All Replies on ---Sensible Car for woodworking and 2 kids ?---

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---Sensible Car for woodworking and 2 kids ?---

by irish620
posted 04-26-2012 01:25 PM

30 replies so far

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3505 days

#1 posted 04-26-2012 01:34 PM

A lot of the newer full size pick-up trucks get over 14 mpg. My Chev Silverado got more than 16 mpg until I put the lift kit and big tires on it :-) Now I get about 12 mpg. I wouldnt be without the truck though. It sure has been great hauling things. If you get a truck with the crew cab and rear doors its just like a car.

The truck is great when we go camping, and I use it to pull the boat.

One other thing, I would always get 4WD if you buy a truck.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View dbhost's profile


5725 posts in 3256 days

#2 posted 04-26-2012 01:46 PM

Both. I have an F150 4×4 with the super cab (not a crew) in order to provide seating capacity, and hauling capacity. I also have a Saturn SL2 (econo-box) that sips the gas just fine, but does a lousy job of hauling.

If I were more concerned about fuel economy, I would be in the market to trade my F150 in on a SuperDuty Power Stroke Diesel (avoiding the 2002 to 2008 models I believe were the ones with the wonky International designed Ford messed up engines…) Probably grab a lease return ‘10 or ‘11 model… A friend has one with the Banks system on it, a small lift, and 35×12.50s. He is pulling mid 20s on the road between here and Dallas with a cab full of kids, and a travel trailer out back. (They have family up that way, and hate hotels…). If you can afford it, Diesel is a great way to go…

FWIW, when tuned properly (I have a suspension / tire issue I need to fix presently), and I have the econo tune on my truck. My ‘04 F150 5.4L 4×4 Supercab gets 21mpg highway, with a bed full of camping gear, and a cab full of family… My average city is 15. Still not too shabby considering the rubber I run (35×12.50/17 Muds). A 2wd with lower rolling resistance tires would do better. The current F150 with the Eco Boost V6 is reported to be a real winner in the area of Gas Mileage… Factory rated at 23mpg, there are tuners out there that are reporting numbers as high as 32mpg highway… Lower displacement, twin turbos and very carefully computer tuned timing makes all the difference!

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2995 days

#3 posted 04-26-2012 01:46 PM

I have a Ford Expedition. I can haul a 4×8 sheet in there and keep it dry to boot. It’s got 3 rows of seats, and DVD for the kids in the back. Fantastic vehicle. And it gets 19 to 20 MPG all the time in mixed driving.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4243 days

#4 posted 04-26-2012 01:47 PM

Like Wayne said, I get better than 14 in my full-sized Silverado, and that is 100% city miles. You should be able to get 20 in a Tacoma. I don’t think you can reasonably expect more than that in a vehicle that is work-capable.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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Rex B

320 posts in 2275 days

#5 posted 04-26-2012 02:10 PM

I have a 2011 Tacoma, 4×4, 4-door. I average about 18 mpg with combined highway and city. A 2wd would get a few mpg more. In my opinion, the Tacoma is definitely the best midsize pickup available. And the backseat would have plenty of room for carseats :)

-- Rex

View jerkylips's profile


416 posts in 2595 days

#6 posted 04-26-2012 02:11 PM

If you’re not hauling stuff often, I’d suggest getting a car that suits your needs & have a trailer hitch installed. There are 4×8 trailers on the market that fold up so they take up less space when being stored. They can be stored in something like 2 ft by 4 ft space when folded.

If you’re just talking about hauling lumber, sheet goods, etc., I’m sure it wouldn’t be more than a couple hundred pounds. Any car can handle that towing weight.

Harbor Freight has a trailer along these lines, to give you an idea -

folding trailer

View Durnik150's profile


647 posts in 3346 days

#7 posted 04-26-2012 02:20 PM

I think that Tacoma will get better gas mileage than you think and still give you the family and wood space. And it’ll pull a decent sized trailer if you ever head that direction.

If you go full size, the diesel is a great option but is a little pricey. It’ll deliver better mileage but costs more for fuel.

Best of luck.

-- Behind the Bark is a lot of Heartwood----Charles, Centennial, CO

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3333 days

#8 posted 04-26-2012 02:20 PM

I have a Toyota suv for normal running around that gets about 26 mpg and a Ford E150 van for hauling stuff and doing shows. I went back and forth between buying the E150 and buying a pickup but the van won out because I can haul 4×8 sheets plus alot more and have it out of the weather and locked up. I also do alot of shows and need a vehicle to keep everything out of the weather and secure. The van gets 18-19 mpg and I love it.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3198 days

#9 posted 04-26-2012 02:36 PM

Minivan ???

-- -- Neil

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1577 posts in 2860 days

#10 posted 04-26-2012 02:41 PM

Get a roof rack for your car and some really strong zip straps. As long as you don’t mind the occasional funny looks it will hold a lot, easily up to 100lbs. I’ve brought 8 sheets of sheetrock home on mine, gone down the thruway with two book cases on top doing 65mph, and lots of 2×4,6,8s. Also good for carrying bicycles and luggage. Unloaded but left on the car it’ll reduce your gas mileage 1-3mpg depending on engine size.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

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1880 posts in 3585 days

#11 posted 04-26-2012 02:43 PM

While I would never carry wood in mine (I have pick up for that) my 2011 Chrysler Town & Country can carry a 4×8 sheet of plywood, plus be an excellent family vehicle. I get about 24 mpg on short trips and 28 on long trips.

-- Joe

View guitar1999's profile


15 posts in 2339 days

#12 posted 04-26-2012 02:44 PM

I’ll add another vote for the Tacoma. I have a 2007 with the V6, 4WD and 6-speed manual. My lifetime average fuel economy is 19.2 mpg. On all highway trips, I have seen as high as 22 mpg. I have a Snugtop shell on the back that keeps things dry and secure and racks on top for hauling longer boards.

-- Jesse - Cape Cod, MA

View bunkie's profile


412 posts in 3171 days

#13 posted 04-26-2012 03:18 PM

Here’s another vote for the trailer suggested earlier. I just finished up my Harbor Freight folding trailer and, aside from one issue, it’s a great solution. I still get almost 30mpg on the highway.

The trailer was dirt cheap at $249. That’s the good news. The bad news is that one of the hubs is not right causing a wheel wobble. I expect to get this replaced under the warranty.

All told I’m for about $600 total including the hitch, installation, registration and tax, the sheet of PT plywood and the nuts and bolts to attach it.

This trailer has a capacity of 1200 pounds. Roof racks are typically limited to 200 pounds.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

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2771 posts in 2321 days

#14 posted 04-26-2012 03:44 PM

You don’t say if you need to move wood AND kids at the same time, but if you don’t you could get a Chrysler minivan with the stow and go seats that fold into the floor. Just throw down a big moving blanket to keep things clean.

If you can drive a stick you’ll eke out a couple more mpg’s on a truck.

You can also buy a new car for the family duty and increased mileage and get a beater truck or van to move wood – you did say you wouldn’t need the truck’s capabilities most of the time, so why commit yourself to driving one 100 percent of the time?

Diesel may get you better mileage, but they are crazy expensive to begin with.

View irish620's profile


43 posts in 2333 days

#15 posted 04-26-2012 04:50 PM

Thanks guys ! I suppose anyone who isn’t a full time contractor has a hard time keeping the back of the truck full. When I went to test drive a new Frontier, the salesman said I could expect 12mpg in a city setting ! Wow, that seems low for a brand new mid- sized truck.

Funny how the only thing that hasn’t changed since the industrial revolution is the basic gas guzzling combustible engine !

If I had more room, a extra crap truck or a trailer would make sense. A roof rack is just too limited for weight and carrying capacity. If the real world MPGs of a Tacoma is 19ish then I shall have to take a closer look at that truck.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3672 days

#16 posted 04-26-2012 05:44 PM

Look at alternate-fuel vehicles. You can get CNG or propane and
drive for about 1/2 the price of gasoline.

Full-sized CNG vans are available. They are big enough to carry a
big CNG tank. CNG vehicles run on gasoline too and have a
tank for each.

View jerkylips's profile


416 posts in 2595 days

#17 posted 04-26-2012 06:04 PM

irish -

I re-read your original post. You don’t really say what your business is, or how much you’re going to be hauling. I think you need to assess your real needs. If you potentially need to haul 2000-3000 lbs, then a car & trailer may not cut it. If you’re talking about 1/2 dozen sheets of plywood, that’s different.

My last vehicle was a jeep cherokee & my current is a jeep liberty. You can fit a lot of stuff inside with all of the seats folded down, but I don’t WANT to do that. Even putting down moving blankets, you end up with a mess, scratch up the plastic, door panels, etc. Not to mention I don’t want to put anything dirty inside.

If you have car seats, you won’t be able to fold down all of the seats without removing them (I’m dealing with that right now). My personal opinion is that pickup trucks are not very useful except when you have stuff in the back. If you haul stuff all the time, they’re great, but if not there are better options. My Liberty gets crappy mileage, so it may not be the best example, but I can tow up to 5000lbs & have room for 4 plus “stuff” inside.

One sort of unexpected (for me) benefit of getting a vehicle & trailer is that you have all sorts of options for the receiver – things like a cargo basket for hauling stuff you don’t want inside (garbage cans, yard waste, tall items, etc) and the receiver bike racks.

View DS's profile


2925 posts in 2445 days

#18 posted 04-26-2012 06:05 PM

I have a F150 Super Crew 4X4 V8 and get 15 to 16 mpg combined city / highway. Love the truck! The back seat more often secures my tools as often as it carries passengers. The 5.5’ bed handles 8’ plywood with the lift gate down, though I usually rest them on the closed tailgate as it ties down nicely. The new Supercrew has 4” more cab room and has an optional 6.5’ bed, though at that length it would no longer fit in the garage.

Ford has a new series of engines with eco boost (a big $$ premium) that get 23 mpg depending on model and options.

The 23mpg is a small V6 (3.5L), even smaller than the 4.2L of previous years, but with a turbo charger.
It seams to me like a small motor for such a big truck and I would wonder about longevity issues later.

Still, 23mpg on a SuperCrew pickup… very tempting.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2699 days

#19 posted 04-27-2012 12:03 AM

Perhaps this would fill your needs. Mileage , may be an issue!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2311 days

#20 posted 04-27-2012 01:50 AM

I have a Dodge Grand Caravan for many of the reasons you cited. I need to be able to haul people as well as stuff.

I have the stow and go seats. I can go from full passenger to full cargo in less than 3 minutes. 4×8 sheets fit entirely inside, flat on the floor, with all doors closed. 10 ft boards (or pipe) slides up between the seats and I can still close the rear hatch. I’ve loaded it with 1,000 lbs of stuff and it barely squated.

When it’s not loaded full of lumber or equipment, I get 23 mpg. I had a pickup, but to be honest, the older I got, the more I wanted a nicer ride. My pickup rode fine when it was loaded, but was kinda harsh when empty (which was most of the time). The van is better in the snow (western NY) too.

I have to say though, that my younger brother just got a new 4-wheel-drive Dodge Ram with a hemi in it and we drove it to Florida and back and got about 20mpg. Granted, it’s all highway, but 20mpg from a 4WD hemi is pretty sweet. I just don’t need that kind of power. I’m not pullin’ stumps. I’m just occasionally hauling wood or whatever I’ve built with it.

Just a thought.

My minivan only has 70,000 miles on it but I haven’t ever regretted the decision to buy it. It does exactly what I wanted it to do.

View bladedust's profile


206 posts in 2291 days

#21 posted 04-27-2012 02:07 AM

Believe it or not, I’m able to haul 4’x8’ sheets in my wife’s 05 Sienna. Just fold down the 3rd row seat and take out the middle seats and I’m hauling wood and still get over 22 MPG.

-- ok, is it cut once measure twice, cut twice measure once???? I know....I'll just keep cutting until it's long enough.

View JAAune's profile


1802 posts in 2341 days

#22 posted 04-27-2012 02:22 AM

It’s hard to beat a minivan for the combo of fuel efficiency passenger transportation and wood hauling. If I had to choose between the van and a truck I’d take the van. Most woodworking projects are somewhat bulky but not very heavy.

I can borrow a van if needed so I got a Ranger (to handle the really large furniture). The truck does have more hauling options but rain and snow are a hindrance. I try to avoid moving stuff in my truck unless the weather is clear.

My boss actually sold his truck in favor of a minivan a long time ago. He just didn’t utilize its hauling capacity enough to make the extra gasoline expenses worthwhile.

-- See my work at and

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3505 days

#23 posted 04-27-2012 02:28 AM

Heres a nice one for you. I am sure the mileage isnt too bad. :-)

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Zboom's profile


72 posts in 2379 days

#24 posted 04-27-2012 03:58 AM

Jeep Wrangler!!!! But I’m biased, if you told me you need something for 20 kids and 40 ft beams I’d still tell you a wrangler, lol…. I use a small HF trailer and it works great. I’m even building a camper on one.

-- Michael,

View nate22's profile


475 posts in 2900 days

#25 posted 04-27-2012 02:05 PM

Even though my wife and I don’t have kids yet I have a F150 and I get good gas mileage with it and I use mine for my business. I haul big pieces of furniture to. But my wife and I have a ford taurus to so we use that when we go places. But I agree with couple of the others get a vehicle that will best fit your needs meaning family and your business.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View Wood_smith's profile


260 posts in 3050 days

#26 posted 04-28-2012 10:48 PM

Not sure I’d put a lot of faith in a 4’ x 8’ trailer that folds in half.. just saying..

-- Lloyd Kerry; creator of the Kerry-All Pouch,

View SteveMI's profile


1102 posts in 3319 days

#27 posted 05-03-2012 03:30 PM

My choice has been a stow-n-go minivan for a few years now. Two things a minivan does, besides seating people when you want, is that you can get wood home or deliver inventory with inclement weather. I’ve picked up 200+ board feet of mostly 10’ rough sawn in my minivan. The stow-n-go floor hooks make good points to attach ratcheting hold downs. Sheet goods fit inside if you move the front seats forward a bit. I would be reluctant to transport cherry plywood sheets, walnut/cherry/exotic… boards in an open pickup bed or trailer with wet or winter weather.

If you only buy 8’ big box boards and have the sheet goods broke down at the store then there are other SUV options I am sure. One vehicle that I would like to consider is the Ford Transit Connect, which would seem to get great mileage, has some seats and quite a bit of storage.

Another side story is that once we stopped at a Cracker Barrel for lunch and couple guys in the parking lot were really mad that someone had taken a couple Walnut boards from the back of the pickup while they were inside eating. No security if you stop or leave outside overnight.


View Scot's profile


344 posts in 3421 days

#28 posted 05-03-2012 03:43 PM

My 4-door Frontier gets 23+ mpg. For sheet goods I have a 5×8 lightweight trailer, for longer lumber I have a bed extender that mounts into my receiver hitch which extends out 6’ from the bumper I usually get lumber in 14’-16’ lengths. For the really big stuff I have a 20’ trailer that the Frontier pulls with no problem as long as I don’t over load it to much.

-- If the old masters had power tools, they would have used them. So get off your damn High Horse.

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3185 days

#29 posted 05-03-2012 03:50 PM

Suburu Outback

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2330 days

#30 posted 05-03-2012 05:38 PM

I went with a minivan, my old Altima could not keep up with the crap I piled on the roof all the time. When my daughter was in the car seat I could take one of the seats out and the back 3rd seats were stow and go. I was driving an hour to and from work so a full blown truck would have killed me on gas. If I need full sheets of Plywood, I can carry up to 8 but both rows of seats need to come out. I originally purchased it because getting a child out of a low car from a car seat or even getting her in was a strain on my back, being 6’2” all that bending forward was killing me. We went with a Kia Sedona, because it had everything the Toyota had except Toyota was an add on and came to 9k more for what was standard on the Kia, plus it was rated the safeest minivan with up 23 MPG, ( that’s when the wife drives with me it’s like 17, I tend to have a heavy foot).

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

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