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Old 11-02-2020, 09:48 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Large Family Hauler Ideas? 35+ MPG Wanted

So my wife and I have realized that we really love long road trips- even with three kids and a dog and all the ancillary bits and pieces. We’re in a 2007 Toyota Sienna fwd van, maybe 25 mpg. I got spoiled in my Civic VX being able to drive literally coast to coast for under $150. What’s the best off-the-shelf large family hauler that can come closest to those numbers? I’ve got a feeling it doesn’t exist. My first thoughts are to do some interesting mods to an E-350... What example or ideas have you guys got for comfortably and cheaply scooting around America’s backroads?

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Old 11-02-2020, 12:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Depends on the dog I guess.
If you allow it on a seat maybe a Honda FR-V?


Seats 6 in 2 rows of 3, and the trunk space is not too small while the overall dimensions are still manageable.



Same for the Fiat Multipla, but that one has its own unique challenges. Like you need to avoid large reflective surfaces.

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Old 11-02-2020, 12:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The crux of your question is whether 2 in the front and three in the middle is "comfortable" or if a third row is needed. The first scenario has the dog in a carrier in the open cargo area (not a trunk).

Secondly, how much gear are you packing, both in weight and volume. Cargo carriers that go in a hitch carry volume well, but would make the steering light if loaded heavy.

Lastly is this just a pavement pounder, or are gravel/dirt roads in the mix?
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Old 11-02-2020, 07:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I like the idea of a third row to spread the kids out. Probably not taking a ton of luggage or anything, we can usually fit the whole family’s stuff for at least a few nights in a couple duffle bags. We have a dog but don’t usually take it traveling so I don’t want to totally base a decision on that either. We don’t go off-roading, but dirt and gravel roads like midwestern or southwest farm roads are absolutely a thing. I tend to stay off them when they’re soft and wet.
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Old 11-02-2020, 08:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Based on that, for a turnkey deal a 2021 Sienna Hybrid (claims 36mpg) is the only thing that comes to my mind right off, but for the cost I would suggest modifying your existing van a bit and use it.
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Old 11-02-2020, 10:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Old 11-03-2020, 12:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Large Family Hauler Ideas? 35+ MPG Wanted
.... We’re in a 2007 Toyota Sienna fwd van, maybe 25 mpg.
You're almost there!

The best way to get to the goal would be a pusher trailer that lowers the Cd. With a teardrop dog house.

Comfortable on America's back roads? Motels or camping?
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Old 11-03-2020, 01:21 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I agree with modifying the sienna. Whatever mods you can do to an e350 you should be able to do to the toyota. Plus the potential price difference (assuming you sell the sienna and buy the replacement) means the break even point might be waayyyy out there to make it worth it.
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Old 11-03-2020, 08:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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A Prius V is a bit on the small side but could meet your requirements.

It probably won't save you anything in repairs, but BMW makes a 3 and a 5 series wagon with a TDI, and I want to say it's available with a 6(?) speed manual. Should be good for better than 40mpg on the highway if driven gently.
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Old 11-03-2020, 09:52 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Assuming I-80 and today's average of $2.12/gallon, you'll need a vehicle that gets 41mpg to reach the goal of coast-to-coast on $150. There isn't a minivan or SUV that will do that yet unless you go electric. Current minivans aren't much better than your 2007; IIRC the Odyssey and Pacifica are rated 28mpg highway. But the 2021 Sienna will be significantly better, as someone else mentioned, and the Prius V if you're willing to live with something smaller.

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