Reader Question: Vehicle Advice…?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

D asks: Does any vehicle come to mind that would fit the following:

  • Mobile art studio
  • Rest “pod”
  • Accommodates 2 adults (I’m a former athlete and now 2xl – very wide shoulders) and my wife, though shorter than me is 5’10”.
  • Sometimes accommodate
    •  Our young adult son with Down syndrome.
    • Our two large dogs.  1st is a Newfie/Lab mix at 120 lbs and the other is a Lab at 96 lbs.  we’re looking into getting a brace/mobility support dog for me – which, by definition, would need to be 120+ lbs.
  • I thrive on music  – and although retrofitting a good sound system is possible it may well be easier to seek a vehicle which already has a good sound system with it.
  • We no longer purchase new vehicles as we no longer want to carry any debt besides our mortgage.
  • We are very comfortable with older vehicles if they have been well maintained.
  • We loved our Ford F-350 diesel crew cab truck and regret we ever sold it.
  • We have always had at least one Volvo wagon – our current one being a ‘99 xc70 with less than 100k miles on it.
  • Because my wife now works from home she drives less than 1,000 miles/year on her 2010 Volvo XC60 T6.  She has a heavy foot and misses the ‘94 850R wagon we had when the kids were infants.
  • I do not have a price point in mind and we can pay , in cash, up to a limit.
So, to sum up, Eric – my question for you is:  what truck/suv/wagon/van do you think might best fit the above?
My reply: I think, to begin with, you’d probably like something with low step-in height, which rules out most new SUVs and trucks and vehicles based upon them. This issue has become much worse over the past ten or so years – such that even a very tall man such as myself has to climb into these things; accessing their beds (trucks) is even more preposterous. An older Suburban/Tahoe (or its Ford equivalent, an Expedition or even an Econoline van) could work, however.
That said, and based on all your criteria,  I think a full-sized minivan about five or so years old makes the most sense. Easy to get in and out. Huge and configurable interior space. Best of all, affordable – relative to trucks and SUVs, at least, which have skyrocketed in price as I’m sure you’re aware.
I recommend either the Toyota Sienna or the Honda Odyssey equally as they are superb vans with bulletproof drivetrains. The Kia Sedona is also one worth looking at. The Dodge vans less so (they haven’t got the best record for reliability).
Another possible contender might be a Ford Transit van or its Dodge ProMaster equivalent. These are also roomy/configurable and have low step-in height for easy getting in and out of both passengers and cargo.
Hope this is helpful!

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  1. D, I don’t see where you mention how often and for what this potential vehicle would be used….but I’m thinking that based on what you did say, that something like an old step van or mini-bus might fit the bill- offering plenty of room and unencumbered space, and easy access and access options- such as ramps and lifts- if ever needed- and wide doors which can be walked through while fully standing.

    Only drawback might be that such vehicles might not be too cool for errand-running/grocery trips, as they will not fit in a standard parking space…but if you have another vehicle for such uses, the above-mentioned could be ideal for trips and activities, studio use, etc- and such vehicles can be had for no more or often less than a typical smaller vehicle…and lack a lot of the overly complex garbage which burdens regular passenger vehicles.’

    You could have some room to stretch out and move…carry all of your stuff, bow-wow, etc. Whereas just about any typical consumer-level passenger vehicle, even a full-sized van, is going to be cramped for a big guy with mobility issues- especially if you want to use that vehicle for more than just transportation from point A to point B. (Although I do agree with Eric- The old Ford Econoline vans were tops- I sold my ’98 a few years ago with 300K miles on it and it still ran like a Swiss watch…but even for li’l 5’10” 180 lb. monkey-like me, it would b e hard to use for much more than transportation).


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