I don’t know about your kids, but my kids love going over speed bumps. My daughter, 3 years old, can even recognize the sign as we are driving by! She yells out, “bumps!” In the area that I live, I have memorized every street that are within 15 minutes of my house and know which ones contain the speed bumps. It got me thinking, which of the enthusiast cars that I’ve owned would be the best cars for going over speed bumps?
Our speed bumps are targeting people going above 25 mph. These are the ones that are pretty mellow unless you are going a good speed. I usually hit them at 25 so I don’t mess up much in my car and can stay safe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun!
A Quick Note on Suspensions
Recently, (as I’ve been going over speed bumps) I’ve been thinking a lot about my old cars and their suspensions. I’ve also been thinking about which cars seem to perform better over bumps but I’ve been thinking more about the reliability of their suspensions.
In my current enthusiast family car fleet I have a 2001 BMW 330i (E46) along with a 2005 Land Rover LR3. Not that these cars have anything in common other than using the same gas and some seats. The difference for this article is in the suspensions. The Land Rover has an air-spring suspension where the strut is integrated into the air spring.
Over the years Land Rover has gotten a lot of feedback/flack about their suspensions failing primarily due to the air spring design. To replace a single air spring strut assembly cost about $300 bucks for parts and a few hours of labor. The reason for the high cost of parts is that you have to replace both the air spring and the strut at the same time. The failing part tends to be the rubber lining of the air spring. Oh and you have to replace both air-springs either in the front or the rear at the same time! Otherwise you’ll end up with uneven suspension characteristics.
For the BMW it also has a spring strut (front) and shock (rear) assembly but it is coil sprung. The coils can be reused. The struts cost around $120 for Bilsteins and the shocks are under $100.
Which suspension is best for going over speed bumps?
If you would speak to my daughter or my son they would say the BMW. Because “you can feel the bumps better” and in reality that means that the performance tuning (or stiffness) of the suspension lets you feel the bumps a bit better.
I would tend to agree with them, the LR3 is a luxury focused vehicle and does a great job at hiding the bumps in the road and smoothing out the speed bumps. Really the suspension is fantastic in the LR3 and tends to get a bad wrap due to reliability, but it does a great job at hiding things like speed bumps. Also this LR3 has been in the family since new and we rarely have suspension issues with it.
In general my preference is towards reliability and when the air suspension in the LR3 breaks, I am considering removing it and replacing it for a coil spring setup just so we never have issues with the air suspension again. They can be fixed, but I prefer not to hit speed bumps in the LR3 because I know I will be the one replacing the broken bits. Frankly I don’t care to work on the car! I’d rather have a fun project car instead.
So which coil sprung enthusiast from my past car would be best for going over speed bumps?
Of the cars that I’ve had in the past, I will pick a few that could be good for speed bumps and which ones I would pass on. You can see my car ownership history here. I will speak my preferred sports car, compact and SUV’s that I’ve owned.
Which “sports car” is best for going over speed bumps?
For this specific use case sports cars are not going to be well suited. The reason being is that you don’t want to damage your car just because your kids want to have some fun (at 25 MPH no less). Sports cars have a low entry and exit angle which means you may hit the ground if you approach with speed and that may damage your car.
In my experience there are some sports cars with higher entry and exit angles. These also tend to be better daily drivers because you don’t hit curbs as much. Also it can be quite difficult to load up the kids in the rear of a sports car. If you have just one kid, then the front seat option may be for you!
My Porsche 911 Turbo could be a good option for you. I owned one of these, a 2001 in particular and simply loved it (when I was alone in the car). That being said this is not well suited for twin toddlers because getting car seats into this vehicle is a very big issue. I have seen dad’s with booster seats in the rear and I look forward to that day, but definitely not for convertible or even infant seats. Not going to happen.
I believe that Porsche has a front seat option for those going down that path. I will write an article about this in a later series and do the research for you. Stay tuned!
The benefits of the Porsche is that one of the guiding principles of Porsches has been that they are designed and engineered for everyday use. You don’t get that on many sports cars as they are designed for occasional and weekend use. So doing well on speed bumps is what it was meant for.
Which compact car is best for going over speed bumps?
The best part about a cheap compact car is that they tend to be pretty bullet-proof in reliability and are the perfect commuting weapon for the street. That means the have great entry and exit angles along with cheap and enduring parts. For this category, I would recommend both the Tercel and the Civic Si and for very different reasons.
The Civic Si is a peppy little car and one that has a great 80’s interior. It doesn’t feel too cheap either. Honda in the 80’s really was killing it when it came to interiors and the Civic even today is a pretty nice place to be.
Entry and exit angles are super high so no worries of hitting the ground at speed, though putting a couple of kids in the back will not be an easy process. Once they are in though, they will have a ball in the Civic.
The Toyota Tercel Stationwagon 4×4 on the other hand, in my case had a 6-speed manual transmission! Yes, 6-speed! When you put the car into the low-speed gearing you get an extra low 1st gear. In my case that meant 4-wheel burnouts in highschool! At a time when there were music videos of rappers in Lambo’s doing 4-wheel burnouts my little Toyota Tercel Stationwagon was able to do them too!
Though the interior build quality, is non-existent and was simply a pretty terrible place to be! As for speed bumps, I imagine you could launch yourself and get some air within 10 feet of a speed bump with that extra low 1st gear! And getting a couple kids in the back ain’t going to be much of an issue.
Which SUV is best for going over speed bumps?
In general any SUV will be fine for hitting the speed bumps with little ones in the back, if I had it to do all over again, I would have kept my X6. Yep, you read that right, one of my favorite cars ever has been the X6. Such a weird car, fitting in between a 6-series coupe and the X5 SUV the X6 was a mean, mean, mean machine with an incredible exhaust.
My kids would have loved it, yet when I owned it I was a bachelor and just getting married. Had I known it would still be in my garage. The reason I love the car so much was it had the M-Sport package which had a killer exhaust note, gave silly summer-only tires on 22” wheels along with a sport tuned suspension. That suspension was quite stiff and made you really “feel” the road and would have been perfect for speed bumps.
The vehicle had a killer torque vectoring feature in the drive train that would have let you take speed bumps at speed and around turns with confidence that you would get addicted to!
Of all the cars that I’ve owned, I would definitely opt for the X6 as my primary speed bump weapon if I had it to do all over again. Though I’m sure there are many cars on this list that would do just fine, these are the ones I’d prefer to have should I be so inclined!
What say you? Which car from your past would you love to have again with a couple of kids in the back and hitting the speed bumps in your neighborhood?