Size in All Its Dimensions
Although $4-a-gallon gasoline has become a fact of American life, don't automatically discount large SUVs and vans. There may be enough offsetting advantages to make one worth the sizable extra fuel cost.
Particularly on a long road trip, some drivers prefer a full-size SUV's elevated seating. And some may feel extra security in knowing that their big Chevy Tahoe or Honda Pilot will hold up well in a crash against most anything else on the road. A larger car usually means more interior space for everyone, something crucial to keeping the peace.
Relationship expert April Masini says that a lot of interior space is especially important for "feuders" who vacation together. "You might consider paying a little extra for gas [usage] and a little less at the therapist's office," said the author of 50 First Dates and the Next 50 Dates.
And if you have a family or a lot of gear, there's simply no substitute for the beefy, boxy interior of an SUV or minivan. A few pieces of luggage, a couple of golf bags, a dog cage and a family of four or five can still fit into some highly capable vehicles, such as the Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Durango.
And of course, if you're a recreational boater or camper, your Toyota Prius just isn't going to cut it when it comes to hauling that boat or ATV to the lake or campground. Raw pulling power still has its place, and you'll find the highest towing capacities on large SUVs and trucks.