Family When You Are Considering Your Next Vehicle

Everyone thinks it’s easy to buy a bedliner (the process is easy but very much stretched out), however, when you think about buying the right car for your needs, then you have to leave impulse behind and begin your research.

That’s a lot of company to carry. It also usually means your dreams of a sleek coupe or a great-looking four-door are not realistic. If you choose either, you will find you are going to have a tough time cramming six or more people into two or four seats, especially if you kids are young and you still have to carry all the paraphernalia of young parents (stroller, carry bags and such), right? So, the coupe or sedan are not valid choices, are they?

So, what should you be looking at? The short list is: a minivan, which makes sense if it has seating for nine, an SUV with seating for nine or, if you will also be carrying a lot of gear with you then a full-sized van may also be a valid alternative for safety.

As you can see, vehicle-buying is not as easy as you think it is, unless you are single. Then it’s simply find the model that you think looks best and that you can afford; go through the usual dealership two-step; finish up the deal, and drive off

Family-Size Matters

It pretty much goes without saying that family size matters. It has to be your first consideration in buying a new vehicle. Your first step in buying a car is to decide exactly what your family needs are and then find the vehicle that fits them best.

Here are some suggestions:

If your family is one of today’s “downsized” families – a husband and wife and no kids then you can get that great-looking sedan or, if you both agree on it, maybe that coupe (some hybrid coupes are very nice-looking and safe; stay away from the really little cars as has been pointed out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in its yearly crash-testing, the tiny coupes or sedans that are out there are not particularly safe in major crashes and, surprisingly, not as economical as you would think. EPA mileage ratings put cars like the Smart and the Fiat 500 in the 30-40 mpg range, while there are compacts out there that routinely turn in 40-plus mpg).

For either the “downsized” family or the family with one child, then a crossover is a good choice. It provides more than enough room for you child or the extra “stuff” you may carry on a weekend of antiquing or camping.

Usually advertised as “all-wheel-drive,” these vehicles, based on the compact-sized chassis of an automaker, are truly front-drive vehicles primarily with all-wheel-drive an added – and more expensive – afterthought.

The key to this type of vehicle is the second driveshaft that drives the rear wheels and the viscous coupling that turns the vehicle into an “all-wheel-drive” car. The vehicle’s traction is simple split 50-50 front-to-rear with some control for reduced traction on one or two driving wheels. Most of the time, though, the CUV is a front-drive car that only looks like a mini-SUV.

The downsized or small family is also a candidate for one of the newer more wagon-like crossovers like the Toyota Venza. All of the other thoughts apply to this type of vehicle except to say that you may only be able to purchase a front-drive version. The cargo area makes this a viable vehicle.

Larger-Sized Families

If you are into the three- or four-kid young family size and you also like to take one set of parents or another with you when you travel, then you are a candidate for a nine-passenger vehicle. Some suggestions include:

A nine-passenger minivan: Most minivans have seating provisions for from six to nine, depending on whether the third bench is pushed under the floor in storage. This is a configuration most people employ as they don’t carry parents as often so they use the extra space for various items that they have to tow like baby carriers, strollers, toys, favorite items and the like. A safer alternative, albeit more expensive, is an all-wheel-drive minivan such as the Volkswagen’s mini-van (it’s actually based on a Chrysler/Dodge model).

A three-seat full SUV like the Chevy Tahoe or Suburban: It is a true SUV. This type of vehicle offers not only seating for up to nine and huge storage, but it is also a real four-wheel-drive vehicle.

In a real SUV, there are various automatic settings that you can use and let the vehicle and it sensor array decide whether the vehicle should be rear-wheel-drive (these vehicles usually are) or four-wheel-drive. The key to this vehicle, other than the huge amount of space available that really will fit nine people, is the fact that when in an “automatic SUV” mode, sensors on the transmission, at the wheels and in the rest of the driveline, determine how much traction is available for each wheel. If one wheel needs to need more traction while others need less – to prevent skids and the like – then the power is automatically sent to the wheel or wheels that need it.

These are some of the issues to contend with when you are thinking about shopping for a vehicle. Yes, you are free to buy the vehicle you want to purchase, but think about this: Imagine getting a standard sedan for your nine-passenger-sized vehicle load. Something has to give when you try to load up and who or what do you leave behind on a trip.

Easy to Buy a Vehicle

It’s true that vehicle-buying is a very easy process. In reality, it boils down to driving down to a dealership. Talking with a salesperson or wandering the lot until you find something you like and then getting involved with the salesperson. Next, after the test drive, is the obligatory dealership “two-step” or the back-and-forth until you reach the price, plunk down a deposit and start filling out paperwork.

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