Ok, so it's been a while. Where to start? One of our bigger projects is in transportation. Our black suburban was getting between 11~14 mpg, and just at 20k miles/year, which is a minimum on average, you can calculate the cost...
Alas, what options are there for a family with 5+ kids, other than the illustrious but oh-so-expensive diesel Sprinters? After much prayer and study, we decided there isn't anything readily available and cost-effective here in the US. Naturally, this means we decided to build our own. What say you, but that Alan knows not how to so much as change out a radiator, much less an engine? Never fear, gentle reader, the Lord will provide... [grin]
Ok, so we started off in this process with 7 passengers total, so this meant we had options while waiting for the ultimate kid-mobile to be assembled. I'm not 100% sure I would have done the same thing retrospectively, but having been very unimpressed with the cost-effectiveness of my brothers' minivans, I decided to acquire a 1984 Mercedes 300td diesel station wagon. After 2 suspension component replacements and a valve-adjustment, we got about 28 mpg loaded for bear with a car-top carrier. Not too bad, actually. Definitely a lot of fun to drive.
As a companion vehicle, we picked up a land rover that barely ran, and repaired it. Both of them are 7 passenger vehicles, and both are a blast to drive. Regrettably, the Rover gets half the efficiency of the Mercedes.