Full sized vans (the kind large Catholic families need) use about the same amount of gas as an suv…what say you?
I would say the issue is not miles per gallon, but miles per gallon per passenger. In which case the full-sized van for the large family comes out ahead of the pretty much any vehicle used to transport a single person around.
Moreso than complaining about the specific choice of vehicle, I think the long-term issue for surrounding gasoline usage is the current norm of lots of medium to long trips with just one person in the car. And I don’t think there’s any easy solution to that - it’s just a fact of life in America today, that is reinforced by many factors. I don’t see anything likely to change. Who’s going to be the first to give up their nice comfortable, affordable house in the suburbs to live in an older, smaller, more expensive house or apartment in the city so that they can reduce their consumption of gasoline by $1000/year? Not I, thank you. I think the reason our society has built out the way it has is because, quite frankly, it’s a desirable lifestyle for a lot of people. Increased consumption of gasoline is an expense that most people are willing to pay to live that lifestyle.
Longer term, I’m not sure what the answer is. I think there’s a lot of bogus science and misinformation surrounding fuel cells, “hydrogen economy”, bio-based fuels, and these are a lot less practical than people may think. I know it’s not real popular, but there may come a day when nuclear power is the most cost-effective way to generate energy, and personal transportation will involve vehicles that store energy that was initially generated at a nuclear plant in some mobile format (batteries, hydrogen, whatever).