2014 Vans

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On the fun scale, moving is right up there with looking for a job, root canal, and shoveling snow off the driveway. And it’s made even worse if you don’t have the right vehicle (not to mention friends who have suddenly all left town). Borrowing your buddy’s hatchback and cramming it full of your stuff for multiple trips across the city gets old in a hurry, and the whole ordeal can be made that much easier by just biting the bullet and getting a decent sized van from the get-go.

But what to choose? If you’re moving from one studio to another, for example, you don’t need a five-ton truck, and the contents of a two-bedroom apartment will require more than a mini-van with the seats removed.

Here’s what’s available, broken down by size.

One bedroom apartment or studio. OK, you can probably get by with a full-size pickup or the aforementioned mini-van with the seats taken out. But it’ll take more than one load to do it. The advantages to using a pickup are that it’ll take tall and odd-shaped loads. On the other hand, it’ll be open to the elements and everything will have to be tied down. Most rental companies have a fleet of single cab/long bed pickups available (usually Ford F-150s), and this is one of your most affordable options. That said, a mini-van is more comfortable, tends to offer better fuel economy, and you can get a fair amount of stuff into one if you use your head. The Dodge Ram Cargo Van, for example, has 144 cubic feet of space, which will take a big bite out of most studio apartments. Other choices here include the Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo (122 cu. ft.), it’s twin, the Chev City Express, Ford Transit long wheelbase (130 cu. ft.), the short wheelbase Mercedes Sprinter (371 cu. ft.), and the GMC Savana/Chev Express (239 cu. ft.). Of the vehicles discussed here, the Sprinter is probably the most versatile…..it’ll accommodate the most stuff and is powered by a thrifty turbodiesel engine. Disadvantage: these are hard to find and not utilized by many rental companies.

Two or three bedroom apartment. You’re moving up in the world now and you pretty much have to think about a cube van or Mercedes long wheelbase Sprinter. This latter vehicle has an astonishing 600 cubic feet of cargo room with the high roof model and you can empty most 2-3 bedroom apartments into it if you’re careful. The extended wheelbase versions of the GMC/Chev duo might also do in a pinch here, as will the Ford E-series wagon; these feature some 300 cubic feet of cargo room. A couple of other pluses with the Mercedes, Ford, and GM products: they have side access doors and are comparatively easy to maneuver in city traffic.

Three or four bedroom house. Now you’re playing with the big boys and you will have to plump for that full-size truck. Depending upon the model, these will handle up to 1000 cubic feet of cargo and you should be able to do everything in one shot. They usually have a rear loading ramp and some come with a hydraulic rear liftgate for the heavy stuff. Virtually all the rental companies stock these in abundance, and they usually have a diesel engine of one type of another. On the other hand, they’re not the easiest rigs to manhandle around town and take up a lot of room during loading/unloading.

So, how about costs?  U-Haul, for example, charges $19.95 a day plus $.49 a kilometer for a typical cargo van (Savana, E-series, etc) or F-150. Ryder rentals, meanwhile, are asking $150 plus $.29 cents a kilometers for the daily use of a “city” van….ie, a 585 to 900 cubic footer, and Budget want $59.86 plus $.16 / km for a 16-foot (790 cubic foot) cube fan, with no charge for the first 100 km. Toronto’s Autoshare vehicle co-op – which is now owned by St. Louis-based Enterprise Rentals, by the way – starts at $11.25 an hour, or $90 a day for a Nissan NV200 and $12.25 or $100 a day for a Chevy Express, with a $29 registration fee. These are the most popular vehicles used for moving purposes, according to AutoShare’s Leily Shafaee.  It’s also worth noting that Budget – and most of the agencies mentioned here – charge “significantly more” on weekends and holidays.

If all this is too much, and you want to hire someone to do everything for you, prices depend on how much stuff has to be shifted. The “two men with a truck” scenario can run from about $400 a day, and well-known outfits like United can go as high as $10,000 for a full home (even more if you’re a retired general). Aaron and Jessica Husak, who moved from their Langley, BC townhouse to North Vancouver, paid “two guys with a truck” $350 to do everything. “They did about 85 per cent of the work,” says Jessica Husak. “All we had to do was box the little stuff. No hassles whatsoever. ”