Useful Car Tips

Next Level Family Haulers

May 10, 2019
From taking your kids to soccer games, birthday parties, and get-togethers, to taking the whole family on vacation, family-haulers have an important place in the automobile industry. They can come in all shapes and sizes too, from sedans and hatchbacks to wagons and SUVs. Despite their differences in form factor, they all share the common traits of being spacious and comfortable; exactly what you need when transporting your family. The usual suspects are all available: the Honda Accords, the Nissan Rogues, the Toyota Siennas. But what if you’re looking for something a little more ... exciting? Perhaps a vehicle that can simultaneously transport your family while providing ample fun, speed, and acceleration? If that sounds appealing to you, you’ll probably be in the market for at least the first entry on our list: the Volkswagen Golf R.


The Volkswagen Golf hatchback has been in production for over 40 years, spanning seven generations. This venerable little car has seating for up to five passengers, and because of its hatchback design, offers an extra level of utility over competing small sedans which feature comparatively little cargo room. So what does the Golf R offer over the regular Golf 1.4T? For starters, the R comes with a 2.0 liter turbocharged inline-four engine, which, despite its small size, produces a healthy 276 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This powerplant is good enough to propel the Golf R from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a surprisingly quick 4.5 seconds (if you spring for the DSG dual-clutch transmission over the manual). These factors, plus its standard all wheel-drive, make the Golf R a compelling choice in the hot hatch segment.


Stepping up from the Golf R in size and space is Kia's Stinger fastback sedan. Coupled with optional all wheel-drive, the Stinger offers a choice between a 2.0 liter turbocharged I4 engine producing 255 horsepower and a substantially more powerful 3.3 liter turbocharged V6 producing a competitive 365 horsepower. Besides its engine credentials, the Stinger is also a great choice for families due to its five-passenger seating capacity and fastback design. But what exactly is a fastback? It’s a design feature where the roof of the vehicle has a single slope down to the rear bumper, versus a more-conventional sedan shape. Kia took advantage of this design, with the trunk panel encompassing the rear window and hinged near the roof (similar to a hatchback), again differing significantly from more conventional designs. This not only makes for a stylish touch, but gives a much larger opening for the trunk, making cargo packing a breeze.


Mercedes-Benz is currently the only manufacturer out of the German Big Three (Mercedes, Audi, and BMW) to offer a bonafide “hot” wagon in the US. Two of them, in fact: the E450 4MATIC and the legendary E63 (now only offered in “S” trim). While it doesn’t have the abject brutality of the E63S, the E450 wagon still offers loads of practicality, power, and fun, without the US$100,000+ price tag of its more powerful sibling. With a 3.0 liter biturbo V6 generating 362 horsepower, this wagon accelerates from 0-60 miles per hour in a very respectable 5.1 seconds. Combined with its seating capacity for seven, copious cargo space due to its wagon design, and all wheel-drive standard, the E450 wagon is a great choice for those looking for a comfortable, sporty luxury wagon; presently the only one of its kind.


If a 475 horsepower, 470 lb-ft, two and a half ton SUV sounds a little crazy to you, that’s because it is. Welcome to the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, one of FCA’s slightly unhinged mid-size SUV offerings. It’s big, brash, and loud, and simply an incredibly capable family hauler. It offers a leather-adorned interior with comfortable two-row seating for five passengers, large cargo capacity, and a whopping towing capacity of 7,200 pounds. The big Jeep is a truly all-purpose, go anywhere, do anything vehicle, and one of the most compelling choices in its segment. Did we mention this two and a half ton SUV does the 0-60 run in just 4.4 seconds (AND has a top speed of 160 miles per hour)?!


Now that you have some options available, it’s time to test drive! As always, evaluate your family’s specific needs: Does the Golf R have enough space for you, or will you need to step up to something like the E450 wagon or Grand Cherokee SRT? How important is a big seating capacity to you? What about storage? Consider price and lease or financing payments too. Once you’ve picked the perfect vehicle for you, schedule a test drive if possible and see it in person. If you can take it home, enjoy, and know your new family hauler will not only get you and your kids to your destination quickly and safely, but will put a smile on your face every time you hit the throttle!
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