Black Friday: the term originates in the seventeenth century, when a small crew of French-Canadian pirates ventured south into the newly created colonies of the eastern seaboard and got a really good deal on three-cornered hats and colourful accessory parrots.
Okay. I made that up.
Whatever the origin, Black Friday is the defining day of the year for retailers in the US, a blowout smorgasbord of bargains and fisticuffs. Since 2006, there have been seven retail-related deaths and nearly a hundred serious injuries. Because, you know, getting that Furby is totally worth maiming your fellow shoppers.
But let's suppose you emerge from the fray, bloody to the elbows and clutching your precious cut-rate purchases with glee. How best to escape the outlet mall and flee to the quiet streets of Canada, where shopping is more collecting Canadian Tire cash than wielding a tire iron? Here are our picks for the best Black Friday booty haulers.
There's nothing to beat a van for cargo space, particularly one with the ubiquity of the Dodge Caravan. Through nine tenths of the year, you're hauling hockey bags and soccer cleats, but on Black Friday it's time to fold up the seats, vacuum up the errant Lego, and take aim at getting the biggest television in the known universe. Your days may belong to the kids, but at least you've still got Netflix.
Alone of the three-row crossovers, the Honda Pilot still has usable room with all three rows deployed. If Black Friday is the perfect time to try and clothe your brood in the latest fashions, then rest easy in the knowledge that the rear floor folds and flips to make even more space for bulging bags.
All subcompacts should be able to swallow as much cargo as the Honda Fit does. Even if you've got a big-screen large enough to qualify your house as a Cineplex Odeon, the Fit's clever folding seats will flip and fold to make space for all your stuff.
In the bad old days, moonshine runners would have swapped in an engine the size of a combine harvester, filled the trunk with jugs of white lightning, and then gone about Dart-ing around the best efforts of the law. Not that we're suggesting something similar, but let's say there's a lil' gift you're hoping to keep from your significant other until you have a chance to tuck it under the tree: the Dart's clever under-seat storage is a perfect cubby hole to keep things safe and secret.
Volvo V60 Polestar
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Swede speed! Got a trunk full of tech gear and can't wait to get home and watch all the best bits of the Swedish Chef's cooking show? Go directly to maximum bork with a Polestar-tuned V60 wagon, complete with clever flip-up cargo organizer to keep your shiny new stuff from sliding around.
Despite the piratical name, the Rogue is a smooth sailer that's good on gas (by the way, don't forget to fill up on that cheap US fuel while you're across the border). It's also got one of the most usefully laid-out cargo areas on the market, complete with shelf, underfloor storage, and a folding pass-through if you get a really good deal on halberds or skis or whatnot.
When it comes to family compact sedans, there's not much about the Corolla to really stir the passions. However, in terms of practicality, it's nearly as good as a wagon. A big trunk is complemented by a large back seat, and the flat floor can be used as overflow – cram it to the gills with stuff under your kiddies feet and head home while sipping fuel.
Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ
One thing you can't do with your MX-5? Fold the seats flat and fill it with shopping. Mazda's deft little roadster might offer up open-topped fun that's hard to beat, but the Toyobaru twins still work as practical machines for aiding and abetting your consumer frenzy.
Chevy Colorado / GMC Canyon
Of course, sometimes the best way to go a-haulin' is to get a truck. Good news though: you don't actually need to go full-size any more. The Colorado and Canyon both have plenty of space for filling up with bulkier sports gear, but you can still get them with either a four-cylinder or a V6. Get yourself a new mountain bike and still have enough money left over for getting up to the mountains on the weekend.
The Honda Ridgeline is getting a little long in the tooth, but is still unmatched for its clever under-bed closed storage that can squeeze in quite the stash of secret Santa presents.
BMW 3 Series Touring
You have to expect that BMW imagined the all-wheel-drive variant of their best-selling 3er being used to swan about the Alps on a ski trip. Never mind the elegant fantasies, let's load this thing up with every door-crasher special in the place, then hit up some twisty side roads on the way home to dodge traffic.
There are those who'll stampede straight for the designer outlets, and those that'll make a play for the outdoor gear stores. The Outback kinda’ appeals to both – high level trims have a certain snob appeal, and it's rough and ready enough to get out there for kayaking, hiking, and waving hello to bears. Plus, plenty of cargo room to fill up on Merrell hiking shoes and North Face puffy jackets.
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon
For those who plan on getting to the mall first, spending 5.3 seconds finding the best deal, then getting home so fast that Friday morning cartoons are still on. Survival of the fastest.
The Edge and the Escape get all the headlines – and all the sales-chart love – but Ford's wagonesque Flex is one of the smartest people and cargo haulers out there. It's crammed with unique features like a cooler underneath the armrest to keep shopping-energy-levels up with a couple of Red Bulls, and with all seats folded, there's tons of room. Plus, if you're sneaky, you can get one with all-wheel-drive and the Ecoboost V6 and essentially have a wagon that puts the SHO in SHOpping.
Are you in the market for something large and triangular? Do you need said object to come home at the highest rate of speed possible? Then good news! The Audi RS7 has the turbo-V8 chops to haul whatever you need, plus a useful liftback for cramming with cargo.