In this modern era of cars – there is no passenger car that can hold 6 passengers. The last major model to hold 6 passengers has lost the front center seat – the Chevy Impala.
Two station wagons remain that can transport 6 passengers – the Mercedes E-class station wagon and the Mazda5.
Inherently, in the design of a sedan there are advantages that should result in a high-passenger capacity vehicle that gets great gas mileage, handles well and Arg, isn’t a minivan. For instance, sedans have less weight, lower center of gravity, lower coefficient of drag and typically have a smaller physical footprint than most minivans and SUVs. All of these factors should create a great handling vehicle (compared to an SUV or minivan) that gets great gas mileage.
The major problem with car manufacturers pursuing profits is that they design, build and sell to the average size family is that people who lie outside the average size family have reduced choices. Those reduced choices result in large families only being able to choose poor handling, heavy vehicles with bad gas mileage.
For example, TPKoC has been fruitful and has four children. Due to changes in car seat laws you can no longer have a Civic with 4 kids crammed in with two adults in the front. In fact, your only choices for 6 passengers are heavy, poor handling gas guzzling SUVs and Minivans.
Perhaps you would say that the gas mileage doesn’t look that bad. The Honda Odyssey has a highway mileage of 27 mpg and a city mpg of 18. The real-world has been less-kind than the EPA estimates. Routinely, our 2007 Honda Odyssey gets between 13 and 14 mpg.
Perhaps, people would argue that a Honda Accord is too small for three passengers in the front seat. Americans are big people!
While I don’t question that Americans are big people and that we’ve gotten bigger in the past decades, I do question the absence of variety in the car buying market. The premise of a free market is that everything that people are willing to pay for can be available. Someone, somewhere will find a profitable way to create and fill the needs of the market.
However, with the limited number of auto manufacturers combined with the fact that few of these manufacturers are not beholden to each other (such as Ford/Mazda, Chevy/Buick/Cadillac, Toyota/Scion) means that there are even fewer choices. We shouldn’t be confused with the number of models available in 2014 (around 1000) with actual different choices.
It can’t be all that hard to design a front seat that can accommodate three people. Cars that had this option used to be prevalent everywhere. Perhaps we could have a 40mpg car, that can fit 6 people?