Expert Reviews

[Video] Family Sedan Top Picks

I’ve visited a whackload of family sedans in the past year or so, driving each for no fewer than seven days and 1,200 kilometers.

Great stuff, today’s family sedan offerings. Even average attainably-priced models now pack features and tech once reserved for six-figure flagships being driven by business executives, or serious-looking dudes with Ray-Bans speeding dignitaries out of hot-zones.

Some of that technology enhances fuel efficiency. Some enhances connectivity. Some enhances comfort. All of it translates into a family car marketplace that’s packing more value than ever.

If you’re looking for a new family ride, there’s never been a better time to check one out.

With that, may I present a list of family sedan offerings I’ve encountered in the past year or so that should be considered by shoppers prioritizing comfort, efficient performance and great value? You’ll have your own list of favourites, and mine are listed below.

Ford Fusion

With lines and sculpting and details that were once the stuff of concept cars, Fusion’s looks hit big-time above its price-range. Same thing on board, where you’ll get a futuristic and high-tech looking cabin complete with touchpad controls, touchscreens, and customizable instrument cluster displays. On my test-drive, I noted spirited performance from the 2.0L turbocharged EcoBoost engine, fantastic braking performance in emergency stops, and a great, fast-acting AWD system that finds traction on even the most challenging surfaces. Elsewhere, Fusion serves up a decent trunk, plenty of room for four adults, more than adequate levels of at-hand storage and hookups for connecting and recharging all of your gadgets.

Ultimately, the Fusion is refreshingly upscale, fun to drive, and very, very advanced in terms of the driver to vehicle interface. This makes it sort of an ultra-modern, family-ready, winter-ready sport sedan, which is awesome.

Chevrolet Impala

The latest generation of Chevrolet’s big family sedan gets great new looks, new power, new features, and more luxury, refinement and comfort than ever. It’s gorgeous, very comfortable, very quiet, very roomy, and packs a big 305 hp V6 that achieves excellent highway cruising mileage. This was one of the thriftiest 300-plus horsepower cars I’ve ever driven.

High-tech hazard detection safety systems provide added confidence for you or anyone driving your Impala, and the nicely-trimmed new cabin, and expertly-tuned ride contribute to all-around easy-driving comfort. In all, here’s a machine that’s very well-equipped for sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the ride with comfort and confidence. Room to spare, too – the rear seat is more than adequate for two full grown adults, three in a pinch.  Impala should be considered a priority test-drive for shoppers after a stylish sedan that’s set up beautifully for long-distance travels.

Nissan Altima

Nissan’s latest Altima has room to spare inside with huge rear seats, legroom galore and an overall sense of space to burn with even four large adults on board. It’s also quiet and has a notably comfortable ride. There is a heap of storage, too, including a dual-tiered storage console and the biggest glove-box I’ve ever seen. No issues for disorganized vehicular pack-rat types to stay organized on the move here.

The up-level powertrain helps add appeal. Nissan’s highly-acclaimed 3.5L V6 with dual variable cams and 270 horsepower means the Altima goes like the wind when called upon, thanks in part to the latest version of Nissan’s CVT, which provides power on a smooth and endless surge. It also improves fuel mileage considerably, and my test consumption of 9.5 L /100 km overall was among the best I’d ever achieved in a car this big and powerful. Being big, comfortable, full of technology and great on fuel makes the latest Altima a priority test-drive.

Volvo S60 R-Design

The Volvo S60 R-Design is a discreet winter-ready hot-rod luxury sedan from a country where people go downhill skiing on their lunch breaks and know a thing or two about getting around in bad weather. This one isn’t the biggest or least-expensive family sedan going, but it is arguably the most beautiful machine to drive anywhere near its price: be it in the snow, on the highway, on a winding backroad, or even on a race-track, if you like.

S60 has the most comfortable seats you’ll sit in all day long, a magnificent lighting system, an AWD system that knows what it’s doing, and a very unique cabin with every conceivable safety system imaginable. There’s plenty of power too – thanks to the turbo straight six under the hood. As a cold-blooded Northerner, I just love the way the S60 feels confident, comfortable and laid back in any driving condition you might throw its way. If you’ve got snow in your veins like me, you’ll love it too.

Volkswagen Passat TDI

The Passat is a jeans and a T-Shirt sort of luxury car that’s comfortable and relaxing and refined like pricier rides, but without the appendage-severing sticker or curious looks from fellow motorists wondering what sort of big-dollar shot-caller you might happen to be.

You get a ride that’s creamy and smooth and laid-back, responsive enough in the steering department, but comfort first – and all without handling like an inflatable bouncy-castle. The cabin is neat and tidy, the features are all easy to use and the overall atmosphere in here is one conducive to relaxation and socializing on the open road. Big trunk and generous rear-seat room, too.

Plus, with the proven TDI clean diesel four-cylinder turbo engine under the hood, you get all of that big luxury sedan goodness with a fuel bill like a subcompact, and heaps of torque, and a super-refined direct shift transmission. For comfort, luxury features, value, and spirited, refined performance with a teensy fuel bill, be sure to check this one out.

Kia Optima

The Kia Optima launched a few years back and caused a stir with its stand-out styling, available turbo power and affordable access to a plethora of features and goodies, including many uncommon in its price-range.

Recent updates have left the Optima looking even sharper and more refined, inside and out, building more value. Ride quality is euro-esque, carefully balanced between taut and sporty and comfortable and soft. Get the turbocharged four cylinder engine for big and refined power and torque.

There’s a ton of at-hand storage and numerous charging ports to keep today’s connected driver happy, since there’s plenty of room to keep their gadgets organized and recharged on the move. And whether you pick a lower-end or higher-end model, you’ll get plenty for your money. Heated steering wheel? Panoramic glass roof? Climate controlled seats? Premium audio system? It’s all on board, and probably, for less than you think.