The traditional family saloon or hatchback has taken a battering in recent years, with many fleet drivers downsizing, while private motorists move towards SUVs or MPVs for their added practicality and raised driving positions.
If those are your priorities, that’s fine – but for some family motorists there remains a need for a vehicle that drives like a proper car, with better ride comfort and handling than an MPV or SUV can provide – it’s simple physics.
Here are our top 10 large family cars for today’s mums and dads who enjoy their driving…
10. Toyota Avensis
It’s hardly the last word in excitement, but the Avensis is the perfect car for buyers who choose with their head rather than their heart. The British-built Avensis comes with Toyota Safety Sense – and advanced driver package that includes adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision system and lane departure alert. It may look a bit bland, but it’s quite a decent car to drive.
9. Ford Mondeo
The one-time fleet favourite has become something of an also-ran in recent years, as buyers move further and further towards market niches. The latest Mondeo is still a good car to drive, though, with excellent levels of tech, while it’s also one of the largest family saloons on the market. It’s quiet and refined, while the range-topping Vignale brings a premium experience to conventional car ownership.
8. Kia Optima
The Optima is a surprising car – spacious, extremely comfortable and very economical in 1.7-litre diesel guise, it’s also one of the nicest quality cars that Kia has ever made. It favours comfort over performance, but it’s quick enough, and a great long-distance cruiser. Throw in a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty and it all adds up to pain-free family motoring.
7. Peugeot 508
The 508 was the car that marked Peugeot’s return to form after a period during the early 2000s where the brand’s styling and quality both lost their way. The ride comfort is excellent, looks are handsome and the interior has a premium feel, even if the car is now advancing in years. A new model is due next year, so there are some excellent deals to be had.
6. Mazda 6
The big Mazda bucks the trend of the traditional family car sector, having seen its sales increase over the previous-generation car. But that’s no surprise, as the latest generation of Mazda 6 is a terrific driver’s car, as well as a great all-rounder. The steering and chassis control are superb, while the practical cabin is also ergonomically engineered. It’s a car that doesn’t shine in any particular area, but does everything well.
5. Alfa Romeo Giulia
There was huge excitement and a long wait for Alfa Romeo’s 159 replacement, but the Giulia was well worth it. It’s by far and away the best-looking car in its class, and it’s also wonderful to drive. The cabin has flair, albeit not quite the same level of quality as some class rivals, while the V6, in particular, is a wonderful thing, with an engine developed in conjunction with Ferrari.
4. Volvo S90
While it’s the V90 estate that takes the volume of Volvo’s large car sales, the saloon version – the S90 – is still a terrific car. Huge, comfortable and beautifully finished, it’s also packed with safety equipment and technology. It isn’t cheap, but many people buy Volvos as a long-term investment, and the S90 seems more than up to the job. We think it looks amazing, too.
3. Volkswagen Passat
A favourite with private and fleet customers, the Passat outperforms the market thanks to a combination of customer loyalty, great build quality and commendable all-round ability. In addition, the Passat GTE is a highly competent plug-in hybrid, which is one of the most practical and affordable alternatively fuelled cars of its size.
2. Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport
Ignore the company car image of the old Insignia, as Vauxhall’s mainstream family hatch has moved the dial. The new Insignia Grand Sport is a class above, longer, wider and much more luxurious than its predecessor, it also comes with class-leading infotainment technology, along with Vauxhalls impressive ‘On-Star’ concierge service. Don’t let the badge deter you – this is a fine car.
1. Skoda Superb
Family motorists generally look for three things in a car – practicality, value for money and durability. The Skoda Superb ticks all of those boxes and more. It’s terrific value for money, has the biggest load space in its class, is a decent car to drive and is impressively well-engineered. Aside from that, it’s also refined, comfortable and surprisingly agile to drive. As large family cars go, it’s nigh-on impossible to beat.