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As the self-appointed family car reviewer for Autoblog, I have some opinions on the topic. If money were no object, my nomination for the ultimate family car would be split between the Mercedes-Benz R-Class and the BMW 5 Series wagon. But the R-Class entry price is $42k, and the Bimmer's is close to $50k -- not exactly family-friendly.

Forbes Magazine, however, is a bit more realistic in its quest for the perfect family car, and considers price a deciding factor, like the majority of families. I agree with its Compact Car pick. The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit is a good deal for your $16k entry price (though Forbes says $19k). On paper, its 15 cu. ft. of cargo space doesn't sound like much, but in reality, it's bigger than it sounds. The Rabbit also averages about 25 mpg, and these days, that's a big deal.

Still, there are some Forbes picks I just don't agree with. For example, the mag selects the Saab 9-3 Sport Combi as best wagon. Really? I admit I've never driven one, but I'm just wondering where the new Jetta Sportwagen placed. (I just stepped out of reviewing one for a week.) Forbes cites the Saab's maximum 72.3 cu. ft of cargo space as a big factor. But it only bests the VeeDub's by 5.4 cu. ft. And while the VW gives up 110 horses to the Saab's 280, but the VW gets, on average, 24 mpg to the Saab's 18. Oh, and the Saab requires premium fuel. I guess the question is this: Do you want to drag race your wagon or save money? My family will take the cash, please.
Then there's the Best Crossover category, where Forbes crowns the Ford Edge. This time, oddly enough, it decides to give the Edge an edge and lowball the entry level price at $25,735. Add some fairly common options, and you get pretty close to the upper range of $32k pretty quick. That, combined with an average fuel economy rating of 20 mpg, puts it out of the running in my household.

So, what else did I agree with? The Toyota Sienna isn't the best-looking vehicle on the road, but it's Forbes pick for the Best Minivan title. Even with an average of 22.5 mpg and a base price of $25k, I'd be fine putting my clan in it. I can't really come up with a better nomination for best convertible for family than Forbes' choice of the 2008 MINI Cooper. Sure, the kids are gonna be cramped, and they'll only be able to bring on vacation one change of clothes, but Daddy will sure be happy. Plus, its EPA-rated 26 mpg combined (with the stick) is not shabby.

Check out Forbes family car picks and tell us which ones you agree/disagree with. And, yes, we, too, are disappointed they didn't put the S4 in there, but then, at $48k, it's not exactly a frugal choice.

[Source: Forbes]


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  • 59 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Definitely when they made this top ten, Forbes calculating the sales too. However it would be Mini Cooper Convertible is not a family car and doesn’t belong here.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Found this video on Forbes.com:

      http://www.forbes.com/video/?video=fvn/lifestyle/cw_teencar052308&partner=videoslide_teencars

      Had an uncontrollable urge to punch the "Toyota and Honda" lady.
      • 6 Years Ago
      how the hell, is a Mini Cooper Convertible classified a freaking family car?!
      • 6 Years Ago
      With the smaller engine (2.0 Turbo with 210 horsepower), the Saab SportCombi gets 23 combined MPG.. so not too bad. The 9-3 is also an IIHS best pick for safety which is something that put it on my list for a family vehicle when I was looking last year.
        • 6 Years Ago
        while we're at it, the sportwagen with 2.0T manages much of the same, 200hp, over 23 combined, great crash ratings, it would have been nice for forbes to compare the two.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I would have to question those Saab MPG quoted by the writer of this blog

      I own both Vw and Saabs and my Saabs are far more fuel efficent under normal driving then the horrible 2.0L engines (and now 2.5L) in the Vw. Of course my Tdi kicks all their butts by my 9000, 9-5 and (wives') 9-3 all push 25-29mpg for highway driving...The Vw 1.8L Turbo does very well in power and mpg IMHO
        • 6 Years Ago
        1.8 is a generation old and not on sale in north america. the 2.0T is, it also has more power and doesn't have issues hitting 30mpg on the highway. :)
      • 6 Years Ago
      What about the new scion xB?? it has 70cubic feet of cargo room like the Saab. Costs under $17k for starters. Does actually get better mileage than the retarded EPA estimates. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY has 5 star crash test for the side impact. So many family cars do not have 5star for the rear side... very important.

      What about the Mazda 5 another excellent car and the Toyota Rav-4. the Rav-4 is about the best all around car for pleasing everyone in the family.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What about the Passat Wagon? Essentially the same weight, price, and storage space as the jetta sportwagen, but I think the passat looks much better.
        • 6 Years Ago
        So, in other words, the Jetta does everything the Passat does, but for less money? The obvious choice is the Passat then!

        sarcasm

        BTW, you should price out the Jetta and the Passat. They aren't the same price.
          • 6 Years Ago
          Actually, the passat does have a small advantage (~5 cu. ft) in storage capacity.

          I have priced them both out, thank you very much. I just got trim level prices confused on the jetta wagen. But thanks for being a smartass.
        • 6 Years Ago
        So, in other words, the Jetta does everything the Passat does, but for less money? The obvious choice is the Passat then!

        sarcasm
      • 6 Years Ago
      What in hell does Forbes know about cars? It seems anyone can be an expert nowadays.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Go drive the 9-3 SportCombi and report back. Yeah, the Aero (V6) is probably overkill, the 2.0T is a great value. Plus it's got a safety factor that is hard to beat. Fuel economy for the 2.0T comes in at 19/29 for the manual or 18/24 with the auto.

      I certainly wouldn't discount the Jetta wagon, especially in diesel form, but I still prefer the Saab both in looks and performance.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm surprised by the lack of Toyota or Honda in the car entries. Nothing Honda even made the list.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think they went overboard with the "We're not gonna be like everyone else and award Toyondas" mentality. Trying a little too hard to be different. Saab? Mini? Mitsubishi? Saturn? Decent cars, but please.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Are you kidding me recommending a small car that only gets 24mpg combined (I looked, it's not 25)?

      I think the minivans would have to come first. A lot more utility than a Rabbit, with decent (not great) mpg.

      Honestly, I think a family vehicle is a sedan (given we don't get good wagons, except the Jetta), so probably an Accord is the winner given its good mpg and large, family-friendly size.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I like VWs in general, but I have to agree. The Rabbit is only the best "family car" if you want:
        *Better than average space
        *Nice interior
        *Good driving dynamics
        *Low cost

        If economics are the priority, and in the purchase of most family cars, that's the case, its simply not a reasonable pick. In other words, if you commute, and you are picking the car largely for its overall cost, a Rabbit is a bad pick.

        However... I think a Rabbit is the perfect for someone who lives close to work or who stays at home the majority of their time (like stay-at-home parents).

        -- At that, I have no idea why Americans are so desiring of large family cars lately. I mean, when I was growing up, we'd fit three kids in the back of a little red 1986 Sentra. The Rabbit is the size of a Maxima from that timeframe, so I don't really see what would be imposing about a family with one or two children owning a Rabbit.
      • 6 Years Ago
      who the hell is crazy enough to buy a mini. I find it more of a bachelor's car, not family... plus its a useless car, I would maybe get the cooper S, but only if i was forced to choose between that and going over to Michael Jackson's house...
        • 6 Years Ago
        Sandy, a Mercedes G55 AMG will do all those things. Just as good in snow as your Jeep, way more luxurious than your Town Car, and faster than your Mustang. So there's your perfect car.

        If you must have a convertible, an Audi S4 would also be perfect.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Sandy,

        Wow, you own a 1990 Mustang? That's so amazing, I always wanted one of those; it's soooo collectible! Since it has such low miles, I bet you sell it and then could buy like three new Challenger SRT8s. Oh, and an old Fox Mustang perfect family car--it's so reliable and safe...oh..wait...

        Gah, the kind of junk that people see as prized possessions... Even Forbes does a better job of understanding cars.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Mo such animal as the "perfect" car. Well, if you are trying to move mud, well, then, yes, a dumptruck.

        If you live where it snows, you'd probably need (or want) a 4WD. In that regard, we have an absolute mint, showroom condition 2001 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4 that my wife uses for shopping and we both share when snow in on the ground. It does the job and looks great doing it.

        Okay, now it's an evening out. Perhaps just us, or 2 friends along also. For that, I take our 2003 Lincoln Town Car Limited. Big, Comfortable, luxurious, smooth, beautifully appointed inrterior.

        But, sometimes, like on a nice Sunday morn, when e'one is sleeping, say this time of the year, I take a run for some Sunday Am Bagels 'n Lox and cream cheese and stuff and being all alone, i like to pop the top on my Show-Car, 1 7,327 mile 1990 Mustang GT 'Vert, and punch the gas a bit, maybe "chirp" a tire ot two, just a little bit, top down, cruzin' and stereo playing, and knocking off 12 years from my real age.

        So, I think I've come pretty close top 3 (literally - three) family cars. Ill (by the way) have always performed flawlessly and have caused zero problems.

        The Lincoln in the snow is horrid. The Jeep for a Summer's night Cruise is a "DUH" and the Mustang GT for the dinner out with two rather "heavy" friends to sit IN THE BACK, is torture. So......
        Each occasion cannot be equally met, by one car.

        However... I have been eying the idea of selling both the Town Car AND the 1990 Mustang GT (7,237 miles) and combining the $$$ and the two cars into one, with a 2009 Dodge Charger R/T 6.1 HEMI. Fun like the 'Stang and a 4-Door Sedan, with really good room inside.
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