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

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Forum topic by irish620 posted 04-26-2012 01:25 PM 6727 views 0 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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51 posts in 2822 days

04-26-2012 01:25 PM


I need to replace my Nissan maxima but have some woodworking/family man concerns. Both my kids are still in car seats, so a 4 door mid sized truck is what comes to mind. Namely a Nissan frontier or Toyota Tacoma. The problem I am having is the gas mileage is not that great. Like most of you I will need to carry lumber,4×8 sheet goods, finished projects and other odds and ends like tools, kids bikes etc. The car will split time between family and work. Since my jobs are slow right now ( i just started my company ), the truck bed would be empty most of the time. But do I have to get 14 mpg in order to have these capabilities ? Also, I don’t have the space for a trailer, seems like a good idea but a pain in the butt to deal with when not in use.

Does anyone have advise on a car that can handle the demands of a woodworker, family and still have sensible gas mileage ?

Thanks !

30 replies so far

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 3994 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

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5772 posts in 3746 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!

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View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3485 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.

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16284 posts in 4732 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 2764 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


495 posts in 3084 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

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647 posts in 3836 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 3822 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 3688 days

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

Minivan ???

-- -- Neil

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 3350 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.

-- A posse ad esse

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1881 posts in 4075 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 2828 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 3661 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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2839 posts in 2810 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


51 posts in 2822 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.

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