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What car does my daughter need to get for her job?

Hi guys, love your show. Been a listener for many many years! Really hope you can give us some advice, here’s the situation. Our daughter has become an equine veterinarian and has taken her first job in Kentucky. She currently has a 2000 Ford ranger XLT pick up truck. Sadly the truck only gets sixteen miles to the gallon and has over 150,000 miles on it, so it’s got to go. With her new position, she will be required to carry a box of medical equipment that weighs 500 lbs, that she has to carry at all times. In addition to the veterinarian equipment box she has to carry, she’ll have to carry an ultrasound machine and a portable radio-graph (x ray) machine that must be kept dry, and also locked up safely in her car. A pick up with a cap would be impractical. She’s been told that she will drive between 20 and 70 miles a day to make emergency calls to barns. She will be given a generous car allowance and is thinking of purchasing something new. Can you recommend a make and model that could stand up to these difficult conditions? We really hope you’ll give us your input. She’ll have to make her decision by the end of April.

Ford Transit Connect van. Its a small van, but tall and without the side windows (panel van), her equipment will be out of sight. She could probably stand up in this van if she had to and maybe could even haul a small horse if a stall of some kind could be built in to keep it away from teh equipment.

The only downside is that the van only comes with the Duratec 2.0 liter four cylinder so if she got into very mountainous country, it might be a struggle to get up steep mountains at highway speeds. It should get her better than 16 mpg and there is plenty of room on the sides of the van for any advertisements he company might want to have painted on.

Better hurry as the van will be all new for 2014 and not as good for a purpose like this. It will not be as tall. But I understand that another medium sized van like it will be introduced soon.

I like the Transit Connect idea, good room and decent economy.

Tom and Ray don’t participate in these forums, so you won’t get their advice here. You will get the collective wisdom of some experienced folks.

Since a truck and shell are for some reason not acceptable, she’s left with either a van or a biggish SUV. The problem I see is that her load is so variable. She really needs to figure out what is the biggest load she’ll ever have to carry before she starts looking at specific models. Perhaps ask her colleagues what works for them. If she can get by with a mud-sized SUV, the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, and Mazda CX9 are all solid choices, but they may not be big enough. They can all handle 500+ pounds easily enough and don’t feel excessively like trucks.

The vets around here have trucks but I like the transit idea provided it can take the weight and the roads won’t be a problem. Trucks are better for the gravel roads in spring and winter time and for driving out into a field when they have to and pulling a trailer.

Horse owners and farmers like good ole American iron. I’d go with a GMC full sized SUV if she needs a lot of room for equipment. If they make one with a diesel motor even better. Plenty of room and can even haul a big horse trailer if needed - but lousy mpg.

If mpg is important, the Ford Transit Connect is a good idea. Also look at the new Ford Escape, perhaps with rear seats down there is enough room in the back. These will get between 25-30 mpg and be comfortable.

I think a full-size van, preferably with 4WD if possible. I would also consider a windowless commercial van if there’s a chance that someone may break in. A windowless van is harder to break into and since you can’t see into the back, less inviting. True, it probably won’t get any better mileage than she’s getting now, but the trade off in utility and durability will probably be worth it. It’s also worth considering that if she’s going to be in and out of this thing every day, that a larger vehicle with more space to move around in the back will be a lot more pleasant to live with. Good gas mileage is nice, but I’d rather frown when I pay an extra $10 at the pump instead of all the time living with a vehicle I hate to drive and work with.

I am actually having second thoughts on the Transit Connect, it is almost ideal except that it does not come in an AWD or 4wd version. It does come with an advanced traction control and if she puts good snow tires on it year round, it maybe all she needs. But I am concerned that she may have to spend a lot of time on dirt roads, driving across a field or a muddy lot to get to the barn, etc.

She should get some advice from here employer about this. If her employer advises her to get at least an AWD, then she should look for something with plenty of head room, ground clearance and sliding side doors. In most states, she can use a limo tint (5% light transmission) on the windows behind the driver for security if she feels that is needed.

If the Transit Connect will work out, I hear that Ford dealers that still have them in stock are reducing the prices in anticipation of the new model coming out soon. BTW, the Transit Connect is front wheel drive.

How heavy is the x-ray machine and any other temporary equipment that may sometimes be required ?
If it can only roll and not be lifted , she’d need a low load surface with a ramp or a truck with a lift gate.

Many service people choose a 4x4 pickup cab/chassis with a tool box body and liftgate.
Some have vans, but many I’ve spoken to like the quick easy access to tools and supplies provided by the outer facing tool box bodies.
they can be purchased covered and lockable even with a liftgate.
4x4 because of the rural nature of the roads she’ll be fully expected to navigate in the worst weather at a moment’s notice.

I’ll just bet you that she adds to the initial inventory at least double as she gets more involved and well known learning what else is just better to keep on hand to target her customers and not need to make additional supply runs.

Heck, depending on her clientel, she may end up up with a trailer big enough to put the whole horse in side on a lifting sling . ( I’ve seen 'em )
Then she’ll need a tow vehicle ( spelled T.R.U.C.K. ) to pull that rig.
Even seen a truck outfitted with a large animal lifting crane…looking very similar to those cranes you see on tire and railroad service trucks. They’d drive the truck right up beside the injured cow, fit with a sling, and lift her right up.

Fuel mileage is last in the equation when all of the must haves are first put on the table.

If I was in her position, Id’d get a Chevy/GMC Tahoe, the one with the shorter wheelbase than the Suburban. Gas mileage should not be the overriding concern here, but the ability to carry weight and get anywhere is!

My guess is you are going to need a full size truck based vehicle, preferably four wheel drive to get through dirt and muddy roads. I also think you may need more storage then you think, and you may need to tow a horse trailer, plus you may need the vehicle to offer some shelter in the back from the elements, ( animals do get sick on bad weather days). So my suggestion would be a utility body, and cap pickup like this one.

http://www.thompsoncampers.com/Truck%20Caps%202011/2011%208'%20GMC%20SIERRA%20UTILITY%20BED%20010.jpg

Does She know that you looking? …for a vehicle for her.
Could be as dangerous as screening potential boyfriends.

A “Sprinter” type van would fit the bill. Our shop has a Mercedes Sprinter, it has a great ride, lots of room for gear, and you can stand upright in it. Not sure if they are available in 4WD if she needs that. Mileage is about 25mpg.

Here’s a supplier of veterinary equipment. While they make equipment for SUVs, most of their equipment is for pick-up trucks. Click on the equipment to see how it’s used. The x-ray units (click on them), if similar to what your daughter will use, can be kept in the rear seat area easily.

http://www.bowieintl.com/default-temp.asp

I’d look at a new GMC Sierra K15 4WD or a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4WD with the 5.3L V8 and 6-spd auto transmission and the extended cab. They get 15 MPG city and 21 MPG highway. She may not need 4WD, but either of these trucks have great mileage and will do the job.