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Thread: Help me decide on a new car

  1. #1

    Help me decide on a new car

    Even though this is a woodworking forum, my short experience here tells me that the collective wisdom knows everything. We need a new vehicle, well actually two but that's another story. We've been trying to decide between a minivan and an SUV. Now here's where the woodworking twist comes in. Which ones will hold a 4x8 sheet of plywood totally enclosed?

    Now it can't be too big and studly because it will be a family car for trips and things. Also, SWMBO says she can't climb into a big truck in a ladylike manner!

    Any suggestions?

    Please and thank you,
    John Zimmerman

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Anywhere it snows....
    This is simple.

    You need to get a diesel pickup truck. Personally I prefer the cummins dodge for its engine and the powerstroke for its truck so either one will work just fine. You may wish to get the crew cab option for family reasons and for trip reasons.

    As for the lady, well, your going to need running boards. That also applies if you need to take care of an elderly member of the family such as mom or dad.

    My dodge tips the scale at 6000 plus pounds but still gets at least 20 MPG on diesel or bean oil. I have had it loaded to 27,200 pounds gross with truck, cooler, trailer and a bullard turret lathe that weighs 14,000 pounds. I had to negotiate the Id/Wy passes and cut back through walden on camron pass. All mountain passes. The exhaust (mini jake) brake was houling like a stuck pig. I still got 11.5 MPG! For those who dont know this, a jake or mini-jake converts a diesel engine into a type of air compressor which slows you down. It saves wear on your main brakes. Jakes are in the head and mini-jakes are a type of butterfly valve just aft of the turbrocharger. Yes, I have a manual tranny as diesels eat autos for breakfest.

    The truck does it all. Commutes to work, hauls lumber from various mom and pop operations, loves to pull my 24 foot gooseneck trailer, pulls my smaller trailer, can haul RVs for recreation use, makes short work out of any boat trailer, etc. etc. etc. And with the king cabs and crew cabs, it does everything that an SUV can do on top of everything just mentioned.

    The rebuild interval for a cummins is averaging around 250,000 to 300,000 miles when you give it standard maintainance. There are no spark plugs. Mainly oil every 4000 to 7000 miles depending on tow use. Working on the cummins is stone cold easy. Everything was made to work on and you dont cut your knuckles or curse in front of your kids working on it. Ever change the last two spark plugs in a ford explorer?

    Throw on a camper shell and you have a ready made SUV for recreation use.

    Similar arguments can be made for the ford powerstroke. I have driven both and as mentioned currently own a dodge. After 168,000 miles, I have not had a single engine issue. Just changed oil and filters. The only thing I did notice when the odie turned 100,000 miles was that my MPG went up by about 2 to 3 MPG.

    If your into hard core woodworking and you need to haul both tools and lumber around and your always building and improving stuff, (i.e. your the DIY mentality or a pro), you will find living without a pickup to be difficult.

    Hope this helps.

    If your looking for a used machine, well, I will sell mine when it clocks in 500,000 miles
    Had the dog not stopped to go to the bathroom, he would have caught the rabbit.

  3. I don't think any of the non-humongous ones will hold a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood completely inside. I know the mini vans won't ... you either have to have the back open for it to protrude out, or have it pushed over your head and you crouched down.

    Most of the compact pickups or "SUT" type vehicles like the Ford Explorer Sporttrac or Avalanch will hold plywood in the beds. I have a Sporttrac and like it ... I flip out the cage, slide in the plywood and run a line around the end of the ply just in case. It does ride a bit like a truck, though, not like one of those girly mini vans (private joke ... my wife is driving the Sporttrac because she has the shorter commute, and it gets only 17 mpg ... I'm driving the mini van that gets 22).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    I have a Dodge Grand Caravan and I can get a 4 x 8 sheet of drywall inside with everything closed. Just took out the seats and put it on the floor. I had to move the drivers seat up a notch or two to get the drywall off the trim piece at the liftgate - I didn't want one good pothole to crack the drywall. That might not be an issue with plywood. Your best bet is to go vehicle shopping with a tape measure. Sure, the salesperson will look at you like you're nuts, but that's half the fun.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Union City, CA
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Hagan
    I don't think any of the non-humongous ones will hold a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood completely inside. I know the mini vans won't ...
    I don't know if a Honda Odyssey is qualified as "humongous," but mine can carry 4X8 plywood sheets with the gate fully closed. Of course the back "magic" seat has to be folded down in the well and the middle captain seats have to be removed.

    With all the seats up, the Odyssey can carry a few 10' long and a few 8' long 2"X lumber.

    For a family vehicle, nothing beats the convenience and the comfort of a minivan.

    SUVs, by design, are not as space-efficient nor as comfortable.

  6. #6
    It may not hold a full sheet of plywood,,, but I got to put the Subaru Tribeca out there as a choice.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Clermont County, OH
    I had a Dodge Caravan Sport that would hold a sheet of plywood...the only hitch was you has to tilt your head to the side when you drove...but it did fit(2-3 sheets actually).

    We have a SUV now and love it. I also have a truck so wood never sees the SUV....

  8. #8

    Life is full of compromises and this is the time

    to use them to your advantage.

    Get whatever vehicle makes her happy.

    Even if its a lime green Mini Cooper.

    Then because you are so thoughtful in

    considering her needs and wants,

    no static will arise when you come home with any mid 90s

    full sized pick up truck.

    Just a thought.

    "all men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night....wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible."
    T.E. Lawrence

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Vernon, Connecticut
    For long trips and normal all around use, nothing beats the minivan. I have the Dodge Grand Caravan Sport, and I've hauled sheetrock, full-size plywood sheets, 10' 2x6s, etc. during all kinds of weather with the back door closed. In addition, I can haul 7 people comfortably (I usually put the mother-in-law in the way back seat). It's the versatility I love- including holding two kayaks on the roof, while getting 24 mpg.

    BTW, because of the years I was stigmatized for driving a minivan, I DID go out and get a MINI Cooper. But, believe it or not, I still prefer the ride, comfort, and do anything attitude of my mini van.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Athens, AL

    Dodge Grand Caravan

    I had a Grand Caravan that was an excellent family vehicle and would haul (fully enclosed) a 4x8 sheet of plywood with the seats folded down. I'm not sure about the new ones, but I can't believe they've done anything but improve them. Mine was a '96. No seat removal necessary. Excellent choice, and will pull a light trailer if necessary.

    Jeff Smith
    Athens, AL

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Southern MD
    I vote minivan. I have a pickup, so the minivan is more a family hauler than wood hauler. But, it has been called into service on the occasional rainy day. I have to remove all 4 back seats from our Town & Country to fit plywood, but the newer ones all seem to have better folding seat setups.
    Fitting a full sheet of ply was one of my criteria when buying the minivan. Most of the newer ones do. I test drove them back to the house and loaded one in .
    The minivan drives more like a car than the SUVs we compared. Plus loading and unloading both the kids and cargo is easier with the lower floor and auto doors. The SUVs look better, have all weather/off-road ability, and can be had more luxurious than minivans.

    Jay St. Peter

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    York Co, PA
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Hagan
    I don't think any of the non-humongous ones will hold a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood completely inside. I know the mini vans won't ... you either have to have the back open for it to protrude out, or have it pushed over your head and you crouched down.
    My '04 Toyota Sienna will...

    The *only* shortcoming I've found with having a minivan versus an SUV is in towing capacity.

    As a family vehicle, a minivan can't be beat, IMHO.

    Good luck & get whichever you want - don't let us confuse you. <img>


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Anaheim, California
    Quote Originally Posted by Dev Emch
    The only thing I did notice when the odie turned 100,000 miles was that my MPG went up by about 2 to 3 MPG.
    Takes awhile to break in, does it?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    McKinney, TX
    years ago I had a dodge minivan with a towing package and heavy duty suspension. It was rated as a 1 ton. There were many days I carried around 1500 lbs or so of mdf in full sheets with the doors all closed.
    I'd vote for the minivan and look into a suspension and towing package if that is what you need.
    Steve Jenkins, McKinney, TX. 469 742-9694
    Always use the word "impossible" with extreme caution

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    rochester, ny
    i have a chrysler town and hauls 4x8 plywood no problem. taking the seats out is a pain...but it works. just bought a beater truck to spare the van....but i have hauled in vans for years.....

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