Seeking family car that can accomodate house projects

What is the smallest car that can hold a 4x8 sheet of plywood (with seats folded likely)?

Looking for a vehicle that can do daily driving for a family of 4, but we can also use to haul wood from the lumber yard or (small) furniture from the thrift shop. Prioritizing fuel economy and reliability. Would you all recommend a minivan? A crossover SUV? A car-hatchback?

Thank you all!

This is easy, you go look at vehicles and take a tape measure with you.

Crossover will be too small. A LARGE SUV will work, but you’re looking for smallest.

I think the Mini-Van is your best bet.

5 Likes

Totally, but where to start? With kiddos, I would like to narrow the field a bit. Most online specs list cubic feet of cargo, but, I am not sure what the minimum is. Do you have a good sense?

Our 1999 and 2007 Chrysler minivans filled the bill for us. We didn’t have the stow-and-go seats, so we had to remove the heavy rear seats for some hauling.

1 Like

Yep, pretty sure a Chrysler/Dodge minivan would do it, the ‘stow and go’ second row seats would be the most convenient. I assume, but don’t know, that the Toyota and Honda would also work, once you removed the second row seats.

We’re on our second Honda Odyssey. It’s the perfect family vehicle.

Having said that… removing the middle row seats is kind of a pain. They aren’t too heavy, but they’re awkward.

Good luck.

Do 4X8s fit?

1 Like

Yes, take a tape measure; you will likely need a full size minivan and the cheapest would likely be a Dodge Caravan.

Alternatively, you can buy a sturdy roof rack for your existing car (if it is not a convertible) and go that route. I’ve had 3 full size US cars, two intermediates and two compacts with roof racks and they all carried the lumber needed for home projects.

If you are buying a roof rack, go to a specialist rack and hitch shop; the factory units such as those from Toyota are too flimsy and only rated for 50lbs maximum per bar.

Honestly, I’ve never tried to fit one. But you’d be stunned at how many people or things you can fit in a minivan. Oftentimes I’ve found you can fit more in a van than even a full size SUV.

These days I think you are going to have a problem with any of the SUVs holding a 4x8 sheet of plywood without wrecking the interior or leaving the back door open. What i have done for years is to use a light trailer for hauling lumber, furniture, yard waste, and so on. Then all you have to have is a vehicle that can pull 1000 pounds or so. Even my G6 can do that with ease. Much more practical than trying to fit stuff inside or on the roof. And I just got done taking four trailer loads of furniture to the Salvation Army and four loads to the dump. Never would have got it done with our SUV and a lot easier on the back.

2 Likes

Would you mind sharing what kind of trailer you use? I like this idea, though garage space is certainly part of the equation. Thanks!

I’ve just got a light 4x8 trailer. At one time it would fold up but I have modified it over the years with new springs, axle, bearings, tires, and sides to carry more and be more versatile. For somewhere around $500 plus you can get a decent one through Northern, farm stores, etc.

If a trailer might suit you I bought one from Tractor Supply. It was a 4x8 model with a wooden floor and the tail gate folds down as a loading ramp. It was listed for $699 but I ran across one that had been side swiped on their lot and got it for $500. The only damage was a ding in a fender and a broken tail light. In my line of thinking they just broke it in for me.

95 Buick Estate Wagon

3 Likes

Yeah that’ll do it. I know I could get a sheet in my 67 Buick Vista Cruiser or whatever it was called but can’t remember if I could get the tail gate closed with them. I do remember hauling 70 sheets of 1/4" cedar siding in it once. A little low to the ground is all.

1 Like

Chevy Avalanche or Cadillac Escalade Ext. Both out of production but available used. 4 door, 6 passenger versions available, with a covered 5 1/2 foot bed. Both are as big a Suburban but with a truck bed and a fold down mid-gate that allows a 4x8 sheet of anything to be carried, tailgate up. 4x10 drywal will fit tailgate down. The 5 foot bed can take gravel, top-soil or mulch and can be hosed down afterwards. Can tow 8500 lbs if properly equipped, 5000 lbs if not. Will run for 300,000 miles if well maintained. The last models years are the best for fuel economy but still aren’t very good - 19 mpg or so.

I have a trailer and “minivan”. They’re not so mini anymore. Recently, I was in a rush to take delivery of a new bedroom set. It was raining out so I took the van figuring I would make two or three trips. I was surprised everything fit in the van for one trip. The guys that loaded it were astounded. They were mulling over telling their boss to ditch the box truck (that rides like a lumber wagon and sucks up gas like nobody’s business) in favor of an Odyssey for deliveries like this…

19 mpg isn’t bad for what the Avalanche and Escalade EXT are.

If I had to answer while ignoring your “car” noun, I’d say the Honda Ridgeline might fit your needs the best. Drives better than a minivan, has a car-like interior and driving experience, not very long, and can fit a lot of stuff in back. Great in-vehicle storage as well. Our partner-site testers loved the Ridgeline and it made it to our Best of BestRide list the year it launched (about 18 months ago.) Compare it to a Honda Odyssey Minivan and I think you will be surprised by what you find. Putting lumber and building materials into big SUVs is something I have done. It is a back-breaker compared to using a pickup bed. Listen to what Nicole says in the podcast about well the Ridgeline performs as a family car.