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September 2018

A Buyer’s Guide to Family Vehicles: Our 4 Favourites

Shopping for a family vehicle is tricky. We want vehicles that are reliable, cheap to maintain, safe and spacious. They have to be capable for NZ roads as well. And, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the fun factor – our cars should be engaging to drive. Naturally, families in New Zealand tend to gravitate towards mid-sized SUVs as their family vehicles of choice - yet there is a range of suitable vehicles we should be considering.

When shopping for used cars in NZ we have a wide range of suitable vehicles to choose from. This is because our import laws allow us to access the best cars Japan has to offer, giving us scope and breadth when it comes to buying a used vehicle.

So, what are the best family cars you can buy today? Today we review the segment, and offer our own thoughts on what you should be considering when it comes to transporting the fam, the camping gear, and the Labrador.

Mother, father and son are taking selfie in front of new grey car

Mazda CX-5

The CX-5, launched in 2012, has quickly become the leader in the medium SUV and crossover segment. There’s good reason: it’s spacious, beautifully styled, incredibly efficient thanks to Mazda’s Skyactiv technology, and handles like a Mazda should (read: sharp, dynamic, with minimal body roll).

The first generation CX-5 is available in FWD or AWD, with a 2.0 or 2.5 L petrol engine, or a 2.2 L diesel. The diesel is especially efficient, with increased low-down torque and a lively response.

All in all, a great family vehicle to consider. Highly capable and practically purpose-built for NZ’s road.

Nissan Qashqai

The car that helped catapult the crossover segment to ubiquity back in 2006 is still a highly capable class leader.

This compact SUV combines the rugged exterior and high driving position of an SUV, with the running costs and around-town handling expectations of a hatchback. While some consider the Qashqai to be a reasonably standard CUV, it stands out for its reliability, comfort and build quality.

Why is it good for your family? If you need space and comfort, but don’t want to get too big, the Qashqai offers a nice middle point between compact hatches designed purely for city driving and larger SUVs. The first generation is great, and Nissan builds on their success with the second generation, improving handling and ride quality, and adding all the necessary bells.

Subaru Legacy

This one is an olive branch to those drivers who want to have fun, while carting their kids to cricket. Put simply, the Legacy is an icon of driving in New Zealand. Offered in both a sedan and wagon arrangement (we massively prefer the wagon, and it is more useful for families), the Legacy is sure to bring a smile to your face.

The fourth generation Legacy is considered a highlight. Produced from 2003 – 2009, available in a range of engines sizes from 2.0 L to 3.0 L, the Legacy puts power to the ground via Subaru’s iconic AWD system. This places it as a superb car for New Zealand’s squirrely roads.

What makes the Legacy a great family car is its versatility. With space galore in the wagon format, a reputation for reliability when looked after, and the options of tow-bars for trailers or your bike racks place it squarely in the category of family car material. Core downsides include high running costs (Subaru’s boxer configuration in combination with full-time AWD make the Legacy thirsty) and overall comfort (or slight lack thereof) for the family, especially considering other options here.

Honda Odyssey

We can’t forget the humble minivan. While the market may have moved on somewhat, the people mover still serves its purpose well. When you need to haul the kids, dog, friends and gear, this is sometimes the only option.

We’ll be focusing on the fourth generation of the Honda Odyssey – for us, a sweet spot in terms of styling and reliability. While it is offered with a four-wheel drive option, the front wheel drive is most common.

Today, you can pick up fourth gen Odysseys at extremely competitive prices. For your money, you can get a lot of car. Oodles of space, a reliable, powerful engine, and excellent driving quality for a car this large.

How to decide which family vehicle is right

At the end of the day, you need to understand your needs. Depending on how large your family is, your budget, and what you’ll be using your car for, you could end up looking at a wide range of vehicles.

Honourable mentions go out to the Volkswagen Golf for smaller families, Mitsubishi Outlander for a wallet-friendly family SUV, and the Hyundai Santa Fe, a class leader in the medium SUV diesel category. Ultimately, our market is saturated with suitable family vehicles. Nothing beats figuring out your needs, then taking some test drives. Not everything will be right for you, and the best way to figure that out is to see the cars in person and take them out on the road.

Looking for your next used vehicle?

At Industry Motors we have the highest quality range of used cars NZ can offer. From family SUVs, through to utes, hatchbacks and more, Industry Motor Group source only the best used cars. Our vehicles are AA appraised, so you can buy with confidence. And we can outfit your new vehicle with car accessories, including tow bars, roof racks and more before you drive off the lot. Browse our range of used vehicles online or come into our Penrose or Takanini car dealers.


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