No matter how practical we may try to be when it comes to our daily driver, it’s hard not to be tempted by a pretty face like the Alfa Romeo Giulia or Mercedes-Benz A-Class. To start with, these are compact sedans, so they may not be as suitable for a family as an SUV or crossover. And, of course, if your family is larger than just you, your spouse, and a toddler, then you may want to start looking at the mid-size market.
But, being a responsible parent doesn’t mean being boring. Many of the best compact and subcompact vehicles manage to blend ample passenger and cargo capacity with an attractive visage, even some fun driving dynamics if you like a thrill or two. Meanwhile, the larger variants trade out maneuverability for oodles more power and even more space, often for up to eight occupants.
What are the experts doing right?
With this said, not every car ticks all the right boxes. Sedans are versatile enough to get the job done, but coupes and pickups are more purposed towards low occupancy and fulfilling specific functions. It’s definitely the high-riders that have the advantage when it comes to keeping the family happy, and here is why:
- High driving position means a better view of the road and improved driver confidence
- Excellent safety ratings from organizations like the NHTSA
- Loads of standard amenities, such as smartphone integrations
- Capacious cabins mean extra space for passengers and cargo
- Some newer models have really appealing exteriors
- Comfort is prioritized, but many have off-road capabilities, too
But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. No car is perfect, and this particular style has some glaring weaknesses, such as poor fuel economy and detached handling dynamics. Luckily, these can be overcome through hybrid or electric engine options, and a few advanced driver aids. However, these often push the cost up more than some shoppers are willing to spend.
America’s most wanted
In terms of the top sellers in the USA, the RAV4 from Toyota is the most popular SUV. Slotting into the compact segment, it has plenty of space to go around, and it boasts impressive mileage figures, especially if you opt for the pricer plug-in Prime variant. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is included as standard, so your family will be taken care of, while the infotainment suite has everything you need to keep the kids happy to and from school.
If you’re lucky enough to have a car for home and for work, then you may want to consider a cheap sedan like a Honda Civic or Toyota Camry. Both of these have a starting MSRP well below $20k for a base model, and they boast exemplary mpg figures for non-hybrids. Unfortunately, they are quite barebones when it comes to features, even safety-wise.
However, if you have a bit of a wild side, the Honda Civic Si is an affordable sports coupe with great handling that still won’t cost you much to run. And, if your kids are a little older, you can take them for a joyride, but the back seat isn’t really suitable for larger teens or adults. Another nice alternative is the Dodge Challenger. It’s not particularly practical, though, even if it has horsepower to spare. You can get the same engine in the Charger, if you prefer a four-door sedan body.
A touch of luxury
Not everyone is looking for an affordable car that focuses almost entirely on practicality. Sometimes, it’s good to spoil yourself and your family. Nothing will help you and the kids start the day on the right foot like a comfy cruise to school in the lap of luxury. A Mercedes-Benz GLA is a good place to start, but it is somewhat small. Luckily, it sacrifices trunk space rather than passenger space, so there’s still plenty of room in the back seats. There’s even an AMG option if you have some spare cash and a taste for adventure.
Volvo is another great option, offering the XC40 as a standard gasoline and plug-in Recharge model. Both are crafted to perfection, with true Swedish precision and attention to detail, but since EVs are the future, why not get in and be the cool, tech-savvy mom in the carpool? Naturally, it gets all the fancy bells and whistles that make premium vehicles so popular.
The quintessential soccer mom
As cliche as it may sound, some of us really are soccer moms, and proud of it. For those who need to haul numerous kids, their sports kit, and the week’s groceries, there are some great midsize SUVs on the market. The Kia Telluride is one of the benchmarks for the segment, followed closely by the Hyundai Palisade, which uses the same platform.
Both come equipped with three rows of seats, and unlikely many of their competitors, they actually have enough room in the back for human beings – albeit smaller ones. And, even with all the seats in place, you should be able to stack all the kit bags safely. Add safety features like forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring, and you’ll have all the other moms drooling with envy.