Practical family car

Q. Dear CarGuru,

I have a young family with a 3 year old and a 1 year old. I currently own a Mazda 6 and a Mazda 2 and would like something more practical for the growing family.

Which would you recommend between the following:

– MPV (e.g. Honda Odyssey)
– SUV (e.g. Mazda CX5)
– Wagon (e.g. Passat wagon)

Thanks in advance.



I would presume that you own the sedan variant, as opposed to the wonderfully practical hatchback or even more practical station wagon. I own the Sports Luxury Hatch and I (or rather we) love it. The only gripe that I do have, which I was totally aware of at the start, is the difficulty in putting your beloved little ones in and taking them out of the child seats – the hatch is a very low car by today’s standards.

Now, back to answering your question as best I can.

The answer really depends on how (and where) you will use the new car and your key requirements.

Let’s provide some scenarios which should help you make a decision.

Scenario 1:

  • The car will be used in suburbia and rarely, if at all, traverse unsealed roads
  • You get huge thrills from cars that obey your every command and handle with aplomb, especially around curvy roads
  • The car must be spacious, both passenger and boot space

Scenario 2:

  • The car will sometimes be used on unsealed roads, so a little off-road capability would be advantageous
  • One of the key requirements for the car is to be able to easily and quickly put your children in and take your children out of the rear child seats, without contorting your body too much
  • You also prioritise the ease of getting in and out of the car as well as having a commanding view of the road ahead
  • Spacious interior is a bonus but not a priority

Scenario 3:

  • You will not only use the car to cart your family, but also to cart the grandparents, your children’s friends etc.
  • Practicality is the number of priority
  • Versatility is your second priority i.e. load carrying capacity, multi configurable seating etc.
  • Performance and handling thresholds are barely above average, but that is of no concern.

If scenario 1 suits you best, then you can’t go past a station wagon. It will put a smile on your face every time you want to have some fun but is also more than capable of hauling the whole family and a massive boot full of goodies for your family trips away.

Scenario 2 best describes the characteristics of an SUV. The other two alternatives will not provide the all-terrain capabilities of the SUV and cannot match the ease of entry and egress of the MPV for both your children and yourselves.

If the first 2 scenarios aren’t quite right, then that means the MPV will suit you best.

Hope this helps you with your decision.



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