What is a vehicle wheelbase, and why does it matter?

What is a vehicle wheelbase, and why does it matter?

If you've started looking at daily car hire or daily van hire prices, you've probably already started looking at vehicle specifications to help you find the perfect vehicle. Length, width, boot space and many other terms you read are pretty self-explanatory, regardless of your knowledge of vehicle specs. However, a vehicle's wheelbase is equally important, and its meaning isn't always obvious at first glance. Here, we'll tell you all you need to know about the vehicle wheelbase, including what it is, what it means, and why it's important to consider when you're making your decision about which car to hire.

What is the vehicle wheelbase?

Simply put, the vehicle wheelbase is the distance between the midpoints of your vehicles front and rear wheels. This will be a smaller measurement than your car’s total length, and it’ll vary from vehicle to vehicle. Of course, if you’re looking to hire larger vans, you’d expect a longer wheelbase than if you’re looking to hire a car, for example. There are four types of wheelbase:

  • Short Wheelbase (SWB)
  • Medium Wheelbase (MWB)
  • Long Wheelbase (LWB)
  • Extra Long Wheelbase (XLWB)

As a general rule, most small cars and small vans will have a short wheelbase, such as the Ford Fiesta or the Citroen Berlingo, as well as some panel vans. Medium wheelbase applies to medium-sized vans, while Long Wheelbase and Extra Long Wheelbase applies to the biggest vans, such as the Jumbo Panel Van.

Why is it important?

The vehicle wheelbase is relevant when making a number of considerations, most notably interior space – encompassing both cab space and payload. If you’re looking to hire a vehicle for people-carrying, for example, a medium or long wheelbase is definitely something you should be looking for, as, in most cases, this will indicate that the vehicle has ample interior space. The same goes for moving equipment from site to site, you’re going to want plenty of payload capacity.

The other major thing that a vehicle wheelbase indicates is what sort of drive quality you can expect in certain environments. Namely, shorter wheelbases allow the driver to navigate towns and cities with greater ease, as they allow for a higher turning radius, increasing their agility. However, by having a shorter distance between the front and rear wheels, they sacrifice overall ride quality when driving on straights, such as a motorway.

Vehicles with longer wheelbases offer the opposite with regards to driving experience. Although they’re not quite as effective for navigate the twists and turns of a town or city, they provide a greater driving experience when on longer roads, because the increased distance between the wheels reduces the chances of it becoming unsettled by any bumps in the road.

In these ways, the size of the wheelbase essentially has a big impact on the suitability of the vehicle in question for different applications, making it something worth looking out for when you’re planning to hire a car or van.

And if you’ve got any further questions about the wheelbase of our vehicles, or indeed any queries at all, don’t hesitate to give our experts a call. We’ll only be too happy to help you get the best prices when you come to hire a van, car or minibus. Plus if you’re thinking about using your vehicle for something more long-term, our Flexi Hire services are designed to give you the very best value on long-term hire. Feel free to explore the details right here on our site, or give us a ring on 01254 57811!

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