Most cargo capacity for cross country move: minivan vs. SUV?
September 22, 2012 1:00 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend is moving from New York City to Miami for a yearlong clerkship. A one-way rental of an SUV or minivan seems to be our best option to move her stuff. What would have the most available cargo space?

We don't own a car. A U-Haul truck would be overkill since she's not bringing any large items. It'll be the two of us, a cocker spaniel and whatever stuff my girlfriend wants to move.

Since this would be a one-way rental it wouldn't be possible to remove any of the rear seats. Searching online, I find many different figures given for maximum cargo capacities, but they either assume the seats are removed or it's not indicated one way or another. I know there is a lot of variability, but let's assume our choices are a late model Dodge Caravan (or similar) vs. a midsize SUV or large SUV with all rear seats intact and folded down.
posted by theory to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Uhaul rents cargo vans with no seats in the back.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:07 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

in my experience a mini van has more room inside than an SUV (from multiple burning man rentals)
posted by supermedusa at 1:35 PM on September 22, 2012

Response by poster: I should have specified the SUV could be standard size (not midsize) like a Jeep Grand Cherokee or possibly a large SUV like a Toyota Highlander or Chevy Tahoe. Also, we were thinking of something with a bit more comfort for the long trip (especially having a small dog with us) than a Uhaul cargo van which can be kind of rough and noisy.
posted by theory at 1:58 PM on September 22, 2012

Best answer: Minivan, no question, has more cargo space. Most rental minivans come with "sto and go" seats which means they fold into the floor. I own an SUV slightly larger than the SUV's that you can generally rent and still have to borrow the parents Grand Caravan for big IKEA runs.
posted by saradarlin at 2:01 PM on September 22, 2012

Some mini vans have seats that "fold" into the floor, which is another option.
posted by oceano at 2:02 PM on September 22, 2012

Typically rental cargo vans are rented by the mile, probably not a good option for that reason alone.
posted by HuronBob at 2:11 PM on September 22, 2012

Best answer: Minivans have more room. They have so much room, it's unbelievable.
posted by jeather at 2:32 PM on September 22, 2012

I agree on the minivan v. SUV space issue, but in case you've packed the van and find yourself with a few boxes left over, remember USPS Media Mail for the books/DVDs/etc. Cheapest way to get boxes of books cross-country. Parcel Post's not that much worse if it's not media, either.

(Just moved a thousand miles with a small hatchback and a lot of help from USPS -- and the boxes actually arrived before we did.)
posted by asperity at 3:54 PM on September 22, 2012

Uhaul has cheap roof rack containers. Soft, but if you need additional space on top.
posted by exois at 5:01 PM on September 22, 2012

If you call U-Haul well in advance of your move and tell them that it's a long-haul move, they'll make sure you get one of the comfortable newer cargo vans. The last one I rented from them was as comfortable as a Silverado or Escalade, and handled very nicely under load.

If you just show up on the day before or day of move, you have to take what they have on that specific lot. Given time, they can locate what you want, and make sure you have a good move.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:16 AM on September 23, 2012

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