We're all busy people. We have work, families and hobbies. Each of these activities or responsibilities demands different things from a car. Here's a quick guide to choosing the right vehicle for any occasion:
Daily Commuting: This one's easy. A small car with high gas mileage. Bonus points if your commute is on the short side and you can do it in an all-electric car -- zero gas, zero emissions and full bragging rights.
Toddler and Teenager Taxiing: A minivan certainly does the trick here, but for more style points, smaller families can get away with a sportier crossover-type vehicle. Choose something that doesn't scream, "I've given up on having an adult conversation for the next 15 years."
Weekend Adventuring: You'll probably be bringing along family and friends and all their camping or snowboarding gear, so you'll want a vehicle everyone (and everything) can easily fit into -- and something that can take on the snow and mud that likely stands between you and your fun. A large SUV or a crew-cab pickup truck will handle this job. Just remember that you'll sacrifice fuel economy to fit everybody in one vehicle.
Hauling Toys: If your weekend adventures involve boats, campers, jet skis, quads, dirt bikes or any other toys that require a trailer, you need a vehicle with enough torque to get that trailer moving. Again, it's probably a big SUV or a pickup that'll have the hauling power you need -- but it'll cost you at the pump.
Traveling for Work: Whether you're the regional manager or just the schmuck who schleps around the samples, a hybrid sedan is going to do the trick. It's got four doors, just in case you need to take some clients out to lunch, and it's got plenty of trunk space, too. And the hybrid powertrain will help you save gas while you rack up the miles.
Escaping Your Everyday Life: This is going to call for a motorcycle. Preferably one that frightens everyone you know so they won't want to tag along. Maybe one that goes a little too fast and looks like an insect from certain angles. Some of those bikes can get more than 60 miles to the gallon.
Author's Note: Choose the Right Vehicle for Every Task
In a perfect world, we'd have access to all these kinds of vehicles, and we could choose on a whim. Some people do -- in lots of urban areas you can get a car sharing membership, like ZipCar, and use the vehicle that suits your current needs. Or you could choose the vehicle that's closest to your lazy self, if that's how you roll. Where I live, in adventurous, uber-green Oregon, people are starting to blend their vehicles. For example, a family might have an electric car and an SUV. The adult who has the boring 15-mile commute drives the EV every day, while the adult with the less predictable schedule takes the SUV. Then on weekends, everybody piles in the SUV to go camping. So you can kind of tailor your cars to your activities, even if you don't have a mansion with a seven-car garage.
- AOL Autos. "Best Vehicles for the Great Outdoors." AOL Autos. (Aug. 1, 2013) http://autos.aol.com/gallery/toyota-tundra-jeep-patriot-ten-functional-vehicles/
- Borras, Jo. "The 13 Best Fuel-efficient Motorcycles You Can Buy in 2013." Gas2.org. April 27, 2013. (Aug. 1, 2013) http://gas2.org/2013/04/27/13-high-mpg-my2013-motorcycles-you-can-buy/