Pat yourself on the back for buying that Toyota Prius. You're gonna love driving it -- it sips gas, has low emissions and lets everyone know how responsible you are.

To celebrate what a good choice you made, why not take the whole family camping? Load up the car, head up to the mountains and -- oh wait. The Prius won't be able to hold a family and all of its camping gear, and probably can't handle the dirt roads that lead to the campsite. Okay, no problem! We'll all go to the lake and do a little fishing -- except the Prius can't tow your boat. That's fine. Why not stay around the house and do a little gardening? Hmmm. Looks like all the plants and mulch you need aren't making it into the Prius, either.

Face it, as good as it is to go green by buying a hybrid or gas-saving small car, there are just some things those cars can't do. Plus, because of their popularity, small car and hybrid buyers are now paying an extra premium for the honor of driving a little econobox that may not suit their needs. Before you fork over a lot of green to go green, check out five resons why buying a large truck or SUV may still make sense.

#1 Families and Carpooling

People may be having fewer kids than they used to, but today's kids are hyper-scheduled activity machines. Between soccer, Akido, ballet and basket weaving, it takes a lot to get kids to where they need to be. That's where carpools come in. The most popular carpool parents aren't the ones with the best gas mileage -- they're the ones with captain's chairs, multi-zone climate controls, and cupholders out the wazoo. That's exactly what you'll find in the GMC Yukon. Seating for up to nine, room for the entire team's gear, and incredible deals as dealerships look to unload the unpopular SUV. Plus, having the entire team in one large vehicle uses less oil and emits less carbon than splitting them into three tiny ones.

#2 Home Improvement

Ford F-150

Maybe you've gone green this year by opting for a stay-cation. There's nothing like spending some time close to home, working on your house. When you're doing major repairs or upgrades, a MINI (even the stretched wheel-base Clubman) isn't going to cut it.  A full-size pickup like the new 2009 Ford F-150 is what you'll need to haul mulch, pull out old stumps and bring home a load of lumber. There's even a high mpg trim, so you can use less gas in the truck that helps you plant more trees. What's greener than that?

#3 Tailgating

The Audi TT is a great looking and surprisingly fuel-efficient sports car. Ever try tailgating in it? I have. It was awful. To really get amped for the game, you need something with an actual tailgate, as well as space for extra chairs, a cooler, your friends and a grill (space for your giant foam finger helps too). The Jeep Compass has all that, plus flip down tailgate speakers for blasting your team's fight song and uConnect, an optional feature that combines music, navigation and web connectivity so you can blog while grilling your brats.

#4 The Great Outdoors

Chevy Tahoe Hybrid

A Honda Civic is a great choice if your only outdoor activity is walking to and from Starbucks. But if you like to hit the slopes, catch a wave, catch a fish or explore the back country, you're going to need something more capable. The Chevy Tahoe has available four-wheel drive that can tackle most snow-covered mountain roads, as well as tow anything from a jet-ski to a horse trailer. If you want something more nimble, the Jeep Wrangler will have no trouble getting you well off the beaten path.

 

 

#5 The Amazing Deals

A lot of people have declared the age of the SUV over. But while gas prices are still higher than a year or two ago, there are just some things that only a truck or SUV can do. If those things are part of your lifestyle, an SUV isn't an image vehicle. It's a tool that helps you live the way you want to. Right now dealers are having trouble selling SUVs, which puts you in the driver's seat when it comes time to negotiate. Automakers are helping by offering plenty of incentives on their largest models (check out some of the best deals right here). If you really need an SUV, there may not be a better time to buy one.

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
Still feeling guilty about needing an SUV?  Consider buying a hybrid. GM, Ford, Toyota and Lexus all offer hybrid SUVs that achieve better gas mileage than conventional SUVs without sacrificing capability. If you have extra scratch, SUV prices and financing terms are now so low that you might be able to swing getting a good used SUV for weekend activities while having a smaller car for commuting duty