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Trucks And Minivans

Today's utility vehicles offer the best of both worlds--comfort and cargo space.

You want it all, don't you? You're a real no-compromise kind of person. You've had to be, in order to command success from your business. You've invested too much of your blood, sweat and tears to misspend any of your hard-earned cash. You need a work vehicle that can also serve as a personal vehicle, and you'd be hard pressed to pay for something that isn't up to either task.

The current crop of minivans, light trucks and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) are as adept at chauffeuring you to your favorite high-class eatery as they are at lugging heavy cargo for hundreds of miles. Gone are the days of vans that jostle your insides and pickups that hammer your kidneys. Today, if you need the utility of a van or truck, yet don't want to spend money on two vehicles (one for work and one for personal use), you can get the equivalent of a Cadillac crossed with a 4x4.

Which businesses can benefit from these modern-day wonders? Any that need room to haul things around. Mobile service businesses need room for their equipment. Any retail business that offers a delivery service with the purchase of a product, such as computers or office equipment, needs a vehicle able to handle its largest orders. The vehicle used by a mobile auto-detailing service needs to be roomy enough to hold equipment and look good enough to show off its services. Business owners who spend entire days traveling to give estimates need something comfortable enough to maintain a good disposition in front of prospective customers and roomy enough to lug all their gear to the job site.

Many new design features built into modern utility vehicles make them pleasant to deal with on an everyday basis. The size of today's minivans, for instance, makes them much easier to drive than full-size vans. Manufacturers have made removing and rearranging rear seats a simple task. Nissan's Quest minivan offers a unique sliding, third-row bench that you never have to remove--you can either fold it up and slide it against the front seats when you need the most room for cargo or slide it from the third into the second row when you need more seating. And for the ultimate in convenience, Pontiac's TransSport offers a sliding side door that opens at the push of a remote-control button--making it easy to load and unload when your hands are full.

If your cargo is of a messy nature (carpentry tools or painting supplies, for example), pickup trucks may be a better choice for you. For a few hundred dollars, you can buy a "cap" that encloses the bed to protect your equipment from the elements. Today's light trucks also offer much in the way of comfort and convenience: Improvements in the rear seats in the extended-cab models now offer better rear-seat accommodations than some regular cars. These rear "jump seats" used to be extremely uncomfortable for anyone taller than four feet. Now full-grown adults can sit in them and will find shoulder straps on the seatbelts.

The SUVs are sort of a cross between minivans and pickup trucks. If you'll be driving on unpaved roads or need to tow a trailer, SUVs are better suited to your needs than minivans and offer more passenger room than the new light trucks. They have more powerful engines, higher ground clearance and greater maximum towing capacity.

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