Goldilocks Effect

By Julia Price

September 21, 2016 4 min read

When it comes to what you put in your car, whether you're a minimalist or you treat it like a storage unit on wheels, the right size vehicle can make your driving life a lot easier.

If you're looking for something moderately small, Ford has a four-door hybrid option that is not only compact but also great on gas mileage. The C-Max hybrid can fit five comfortably, but it also has an option to fold the back seats down flat to create more room for fitting smaller pieces of furniture, luggage and large grocery orders. In addition to the C-Max having a convenient size, it is ecologically friendly. It's also user-friendly; there's an option to open the trunk with your foot -- yes, your foot -- in case your hands are full. Two alternative options in the same size family are the Toyota Prius C (more miles to the gallon), and the Nissan Versa Note (fewer miles to the gallon).

The petite yet largely popular electric car that has everyone talking is the BMW i3. This sleek electric vehicle can run a little over 80 miles before it needs to be charged, but it has a backup gas tank, as well. It has two doors, and the back is much smaller than the other options listed above, but if you use your car to get you to and from work without much need for packing it up with items, this may be the perfect option for you.

And smaller still is the Fiat 500. This cute but powerful vehicle has no room in the back for additional passengers, but there is a small trunk. This is the perfect car for the city commuter, with the perks of being able to squeeze into those parallel parking spots that standard cars can't make.

In the midsize range, Toyota, Honda, Audi and Ford all have great options for safe, four-door cars, hybrid or not, with large trunks. If you're searching for the best midsize car for this year, Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics and Edmunds offer resources to help guide your decision-making process.

If you're looking for a vehicle to run car pools or tote around the kids, carry surfboards or store musical instruments, you might want to consider a sports utility vehicle. According to Kelley Blue Book, the top-rated SUVs of 2017 are the BMW X4, the Mazda CX-3 and the Kia Sorento. While these range drastically in price (the BMW starts at $45,000 and the Mazda at $20,000), all three can give you the minivan legroom without the minivan look. The Kia has a seven-passenger option, as well, while the Mazda has an all-wheel-drive option. The BMW has multiple engine options to choose from. They all share similar ranges for gas mileage, anywhere from 19/27 to 27/32 mpg.

If you're trucking larger things around, such as equipment, machinery or furniture, the best option is, well, a truck. Car and Driver has four different size and power rankings for trucks: midsize; full size; heavy duty; and ultra heavy duty. Under the midsize category, the Nissan Frontier is the best bargain. The majority of trucks in the midsize category get similar gas mileage, so if you're going for savings, the Nissan is the way to go. If you're looking for a full-size truck that also has a luxurious interior, the Ram 1500 has leather seating that makes the transition from working to relaxing easier. While the seating might not be as fancy, the Ford F-150 has a 12,000-pound capacity and an 8-foot bed. This full-size truck is ready to do some serious work.

The heavy-duty options have nearly the same size beds as the full size, but they can tow much more weight. You can also get the same luxurious interior options without giving up the external grit needed to get the job done.

Visit Car and Driver online for further help deciding which size vehicle is the best fit for you.

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