We reveal the winner and the full shortlist for the best family car of 2016, as voted for by our independent jury of experts.
With such a multitude of price points, engines, body styles and car types available in 2016, the term ‘family car’ covers a wider array of cars than it ever has done. The days of just buying an estate are, therefore, long gone.
But while the choice may be larger than ever, the fundamentals are the same. A family car must be able to take the abuse of family life while offering practicality, safety, space and enough creature comforts to keep the driver and passengers happy.
Not only that, as some people are keen to reduce their carbon footprint or at least make their pennies go further than ever, a family car needs to be eco-conscious and frugal.
Luckily technical advances in almost all areas help a family car do all of that. From going further on a tank of fuel and emitting less CO2 to providing increasingly sophisticated infotainment systems, the level of innovation seen in 2016 has been impressive.
Truth be told, the number of bad cars out there are few and far between. But no doubt you want the absolute best because your family deserves no less. Without further ado, here is our shortlist for best family car of 2016.
Best family car of 2016 winner: Tesla Model X
The Ioniq offers an eco-friendly drive that is more involving than its rivals, while the Edge is pleasingly loud on the outside but remarkably quiet on the inside. An Octavia is still a sensible motor for a very sensible price.
Meanwhile the Volvo XC90 is remarkably refined, remarkably safe and remarkably practical and has managed to avoid the perils of compromise ─ even if you go for the T8 hybrid version.
But our winner is the Tesla Model X because it is the car of the future. Where other electric cars struggle with a measly 100-mile EPA, it can keep on trucking for twice that and then some. Not only that, it has seven seats, an infotainment system of unparalleled sophistication and can drive itself on motorways.
“The Tesla Model X suffers from range anxiety, costs a lot of money and the fancy Falcon Wing doors have caused a few headaches, but it is the cleanest, most eco-friendly and practical all-electric car on the planet and one that manages to wow,” Recombu associate editor Ben Griffin commented. “The fact it is brutally fast and costs much less to run than a diesel makes only makes it even more astonishing.”
Best family car of 2016: The shortlist
Though it looks a tad dull, the Hyundai Ioniq is actually rather pleasing to drive, especially when compared with its Toyota Prius rival. It also ticks the boxes for practicality, particularly where fuel economy, technology and value for money are concerned.
The Ioniq Hybrid version makes sense for those who regularly leave the confines of urban life, but it is the Ioniq Electric that offers the most pleasing drive and one that could save you a lot of money in the long run. Providing, of course, you are happy adjusting to its 110-mile range.
Tesla Model X
No ordinary family can afford the Model X SUV, but a seven-seater car that emits no emissions locally and can almost outrun a Ferrari LaFerrari up to 62mph represents the true potential of electric cars, which in itself deserves praise. It helps, too, that Tesla has become a desirable brand.
Yes, the Falcon Wing doors have been causing misery for some owners, but no other seven-seater is as cheap to run, fast or savvy in the tech department. Factor in a gloriously smooth ride inherited from the Model S and you can see why it has received as much praise from the motoring press as it has.
For those that want a spacious family wagon with off-road capabilities and presence, the Ford Edge hits the spot. Disregard because of the American brash looks at your peril, it offers a Europe-friendly and pleasingly effortless drive, with one of the quietest cabins around.
Its German rivals look nicer inside, but everything feels sturdy and the Edge has an air of premium about it, even if the price suggests otherwise. The fact it has a gigantic boot, ample space for passengers of all sizes and soaks up road imprefections make it a great family car.
Once the laughing stock of the motoring world, Skoda now routinely wins awards left, right and centre. Arguable its greatest success is the Octavia, which in its various forms offers a satisfactory drive, generous levels of equipment and class-leading space.
The fact it is underpinned by the VW Golf ensures the Octavia has great build quality and we even like how it looks. A lack of excitement is more than made up for with value for money, especially as its 2017 replacement will likely pave the way for some juicy deals.
There are so many SUVs on the market but the seven-seater Volvo XC90, complete with excellent build quality, numerous thoughtful design touches and various frugal powertrains (including the talented T8 hybrid), makes it one of the most complete offerings.
Yes it lacks the same prestige as its rivals, but it certainly feels as capable and as premium. A huge boot, seven-seat arrangement as standard and a predominantly smooth drive ensure the Volvo XC90 is a family car worth considering.