Can you make the adjustment?
One of the most common comments I’ve had from my students from Young Drivers of Canada is that they have a difficult time getting used to my training car. They say it’s different than their family vehicle. That’s true, but should that be an excuse for not driving well? The steering wheel is still round and the controls are generally in the same places as their vehicle. It’s not like the pedals have been switched around, right?
Learning how to adjust to the pressure required on the gas and brake take time. But let’s face it, for the most part, that’s the only difference between one vehicle and another. After pressing each pedal a few times, you’ll need to make a slight adjustment. If the gas pedal is touchy, gently press with the ball of your foot until you hear and feel the vehicle pick up speed. You’ll only get used to it if you want to.
The biggest misconception about switching from one vehicle to another is the length of the vehicle. Typically, most driving instructors will teach in a smaller vehicle as its more fuel efficient than larger vehicles. The reality of it is the length isn’t that much longer than mini vans or SUVs.
I had a training vehicle that was perceived as a much longer vehicle than typical driver training vehicles by most of the students I had. When I actually showed them the length in the owner’s manual compared to a typical driving instructor’s vehicle, they were surprised and relieved. But what’s the big deal anyway?
The height of the vehicle is what’s more misleading than the length. SUVs and mini vans are always perceived as a large vehicle, but a compact car isn’t that much smaller. For example, my 2010 Toyota Corolla is 179 inches in length, but the bigger Toyota Sienna is only 190 inches in length, less than a foot larger than the compact car that a lot of driving instructors teach in. Even the Chevy Traverse is only 205 inches long, which is just 2 feet longer than the Corolla.
We know the minivans and SUVs are longer, so when parking, just look for a space that’s long enough to fit your vehicle. Generally speaking, the wheelbase (the area between the front wheels and the back wheels) varies by less than a foot between larger and smaller vehicles. So what’s the big deal?
If you’re driving the larger SUV or minivan like a smaller vehicle, that’s ok. Turns can be made the same way and by steering at the same places. Don’t worry about the height of the vehicle. It doesn’t affect how you drive it. And remember, as I’ve said to my wife for years, size doesn’t matter.