Top 3 family cars
Best buys archive
The best full-sized family haulers. There's a huge choice, but we pick the ones that give the best for your money
1: Ford Mondeo
A wonderful car. Quiet, smooth and very spacious, its talents outpace more expensive cars wearing posher badges. It steers nimbly and changes gear sweetly: indeed, every control moves with a progression and smoothness you’ll not find in other family cars. The old Mondeo was pretty good to pilot, but this newcomer raises the game. And, unlike the previous one, it’s interesting to look at. The Mondeo’s cabin is pleasant and glassy, making it seem even bigger than it actually is. Rear-seat passengers in particular have plenty of space to lounge in. The car’s only flaw is that it is so big. It’s now so wide and long that it’s a sweat to thread it through narrow city streets.
2: Vauxhall Insignia
Latest from Vauxhall is a world better than the Vectra which it replaced. For a start it looks genuinely distinctive and different. And then the interior on even the cheapest cars looks really classy and interesting. Equipment lelvels are high, too - so much that it's hard to make a case for buying beyond the lower couple of trim levels. High-tech gizmos including a camera that reads road signs and warns the driver are available as extras. While it's not as involving as the Mondeo is to drive, it's pretty good: its hushed cabin at motorway speeds is a notable strong point. Big range of engines means there's one for most tastes, aned the 160bhp 2.0 diesel is a strong all-rounder because it's quick but economical and low on CO2.
3: Volkswagen Passat
Super-classy saloon. Lack of a hatchback version limits its appeal, but the boot on the saloon is big, deep and practical. Like the Mondeo, this is another monster-sized motor that has a huge cabin. Entry prices beat the Insignia's and Mondeo's and then it loses value more slowly than most over time, keeping total ownership costs very sensible. There’s a big choice of engines, petrol and diesel, and the 140bhp 2.0 TDi is the one to have. It drives beautifully, soaking up bumps with aplomb, and is hushed inside at speed. The dash and seat fabrics look classy even in entry models but the quality of plastics here and there is disappointingly low. Cheaper Passats make great-value buys.