7 of the best family vehicles that aren’t SUVs

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Words: Nile Bijoux
12 Jul 2019

SUVs are all the rage at the moment, with sales eclipsing everything bar the ute. But we know the Remuera tractor isn’t for everyone, so here are seven of the best family vehicles you can buy that aren’t an SUV.

1. BMW 530d xDrive Touring

The four-paw 530d estate is our first offering, a wagon alternative to the X5. We reviewed it back in 2017 when, despite minor issues with the lane-keeping assist, we found it to be worth a look should the height of the X5 be a no-go.

2. Ford Ranger

It isn’t the best selling vehicle in the country for no reason. Ford’s Ranger has recently been given a range-wide safety update, adding lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and auto high beam to every new Ranger and Raptor sold. Combined with quality performance both on- and off-road, the Ranger is a solid bet for the weekend DIYers out there. If you want to get down and dirty, the Raptor is the best non-SUV 4x4 we’ve tested.

3. Honda Civic Hatchback

The Honda Civic Hatchback has up to 1200L of storage space if you fold the seats down. Opting for the Sport Sensing version gets you the nippy 1.5-litre turbocharged engine as well as Honda’s Sensing safety suite. There’s also a sedan variant for those seeking more interior space, the RS comprising the same turbocharged engine and Honda Sensing system.

4. Ford Focus Hatchback or Wagon

If the Civic’s youthful like-it-or-not styling isn’t your thing, we’d suggest either the Focus hatch or the Focus wagon. The hatch is clearly smaller which means slightly better performance and less vehicle to navigate but it isn’t as practical, with the wagon offering luggage space of up to 1620L. It pays to mention that opting for the wagon locks you into diesel power too.

5. Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The new Merc’ A-Class is a cracker if you’re looking for an upmarket compact hatch. The A 250 goes for $69k and, if you spec it right, is one of the safest cars on the market today. In fact, it won our AMI Safety Award as part of our Car of the Year awards this year. As with the Civic, there’s a roomier sedan out now too with one of the best aero figures in the business. Bigger family in tow? Look to the B-Class, which essentially stretches the A class into a mini-MPV.

6. Nissan Leaf

The second-gen Leaf is worth a look if you’re keen to go zero emissions. It offers decent storage (435L, expanding to 1176L) and more power than the other reasonably priced full EV, the Hyundai Ioniq (110kW vs 88kW). If you don’t mind spending a bit more, the Tesla Model 3 is due here soon, with prices starting in the mid-seventies. New Leaf sells for just under $60k.

7. Mazda3

The new Mazda3 has just dotted down here and we’ve been making our way through the range. We’re impressed, despite the best being yet to come in the form of the Takami variant, sporting Mazda’s new SkyActiv-X engine. The 3 range loses some room in the back compared with the previous generation but the 3 regains its overall standing by being one of the best all-rounders in its class for a reasonable price. Go for the sedan if you want added luggage capacity of 440L.

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