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Seeking family car that can accomodate house projects

No doubt that’s a nice ride. The thing with a pick up though that I’ve always noticed is that the bed really has a limited payload area compared to a trailer. I remember way back when both my neighbor and I were hauling landscape rock. I used a trailer and he used a pick up. I could get close to 2000# on my trailer and because of the height, shoveling into a wheel barrow required little motion. The pick up though hardly made it up the driveway it was squatted down so low from the load, and the height made shoveling a lot harder. Still there are advantages for general hauling.

The Ridgeline is a truck for those who don’t really need or want a truck but appreciate the ability to carry bulky items. The ride is great and handling quite good as we… It has uni-body construction just like the Accord on which it is based.

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I don’t think ridgelines have an 8 foot box option.
OP wants an 4x8 carry capacity.

Right. The Ridgeline can carry 4 foot wide by 8 foot long building materials flat in the cargo area with the tailgate down.

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My Ford Escape will haul several sheets of 8x4s, but it’s has the old boxy body style. Not sure that the new Escapes will do the trick. I love, love, love my vehicle, but it’s got 203k miles on it. I’m in the market to buy an SUV with equivalent cargo space.

I had a 67 Buick Vista Cruiser back in the latext '70s. I loved that car. Party wagon, workhorse, it could do it all. Great in snow.

In case anyone cares today, the honest and accurate answer is:

Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Caravan & Pacifica.

With these “cars” (not trucks or SUVs), you can lay one or more full sheets flat in the back when you stow / remove the seats.

The BIG SUV’s can: Suburban, Expedition or similar.

The full / mid-size SUV’s cannot. This includes Explorer, Sequoia, Tahoe, Durango, etc. Not unless you twist the sheet diagonally or effect other awkward, impractical or unsafe measures. Or leave the back hatch open. And then you won’t be able to haul anything else at the same time.

I know because I’ve personally owned or tried / measured them all. I’m in the market for a new one having worn out my second Sienna with over 250K miles each. But the new 2021 Sienna will not have this capability with their passenger seat changes.

The Chrysler products will work, and I may have to go with the Pacifica, which is a little more clumsy vs the Caravan, but I think it’s a better vehicle overall.


Of the three you listed, I’d go with the Sienna. I wouldn’t buy a Fiat unless I was fine with it breaking a lot.

… plus, potentially being stranded when it breaks down. And, given the incredibly low sales numbers for Fiat, there will probably soon be few–if any–dealerships for parts and service.

I used to see Fiat 500s around here occasionally for a few years, but more recently I don’t recall seeing one for at least six months. Have they all broken down by this time? :smirk:

The only Fiat dealership in my area has already removed their Fiat sign, and it is now solely a Maserati/Alfa-Romeo dealership. I don’t give them more than a few more months before those signs are gone also.

I reacquainted recently with a contractor I’ve known since childhood. We were both pleased to see we each were driving Chrysler Corp. minivans. Mine is a 2007, last year of the short ones. He has the longer one with the seats that stow under the floor. He likes how well his suits his needs. I said the same. Once you’ve had sliding side doors, you’ll never forget them!

To be clear, OP was looking at Chryslers which as you know are now made by Fiat. Your comments on Fiat’s viability, I think, speak to the quality problems Fiat doesn’t seem motivated to fix, which is why I wouldn’t buy a Fiat with a Chrysler badge either. :wink:

I believe that’s inaccurate. AFAIK, the companies combined at the corporate level. Most of Fiat’s production and sales are outside North America; most of Chrysler’s inside North America. One example: Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth minivans have been made in Canada for decades, with most of them sold in the USA.

I don’t mean they’re physically made in the same factories. I mean Fiat owns Chrysler and gets to call the shots. For example “use this part because it’s cheaper” is something Fiat can, and frankly is likely to, order.

Chrysler was already of middling quality before Fiat got hold of them, and they certainly aren’t any better now.

That could happen within any corporation. Any evidence of when and where it’s happening in the car industry, or specifically within Fiat-Chrysler?

Many reliability or safety issues have component pricing as part of the mix. GM’s ignition switches a few years back, or Ford’s automatic transmissions for small cars, for example.

Boeing’s issues with that Max airplane are a chilling example of how complex reliability and safety issue are. There was a very insightful article in New Yorker some months back, and a new report out of Congress just now.

I like the Fiat-Chrysler minivans, and agree that they could be made more durable and reliable. That said, the only times they have stranded me in 15 years of ownership (both bought used) has been with flat tires. Lucky for me I had kept the spare’s cable mechanism freed up and greased, and the spare tire fully inflated!

You provided it in your next paragraph :smiley:

Unless you have a subscription you can’t read the article, but Consumer Reports ranked Fiat as the worst overall brand. Its Chrysler-based subsidiary Jeep also made the “crappiest brand” list.

No argument here! I wouldn’t buy one of those either.

They’re more a chilling example of what happens when a company run by engineers morphs into a company run by business majors. A lot of us aviation dorks suspected trouble was coming when Boeing inexplicably moved its headquarters from right near their main plant in Seattle to Chicago. And that’s when quality issues started happening. The 737-Max is just one example. The 787 has major problems as well (including lack of proper tolerances in the body which lowers its ability to handle forces to below minimums), and then there’s the whole debacle of their new tankers for the military, which keep getting delivered having been built wrong. And some of them still have crap like tools and garbage left in critical areas like fuel tanks.

Cheaping out and playing fast and loose with quality controls have turned that company from one about which professional pilots would say “if it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going” to a company that may well not survive the fallout from all the disasters it’s wrought on itself.

And that all wraps around to explain Fiat/GM/Ford and the other companies that decided the immediate bottom line was more important than design/build quality. It’s the same problem - Boeing just gets more attention because in general, when a GM ignition switch fails, it doesn’t kill 300 people at once.

Funny you should bring up GM - you’d think they’d have learned their lesson from the 70’s/80’s when they decided to cheap out on build costs. So they churned out crap for a few decades and then got surprised when people tired of buying crap and started buying imports. It was so bad that they took out a full page ad in papers once, essentially saying “we know we’ve been ripping you off by selling you garbage. Please forgive us and buy cars from us again.”

Honestly, just about any time you let a bean counter tell an engineer what to do, you end up with problems like that.

And in Engineering that’s why there’s this thing called “Best Practices”. The latest report on the Max showed how Boeing and the FAA was NOT practicing “Best Practices”.

Engineering can be complex and hard. Over the years as systems got more and more complicated standards in design and implementation started to form. These standards became what is now known as “Best Practices”. Management HATES Best Practices because it takes time and they want it quick. They don’t understand that quick also means dirty, and will cost you more in the long run because or the re-engineering and bug fixes. To do it right takes time. I’ve worked on extremely complex systems…and EVERY TIME…if we follow best practices and everyone is on board with it - SUCCESS. And EVERY TIME when we take shortcuts don’t follow Best Practices - FAILURE and costs us more money in the long run. Luckily I haven’t worked on projects where Human life is at risk.


Hmmm. I’m offended. Not all business majors are interested in only the short term. Not including Harvard MBAs or finance majors, but building the businesses for the long term means quality products or “products that meet customer requirements”. Sometimes though engineers are not the best ones to determine customer requirements. In Fiat’s case, geez a little TQM on the dang parts that are breaking all the time (Jeep included), would go a long way. Then when they get IT, change their name. It’s easier to start from scratch than than re-engineering everything. I owned a Morris and a VW and I’m very happy I never owned a Fiat, but the boss did for a little while.

Edit: Maybe that was too harsh. Actually the Italians seem very happy with their little Fiat buckets of bolts. So maybe they are meeting customer requirements in Italy. It’s just when they come to the US market, requirements are a little different. Like you want to make a 500 mile trip without a tow.

Yeah, which means the business side needs to listen to the engineers. And when the engineers tell you not to reduce quality control, you should probably go with that viewpoint. :wink:

The problem comes when people start working outside of their wheelhouse. The MBA side should not be putting their oar in on the design, especially on safety-critical parts. And the engineers should not be manning your social media marketing channels.

By the same token the engineers need to be empowered to say no. The 737 thing happened because the C-suite told them to take a 1960’s plane and make a 21st century plane out of it, with vastly expanded passenger capacity and much larger engines, which is an issue on the low-wing, low-gear 737. You’ll note that most pre-Max 737s have weird egg-shaped engine pods, unlike any other plane. That’s because as the engines got bigger, they had to stick accessories out to the side so they wouldn’t be too close to the ground. That was a design compromise that worked fine, but then the execs wanted to go even further, and put even bigger engines in there, which required them to be shoved forward on the wing, and that screwed up the center of gravity to the point that the engineers had to put a software bandaid in to wrest control away from the pilots and prevent stalling in certain situations.

And then the execs decided to make the sensor that told the plane when it was about to stall a single point of failure by only hooking one sensor up to the bandaid system even though the plane came with more than one sensor by default. Because it’s cheaper to only run the one connection.

Those crashes happened because the C-suite was too interested in the P&L sheets, and not interested in what they were actually building. So they told the engineers “make this happen, as cheap as possible,” and the engineers couldn’t say “can’t be done safely, come back with better instructions.”

Had the engineers been free to put their foot down, they’d have insisted on designing a new plane, because the 737, great as it is and has been, simply required too many design compromises to safely do what the execs wanted the Max version to do. And the “redesign” is putting more bandaids on top of the bandaids they already slapped on the thing to make it work.

I’ll take your word for it. I’m not airplane qualified. It’s been 50 years since I’ve been in ground school. Just sayin’ engineers may not be as close to the customer as others.

This is last fall’s article that I referred to earlier, about conflicts inside Boeing, and the 737 Max project. If too far off topic, I apologize.