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Hey guys, first time here (not TMF, this board). I'm not sure what you guys do here but I'll ask the question and if I'm in the wrong spot please let me know.

So we have four in our family. I've been using a Honda Accord v6 for 10 years now to ferry the family around. We don't travel by car much or far for vacations usually. That said, with four full sized bikes now I'm getting concerned about the car. If we go somewhere for the long weekend (like we just did) we have a box on top with two bikes and two bikes on a back, hitch-mounted rack.

The problem with the Honda Accord is that:

a) The hitch sucks. The towing capacity of the frame is only 1,000lbs which means the tongue weight is only 100lbs. So I now have the lightest possible two-bike rack on the back and I put two of the lightest bikes on the back.

b) The cargo capacity of the car sucks. According to the manual the car has an 800 lb limit. This includes bikes, cargo, trunk AND PASSENGERS. It's insanely low for a four person family (we're not big but we are around 600 lbs in passengers). In other words, when we load up, the car is definitely over the limit.

I know, and noticed, the car handles much differently loaded to the hilt. I'm planning on getting a Tesla Model 3 in two years (already on the list) and I assume that really, that car isn't going to have much towing/cargo capacity. It leads me to believe we should be looking at replacing the Accord with some form of mini-SUV or something with a heftier frame.

My wife and I like driving Hondas vs. Toyotas because you can feel the road. She currently drives a Mini (which we will be replacing - only need two cars regardless of what my eldest thinks). We have never spent any time looking at anything beyond a sedan before. So the question is:

If I need a new family vehicle (and I think I do), can I get some suggestions based on the above information?

Thanks all,

Simon
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I don't know how the new Model-S will match up, but I had an opportunity to drive a 2015 model a few weeks ago, and I can guarantee you you'd have no problem hauling four bicycles with it — or four Harleys, if you can wrestle them in place on its top. I've owned a number of performance cars in the past, and had driven a few others, but this one is frightening.

~aj
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2005 Accord V6 weighs about 3,300 lbs and has an allowable gross of 4,300 lbs. So your allowable payload capacity is about 1,000 lbs, not 800 lbs.

Let's assume a scenario wherein you've got 600 lbs of humans evenly distributed, 200 lbs of loaded roof box evenly distributed, and the final 200 lbs in the trunk and on the rear hitch.

So yeah, you're going to feel the increased weight, but overall the stability shouldn't be effected that much...until we consider that A) the roof box has drag up top, which effectively causes more weight transfer to the rear at speed, and B) that the roof box raises the center of gravity. So the combination is likely to feel less stable from the start and get worse with increased speed.

Theoretically you would be allowed to put a single 150 lb driver in the front seat and stack the other 850 lbs on top of the trunk in the form of a brick wall, but I sure wouldn't.

xtn
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I'm planning on getting a Tesla Model 3 in two years (already on the list)

Don't hold your breath, every supplier on the Model 3 is saying they don't even have specs, and will take 12 to 18 months to tool up once they get them. Do the math.

Tesla also pushed out their head of production, but apparently the noise from insiders is no one wants the gig, the time table is darn close to mission impossible.

Not saying the Model 3 will never happen, but realistically it appears there won't be any significant numbers built until 2018.
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Get an Odyssey. Throw in all your stuff. Throw in extra stuff just because you can. Enjoy all of the interior space that is still around you. Go anywhere you want, quietly and comfortably. Get 25 mpg along the way.

Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. You have a family. You need a van. We have owned an Odyssey for 12 years, and it has been wonderful. It feels a lot lighter than it is.

Full discolsure: I work for Honda Performance Development. Our Odyssey impressed me so much that I chose to work for the company. I am the project lead for the Indycar aero kit. Everybody root for us in the Indy 500!

Neil
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If you get an Odyssey stay out of the feckin' left lane, around here Odyssey drivers are competing with Prii drivers for camping out there.
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Lane choice depends on how you drive. A loaded Odyssey has no problem keeping up with whatever the traffic pace happens to be. Top speed is limited to the tire speed rating, which is different for each trim level. If the traffic is going 120+ mph, you might want to move out of the fast lane.

Neil
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Thanks for the feedback guys.

I don't think I can do a mini-van. I know owners love them but.... a mini-van?

Simon
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I know owners love them but.... a mini-van?

What is your price for coolness?

Most SUVs are large on the outside and small on the inside. Stand back and take a good look at one. In reality, it's a station wagon with big wheels and a jacked up suspension.

From a driving standpoint, they're generally a disaster. Why do you think stability control was invented? To keep SUVs from rolling over, that's why. Why were side curtain airbags invented? To protect the occupants of SUVs when the stability control isn't enough and they roll over anyway.

SUVs are neither Sport nor Utility. If you drive them like a sports car, you will get to view the world upside down. If you want to load them up, you'll find they don't hold much more than a large sedan.

Minivans are much more practical. Even a badly designed one has twice the cargo volume of an SUV. They have a lower center of gravity, making them more stable. They also ride much like a car and not like a truck. (As long as you avoid a well-used Astro. Those were trucks.)

You want to go on a road trip? Great! They'll carry 5 people and all of their luggage. Fold up the back seat, and they'll carry 5 people plus the luggage for 10. They'll give you a comfortable ride doing so, and get decent mileage while doing it. And you'll get the same view of the road you get in an SUV - less the upside down bit! <grin>

Yes, I like mini vans. They only thing they lack is the marketing savvy of SUVs. I've owned one continuously since 1990, and have had two for the last 14 or 15 years. I will probably always own one.

--Peter
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I am the project lead for the Indycar aero kit. Everybody root for us in the Indy 500!

Congrats!

xtn
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I know owners love them but.... a mini-van?

I think this sentiment is shared by people who think Miatas are sissy cars.

It turns out the opposite is true. SUVs are for sissies (with a very few exceptions, like a Jeep Wagoneer for example). What most peole are driving around in these days is jacked up jelly-bean-looking station wagons.

For you, I'm going to suggest a Mercedes AMG E63 S Wagon. Because OMG you've just got to.

xtn
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"I know owners love them but.... a mini-van?"

Sometimes good advice is hard to come by, but this time you're in luck. Read every word of what Peter wrote above, chew on them for a while, and then read them again.

~aj
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Try this.

The next time you want to take a weekend trip with the kids and the bicycles, borrow or rent a mini van. You'll only have to put up with it for a few days. See how you like it.

No commitment, just try it out for a couple of days. Renting a car is way cheaper than buying the wrong car.

--Peter
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For you, I'm going to suggest a Mercedes AMG E63 S Wagon. Because OMG you've just got to.

That's my dream car. 500 ponies (or are they up to 600 now?) at your beck and call, and I can fit my son's manual wheelchair in the back.

BMW had a similar M5 wagon available a number of years ago, but I don't think they're importing any 5 series wagons these days.

--Peter
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"I know owners love them but.... a mini-van?"

I have owned 3 minivans in my life and I have found them all to be easy to drive, comfortable, and incredibly versatile. I only moved to a pickup truck and retired minivan number 3 last month because my needs shifted - you can't throw 1,500 pounds of large rocks into a minivan.

Well, you can actually on a limited basis, and if you take all the seats out and load the floor toward the center so both axles bear the weight.

You can also get 36 bags of bark mulch into a minivan, if you again take the seats out and load cab forward so both axles take the weight.
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You can also get 36 bags of bark mulch into a minivan, if you again take the seats out and load cab forward so both axles take the weight.

Also, the Odyssey is sized perfectly for 4x8' plywood sheets with the middle row of seats removed and the back row folded down. 10' long studs, baseboards, crown molding etc. fit between the seats.

Neil
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Also, the Odyssey is sized perfectly for 4x8' plywood sheets with the middle row of seats removed and the back row folded down. 10' long studs, baseboards, crown molding etc. fit between the seats.

Neil


I was able to get a 10' long kayak into my Saturn Relay and close the hatch. Could still seat two and I suspect if I get creative, could make it 3
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"I was able to get a 10' long kayak into my Saturn Relay and close the hatch. Could still seat two and I suspect if I get creative, could make it 3 "

The kiddies and/or the family pooch could snuggle into the kayak too.

~aj
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I know owners love them but.... a mini-van?

You are a sheep. Mini-vans kick butt.

http://www.speedhunters.com/2013/05/race-taxi-the-porsche-bi...

xtn
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You are a sheep. Mini-vans kick butt.

Here's another one - for Neil, I think.
http://www.speedhunters.com/2014/02/burnouts-for-family-1029...

--Peter
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That negative camber on the rear wheels gives it a true badass look.

~aj
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Somehow I doubt Neil is going to like that. I don't think slammed and stanced or whatever they call it these days is going to appeal to him. I think he is impressed by things that are well engineered for real performance.

But I could be wrong.

xtn
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Somehow I doubt Neil is going to like that.

I was thinking more along the Honda line - seeing as that's where he works these days.

--Peter
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Oh yeah, I gotcha.
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Thanks for all of the attention. I do indeed value performance over style fads, especially when style degrades function. However, I approve of the concept of 1,000 hp minivans. And no, you can't get there by slapping on 200 stickers.

Let's get back to the OP's dilemma. Renting a van when the need arises is a great solution, and it is a way to learn what they can do with a family and all of their stuff on a road trip. Unfortunately, rental minivans are going to be other brands. Honda does not engage in fleet sales, which is a small part of why their resale values are on the high end of the range.

Neil
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I know we're fans of the mini-van here (it seems) but I do want to reiterate that the family road trip is not a frequent occurrence. My girls are 11 and 15 and we've done two. What we do though (currently) is load up the car to the gills and drive about 100km (plus a ferry ride) to my parents place by the beach 3-5 times a year or 130km to Whistler (but it is less loaded then).

The Accord can accommodate our stuff space-wise but I was worried about overloading it. It seemed one of you guys thinks that we weren't OVERloading it though, we just just loading it to the max.

Then there is the upcoming Tesla 3 which may not be as much of a wimp as I thought.

What I am taking from this conversation though is that if I were interested in SUVs I should really slap myself in the face and stop it. I liked the look of that Mazda but all-in-all I should really consider a mini-van. The idea of driving a mini-van daily makes me cringe though, but that's just marketing. I'll actually have to try one some time.

Thanks for all your input so far and if you come up with anything else I'm all ears.

Simon
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What I am taking from this conversation though is that if I were interested in SUVs I should really slap myself in the face and stop it. I liked the look of that Mazda but all-in-all I should really consider a mini-van. The idea of driving a mini-van daily makes me cringe though, but that's just marketing. I'll actually have to try one some time.

No need to slap yourself in the face. If you really want an SUV instead of a van, then go for it.

I would definitely have chosen SUV myself, back when there were SUVs that looked like they had some Sport and some Utility. Now most of them look pretty similar to their minivan equivalents anyway, just with a flatter hood line. There are exceptions, but look at Honda's Pilot and Odyssey for example. Nobody is seeing a Pilot go down the road and thinking, "There goes an offroad ninja man's man." It's just a family hauler the same as the Odyssey is.

I should know. My wife has a Pilot. Because she couldn't stand the idea of having a minivan. And it's been a fantastic vehicle for us. But let's be honest: It's basically a minivan anyway...just without as much space, a flatter hood line and less convenient doors. But really I don't see how it's any more 'hip' than the minivan at all. Oh and it cost more.

Now if you're considering a "real" SUV - something that's actually built for performing flamboyant acts of mountain-man heroism - then don't cross-shop a minivan at all, AND don't cross-shop most of the SUVivans sold today either.

xtn
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Now if you're considering a "real" SUV - something that's actually built for performing flamboyant acts of mountain-man heroism - then don't cross-shop a minivan at all, AND don't cross-shop most of the SUVivans sold today either.

Agreed. For that task there's a couple of Jeeps, any Land Rover, and ... ummm ... well ...


--Peter
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For that task there's a couple of Jeeps, any Land Rover, and ... ummm ... well ...

Unimogs.

xtn
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I'm planning on getting a Tesla Model 3 in two years (already on the list) and I assume that really, that car isn't going to have much towing/cargo capacity.
-1971simon

Hi Simon,
Digging up bones here, but how's that new Model 3 working out for ya?
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