Family Cars & Compact SUV’s

When we’re young, we don’t think about this a lot, but as we grow older the thought of family cars creeps in our minds more often. And then… One day… You wake up, and it’s time to go and look for a family car. At least that’s how things went for me ūüėČ

In this article I want to focus on smaller cars for your family, and not on the big SUV’s. If you want to read about the bigger car models (7 and 8+ people carriers), you can do so by going here or here.

Definition of Family Cars

Wikipedia has a nice description on this:

A family car is a car classification used in Europe to describe normally-sized cars. The name comes from the suitability of these cars to carry a whole family locally or on vacations. Most family cars are hatchbacks or sedans, although there are MPVs, estates and cabriolets (convertibles) with the same structure as with the other body style.

For me the definition is even simpler: “Any car that can transport a family from A to B“.

The point I’m trying to make here is that what works for one family, might not work for another family. In addition, not all families are equal in size. A couple with one child is still a family in my eyes.

But lets get back to the cars again.

Choice and Development

Over the years the choices that are given to us by car makers have only increased. For some people the choice is so overwhelming that they stick to one brand, and one brand only. With the coming of the compact SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle), the MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle), Crossovers (not sure how those are clearly defined), Minivans, and even 5+ seating Pickup trucks. Indeed the choice has increased a lot.

Then there are the sedans and the coup√©’s and other in-betweens as well. How about fuel choice? Gas, diesel, CNG (Compressed Natural Gas; as a fossil fuel this burns the cleanest), plug-in hybrid, or fully electric?

In the end it comes down to personal choice/taste, personal needs (and family size of course as well), and your budget for sure.

I must say that with the introduction of the so called Compact SUV my personal choice has widened significantly.

Safety On Board

Fortunately not only has the choice in cars increased significantly, the safety of pretty much every car has increased as well.

Power Steering and power brakes have been around for a long time. But the introduction of multiple airbags, safety belts in the back seats, and lately so called “adaptive cruise control” has made driving safer for everyone.

Since making cars safer has reached its limits partially, the focus of car makers has shifted more to how to prevent (fatal) casualties to third parties like pedestrians. This has put the focus with compact SUV and family cars on rounder shapes, especially the front of the car.

In case of a collision with a person the effect of the impact should be less than with the older square shaped cars. In addition it helps with fuel efficiency because round cars tend to be more streamlined, and hence consume less fuel.

Overview of the Best Family Cars & Compact SUV’s

Below follows an overview of a couple of cars for families. It doesn’t really matter how you call them, it is more important that they function as family vehicles. In the end the choice is yours.

Subaru OutbackSubaru Outback

To be totally honest this is not my car of choice, and I don’t quite know why it isn’t. Subaru is part of the enormous Japanese Fuji Heavy Industries conglomerate. This no-nonsense station wagon is ideal for families with 2 to 3 children. With five people there is still enough room for a couple of dogs too.

It’s available with full options or with less of course, but even the full option version is still reasonably priced. That is probably why it is so popular. The price and the space you get in return. Subaru has done a fine job when it comes to value for money.

Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDIVolkswagen Jetta

I love the way that the Germans have marketed their “German-ness“; meaning anything from Germany is quality. It is simply good and it works.

The same goes for this Jetta model. You don’t need the Sport bit in SportWagen, but it does make the car a bit faster. The mileage is simply excellent with the TDI (diesel) engine. Even fully loaded with family and luggage it drives like a breeze. If this Jetta is not big enough for you, you can always opt for the Volkswagen Passat, its bigger brother.

Honda PilotHonda Pilot

Out of the three cars mentioned here, the Honda Pilot is the biggest, and can easily go as a family car and certainly as a compact SUV.

It is a bit of an all-rounder, meaning that you can definitely use it when you have a large family, but this car also lends itself very well for trekking and hiking journeys. It has lots of space and is capable to do some terrain driving as well. Definitely worth considering if you’re into family cars or compact SUV’s.