Author: Steve Allen |
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A family car is a car classification used to describe different sized cars that fit the whole family’s needs. The name comes from the suitability of these cars to carry a whole family locally or on vacations. Most family cars are hatchbacks or sedans, although there are MPVs, estates and cabriolets with the same structure as with the other body style.

Best Budget Cars

Mazda 3

2016 Mazda3 © Mazda Motor Corporation

2016 Mazda3 © Mazda Motor Corporation

Forget the word “compromise” ever existed. Mazda3 is a vehicle that exceeds expectations, from its impressive fuel economy to its sophisticated ride and handling to features that are rare or exclusive in its class like available adaptive high-intensity headlights, Mazda Radar Cruise control and even Active Driving Display, a head-up unit that displays important information helping the driver keep his or her eyes on the road.

The 2016 Mazda3 returns with the formula that has propelled it to win numerous accolades throughout the auto industry. With more than 4.5 million produced since its introduction as a 2004 model, Mazda3 is Mazda’s best-selling nameplate in the world.

Mazda3 is available with a 155-horsepower SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine in Mazda3 i configuration or a 184-horsepower SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter engine in Mazda3 s vehicles. Either engine can be paired with a six-speed manual or available six-speed automatic transmission and in four- or five-door body styles. Mazda3 comes standard with premium features that are rare among compact cars and available class-above options like adaptive high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights and Mazda Radar Cruise Control. With KODO—Soul of Motion design, Mazda3 stands out in a segment awash with conformity.

Honda Fit

2016 Honda Fit © Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

2016 Honda Fit © Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

The 2015 Honda Fit is the third generation of Honda’s versatile 5-door subcompact hatchback. First introduced to the U.S. in 2006 as a 2007 model, the Fit was named a Car and Driver “10-Best” vehicle for seven straight years. This and the many other accolades earned by Fit speak to its practicality, fuel efficiency and affordability, but also its feature richness, high-quality interior and driving enjoyment. For the completely redesigned 2015 Fit, the unique combination of these traits and the functionality, fun and refinement they provide have been further enhanced with even greater versatility, fresh styling, a more dynamic and refined driving experience, and substantially upgraded technology and luxury features.

The versatility of the 2015 Fit is fundamental to its design. With class-leading interior space and versatility, courtesy of its center-mounted fuel tank and ingenious Magic Seat®, the Fit epitomizes smart functionality with spacious and comfortable seating for five and the ability to carry voluminous cargo, including long and tall items. The larger interior features a remarkable 4.9 cubic feet increase in passenger volume and a 4.8-inch increase in rear seat leg room, all the more remarkable considering its even more compact exterior footprint, including a1.6-inch decrease in overall length.

Best High-Mileage Car

Volkswagen Golf TDI

2016 Volkswagen Golf © Volkswagen Konzern

2016 Volkswagen Golf © Volkswagen Konzern

It’s been 41 years since Volkswagen’s iconic hatchback debuted in the United States, and the seventh-generation Golf is the best Golf yet. Winning more than two-dozen awards following its 2015 debut, the 2016 Golf continues to represent a great value with loads of interior and cargo space, fuel-efficient engine choices and world-class German engineering.

After a ground-up redesign for 2015, the Golf continues to add to its value package for model year 2016. The addition of a new infotainment system for 2016 provides a comprehensive suite of connectivity features. Volkswagen Group of America is one of the first in the industry to support all three available connected car systems: Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™ and MirrorLink®. The new MIB II system offers USB and VW-Car Net® App-Connect, allowing owners with these systems to access select apps from their smartphones directly through the vehicle’s head unit. VW Car-Net’s connected vehicle services umbrella also includes connected car services, advanced telematics, and enhanced navigation available by subscription.

A rearview camera now comes standard on S models and SE models add Keyless access with push-button start. The Driver Assistance Package (available on SE and SEL models) has been updated to include a number of new technologies, including Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist), Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist).

Best Sedans

Hyundai Sonata

2016 Hyundai Sonata © Hyundai Motor Company

2016 Hyundai Sonata © Hyundai Motor Company

Following its launch last year, the seventh-generation Sonata has garnered such accolades as being named “Best Midsize Car for the Money” by U.S. News & World Report.

For 2016, the Sonata’s interior adds more content including Hyundai’s 7-inch color touchscreen Display Audio system, Android Auto and rearview camera system. In addition, a conventional sunroof is now available on Sport models and standard on Limited trims. Limited 2.0T models also add a heated function for the D-cut steering wheel.

Visual enhancements to the Limited include a more aggressively styled front bumper from the Sport model with a 3-bar grille, a new 17-inch alloy wheel design and updated woodgrain pattern interior trim on vehicles with the beige interior.

To reduce unsprung weight and improve handling, some of the Sonata’s suspension components are now crafted from aluminum instead of steel. The steering knuckle and the lower control arm in front and the upper control arm and assist arms in back are now aluminum.

The 2016 Hyundai Sonata continues with its all four-cylinder engine lineup. A 2.4-liter Theta II GDI engine producing 185 horsepower and 178 lb. ft. of torque powers the SE, Limited and Sport models.

A 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged GDI motivates Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T models with 245 horsepower and 260 lb. ft. of torque. Changes introduced last year are a smaller turbine and compressor wheel helped provide better responsiveness and more torque in the low and mid RPM range. Both Theta engines are paired with a six-speed SHIFTRONIC ® automatic transmission.

The Eco model remains the fuel economy champion of the non-hybrid Sonatas with its 1.6-liter turbocharged Gamma four-cylinder with 177 horsepower and 195 lb. ft. of torque paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Eco models receive a 28 mpg EPA fuel economy rating in the city and 38 mpg on the highway for a class-leading 32 mpg combined.

Standard features include remote keyless entry with alarm, body color heated exterior power mirrors, LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL), steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise control and Bluetooth hands-free phone system. Premium features such as HID Xenon headlights, panoramic sunroof and 10-speaker Infinity® 400-watt premium audio system with subwoofer are options. To simplify the Sonata lineup, the black leather interior with orange accents and brown leather interiors are no longer available and Urban Sunset exterior paint has been discontinued.

Honda Accord

2016 Honda Accord Sedan © Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

2016 Honda Accord Sedan © Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

For nearly four decades, the Accord has set the benchmark for vehicles in the midsize sedan class, historically the most popular class of vehicle with American car buyers. Accord is widely recognized as a segment-defining product, delivering class-leading interior space and superior ergonomics along with outstanding fuel efficiency, refined and responsive driving dynamics and top-class safety performance. As one important bellwether of its success, the Accord has been named to Car and Driver magazine’s “10Best” list a record 29 times, a feat unmatched by any other automobile of any type.

Accord was the first Honda model and first vehicle from a Japanese automaker to be manufactured in America and has been in continuous production at the company’s Marysville, Ohio auto plant using domestic and globally sourced parts since November 1982. It has also been produced in the company’s plants in East Liberty, Ohio; in Birmingham, Alabama; and in El Salto, Jalisco, Mexico. Honda has produced more than 10 million Accords in North America for both local and global markets.

The 2016 Accord marks a further advancement of the 9th-generation Accord lineup. Building on the foundations established by the 2013 model, the more sophisticated, sportier, yet highly fuel efficient 2016 Accord features a further refined design, a more rigid body and upgraded chassis, and upsized wheels and tires on select models. All 2016 Accords can also now be equipped with Honda Sensing™ as a standalone option on all trims except Touring, which features Honda Sensing™ as standard equipment. Further changes include the expanded use LED exterior lighting, and new premium features and technologies, including the first combined application of Apple CarPlay®1 and Android Auto1 to a Honda model and among the first high-volume cars to apply the two systems in the marketplace.

Additional new available features for 2016, depending on model and trim, include remote engine start, front and rear parking sensors, rain sensing wipers, rear seat heaters, and a 60/40 split and folding rear seat. The Accord Sedan and Coupe, depending on trim, also feature new exterior color and interior fabrics and decor; and the Accord Coupe adds a new line-topping Touring model to match its Sedan counterpart.

Best Wagon

Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback © Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd.

Subaru Outback © Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd.

The 2015 Outback offers the roomiest interior, most capable chassis and highest fuel-efficiency in the model’s 20-year history. Its bold design delivers an even more compelling blend of on-road agility, off-pavement control, ride comfort, interior refinement and safety technology.

The 2015 Outback arrives in Subaru dealerships in summer 2014. The 175-horsepower 4-cylinder Outback 2.5i model is available in Standard, Premium and Limited trim lines, accompanied by the top-of-line 6-cylinder 3.6R Limited with 256 horsepower. All trim lines add more standard amenities, conveniences and  infotainment systems.

The original Outback established a template for many competitive crossover models that followed, and the generation 2015 Outback further strengthens the melding of passenger- car and SUV attributes that crossover shoppers seek. The 2015 Outback exemplifies Subaru’s mastery of outdoors-oriented vehicle engineering, not just for its standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and raised ground clearance, but also for numerous details that help make it more convenient to load and carry cargo as well as items such as kayaks and bikes. Newly standard X-Mode, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist augment Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive to assist the driver in navigating rough roads, slippery surfaces or steep inclines.

For 2015, all Outback models come standard with the Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission), which features paddle-shift control switches and is instrumental in the Outback’s significantly improved fuel economy. Manufacturer-estimated ratings of 25 mpg city / 33 mpg highway / 28 mpg combined are up from 24/30/26 in the 2014 model. These figures place the 2015 Outback 2.5i at the top of the midsize crossover class, bettering front-wheel drive versions of some competitive crossovers.

A Active Grille Shutter system on the 2015 Outback 2.5i helps to improve fuel economy by reducing wind resistance when closed. Electric Power-Assisted Steering and improved aerodynamics also contribute to the increased efficiency in all models. Due largely to its Lineartronic CVT, the 6-cylinder Outback 3.6R Limited also improves fuel economy, with manufacturer-estimated ratings of 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway/22 combined vs. 17/25/20 for the previous version.

Best Crossovers

Honda CR-V

2016 Honda CR-V © Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

2016 Honda CR-V © Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

The Honda CR-V, a perennial favorite of American car buyers and the best-selling entry-SUV of all time, receives the most significant mid-model cycle redesign in its 17-year history, with a new Earth Dreams Technology™ engine and transmission, significantly enhanced exterior and interior styling, and a long list of new standard and available features. A new top-of-the-line Touring trim includes the first-ever Honda application of Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) and Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), and the first CR-V adoption of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW). These systems are a part of the new Honda Sensing™ suite of safety and driver assistive technologies that, together with other high-end features such as a power tailgate, bring a new level of sophistication to the benchmark compact SUV.

The 2015 CR-V’s new Earth Dreams Technology™ powertrain – a 2.4-liter, direct-injected DOHC i-VTEC engine mated to a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) with G-design Shift – delivers increased performance and cruising efficiency with an 11 percent increase in peak engine torque and a significant fuel efficiency gain.

The CR-V’s already impressive functionality is enhanced with multiple upgrades, including a new configurable center console, new rear console heat/air ventilation ducts, and an available 7-inch touchscreen Display Audio telematics interface. Refinements such as a redesigned high-quality and high-tech interior further increase the CR-V’s sophistication. Exterior design changes, including re-styled front and rear bodywork, mirrors and wheels, lend the CR-V an aggressive and bold appearance with unique Honda style. Customers will also benefit from a longer list of standard features on all trims. The best-selling CR-V EX, for example, adds 7-inch Display Audio, a 10-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, Honda LaneWatch™, Smart Entry/Push-Button Start and LED daytime running lights.

Nissan Murano

2015 Nissan Murano © Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

2015 Nissan Murano © Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

The first-generation Nissan Murano had a profound impact on the SUV market when it was introduced for the 2003 model year. In addition to being one of the first crossovers on the market, it offered a fresh design sensibility that combined an elegant style with premium features – without a luxury price tag. Murano quickly attracted a loyal, enthusiastic owner base and remained a “class of one” as other manufacturers scrambled to catch up.

“At Nissan, we create concept vehicles with an eye toward production, rather than just for entertaining auto show audiences,” explained Shiro Nakamura, Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. “Likely few people who saw Resonance in its North American International Auto Show debut imagined that we could build such a futuristic design. But here it is, ready for the roads of the world less than 24 months later.”

Though one was conceptual and the other production-based, Resonance and the new Murano were created on parallel tracks – with shared design themes and key attributes such as their boomerang lights and unique floating roof treatment.

Like the first-generation Murano, the 2015 version is a highly sculptural, highly emotional design – one that once again stands out in a field known more for uniformity and utility-based styling.

“Murano owners live in an environment – home, work and car – that is beautiful, well-designed and efficiently run. They are social and embrace technology,” said Nakamura. “The new Murano had to embrace all of these values, while also taking a major leap forward in terms of its ‘Wow’ factor.”

Best Minivan

Toyota Sienna

2015 Toyota Sienna © Toyota Motor Corporation

2015 Toyota Sienna © Toyota Motor Corporation

In the kid-friendly, parents-rule world of family vans, The Toyota Sienna remains the only model available with all-wheel drive. But that’s just one of the many compelling qualities that make the Sienna a standout. For 2016, upgraded multimedia features augment the parents’ side of the equation.

Toyota has made across-the-board enhancements to the Entune multimedia head units in the 2016 Sienna. The new Connected Navigation Scout® GPS App Link for Entune® Audio Plus uses the customer’s smartphone to provide navigation functionality through the head unit. And iPhone® users will be pleased to know that all available head units now integrate Siri® Eyes Free mode.

The new Sienna Outdoor Package introduced for 2015 returns for 2016, bundling roof rack cross bars, all-weather floor mats, mud guards and door sill protectors.

Best SUV

Chevrolet Traverse

2016 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ © General Motors

2016 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ © General Motors

Already the perfect crossover SUV for those looking for a roomy interior, advanced safety features and a comfortable ride, the 2016 Chevrolet Traverse is adding connectivity to its long list of attributes.

OnStar 4G LTE connectivity with a Wi-Fi hotspot is new for 2016. It complements Chevrolet MyLink, providing a mobile hub for drivers and passengers to stay connected anytime, anywhere.

The hotspot is on whenever the vehicle is on and comes with a three-month/three gigabyte data trial, after which the owner can purchase additional data.

For 2016, Traverse is offered in LS, LT (1LT and 2LT trims) and LTZ models, in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations. LS and LT seat up to eight passengers and are powered by a 3.6L V-6 engine that uses gasoline direct injection technology, which optimizes performance and efficiency – including EPA-rated 24 mpg on the highway (FWD models).

Several advanced safety features help protect occupants while on the road. Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning features are crash-avoidance technologies that use a camera and sensors to help determine when the driver is getting too close to a vehicle ahead, or when the vehicle enters another lane without using a turn signal. They alert the driver with visual cues on the dashboard, as well as audible signals.