Top five large family cars

Can't work out where all the babies keep coming from? Then you need a large car, or as is more the case these days, an SUV.
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist
CarsGuide

17 May 2017 • 23 min read

Have enough kids to start your own cult? Feel like a mother duck with your train of ducklings when you're at the supermarket? Can't work out where all the babies keep coming from? Then you need a large car, or as is more the case these days, an SUV.  

See, once upon a time the wagon used to be the family car of choice, that was until about a decade ago when SUVs stormed in and became ridiculously popular and the new Aussie family favourite.

More: Check out our SUV buyers guide here
Plus:  Check out our guide to the best family SUVs here
Extra:  Check out our guide to the most fuel efficient SUVs here

So which ones are the best for families? The Griswolds had their Wagon Queen Family Truckster, but how do you find something suitable for your clan?

Glad you asked. We've picked the Top 5 large family cars on the market to help you fine-tune your decision making process. We did this by taking into account practicality, safety, value-for-money, fuel economy, and how easy they are to drive. Let's go.

5. Hyundai Santa Fe

The Santa Fe's turning circle is smaller than the other SUVs here, making it even easier to navigate through city streets. The Santa Fe's turning circle is smaller than the other SUVs here, making it even easier to navigate through city streets.

Not everybody wants to feel like they're piloting an aircraft carrier through a supermarket car park, which is why some might prefer Hyundai's Santa Fe seven seater which is shorter than the others in this list at 'only' 4.7m.

A smallish 516-litre boot is the penalty for being short and sleek, but under the boot floor is an extra stowaway area for wet or grubby stuff. Storage in the cabin is good with a decent size bin under the centre console armrest up front, a deep well in front of the shifter and a little tub in the third row. You'll find two cupholders up front and two in the second row. Those in the third row will have to hold their own drinks.

Ah, yes, those back seats – not the most spacious, and really for kids or adults on shorter trips, or my wife that time we went on a picnic with the in-laws and couldn't expect them to clamber over into the back and sit there.

Hyundai Australia's engineers tuned the suspension for local roads and a comfortable ride.

The Santa Fe comes with a choice of two fuel efficient petrol engines and a torquey diesel. Hyundai Australia's engineers tuned the suspension for local roads and a comfortable ride. The turning circle is also smaller than the other SUVs here, making the Santa Fe even easier to navigate through city streets.

The Santa Fe has a maximum five star ANCAP rating, but only the top two grades (the SR and Highlander) come with advanced safety equipment such as AEB.

Parents will find two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether anchor points across the second row of seats.

Standard feature highlights include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on Active and Active X models and an 8.0-inch screen with premium stereo in the higher grades.

The Santa Fe lists from $39,350 to $64,250 with the Active X grade being the best value.

More: See all Hyundai Santa Fe price and spec info here

4. Skoda Superb wagon

The Skoda Superb wagon is so family friendly, it's one of the best reasons not to buy an SUV. The Skoda Superb wagon is so family friendly, it's one of the best reasons not to buy an SUV.

Hang on, how did a wagon slip in here? Well, the Skoda Superb wagon is so family friendly, it's one of the best reasons not to buy an SUV.

First there's the enormous 625-litre (VDA) boot - bigger than most of the SUV's listed here.

Storage is not only excellent, it's smart: all grades come with a deep air-conditioned centre console storage bin; there's a luggage net in the boot, and cargo areas in the rear wheel wells. There are two cupholders in the fold-down armrest in the back, two more up front, and bottle holders in the doors.

Other practical highlights include umbrellas in the front doors hiding like torpedos in their chambers, three 12 volt outlets and a USB port.

Being low gives it better handling. The ride is also super comfortable – this is an enjoyable and easy-to-drive wagon.

While this five seater can't compete with the seat counts of the SUVs the leg and headroom in the second row is limousine-like. A quiet cabin adds to the premium feeling of the Superb.

The Superb doesn't have the high driving position of an SUV and you'll be bending more to put the kids into their seats, but being low gives it better handling. The ride is also super comfortable – this is an enjoyable and easy-to-drive wagon.

There's a choice of two petrol engines and one diesel, all are fuel efficient with plenty of grunt. There's also a four-wheel drive variant - great for dirt roads.

The Superb wagon has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating and advanced safety equipment such as AEB (city) and adaptive cruise control on all grades.

Parents will find two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether anchor points across the second row of seats.

An 8.0-inch screen with sat nav, three-zone climate control and privacy glass  are stand-out standard features. With a list price range of $39,990 - $52,690 the Superb is great value-for-money.

More: See all Skoda Superb price and spec info here

3. Toyota Kluger

The Kluger is one of the original large family SUVs. The Kluger is one of the original large family SUVs.

It looks like it could be the Toyota LandCruiser's smaller brother but the Kluger is really designed to scale urban terrain. That's still no easy task, as any parent who has to be 132 places at once with four kids and a boot filled with balloons knows.

The Kluger is one of the original large family SUVs and Toyota has constantly improved its practical recipe with the latest version having arrived this year.

The Kluger's 529-litre boot (with the rear seats folded flat) is smaller than many of its rivals, but storage throughout the cabin is a strong point with thoughtful touches like a dashboard which has a second level that acts as a shelf. Then there's the 24-litre centre console bin which is big enough to hide away a handbag or small backpack.

The Kluger is a cupholder hero with four just in the third row, then another two in the second and two more up front.

Those big, wide-opening doors, combined with the flat roofline also make getting yourself or the kids in and out easier, too.

The Kluger has a refined ride and good handling for something as big as a baby humpback whale.

Head and legroom in the second row is excellent while the third row also offers good space.

Enjoyable and easy to drive, the Kluger has a refined ride and good handling for something as big as a baby humpback whale.

The Kluger has the biggest engine in this list - a 3.5-litre petrol V6 which offers great power and torque.

All grades of Kluger have a maximum five-star ANCAP rating, but only the top-of-the-range Grande has advanced safety equipment such as AEB, adaptive cruise control and rear cross traffic alert.

Parents will find two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether anchor points across the second row seat.

Standard feature highlights in the GXL and Grande grades include an 8.0-inch screen and sat nav.

With a list price ranging from $43,550 to $69,906 the best value is to be found lower in the line-up.

More: See all Toyota Kluger price and spec info here

2. Mazda CX-9

The CX-9 is a bit pricier than some rivals, but the value and quality are great. The CX-9 is a bit pricier than some rivals, but the value and quality are great.

If this was a Top 5 Sexiest SUVs countdown the Mazda CX-9 would have taken home the trophy, but don't be fooled, it's not just a pretty grille.

For starters, with the third row folded flat you have a massive 810-litres of cargo capacity.

Storage in the cabin is also impressive with a large centre console bin, a smaller pocket in front of the shifter, more storage in the fold-down centre armrest in the back and little buckets in the third row. There are two cupholders in the front, two in the second row and another two for the back seats.

Side-on the CX-9's profile, with its coupe lines, looks beautiful, but there's a bit of function lost to form and the roofline means a bit of ducking is needed to get in or put children into their car seats.

Leg and headroom in the second row is excellent, while the third row offers impressive space even for 191cm tall freaks like me.

The CX-9 is a bit pricier than some rivals, but the value and quality are great.

The CX-9 has a super-efficient 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with fuel consumption almost identical between all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive versions.

A maximum five-star ANCAP rated car, the CX-9 has an excellent array of advanced safety kit, with AEB (city), rear cross traffic and blind spot warning standard on all grades. Did you hear that – all grades!

Parents will find two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether anchor points across the second row of seats.

Among the many excellent standard features there's a 7.0-inch touchscreen, LED headlights and three-zone climate control on all CX-9s.

With a list price starting at $42,490 and topping out at $63,390 the CX-9 is a bit pricier than some rivals, but the value and quality are great.

More: See all Mazda CX-9 price and spec info here

1. Kia Sorento

The Sorento's value/safety/practicality-for-money trifecta is almost unbeatable. The Sorento's value/safety/practicality-for-money trifecta is almost unbeatable.

The Kia Sorento is that SUV you start hearing good things about at barbecues and then suddenly everybody seems to have one. That's because the value/safety/practicality-for-money trifecta is almost unbeatable.

The Sorento's 605-litre boot has a greater cargo capacity than the Toyota Kluger or Santa Fe and has clever under-floor storage for wet towels and shoes. Storage in the cabin is excellent with a deep bin under the centre console armrest, another covered area in front of the shifter, and an open area behind it. There are six cupholders all up (two in the front, two in the second row, and two in the back) and large bottle holders in all doors.

Those doors are enormous and open wide for easy entry, and this combined with the elevated seating height means less bending when putting kids in their seats.

Leg and headroom in the second row is great even for tall adults, while the third row seats are really for kids or humans under six feet.

Sunshades for the rear side windows, two USB ports and three 12 volt power outlets are some of the other practical highlights.

Handling isn't fantastic, but the ride is comfortable.

Buyers can choose between diesel and a petrol engine, which are both fairly thirsty compared to those in say the CX-9 range.

Handling isn't fantastic, but the ride is comfortable.

The Sorento has a five-star ANCAP rating. The top two grades get the advanced safety goodness such as AEB, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and blind spot warning.

Parents will find two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether anchor points across the second row seat.

Standard feature highlights include a 7.0-inch touchscreen and a 10-speaker sound system in all but the base grade. Priced between $40,990 and $58,490, the Sorento is great value-for-money.

More: See all Kia Sorento price and spec info here

Honourable mention

Holden Commodore Sportwagon

There's something beautiful about an Aussie-made wagon with an enormous boot. There's something beautiful about an Aussie-made wagon with an enormous boot.

It's not really fuel efficient or practical but there's something beautiful about an Aussie-made wagon with an enormous boot that doubles as a nappy change table (as we've discovered).

More: See all Holden Commodore price and spec info here

Reckon we've left a great large family car off our list? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.