What is a family vehicle? Are family vehicles required to be boring to drive? Just about anything that can hold parents, kids and groceries (at the same time) will do. Minivans, SUVs and crossovers are the most common family vehicles as they have tons of seating and cargo space. The question is: what if you don’t need all of that space and you want to live a little?
The average family in the United States is pretty small as a majority of us have two kids or less.
She-who-must-be-obeyed has stated that a vehicle in our driveway must have enough room for five people total. That means, parents, two kids and a passenger. That also means, very few fun cars qualify according to her requirements… but not all cars.
Check out TFLCar’s Top six unexpectedly awesome family vehicles:
2013 Dodge Challenger: I know, I know – the Challenger is a two door and a muscle car- AND, the Dodge Charger is a more logical, four-door choice.
Hear me out.
The Challenger in all of its forms has two things going for it regarding family hauling, a big back seat with three across seating and a massive trunk. The back seat is remarkably spacious for a muscle car and the trunk, even with the optional bass speaker, can hold a ton of groceries and has plenty of space for a big stroller.
Sure, a two-door is a pain to use for day to day child hauling duties. As family vehicles go, there is some sacrifice. Still, when you consider the 305, 372 and 470 horsepower variants along with the pistol-grip six-speed manual transmission option (the base, 3.6-lite V6 only has a 5-speed auto – for now) this ride is ridiculously exciting to drive. Oh, and it’s gorgeous body and long wheelbase? It slips through the air quietly while it rides like a smooth sedan.
Prices start at $27,295.
2013 MINI Cooper Countryman S: Sure, it looks like a molar when dressed in white and it is almost laughable to call it a member of the MINI family – but MAN, it’s a blast to drive! When it was first introduced, the MINI Cooper Countryman had a back seat for two which disqualified it from being an appropriate vehicle as family vehicles go. Now, the MINI Cooper Countryman comes with an optional rear bench seat that can hold three.
The base price for the 2013 MINI Cooper Countryman S is $26,300 and $28,000 for the AWD, ‘ALL-4’ variant ($22,700 for the base model front-drive model with the mellow 121 hp engine). Those ares some expensive base prices, especially considering that you can easily breach the $50,000 mark when you pile on the options. Still, the MINI Countryman S is a laugh to drive.
With 181 hp and either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, this a wee-little snorter that loves cornering as much as a small terrier. Want a geeky smile on your face every time you pass big, slow family vehicles on your way to carpool? This little car will not disappoint.
2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon: The regular Wrangler Rubicon (two door) is the best off road vehicle you can purchase in North America – period. If you want about 90% of its effectiveness with two extra doors and a three-across rear seat, the Unlimited is the way to go. Not only that, the Unlimited’s longer wheelbase adds more utility, cargo capacity, higher towing capability (up to 3,500 lbs) and a better ride.
The base ‘Sport’ model starts at $25,695 and the Rubicon starts at $34,095 – which is a lot.
If you’re not serious about going off road, I would recommend the Sport. The good news is, you can have the only vehicle sold that’s a four-door convertible out there. It’s a guarantee that kids will think you’re cool in one of these.
2013 Subaru WRX : Okay, so it looks like a boy-racer’s wet dream – it’s still a fantastic car. One of the big features family vehicles have is good cargo space. If you opt for the hatchback, the WRX has great space. The Subaru WRX is an AWD, turbocharged ride that provides thrills similar to the MINI Cooper Countryman S, at nearly half the price.
With a base price of $25,795 – the Subaru WRX is a huge bargain and one of the cheapest vehicles on this list. I used one as family transport and it was a genuinely good car for the rug-rats. I loved revving the 265 hp boxer engine as I tore through corners. Subaru is working on the replacement right now; god, I hope it’s as enjoyable as this one.
Ford F150 Raptor: Say what you want about big, fat, beastly trucks – this thing kicks ass. If you’ve never driven a Ford F150 Raptor in anger, consider adding it to your bucket list. Seriously, this is America’s answer to just about any anxiety issue that ails you. Drive this baby on baja-like surfaces and you’ll be all smiles.
I must admit, $43,630 is a lot of dough for a non-industrial truck. The again, 411 horsepower and 434 lb.-ft. of torque mixed with enough off road bits to make the Ford F150 Raptor military-grade, there’s a compelling case for this beast among average family vehicles. Did I mention it comes with four-doors and a big back seat?
2013 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon: Can you name any wagon, sold in the United States, that has anywhere near the CTS-V Wagon’s 556 horsepower? Didn’t think so. This is a rare, special machine and would be in my driveway if I had the $64,515 to spare (and if She-who-must-be-obeyed allowed it). It’s the most expensive on this list, and it’s worth every dime.
Think you have a vehicle to add to this list? Go ahead and let us know below!
Here’s another fine family hauler – the bad-ass 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT! Enjoy the video and stay tuned for our first review (hopefully) before March 2013!