If it hasn’t already been planned right down to the last detail, many people will be thinking about their summer vacation. Given the uncertainty and confusion of the European situation, the idea of the ‘staycation’ has really taken a grip as holidaymakers choose to stay right here in the UK. For most, that means organising a long car journey, incorporating all that goes with a road trip, and the first priority has to be the right vehicle. Of course, it goes without saying that any car about to embark on a major undertaking like a family holiday needs to be in good working order. Visiting the local car servicing garage for a once-over makes absolute sense.
The Multi-Purpose Vehicle
Like the White Walkers in Game of Thrones, the popular SUV models, plus their smaller siblings the crossovers, have spread across the land sweeping aside all other automotive opposition. Nothing stands in their way, which means that the once hugely favoured but now much neglected multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) has lost some of its allure. For a family road trip with all that luggage and pushchairs and inflatables, that could be a mistake. Often these big, sometimes seven seat motors have superior interior versatility and there is a good case as to why they should be at the top of the list as family transport.
The days when MPV’s looked just like boxy, converted vans (which they were) have gone. Today they are much better designed and come with all the latest engine options and technology. They can prove to have plenty of legroom and be very comfortable on long journeys with ample interior storage for drinks and all the bits and pieces. For balance, the size and versatility of these vehicles usually adversely affects handling but sporty driving is not what these motors are about.
With a car-like, hatchback five-door configuration the MPV is easy to access with sliding doors, and, with a low boot lip, loading things into the back is pretty simple. In seven-seat variants the back row of seats folds flat into the floor to greatly enlarge boot capacity. The only time a family will need all the seats is when there are five children, in which case Mum and Dad might like to consider other options for their leisure time.
The middle row of seats may be able to slide forwards and backwards, fold down or, in some cases, can be completely removed. MPV seating can also usually be configured in various other ways which means that all sorts of odd or long articles can be carried, plus the design makes the fitting of roof boxes a doddle. It’s really worth considering this type of car as an alternative to the ubiquitous SUV, especially as they can be very competitively priced.
These chunky pseudo off-road motors, some with all-wheel drive, have shown themselves to be the go-to motor in recent years and regularly top the best seller lists. The high-riding driving position is appealing as are the often large boots and increasingly frugal engines. In short, the SUV doesn’t really need any introduction; we’re all well aware of their abilities. Choosing the right vehicle though requires thought as these cars are often based upon hatchback models in a brand’s range. Indeed many crossover-style vehicles are really nothing more than raised hatchbacks.
Therefore it pays to be a bit canny when considering an SUV for a family holiday. The option of all-wheel drive can be an advantage for camping vacations but some models, to accommodate passengers can sometimes have smaller boots. Make sure the vehicle fits in with the plan.
The Estate Car
This is a sector that has really suffered in recent years quaking beneath the might of the SUV. Low and sleek, they are the roomier equivalent of their saloon or hatchback counterparts. Some models even look better as estates. They come in sporting variants too with as much power as the regular hot hatch variants.
The days when big, ungainly and rather battered estate cars were the preserve of country folk who wanted to ferry Labrador dogs around the lanes are no more. Today they are truly car-like to drive and handle very well, eating up the miles in comfort. As estate cars are more aerodynamic than the previous two options, fuel consumption can be much better.
So there’s three types of vehicle to choose from as the best way to move a family around. Whichever is chosen remember to add car servicing to the preparation list, and don’t forget the wet wipes!