It's Not All About Crossovers and Sedans
People with families often think they have to limit their vehicle search to crossovers, midsize sedans, and minivans, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Plenty of other vehicles on the market provide the right combination of passenger space, cargo room, and creature comforts. Check out some of the top unconventional family-haulers to consider for your next car.
Toyota Prius V
Rated at 42 mpg in combined city and highway driving, the Prius V is one of the most fuel-efficient wagons on the market. The funky hybrid has more wiggle room than the regular Prius; the second-row seats slide forward or fold flat to store 67.3 cubic feet worth of gear when needed.
The Subaru Outback wagon has evolved for 2015 with a more accommodating interior. Not only do the rear seats recline and fold easily, but buyers will also enjoy eight cupholders, grocery bag hooks, cargo tie-downs, and an underfloor cargo area. Worthwhile optional features include a power liftgate, navigation with pinch-and-pull zoom functionality, and dual-zone climate control.
The Jetta stands out in the crowded pack of compact sedans thanks to its excellent passenger and cargo space. A whopping 15.7 cubic feet of space is available in the trunk — the Honda Civic has just 12.5 cubic feet, the Ford Focus only 13.2. For 2015, there are more than 10 different Jetta variations, including a base model with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gas engine, a smaller 1.8-liter gas engine, a 2.0-liter diesel engine, and a hybrid model.
Whether you opt for the base model or the 707-hp Hellcat, passengers will find plenty of legroom in the Challenger. That can’t be said for many of its competitors. The Challenger offers a standard 60/40 split rear folding seat if you need more space than what the already-large cargo area provides.
Volvo V60 Cross Country
Buyers who want a station wagon that doesn’t feel like a station wagon should consider the Volvo V60 Cross Country. Its punchy 2.5-liter, turbocharged five-cylinder delivers plenty of power for the highway, and its exceptionally high ground clearance and stable ride make it a perfect choice for family camping trips. Durable and comfortable leather seats also present a good case for this vehicle.
Those looking for slightly better fuel economy and lower ground clearance can opt for the standard V60 model. The V60 can net up to 37 mpg on the highway, and you can travel well over 400 miles on a single tank. Safety features offered on the V60 include park assist, adaptive cruise control, driver alertness monitor, and pedestrian and cyclist detection.
Want a Corvette but can’t fit the whole family inside? Your next best option just might be the Chevy SS. It looks like a Malibu sedan but has the C6 Corvette’s 6.2-liter V-8 engine for a healthy 415 hp. The interior mixes leather and suedelike materials for the ultimate in comfort. The cargo area holds 16.4 cubic feet, so you can also ferry groceries for the whole family. But note that the car’s rear seats will not fold down, so this option may be a better bet for small families with older kids.
Subaru Impreza Hatchback
The Impreza is a compact car, but inside there’s an incredible amount of rear legroom for its segment. Cargo space is also plentiful, with 22.5 cubic feet in the trunk. A whopping 52.4 cubic feet of space is available when the 60/40 rear seats are folded flat to the floor. Standard features include all-wheel drive, a rearview camera, a 6.2-inch touchscreen with HD radio, and a storage area beneath the cargo floor.
The Colorado’s smooth ride and responsive steering make it a great everyday commuter. The back seat is surprisingly accommodating for passengers and their laptops and iPads. Available 4G LTE and USB charging docks for these passengers help keep the family entertained on the go, and any extra cargo can be stored in the bin underneath the seats.
Compare the Volkswagen CC to the Passat, and you’ll undoubtedly notice they were cut from the same cloth. But the CC with its lower roofline, new bodylines, sleeker wheels, and tighter suspension can be considered as the four-door coupe alternative to the conventional midsize sedan. The optional V-6 brings a refreshing boost of power and driving refinement, as do the ventilated front seats with driver massage function. Rear seats fold down for extra storage space when needed, and just like the Passat, three passengers fit in the back seat.
BMW 328d Wagon
Those wanting a car that’s both practical and extremely rewarding to drive should consider the 328d Wagon. The BMW 328d packs only 180 hp from its 2.0-liter, turbodiesel four-cylinder, but that and 280 lb-ft of torque is plenty of juice to get this wagon around town with ease. In fact, that engine allows drivers to travel more than 640 miles on the highway.
Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen
Replacing the Jetta Sportwagen, the small but mighty Golf Sportwagen is a noteworthy contender in its segment. Its cargo room tops that of some compact crossovers, including Volkswagen’s own Tiguan. Although it’s a larger version of the Golf hatchback, it handles just as well and is equally quiet on the road. It achieves up to 25/35 mpg city/highway when paired with a 1.8-liter engine and an automatic transmission or up to 31/42 mpg with the 2.0-liter turbodiesel.
Starting at less than $18,000 USD, the Scion xB comes with a large touchscreen, hands-free Bluetooth, and steering wheel audio controls as standard features. Rear seats fold completely flat for 69.9 cubic feet of max cargo space. That’s more than you’ll get in the Kia Soul.
Ford Transit Connect
Hey, at least it’s not a minivan. The Ford Transit Connect could be the right match for families starting their own small business. Starting at well under $30,000 USD, the Transit Connect doesn’t have much power, but it handles well and achieves good fuel economy.
Here’s another example of a station wagon rivaling an SUV. With up to 72.1 cubic feet of cargo space, the XC70 offers more cargo space than some midsize SUVs, including the Nissan Murano and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Along with a cavernous cabin, buyers will also enjoy amenities such as a rear seat entertainment system, Sensus navigation, and park assist.