Watching TV ads and the like it would be easy to think that the only automotive game in town is the sports utility vehicle or SUV. Scarcely a day goes by without a new one in some guise or other making it to market: And why not? We seem to love them.
These chunky pseudo off-road motors, some with all-wheel drive, have gained huge popularity in recent years and regularly top the best seller lists. The high-riding driving position is popular as are the often large boots and increasingly frugal engines. In short, the SUV doesn’t really need any introduction; we’re all well aware of their abilities. There are, however, alternatives that may preferred.
When it comes to family transport the much neglected multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) can really fit the bill. Often these big, sometimes seven seat motors have superior interior versatility and there is a good case as to why they should be at the top of the list as family transport.
The days when MPV’s looked just like boxy, converted vans (which they were) have gone. Today they are much better designed, come with all the latest engine options and technology and can be very comfortable on long journeys, albeit sometimes at the expense of handling. Sporty driving is not what these motors are about.
With a car-like, hatchback five-door configuration the MPV is easy to access and loading things into the back is pretty simple. In seven-seat variants the back row of seats often folds flat into the floor to greatly enlarge boot capacity. The only time a family will need all the seats is when there are five children, in which case Mum and Dad might like to consider other options for their leisure time.
The middle row of seats may be able to slide forwards and backwards, fold down or, in some cases, can be completely removed. MPV seating can also usually be configured in various other ways which means that all sorts of odd or long articles can be carried, plus the design makes the fitting of roof boxes a doddle. It’s really worth considering this type of car as an alternative to the ubiquitous SUV, especially as they can be very competitively priced.
The Estate Car
This is a sector that has really suffered in recent years beneath the might of the SUV. Low and sleek, they are the roomier equivalent of their saloon or hatchback counterparts. Some cars even look better as estates, like the Audi RS6 in our supplementary image. They come in sporting variants too with as much power as the regular hot hatches.
The days when big, ungainly and rather battered estate cars were the preserve of country folk who wanted to ferry Labrador dogs around the lanes are no more. Today they are more car-like to drive and handle very well, eating up the miles in comfort. As estate cars are more aerodynamic than the previous two options, fuel consumption can be much better.
So there’s three types of vehicle to choose from as the best way to move a family around. All three are readily available to suit all budgets. The choice is yours and don’t forget; if you see a vehicle you like
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