The Long and Short of Car Wheelbases

The Long and Short of Car Wheelbases

When deciding to buy a new vehicle, you’ve most likely considered the brand, performance, color, and make or model. Other questions you should ask yourself are: how many passengers or what type of cargo will I be transporting in my vehicle?  Will it be for business or pleasure, or both?  Where will I do most of my driving – in urban areas or in the countryside? This is where the length of the wheelbase comes into play. Here you can find some information about the differences in the lengths, and the benefits and drawbacks of both types, to help you to purchase the perfect new or used vehicle for your needs.

What exactly is a wheelbase? 

The wheelbase is the distance between the axles of a vehicle which has an effect on both handling and comfort. Midsize sedans often have a relatively long wheelbase – about three metres – between the front and rear axles. In the compact Golf, the axles are about 2.60 metres apart. Long distances between the two axles allow for generous interior space, such as more legroom for your passengers. Long or short wheelbase are the two primary options you should take into consideration. But how are they different? There are advantages for taking each type and the length of the wheelbase can be a plus no matter if you choose your vehicle for business or pleasure.

Why a long wheel base?

Long wheel base

If you buy a longer vehicle, you will naturally have greater storage space in the back. Perhaps you are planning to use your vehicle for your business and need the space to transport large tools or equipment from point A to B. An LWB could also be a huge benefit if you have a van or SUV, and wish to convert it to make it a portable home.  A van or SUV means space for a bed, kitchen, and the equipment you need while you are on the road.

Since the wheels are further apart, the time between the front and rear wheels travelling over an uneven surface is longer. So when you encounter a bump in the road your drive will be smoother and more comfortable.

Why choose a short wheel base?

A shorter wheelbase often, but not always, results in lower passenger capacity of the vehicle and the overall dimensions play a part as well. A car with a short wheel base gives you more maneuverability to get around narrow spots, and to turn the car around if you’ve missed your stop. If you are planning to drive in the countryside, it is much easier to get through narrow roads or tight alleyways. If an exciting trip into the countryside, desert, or other “undiscovered lands” is in your future, you are best served with a short wheelbase as these will keep you from getting stuck in muddy or sandy roads. The better handling also means that you can get around tight spots and into parking spaces quite easily.

Why choose a short wheel base?

Choosing the wheelbase that is best for you really depends on your personal preferences. However, when making your decision, you should consider what cargo you may want to transport, how you want the ride to feel, and where you will be taking your vehicle.


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