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7 Ways To Choose The Best Vehicle For Business Travel

No matter what your business, at some point you'll need to get behind a set of wheels. Here's the breakdown of your best bets.
Contributing writer and columnist, Business Insider
June 16, 2011

Regardless of what kind of business you’re in, you’re probably going to need to get into a car—whether driving to meetings, visiting customers or transporting products. Even if you live in a city with great public transportation, there's always business travel. With so many vehicle options out there, it’s hard to figure out what best suits your business needs. So we did some of the work for you. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Choose a vehicle that keeps good fuel economy

A car with good fuel economy is important for those cruising the highways. Find a car that offers the best balance of horsepower and fuel economy.

  • The Toyota Prius Hybrid reaches nearly 50 mpg for highway and city driving.
  • The seven-passenger Ford Explorer has an EcoBoost engine, which makes for better fuel economy than some mid-size cars.
  • The Nissan Leaf Electric wins for being the most fuel efficient—it reaches 99 mpg.

2. Look for a car that employs innovative technologies

“There are so many great technologies on the mobile side of things that help the business traveler while on the road,” says Nick Lacasse, Ford Explorer of Canada’s marketing manager. “If you’re going to be speaking on the phone a lot, you want something that has all the technology to handle your needs like the Explorer has with Sync and MyFord Touch,” says Lacasse about the systems that offer more that 10,000 voice commands. “You don’t want to be fumbling with items. You want eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. You [want to be able to] do everything without looking away so you can have the best and safest experience while on the road.”

Toyota recently revealed their new EnTune multimedia system that uses a host of telematic features that integrate into the vehicle, says Doug Coleman, product manager with Toyota Motor Sales, USA. It’s a feature slated for the Prius V model.

3. Choose an automobile capable of creating a hotspot

With a vehicle like the seven-passenger Ford Explorer, you can pack a crew of five colleagues and their luggage if you’re daring to drive something that big. And you can even hold a meeting in the car, with everyone connected to the Internet.

“For people who bring aboard a broadband modem, they can turn the car into a WiFi hotspot,” says Lacasse. “That way wherever you go, everyone in the car together has access to the internet.”

4. Practice safety with cars that correct multi-taskers

The Toyota Prius has a feature called Dynamic Radar Cruise Control that uses a built-in radar system to sense the traffic ahead and automatically adjust the driver’s speed to a safe distance. “It's a useful feature for long-distance freeway driving when traffic is heavy,” says Coleman.

The Ford Explorer has a feature called Curve Control that slows down the car when a distracted driver misjudges a curve and over steers. “You might be talking on the phone and not paying the best attention,” says Lacasse, “And the vehicle will slow you down to 10 miles per second to keep the vehicle on the road and you in control.”

5. Choose a comfortable vehicle.

“What’s nice about the fourth-generation Prius is that it’s a midsize car. It surprises people that it’s not actually a small car,” says Coleman. “The exterior looks small and stylish, but inside is very spacious and comfortable. You aren’t stepping into an economy box here.”

And within all that space, you want to be in a vehicle that is extra-sensitive to the climate and season you’re driving in. Heated seats are great in the winter months—and seats that cool are ideal in the hot, summer months. Cars that master the art of being exceptionally quiet are lifesavers as are ones that design better lumbar support for those long days.

6. Look for the add-ons that will make your life even easier.

A power lift gate that just requires the push of a button to open and close makes life a lot easier for those struggling with their hands full with boxes and whatever else is being schlepped around. Explorer partnered with Sirius Radio, so those traveling long distances and bouncing from city to town to city and so on can enjoy their programming without adjusting throughout all of North America.

7. Go for a vehicle that is constantly upping the ante with gadgetry, connectivity, and green technology

Whatever apps you love on your phone will soon be integrated into your car. Ford has Pandora already translated to the technology of the car. Other mobile apps are making their way from the phone to car, so you don’t have to adjust any of your comforts or habits.

Ford uses soy foam in their seat cushions and setback and is looking to line the car with bio-based soy foam to compete with other vehicles using renewable and recyclable materials. That way you can be good to the earth as you drive over it, while doing business productively.

“If you’re a business traveler and looking for a lot of functionality in your car as well as space, the Prius has all those features,” says Coleman. “It’s a real car with no compromises. It also happens to look unique and have they hybrid aspect which is like the icing on the cake.”

Contributing writer and columnist, Business Insider