Family-friendly driving is at the heart of SUV popularity. Space, safety and comfort are all priorities for a family vehicle.
In addition, it needs to be versatile enough to cope with commuting, the school run, holidays, and even some off-road adventure. The SUV, a crossover between a rugged off-road vehicle and a traditional car is the perfect solution.
Although most of the SUVs detailed below are good options for a family, each has different strengths. This means there's an SUV for everyone, with the best choice depending on your personal priorities. Here we take a look at seven of the most popular family SUVs, detailing the pros and cons of each, as well as some suggestions for who each model might be best suited to.
1. Mazda CX-9
The CX-9 showcases the Mazda philosophy of doing things a little differently from other car manufacturers. As you would expect from a Mazda, engine performance is strong and the interior is beautifully appointed. Whilst it's towards the top of the SUV price range, many people would argue you get more for your money than some of the premium BMWs and Audis on the market.
- Luxurious "pilot" seats in the second row.
- Excellent driving performance.
- Roomy, high-end interior.
- Fuel economy isn't the best.
- It's a six-seater rather than a seven.
- The price.
Who should buy the CX-9?
If you want an upper-tier SUV that won't look out of place among prestige brands, the CX-9 works really well. Families with older teens or more than two adults will love the second-row seats.
This Mazda is fantastic for couples and smaller families with older children. Perhaps not such a good choice for budget-conscious families with three children or more, who would value the additional space a seven-seater would bring.
Bounding into 2021 with a refreshed exterior, some added safety features and one or two funky pieces of tech, the Santa Fe cements Hyundai's reputation as an innovative manufacturer. Hyundai also has a name for reliability and durability, both of which are important traits in an SUV.
- Seven seats, which are reviewed highly for comfort.
- Good fuel economy for the class.
- Remote parking feature.
- Long warranty.
- Third-row passengers are quite cramped, especially if a model with a sunroof is selected.
- Engine performance is mediocre, according to reviewers.
Who should buy the Santa Fe?
The Santa Fe is an adaptable, one-size-fits-all SUV that's great for families of all shapes and sizes. Although its sporty exterior means it looks the part, some drivers may be disappointed by the performance.
3. Honda CR-V
Honda is an award-winning company that enjoys plenty of popularity here. The CR-V is Honda's best-selling model in Australia, offering a stylish, efficient and reliable option for families.
- Reviewers rate handling and comfort highly.
- An efficient, powerful drivetrain.
- Stylish interior.
- Although spacious overall, third-row space is quite cramped.
- Tech is average, rather than outstanding.
Who should buy the CR-V?
Superb handling and plenty of torque mean that the CR-V is a driver's car. It's also been reviewed as comfortable and spacious, which is good news for passengers. Honda's focus on safety is a reassuring positive for a family vehicle. If you want a good all-rounder with an appealing sporty vibe, the CR-V could work well for you.
4. Skoda Kodiaq
Skoda continues to go from strength to strength. With recent figures showing that Skoda sales have increased by 54% in the first six months of 2021, we consider what it is about the Kodiaq that makes it such a well-liked SUV.
- Strong driving performance.
- Reviewers love the space and comfort.
- Built using Volkswagen's MQB platform.
- Styling may be a little conventional for some tastes.
Who should drive the Kodiaq?
Skoda has come a long way in the past few years. Now owned by Volkswagen, the Kodiaq benefits from the same solid engineering as high-profile brands such as Aldi and Bugatti (also members of the Volkswagen group).
The Kodiaq is a practical, comfortable, safe family vehicle that also offers drivers a surprisingly good time behind the wheel. Offering great value, the Kodiaq is a great choice.
5. Ford Everest
With a strong Australian pedigree (the Everest was designed and engineered here), the Everest has strong off-roading capabilities that make it a great choice for more adventurous families.
- Plenty of off-road features
- Great for towing
- Rated highly for comfort
- It's a big vehicle - whilst it has plenty of road presence, it can feel a little too big when navigating urban roads and parking facilities.
Who should drive the Everest?
The Everest is a vehicle that has remained truer to the original concept of a crossover than most. If you're a family that travels off-road frequently, the Everest is going to be ideal. Probably not the best bet for families that favour urban driving, due to its large size.
6. Kia Sorento
South Korean manufacturers have established a strong market presence here, and Kia is no exception. The overall winner of the DRIVE Car of the Year 2021, it's clear the Sorento has plenty to offer.
- Large amount of equipment and features as standard.
- Advanced tech, including strong autonomous safety features.
- Hybrid version available shortly.
- It's hard to fault the Kia, although with an entry price of $46,850, in comparison with its nearest rival, the Santa Fe (starting price $43,990) it's significantly more expensive.
Who should drive the Kia?
This is a versatile SUV that provides something special for the driver and passengers. Very safe and well-equipped, if you love tech, comfort, performance and space (who doesn't?) then this stunning SUV is going to work well for you.
Toyota is Australia's most popular car manufacturer (thanks in no small part to the Hi-Lux). The 2021 Kluger features hybrid technology, but is this enough to make it a good buy?
- Hybrid technology
- Full-size spare
- Plenty of features, including an electric tailgate and keyless entry.
- Price - the hybrid version starts at $74,500. Entry-level models start at $47,650.
Who should drive the Kluger?
The Kluger is a high-grade SUV that delivers strongly on all fronts. Reliable, good to drive, spacious and packed with tech and safety features, it's great for families, couples and drivers.
The downside is that the considerable benefits of the Toyota come at a price - Toyota isn't the cheapest. This is particularly true of the hybrid version - owners pay a significant premium for the hybrid tech.
It's definitely a great vehicle with a strong resale value, but whether it's worth the additional dollars in comparison with something like the Sorento or the Kodiaq is debatable.