Consumers looking for more space in the family vehicle have plenty of choices in an SUV or station wagon. But how do you choose between them? Here are some tips.

Determine Your Needs

Before shopping for any vehicle, figure out your needs. How many people do you need to transport? If the number is five, you can go for a compact SUV or station wagon. If you need to carry six or seven on a regular basis, you’re looking at a midsize or large SUV, rather than a station wagon.

How about cargo capacity? Do you regularly need to carry both people and cargo? Depending again on how many passengers you’ll normally carry, you have much more space in midsize and large SUVs than station wagons. But don’t be deceived by overall cargo capacity. Those numbers are calculated with 2nd and 3rd-row seats folded flat (or removed, as they need to be in some SUVs).

Towing a boat or a trailer? If so, you’ll need an SUV capable of hauling a load.

Car-Like or Truck-Based

Not all SUVs are alike. Many are more car-like than truck-based, which is good for consumers who appreciate an SUV that drives and handles like a car, but with an SUV’s flexibility and versatility. Station wagons are, by nature, car-like.

Consider whether you’re more comfortable with a vehicle that’s easy to drive (car-like), or can tolerate the stiffer ride and handling of a truck-based SUV.

What About Amenities

Are you looking for a more bare-bones vehicle that’s light on amenities in favor of price? Factor in how much time you’ll actually be behind the wheel or how long your passengers will be in the vehicle. That will help you determine whether you need an SUV or station wagon that has upgraded interiors, and extra amenities like DVD players, adapters for iPods and other portable devices, rear air conditioning, and other options.

Fuel Economy Considerations

With gasoline prices generally going higher, pay special attention to fuel economy numbers in any vehicle you’re considering – SUV or station wagon. Generally speaking, the smaller the vehicle is, the better the fuel economy. A V6 gets better gas mileage than a V8, and there are also hybrids that maximize fuel efficiency when in gasoline mode as well as cut emissions. The more options and weight a vehicle has, the more fuel economy suffers. You may also wish to consider clean diesel engines.


Safety is Important

Never compromise safety when it comes to your family. Fortunately, today’s SUVs and station wagons are loaded with standard safety features. You may wish to pay extra for backup cameras and blind spot warning systems.

Adding It All Up

SUV or station wagon – the choice really depends on what your overall tally is after you add up all your requirements.

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