BMW Diesel Sport Wagon: The Family Bimmer
By The Car Family

for more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

There is something for everyone in the BMW 328 all-wheel drive diesel wagon. For the family there is room for five and a dog or two. For the enthusiast there is the typical excellent BMW handling, suspension, and brakes. For the frugal there is the 30 plus mpg highway mileage and the reliability of a diesel engine. And for the adventurous that all-wheel drive makes light off-roading an enjoyable task. Of course, all these ingredients come at a cost and the wagon’s base price is just north of $40, 000 BMW.

2014 BMW 328d Sedan and xDrive Sports Wagon.

The real story is the BMW diesel engine which has a unique feature that turns off the powerplant at stoplights to save fuel. It starts immediately when you remove your foot from the brake or push the accelerator pedal. BMW’s diesel starts quickly, even in colder weather, with very little chatter normal associated with such robust engines. Matted to an eight speed automatic transmission the wagon does not have to be refueled for about 500 miles.

Mom’s view: A nice combination of practicality and sexy, this BMW even comes in an M Sport package and enough electronic programming features to keep a teenager happy for weeks. There is the iDrive infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, and a host of other features that make your life easier… You can even program the suspension. I left the wagon on the Comfort setting and was quite happy with the result, but I could have chosen Eco, Sport and Sport Plus. My advice is to do your homework first as the option list is extensive with an abundance of features for safety, handling, and entertainment. If you aren’t judicious with your choices the price can touch the $60,000 mark, but for that you get a car capable of most everything but driving itself. Oh, it does have an automatic parking feature if you must.

2014 BMW 328d Sedan and xDrive Sports Wagon.

Dad’s view: An interesting choice, this wagon demands attention from those looking for the utility of a SUV and the benefits of a low center of gravity and the ability to easily achieve over 40 mpg on the highway. The ride is impressive with very little noise and the understated interior has superior fit and finish. Interestingly, BMW has equipped the family station wagon with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters to provide control freaks a bit of fun in maximizing the diesel engine’s 280 pounds-feet of torque whenever the need arises. The acceleration is very linear with surprising initial acceleration. Using the Eco mode does give you better fuel mileage, but dulls the driving dynamics. The Eco mode is best used on long stretches of divided highway. The xDrive drivetrain is very seamless and is reassuring, especially when the weather is inclement, however, going off road is really limited due to the wagon’s low clearance level. If you want to play in the dirt BMW’s SUVs are more suitable. You do pay a small premium for the diesel package, but this difference can be made up in about 30 months of normal driving due to the diesel’s better fuel economy, especially considering that most BMWs require premium fuel. Look for good resale too, as this is a fairly rare model. It is an oxymoron to label a car both sporty and frugal, but this BMW is just that. I would get the upgraded interior and have a one car does it all vehicle capable of everything from ski trips to driving on Pismo beach to kidney challenging eight hour journeys without refueling.

Young working male’s view: The 328d diesel wagon requires a special additive called AdBlue that helps with emissions and needs to be replenished at normal oil change times. And don’t forget that because the diesel won’t start if it is not supplied. Essentially, that’s all that is required to enjoy the benefits of this diesel wagon. BMW’s iDrive system has a significant learning curve, but a good salesperson can provide you with some worthy tips to make the benefits easier to utilize. The display is easy to see, as it is the driver’s line of sight, and the SiriusXM is very worthwhile. Interestingly, the iDrive even has a feature that enables you to draw letters and numbers with your fingers and confirms such requests by voice or visually. Interesting, but not as valuable as the optional head-up display as it is difficult to keep this vehicle at legal speed limits. The large panoramic sunroof is nice and the safety net is a lifesaver in emergencies. My thoughts are that the BMW buyer must decide between this and the BMW X3 or X1, which offer increased ride height and useful cargo space, but lack the handling, lower load height, and economy of the wagon.

Working woman’s view: There is adequate cargo space and the 40/20/40-split folding backseat add more useable room as the wagon lives up to its name. As usual, BMW has a variety of option packages. I would certain opt for the Driver Assistance Package Plus with its backup camera, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, side and top-view cameras and proximity sensors as well as collision warning. BMW has a reputation of being well built with excellent handling, superior braking, and performance all the while providing good fuel mileage. The wagon fits and adds the unique factor. I found it compelling, but the rear visibility is limited.

Family conference: If you are looking for something albeit tidier than the ubiquitous SUV, this BMW might be just the tool. The diesel engine is well worth considering, but do your research when ordering options.

Notable 2013 Cars

With an improving economy and the desire for many to own more fuel efficient vehicles a schism is between the practical and the look at me crowd is emerging. The result is more sophistication and a more difficult choice for buyers. It is no longer simple to buy a vehicle of your dreams without doing significant research. That is why sites such as this are so valuable in helping you winnow out the wheat from the chaff. Here are some of the most significant new cars at this point.

Acura ILX

The ILX is a more refined Honda Civic with upgrades nearly everywhere from the suspension to the interior to the engine. You can also get it as a hybrid or a hot rod version with 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual. Look for prices to go into the mid $30,000 range and start ten grand less.

Acura RDX

Small families in a hurry will like the RDX with a 3.5-liter V-6 creating 273 hp that uses a six-speed automatic. There is an available all-wheel-drive system. Priced between $35,000 and $41,000.

Acura RLX

For around $50,000 you can own all all new RLX that come with front wheel drive or as a hybrid with all drive. Lots of technology and fairly good fuel mileage as well. Pricing will most likely be around $50,000.

Audi Allroad

Audi Q5

Back again and this time a bit tame compared to the previous version. A tough looking little wagon with a turbocharged four cylinder engine. Figure $40,000, but not nearly as rugged as its older brother.

Audi RS5
The RS5 coupe has a V8 that makes 450 hp and is mated to a even-speed transmission and all wheel drive. This slippery two door is going to make friends quickly with the highway patrol as the rear spoiler deploys automatically at 75 mph. Perhaps a performance bargain at $80,000 or so.

Audi S6
Now with a twin-turbo V-8, eight-speed automatic transmission and a plethora of high end goodies, this Audi combines both performance and luxury.

Audi S7

Similar in nearly every way to the S6, except it costs more and is a hatchback.

Audi S8
The S8 is a big, fast sedan with power from a twin-turbo V-8 trumps and an abundance of technology and performance features. Oh, this 520 horsepower version is going to cost you well over $100,000.

Bentley Continental GT V8

We thought the GT was a bargain at $150,000 when it came out ten years ago. It now $177,000 and up, and you are reduced to just eight cylinders. Oh, you still have 500 horsepower and are driving one of the world’s most expensive gas hogs.
BMW 640i Gran Coupe

It is all about looks with this sort of new model with previous mechanics and a sculptured four door design. If you like it and have close to $80,000 you won’t have to worry about some of the impractical elements such as a small trunk and reduced visibility, You also need to control your impulses when deciding on options. but you are going to be seem in one of the all time family friendly babe magnets.
Seriously expense with a turbocharged V-8 places 560 hp at your disposal. For about $107,000 this is a very fast machine that handles well. Best advise, pay an extra seven grand and get the convertible. Rich speed demons will love it.



A small SUV with the BMW character for those with over $30,000, this model looks a lot like its sister, the X3 with the same engines, all wheel drive availability, the availability of a M Sports package. A plethora of options, but most important was the fact that this just might be the most useful and “inexpensive” BMW you can buy.

Buick Encore

A small Buck, who would have thought. Nevertheless, GMC is on a roll and this is one luxury placed small car, but far from tiny. The 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder has plenty of pep and the interior r is very upscale, Look for pricing I the $20,000 plus range. Going to be interesting to see if this model brings the younger fold to the dance.

Buick Verano Turbo

The news this year is the turbo and, honest, you can order this Buick with a manual transmission. Add the usual Buick reliability and interior treatments and you have a fun, fast, family vehicle for about $30,000.
Cadillac ATS

The American BMW, this line of Cadillacs has a vast array of options from turbocharged four and six cylinders power plants to a manual transmission to all wheel drive and sophisticated suspensions. Starting prices around $34,000.
Cadillac XTS

This bigger cad is big and filled with luxury features as those of olden days. A 300 hp plus engine makes it a highway cruiser. With options the $45,000 price sprints to nearly $60,000 for this front wheel drive model. The Cue system takes voice cues and runs the information and entertainment controls. Huge touch screen. A lot of car for the money.

Chevrolet Corvette 427 convertible

Convertible, that is all you need to know. Over 500 horsepower and the wind in your hair for $77.000 or so.


Chevrolet Impala
A fresh face, underpinnings, and a 2.5-liter engine, a 2.4-liter hybrid and a 3.6-liter V-6 with 303 hp to keep face with the competition. Priced well under $30,000. Much more youthful looking then Ford. I family oriented winner.

Chevrolet Malibu

A couple of engine options including a form of hybrid for his well priced and equipped model.
Don’t pay more for the competition until you check it out. Prices starting around $22,000.

Chevrolet Sonic RS

A sporty compact, this sleek model has upgraded appearance and suspension and brakes. . The turbo engine creates excitement and at $20,100 it does that.

Chevrolet Spark
This is a price leader with great fuel mileage and room for four adults. Prices too low to mention here. Just kidding. About $13,000.

Dodge Dart
Built on a sporty Alfa Romeo platform and sharp looking, the Dart is a a low priced, well finished car that should draw people back to the dealerships who are looking for value and looks. Starts under $17,000.

Fiat 500L

Bigger may be better. We love the Fiat for what it is, fun-to-drive and cute. The new version is bigger and more expensive. If you need four doors this Fiat may be just right.

Ford C-Max
The C-Max hybrid can be ordered as a standard hybrid or a plug-in. We tend to wait a while before buying new vehicles laden with technology.

Ford Escape

Ditto, the Escape is all new in design and look for prices to be higher as well. A lot of competition in this segment and the trick rear hatch that opens by detecting your foot passing under the rear part of the vehicle is interesting, but what about just hitting the remote keyfob?

Ford Fusion

Well, it sure looks different and comes with a variety of power train configurations. Look for competitive pricing, but check out Ford’s quality ratings first. The are now 23rd, according to J.D. Powers.

GMC Terrain Denali

More is the operative word here. More safety features, comfort and good fuel economy with the base engine. If you must have a SUV, this one is highly recommended with great fuel economy and interior room. Priced in the mid $20,000 range for the base version.

Honda Accord
Honda does not let us test their vehicles. As such all we can say is that there is a lot of competition in this category and we highly recommend you drive them all before making a decision. Do your homework first, because there are a lot of options. As for hybrids, Honda has lagged behind Toyota in this regard for years after getting a headstart with its terrific, but small, Insight. If you are considering this type of power train take the time to see the price of replacement battery packs, too. We can recommend three Honda models based on past experience. First, the expensive Odyssey van. Next the CRV crossover. Finally, the Fit with the latter being the best value overall.
Hyundai Elantra GT

Elantra GT

Elantra GT

An exceptional combination of sporty, fuel frugal, and family friendly features makes this bargain priced Hyundai a great choice for those on a budget or who just like to have fun. Prices under $19,000 to start. Remember, if you don’t want the sporty model the base Elantra is a winner, too. Hyundai is clearly providing good looking vehicles with superior gas mileage and warranty. If you have a dealership near check out the line.

Hyundai Santa Fe

With room for seven in some versions, the Hyundai is loaded with features and priced right starting at $23,000. Expect gas mileage to be in the low 20 mpg range. The Sport model has two rows of seats. If you choice to go with front wheel drive and the smaller engine your mileage could easily be 30 percent better.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Looks and features are the reason for the Veloster. Good fuel economy, reasonable performance and interesting options for about $23,000.

Infiniti JX35

A three row SUV, this well equipped luxury model is an extensive list of safety items and enough goodies to entertain the family as well. Prices start at $41,000.

Lexus ES
The bread and butter car of the Lexus line-up along with the RX, the new ES is longer and better and improved in every regard. Excellent fuel mileage and performance make this a dominate player in this market segment. Also available as a hybrid and you can average nearly 40 mpg in mixed driving with this option.

Lincoln MKZ

Interesting looking and using a variety of engine combinations that are shared with the Ford Fusion, the MKZ can be ordered with all wheel drive and as a hybrid. Prices around $36,000. A direct competitor to the Lexus ES so check resale values, too.

Mazda CX-5


A tremendous value in base form, this SUVish hauler gets a class leading 25 to 31 mpg and plenty of technology and standard features. There isn’t much downside on this model, and it even is available with all wheel drive. Prices start in the low $20,000 range, but don’t expect luxury, expect a useful people mover that will probably be invisible to the highway patrol.

Mercedes-Benz GL
The GL can be order with a Bluetec’s turbo-diesel, a V-6 a V8, a 4.7-liter turbo, or an AMG 5.5-liter twin turbo V-8 so be prepared to spend some time test driving a variety before buying. The new model can hold seven passengers. Prices start around the mid-$60,000 range and escalate to well over $100,000 depending on your need for speed.

Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec

It is here, a diesel SUV, and with prices below $40,000 and fuel mileage in the 22 mpg range it might make sense, but be aware the higher diesel fuel costs must be considered in comparison to the premium fuel recommended for gas engined versions.

Mini Paceman

Interesting looks is what this Mini offers. Priced around the mid $20,000 depending on options.

Nissan Altima

Believe it or not this Nissan is catching on with those who like value, performance and features. Only the Toyota Camry sold more in this market segments. It is fun to drive and if you are easy on throttle with the base engine you can easily get 35 mpg. A best value if you are looking for a family car that doesn’t take away driving enjoyment.

Nissan Pathfinder

Now a crossover, the Pathfinder gets better fuel-economy, a better ride, and treats inhabitants better. Priced in the $30,000 area, the model has a lockable all wheel drive option and third row seating. It also has the great Nissan’s Around View monitor that must be seen to be believed. That alone is worth a drive to the Nissan dealership.

Porsche Boxster

All new and sharper looking and more expensive, this Porsche is no longer the poor man’s 911, but now stands alone as a top performing sports car. The S model is the one to have, but the extra horsepower will cost you over $10,000 more. Base price is about $50,000.

Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ


The Scion is less expensive, but both sporty cars are back to basics funmobiles. The reason we compared them together is that they were developed together. In a way, they are the new Mazda Miata with a starting price in the mid $20,000, a long list of extra cost options, and Subaru’s four cylinder, 200-hp boxer engine. As close to a thrill ride is you are going to get for this price and and it has a 25 combined mpg to justify the purchase.

SRT Viper

Priced about $90,000 and with enough horsepower to challenge most anything this side of a drag strip, the modernized Viper is no longer so touchy to drive with electronics to help control the power.

Subaru XV Crosstrek

The XV Crosstrek is a more outdoor friendly Impreza. Cute, gets exceptional gas mileage for an all wheel drive vehicle, and with a starting price around $20,000 well equipped, this crossover might have the right combination to attract more buyers the same way the Outback did for the Legacy.

Tesla Model S

Tesla is a sporty electric motor powered sedan that is sexy and handles well. Driving range between charges depends on speed and the use of other features such as air-conditioning. The best thing about this model is that it is available. A tribute to tenacity. If you have the money this is a car you want to be seen driving.

Toyota Avalon

Bigger, no. Better, yes. This is a far sportier, more fun to drive, and still roomy sedan. Same engine options as the Camry. A great family sedan starting above $30,000 and more eager to please. Passengers will never know it isn’t a Lexus.

Volkswagen Beetle Convertible


Sleeker, but retaining its charm, the new Beetle has the same engines as its hard-top VW sisters. Prices should hoover around the $30,000 range. And wait till you see the option packages that date from previous decades. Cool. You just have to go.

Family conference: Our favorites are the new Audi sedans with diesel powerplants, the BMW X1, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, Buick Encore, and Elantra. We think Buick, Subaru, Nissan, Audi, Toyota, and Kia/Hyundai are on winning streaks.

Mercedes Benz E Class Diesel
By The Car Family
for a list of all vehicle websites go to

We have owned a Mercedes diesel for over 35 years and it has proven both reliable and efficient even with 500,000 miles on the engine. We have also tested the new Volkswagen and Audi diesels and found them excellent. However, nothing prepared us for effortless and clean running Bluetec diesel engine that Mercedes is placing in its E Class sedan.

If you can afford the $50,000 plus price tag this is the way to go, but don’t let that price fool you. The resale on these diesels is awesome for many reasons. First, you get an engine that produces nearly 400 pounds of torque that turns mountains into hills while using less fuel. Secondly, you’ll have lower tune-up costs since a diesel does not have an ignition system. Finally, diesels have a well-proven reputation of being good for hundreds of thousands of miles.

If you want to challenge your kidneys, you can go over 700 miles before the sedan’s 21 gallon fuel tank needs replenishing. In other words, you can drive from the Los Angeles to Santa Fe, New Mexico without refueling. But what is most outstanding is the fact that the Bluetec isn’t smelly or noisy or even difficult to start. Once underway it is easy to get to 60 mph in less than seven seconds in a sedan that weights 4000 pounds thanks to its V6 turbo diesel and seven speed transmission.

Mercedes is offering some really trick options such as night vision, a Pre-Safe Brake that automatically stops the car if the forward-looking radar detects that a crash is imminent, and Highbeam assist that automatically switches between high and low beams based on the distance to other vehicles. There is also comfort and sport suspension setting available, a driver knee airbag, front pelvic airbags, and Agility Control. The headlights are terrific.

Mom’s view: Love at first sniff. No odor, no soot, and no waiting. This is the car for me. The ride is tight; the handling far better than any other diesel, and it has a small turning radius, too. Although I felt the steering was too light, it was very easy to park and on the highway had a good on center feel. The many safety features are reassuring and bank vault feel of the doors adds to that feeling. This Benz is easy to park, has an ample trunk, comfortable seats, and plenty of power for those trips to the mountains.

Dad’s view: Outside of a light chattering at idle, the Bluetec is quiet and energetic. Using Mercedes’ rear wheel drive layout the sedan is well balanced thanks to a four-wheel multilink system. Acceleration is linear, with the best performance coming in passing situations. The ride is firm and very comfortable over all road surfaces. The engine sound is well isolated and the E-Class cabin quiet and comfy. Overall, a special vehicle for those that like their comfort, economy, and performance in one package.

Young working woman’s view: Elegant, understated, wood and leather done with taste, and every control feels like sterling silver rather than silver plate. Of course, I constantly got the cruise control and turn signal stalks mixed up, but an owner would quickly learn the difference. The GPS is too complex for easy use, the seats are almost as good as those in a Volvo or Saab, and the lumbar support is perfectly placed for even us taller folk. The test car had heated and ventilated front seats that every woman needs to try.
You feel like you are in control of a fine yacht as the Mercedes E-Class cheerfully and obediently navigates life’s unpredictable waters. The security of the four year/50,000 mile warranty helps. If you feel the need to be different for $6000 more you can sooth your fanny with optional Nappa leather surfaces.
Outside of the Command system, a navigation monitor that sits too low to easily read, the poor choice of colors on the GPS and its very complex operating instructions and its slow response this is a perfect car for the professional woman interested in making a statement about individuality.

Young man’s view: The GPS didn’t work for me. The only good thing is that Mercedes has placed a dandy little LCD screen in the center gauge cluster that is easy to read and well located. The driver’s computer also has a readout that is very clear and provides information on everything, including the satellite station you are on since reverting to the Command system is tedious.
Our test vehicle had the $4000 plus Premium II package that equipped the E-Class with GPS, Sirius Satellite Radio, hands free phone capability, a power rear sunshade, a smart key system, and xenon headlights. I really liked the $500 electronic trunk lid closer. Just press the small button and its lowers or raises itself while you run inside.
The Harman Kardon 12-speaker 420-watt digital surround-sound audio system has a six-disc in-dash changer capable of playing discs and MP3s and the whole system is magnificent. If you feel adventurous try and find the auxiliary input jack. It took me a while before I found it in the glove box. Interesting choice as you can hide you iPod there, too.
Family conference: The perfect sedan for the frugal who also want performance. If you love your cake this is the Mercedes to own.
For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/auto/index.html

Diesels Proving Good Bets for Family Transportation: BWM, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Audi.

By The Car Family

No question that the day of the large, gas hoggish, SUVs are over. With gas mileage that seldom ventured north of high teen marks and engines that polluted the atmosphere far in excess of other vehicles. That was then, this is now. Enter the refined diesel engine with their superior towing capacities, at least 20 percent better fuel mileage, less maintenance, and higher resale value.

Don’t confuse these new rigs with the smelly, smoky diesels of old. The new ones are clean burning and quiet. Add to that the fact that they are well proven, in Europe diesel powered vehicle sales make-up nearly half of all sales from such noted manufacturers as Mercedes and BMW, Audi, and Volkswagen. There are also government tax breaks up to $1300 on diesel vehicles. And there is something for every pocketbook in this category with pricing ranging from the low $20,000s to $60,000 and up.

So which diesel powered vehicle is best for the family? Well, it depends on your needs. To that end we evaluated a wide variety of them and each on was impressive and filled a need. We tested the BMW 335d, the Mercedes R, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, and the Audi Q7. All of them were frisky, eager to please, and none of them gave anything less than 25 mpg. Our favorite was the Volkswagen TDI if for nothing else its price tax in the low $20,000 range. Next was the comfortable and spacious Mercedes. The BMW was the best handling, but the 27 mpg fuel mileage wasn’t what we expected and the sedan lacked family sized room for long trips. It was great fun to drive, though, and the engine was very powerful. It should be noted that the government has indicated that this BMW should have delivered 36 mpg on the highway so perhaps are driving style was responsible for the low figure. Of note is that the BMW also had a price tag of nearly $50,000. The Audi Q7 was a vast, sophisticated SUV that is loaded with features, but the fuel mileage is what is most impressive for this nearly three ton vehicle with 24 mpg or more possible on the highway. That is more than five miles per gallon better than the base six cylinder version and seven miles per gallon better than the V8 and both gas versions require premium fuel.

Buying a diesel pays off even if there is a premium price involved if you drive more than 15,000 miles a year. Not only is there fuel savings, but the maintenance is less due to the fact that a diesel does not have an ignition system that needs to be tended to. A diesel also has superior pulling power and the new models start well even in the colder climates. The reason that these diesels burn so cleanly is that a urea mixture is squirted into the exhaust system to clean the pollutants. The urea container needs to be replaced, but other than that the diesels are nearly mechanic proof as they don’t have a need for any spark plugs or other ignition parts save a glow plug that helps ignite the fuel to start the engine.


BMW 3 Series

BMW’s three series sedan is powered by a potent 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged diesel inline-6 that makes 265 horsepower and an enormous 425 lb-ft of torque that works through a six-speed automatic transmission. The seats are comfortable in front, but the rear seat is best left to smaller folk. The interior is bland and the trunk, at 12 cubic feet, small for such an expensive vehicle. Overall, this BMW is a terrific sporty diesel that clearly proves that a diesel can be fun to drive. It is very fast for a diesel and a delight to drive.

Mercedes R-Class


Next we tested the Mercedes -Benz R-Class with a 3.0-liter BlueTec diesel V-6 producing 210 horsepower and a he-man 398 lb.-ft. of torque. This MB reacts immediately to throttle input, albeit only until the tachometer reaches around 3000 rpm when the seven speed transmission shifts and allows the acceleration to continue to well above 100 mph, we are told. It is loaded with safety equipment that includes everything from airbags nearly everywhere, to warning devises, to traction, stability, and braking controls and more. Very safe.

The R Class is very long station wagon, indeed in length it dwarfs the hulking Hummer H2, but is much safer than that living example of why General Motors went bankrupt. The R Class is very family friendly with an abundance of room, even behind the third row of seats. However, this Mercedes does not have the easily removable middle row of seats.

We got 25 mpg in the Mercedes and it grew on us the longer we drove it. At first the R Class felt cold and stiff. But once we were able to sample it fare this vehicle easily is the best family transport for those who have a need for a classy workhorse. A true pleasure to drive and the diesel engine was as un-diesel as we have ever experienced. If it were not for the price of this vehicle it would have been our first choice. For example the rear seat backs recline, there are air vents for everyone, a low loading height, and cupholders galore. You can order the optional entertainment center, too, with LED screens behind the front headrests and each seatback monitor can show a different image from movies to video games to MP3 music.

The ride is very stable and it handles well, but what we especially liked was how easy it was to park in tight spots. Visibility to the sides is a bit tarnished by the wide panels and the rear doors are quite heavy and require a great deal of room to fully open. Outside of those few tarnishes, the R is a pleasure to drive to the corner store or on a long vacation trip. The one concern we had were the optional 19-inch tires that were just too noisy. They were very wide and this added to its handling, but took away from the fuel mileage.

This is an under-rated family vehicle with the unique ability to fit into most garages, venture out into inclement weather, and provides safety and great fuel mileage with at least 20 percent more travel from each gallon of diesel. And, on average, diesel is normally20 percent less expensive than the high octane fuel other big rigs require.

The most futuristic of all diesel vehicles, the R Class is a true utility vehicle for the future. And with the back two rows of seats folded flat you have a huge 85 cubic feet of space to bargain hunt with.

Volkswagen Jetta SportsWagon.


This is an example of a people mover with room for four adults, a 2.0-liter common rail turbocharged diesel engine that produces 140 horsepower and a 236 abaft of torque and surprisingly great handling. This is nearly as good of a handling vehicle as the twice as expensive BMW and gets well over 33 mpg in all types of driving. We recommend you don’t get the standard six-speed transmission as it simply does not pay either in better fuel mileage or drivability. Buy the automatic unit, which you can control with paddle shifters if you feel the need to exercise your decision making. Although the sedan Jetta is the better deal, the sedan is less expensive. We think the SportWagen is still worth the extra money and stick with the automatic transmission for smoother driving and better fuel mileage. The engine is certified to run on B5 biodiesel and is very responsive and goes well with its exceptional handling. Unlike the other vehicles tested, this one is front wheel drive.

The interior is rather bland with the seats having manual adjustments. The rear seats have a 60/40 split so you can haul longer items. Safety wise we highly recommend the optional rear air bags. The rear hatch is easy to open, but the rear doors are small and adults may have a problem getting in and out if they have large feet or long legs.

Overall, this is one very fun driver. The brakes are good, the suspension just right for a family wagon, and the engine supplies its torque at a low speed making cornering easy. While driving on a busy highway a tire exploded on the car ahead of me and I was quickly able to maneuver out of the way with the responsive steering. The government rates the Jetta at 41 highway and 30 in the city, but if you drive below the speed limit and do it smoothly, you can easily beat 50 mpg. All of this and the Jetta engine is rated as being the cleanest burning of the diesels. Of note, for those who want a more glamorous and expensive ride, the Audi A3 diesel is available with similar attributes.

Audi Q7


This all wheel giant is for those who desire a large SUV with the fuel mileage of a smaller SUV. Our recommendation is that unless you need the room; look at the smaller and more nimble Audi Q5. Audi’s stellar V6 TDI develops 221 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque from a low 1,750 rpm, and the acceleration continues to the redline of 4,500 rpm is reached. Acceleration is no problem for this 5000+ pounder. What is surprising is how quiet the big Audi is. Obviously, Audi has done a good job of soundproofing. The turbocharged engine can get you to 60 mpg in nine seconds and passing power is made simply thanks to a very cooperative six-speed automatic transmission.

Driving the Q7 you never forget you are driving a heavy vehicle as it feels ponderous at times. Add to that concern is the poor visibility to the sides and rear and you understand why you can order the Audi with its exceptional side warning lights and superior rear view monitor. Both are must haves. The tires are very large making getting in and out a bit of a trial, especially with the low ceiling height. This means you have to duck your head if you are over average height. We would go with smaller tires and sacrifice the added vehicle height for less road noise. The turning rate is good for mall parking, but it is way too large for making U turns and the like.

As all Audis, the interior is a study in quality. The seats, controls, gauges, and layout are all first class. The weakness is the multimedia interface that controls such features as heated seats and radio selections. It is easily mastered, but you need to take your eyes from the road for the most part.

Pricing is around the mid $50,000 range, but the rich options can drive that figure upwards of $60,000. As we stated, consider the smaller and less expensive Q5. The fuel tank holds over 25 gallons and with the 24 mpg we got in mixed non-stop trips over 500 miles are easily possible for those of you with cooperative kidneys.

Sharing its underpinnings with the less expensive Volkswagen Touareg and the trouble prone Porsche Cayenne reveals that the Audi has taken the middle passage with more luxury than the VW and the Porsche, but less sport than the competition. The VW should be considered an alternative if you don’t want Audi’s well proven all wheel drive system and the third row of seats.

Safety wise the Audi Q7 offers anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and brake assist, Hill Descent Control, traction control, electronic stability, rollover sensing, dual front air bags, front side seat-mounted torso air bags, and side-curtain air bags for all rows. The best

that spans all three rows of seats. A tire-pressure monitor is also standard. Rear-seat side torso air bags are optional, as is the Audi Side Assist blind spot warning system

Family conference: Except for some chatter at low speeds these diesel powered vehicles were much better than their gas powered siblings in every way. Mom liked the long and futuristic looking Mercedes Benz R Class best due to its many safety features and extremely roomy interior. The fact it fit in the garage and performed flawlessly were nice, but the most compelling feature is the exterior. Dad loved the Volkswagen Jetta SportsWagen due to its handling and gas mileage. It is heavy on the sport and it is easy to maneuver and park. The young working woman went with the BMW because, well, it is a BMW. The young working male didn’t like any of them. Too big or too little. He did find the interior of the Audi the best and he was the only one able to quickly learn how to use the controls for te audio, no doubt due to his work at http://www.eracks.com making computers. Overall, the Jetta was our favorite for the smaller family and the Mercedes for the larger one. These vehicles are all worthy of consideration and certainly are proof that the diesel is not just for trucks.

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Audi Q7: The Posh Diesel

By The Car Family

If you need a large SUV that carries seven passengers your best bet is going to be one with a diesel engine. There are three reasons for this. First, it gets much better fuel mileage. Secondly, it can tow more. And finally, the resale is higher.

That being said, the Audi Q7 TDI is one of your few choices in this regard. Indeed it is a study in abundance. Everything you look from the huge snowplow bow to the numerous controls for the radio, heating, air conditioning, even the fan speed selection are in excess. It appears that Audi wanted this flagship to carry everything possible into the battles for sales. What they created was an extremely luxurious SUV that weighs nearly three tons and yet sips diesel fuel and provides potent acceleration thanks to a V6 diesel that creates 225 horsepower and an enormous 406 pound-feet of torque. When the turbocharged engine comes online, around 2000 rpm, the big Audi is breathtakingly fast for what it is, especially considering its bulk. You are also going to find yourself going well over the speed limit during highway merging and passing. This Audi hauls. Period, and it gets over 22 mpg to boot. It does need low sulfur fuel but we didn’t have any trouble finding it. Add to this the Audi’s 26 gallon fuel tank and you have an easy 500 mile plus cruising range.


We have tested both the gas version and the diesel option and there simply is no question that the extra dollars for the latter is superior is every way. It is quiet, swift, and starts automatically. Audi labels its diesel the cleanest SUV in the world and it is more efficient than the other German competition from Mercedes and Volkswagen as the Q7 has a ULEV-II or ultra-low emission rating.

Driving the large Audi is a pleasant experience, but there is no question this is a very heavy vehicle. Despite this parking was very easy. When making a U turn you are never going to need to worry about having to stop and put this vehicle in reverse. It is a pleasure to park even in tight mall spots and the rearview camera, a must for such a high vehicle with restricted rearward vision, is second only to Nissan’s in clarity. Exceptional.

The exterior look is massive and intimating. The rear lift over is extremely high making loading heavy objects a chore. The rear hatch has an available motorized open and closing motor and you need to have this if you are of average height or shorter. It is quite difficult to close otherwise.

The interior is very posh in keeping with its plus $50,000 price tag, but the government offers a tax incentive to diesel buyers of $1150. Check http://fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxLeanBurn.shtml for the latest data on this. The seats have leather surfaces and the dash and headliner are rich looking and feeling as it should be for such an expensive vehicle. The rear seats folds reasonably flat once the second seat headrests have been removed. The front seats are heated with 12-way adjustments, however, they are quite high and the roofline is low so be prepared to duck down if you don’t adjust the seats to a lower position.

Mom’s view: I found the step up difficult when wearing a dress as it is very high. I also found the big Audi felt nearly cumbersome at low speeds. It never feels nimble except, ironically, when parking it. The pure size of it commands a certain amount of respect, especially in white. Driving around town the diesel feels a little choppy, but on the highway it is pure elegance. Once those 5000 pound plus get motivated the V6 delivers enough torque to keep you smiling. Very potent. The main competition is the Mercedes R Bluetec and Volkswagen Touareg 2. Interestingly, the Mercedes interior is austere and stiff, but is roomier more and easier to use. If you live where you need the extra ground clearance go for the Audi. The bottom line for me is that the Q7 never won me over despite its many attributes. I found the fuel mileage exemplary and admired the beautiful interior, but it was too over the top for my daily commute and too difficult to feel comfortable in for long hauls.

Dad’s view: Great engine, no doubt, but the transmission needs to be kept in sports mode to get the most out of the Audi. The steering is excellent, almost too direct at times, and the handling unexpectedly obedient. The brakes are adequate, but this rig is really one for the highway. I didn’t care for the 20-inch wheels as they were noisy and not all that off-road oriented.

The interior has a great many quirks that can be easily overcome, but why weren’t they thought through better. The cruise control is difficult to find and complicated and the console mounted controls require you to take your eyes off of the road to operate. Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) isn’t as difficult as the Mercedes and BMW units, but it still takes time to master its logic.


Because of the small window area of the Q7 those sitting in the backseat feel don’t have the feeling of spaciousness that you get in the competition. The rear seat is very small, and when you use it you must find a place to put the cargo cover. Again, not major problems, but a concern anyway.

Audi has years of experience in racing diesel engines and its shows. It the 3.0 liter engine is eager to please. Interestingly, I believe this is the same engine as in the Volkswagen Touareg 2, which costs thousands less, but isn’t nearly as luxurious. The Q7 also does not offer the convenience of the more station wagon like Mercedes R in terms of loading and unloading.

Young working male’s view: This Audi diesel does not smoke, is almost perfectly quiet, and runs clean enough to qualify as a environmentally friendly people mover. Mercedes uses a the water-based urea injection to remove clean air damaging elements. Audi has decided to make the “burn” more efficient and thus better fuel injectors were designed. The Audi’s computers also monitor the quality of the diesel fuel being burned. We have owned a diesel for 30 years and know important this is having fueled up with bad diesel numerous times. Those who live in the colder climates should note that the glowplugs that light off the Audi fire almost instantly even in cold weather. For me the result was a very user friendly diesel engine that provides that famous diesel torque and fuel mileage as well as unexpected frisky acceleration.

Our test car had the optional panoramic sunroof, but it has an opaque covering that lets in some heat. On the other hand, without it the interior would be rather dark. We didn’t get a chance to test Audi’s famous Quattro all-wheel-drive system, but there is no doubt that it should handle anything people spending $50,000 or more would take their vehicle. The test vehicle had the 3.0 TDI and it felt very potent at all speeds, but especially in the mid-range. The night lighting is fantastic. When you hit the remote key fob you get puddle lights, a great interior light, and even red flowing dash lights. As I work for http://www.eracks.com making open software servers and computers I can expertly say that the Multi Media Interface took even my some time to master.

When on the highway you get excellent visibility to the front, but the high rear tailgate and large C pillars create some blindspots. The Audi does offer a system that flashes a orange light it you signal for a turn and there is a vehicle in that position. I loved that option. For me the Audi was too much vehicle for my needs. However, it has a great feel and the interior is first class.

Young working woman’s view: The Audi is impressive and comes with a pleasant cabin, albeit very uncomfortable controls even with the auxiliary steering wheel mounted ones available. The exterior is a love it or hate it visual, but no one is going to argue that it does make its presence known. The Audi was too large for me to feel comfortable in daily driving. I much prefer the Audi A5 anyway, and with the possibility of a smaller Audi SUV having the diesel engine option I think waiting would be my choice. But I dearly love that diesel.

Family conference: An expensive luxury SUV with an abundance of features, the decision to buy the Q7 comes down to wanting to enjoy the numerous benefits of its diesel powerplant. You get a lot for the money, but it costs a lot of money and so we would look for three things before deciding. First, do you travel or tow enough to make the diesel viable? Secondly, do you need the all wheel drive system? Finally, do you like its bold look? If you answer yes to these there is really one the Audi. Add to this the excellent crash scores and you have a proper SUV. Make sure you order the Side Assist which indicates when a vehicle is in your blind spot, and also the rearview camera. Big car, big personality.

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Diesel comparison

Audi R Class Mercedes Volkswagen Touareg 2

Price $50,900 $49,150 $42,800

Horsepower 225 hp 210 hp 225 hp

Torque 406 ft-lbs. 398 ft-lbs. 407 ft-lbs.

Cargo 73 cu. ft. 85 cu. ft. 71 cu. ft.

Towing 6600 lbs. 3500 lbs. 7716 lbs.

Mileage 17/25mpg. 18/24 mpg. 17/25 mpg.

Volkswagen Jetta SportsWagon and Sedan: Diesel and Gas


The Car Family

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For a base price under $20,000 you can acquire ownership in one of the best station wagons available providing you don’t mind a stiff legged ride and highly dentable side panels. We tired to like the Jetta SportsWagon equipped with the 2.5 liter 5 cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission but even with gas mileage consistently in mid 20 mpg range, the hard seats, intrusive transmission tunnel, and the deplorable reception of the stereo told us wait for the diesel model to test. The reason is simple, why not pay a little extra and get over 10 mpg more, have less costly maintenance, and a higher resale that would make all the other items disappear at you pass yet another service station on your way to 500 miles or more on a full tank of diesel? We are talking love here. You know, the kind of love that comes with knowing that things might not be perfect, but dependability and charm can salve a lot of door dings.


We highly recommend the optional six-speed automatic with Tiptronic over the manual transmission mainly because the clutch on the stick shift has such a high take up point that it makes it more difficult to shift if you have shorter legs. Besides, there is virtually nothing to favor the standard transmission in terms of gas mileage and resale will be less with the manual.

Dad’s view: The 170-hp 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine with the five speed manual transmission had just enough energy to carry the family with some frisk and the gas mileage was about 23 mpg in mixed driving. You can also order the optional 2.0 liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 200 hp and is much more willing to be playful. However, I would go with the TDI version and its 2.0 liter turbocharged diesel engine that provides 140hp and a useful 236lb.ft. of torque. These engines can be ordered with a five-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic.

The suspension is all independent suspension with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link rear. The rack and pinion steering is nicely weighted for town or highway. The ride is very sporty and works well with the Jetta’s disc brakes measuring 12.2 inches and 11.6 inches in back respectively.

Except for the hard seats, questionable air conditioning performance, and the expensive optional stereo and GPS, this would be a good choice for a family or for anyone who wants both a sporty ride and an economical one.

Mom’s view: Not a bad looking station wagon with exceptional visibility and maneuverability. I’m not sure about some of the options such as the overly complicated stereo and GPS and the panoramic sunroof isn’t something I would order in a Jetta. However, it is well engineered and has an Eos convertible type of mechanism that lets it open and raise in part. The electric sunshade remained closed during most of our rain filled days with the surefooted wagon. The rear hatch is very easy to open, but someone didn’t ask the ladies where to put the opening latch. The designers decided that the dirtiest place on a wagon would be best, right above the rear bumper. I can’t imagine any women living in the snow belt who is going to appreciate that location.

Safety wise the Volkswagen Jetta wagon has ABS, traction control, electronic stability control, front passenger front airbag, side airbags, and side curtain protection for front and rear riders. The Jetta also has daytime running lamps and directional signal lights on the side-mirrors. The car feels heavier then it is and you aren’t going to find a better handling wagon outside of the BMW, and that costs at least twenty thousand dollars more.

Driving the Jetta takes time to adjust to as it has quick steering, a sturdy suspension, and a bit of wind noise that can get a bit tiring. I like the the GLI’s turbo 4-cylinder most, but the diesel is a sweetheart. It uses urea to clean the exhaust and you only hear a bit of diesel chatter at idle. The controls are handy, but the radio is in need of a rethink. The navigation system is very weak and we were unable to find a restaurant by name. The system also works slowly. Night lighting is very good and the interior lighting adequate. On the sedan, the trunk opens perfectly when you use the remote. I couldn’t find a place to open it with just the key, but that could just be me and often is.


I would find owning a diesel Jetta quite easy to validate. It is well priced and the resale on the diesel should be excellent. Pretty, perky, and poised when challenged by curves and tight city parking situations, it certainly deserves a long test drive.

Young working male’s view: Order the 140hp diesel version. It is easy to get well over 40 mpg and the range can be in excess of 500 miles. Plenty of low end pep, but don’t count on it being frisky past 80 mph. The turbocharged, four-cylinder, gas engine is much quicker and the turbo lag is almost non-existent. The automatic transmission has a manual shift gate, which is easy to use and a real plus in the mountains. The diesel model can be a bit rude when just starting out as it tends to lurch at times. This may be an anomaly so we are testing another model later this year.

The visibility is good in all directions, but it is much better if you take down the rear headrests when they are not in use. and it has a fairly tight, 35.8 ft., turning radius so it is easy to park.

The stereo is adequate, with poor radio reception. I would replace it or get a high end model if you really want that new car sound. It is clearly better then the competition in the form of the Subaru, Hyundai Elantra, Audi, and Mazda wagons when it comes to combining both economy, room, and handling.

In terms of comfort, the front seats need to be made larger and softer. There is a good amount of travel on the seating tracks and the steering wheel both telescopes and tilts.

The backseats are fine for most everyone, but getting three adults in would be a challenge. Not my type of vehicle, but certainly one that would be interesting if I traveled more. For the same price I can get a new Toyota Prius that gets better in-town fuel mileage and I can also drive in the high occupancy lanes.

Working woman’s view: Very much my kind of car. The wagon has nearly 68 cubic ft. of cargo space and there are a lot of small storage areas for change and a clutch-bag. The center arm rest contains a place for a cell phone and there is even a small, pizza box sized storage area under the wagon’s rear floor covering. The wagon’s back seats don’t really fold flat, but it really wasn’t much of a concern especially since the front-passenger seatback folds down to provide even more room for longer packages.

The Jetta looks modern and feels tight. My only possible worry would be the lack of high customer satisfaction scores and the high prices of some of the options. The latter can be alleviated by just sticking to the basics and the Jetta has plenty. This VW comes standard with air conditioning, a pollen filter, heated outside mirrors, speed adjustable wipers, a AM-FM-MP3, CD player, cruise-control, a handy 12-volt power outlet, keyless entry, power windows and a central locking system, self-dimming rear-view mirror, and grab handles at each door. I would like to own the Jetta diesel wagon without the Sport option. It is an ideal touring vehicle and commuter car.

Family conference: Easily the best new station wagon considering the versatility, pricing, and fuel economy. A station wagon makes great sense for a family and shouldn’t be overlooked by those who like to have a little fun with their economy.

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Unique Family Vehicles for Every Pocketbook

By The Car Family

Good fuel economy, room for five, fun to drive, and plenty of safety features are what makes a great family vehicle. What makes these six unique is that they are often overlooked and that results in these being exceptional buys as dealers are often very willing to make some dramatic deals on them. For example, two of them have diesel engines and they are quiet, clean, and remarkably efficient. Two are priced under $20,000, and one cost over $50,000

There are six that instantly meet that criteria. First, the Volkswagen Routan. This is essentially a Dodge minivan with a sharper interior, better handling, and the same spacious interior. Except for the dreadful headlights, this is a better driver than the Chrysler products. However, with a price significantly more expensive than the Dodge look for the Volkswagen dealer to be eager to meet the competition’s price. Gas mileage seldom exceeds 20 mpg and the engine and transmission don’t always agree, but it you want room and an abundance of useful storage features the Routan is worth a look and they offer a Carefree Maintenance program, too.


Volkswagen’s Jetta Sports Wagon is terrific. For a base price under $20,000 you are going to house the family in a vehicle capable of getting over 35 mpg and with much less maintenance than a gas powered wagon. Get the optional six-speed automatic with Tiptronic over the manual transmission mainly because the clutch on the stick shift has such a high take up point that it makes it more difficult to shift if you have shorter legs. Besides, there is virtually nothing to favor the standard transmission in terms of gas mileage and resale will be less with the manual. The rear hatch is very easy to open, but someone didn’t ask the ladies about where to put the opening latch. The designers decided that the dirtiest place on a wagon would be best, right above the rear bumper. I can’t imagine any women living in the snow belt who is going to appreciate that location.

Safety wise the Volkswagen Jetta wagon has ABS, traction control, antiskid system, curtain side airbags, front side airbags, and rear side airbags. The car feels heavier then it is and you aren’t going to find a better handling wagon outside of the BMW and that costs at least ten thousand dollars more.


Mercedes’ R-Class Bluetec is a vast, heavy, unflappable Mercedes wagon that is surprisingly nimble on its feet, fairly frugal at the diesel pump, and has awesome passing acceleration. What’s not right is the overly complicated stereo and temperature controls, the placement of the turn signal, cruise control, and shift lever, and the lack of some features that should be standard on a vehicle that costs nearly $50,000 in base form.


This is a very enjoyable alternative to a minivan and much more fun to drive. The handling is pretty good considering the 5000 plus pounds it is touting and the visibility is quite good. Options on our test vehicle were the rear entertainment center, which has two screens mounted in back of the front row seats, and separate head phones as well. The system works, but is even better is the fact that those in the rear seats have a good view of the road and the advantage of being able to get in and out easily. Although we prefer the sliding doors of most minivans, the more traditional swing out doors on the R-Class are much easier to use, and during inclement weather, can be closed much faster.

But the real story is under the hood. Mercedes makes the best diesel engines for luxury cars and has for years. In Europe they are common, but elsewhere there has been some reluctance to accept these models. In the past they have been noisy and prone to smelly exhaust fumes. That is no longer the case. They are nearly as quiet as a gasoline powered vehicle, get at least 20 percent better fuel mileage, have higher resale, and require less maintenance. What’s not to like. Indeed with a listed 18 mpg, city/24 mpg, highway, it as economical as most minivans and the Mercedes as all wheel drive. However, we found it very easy to get well over 28 mpg on the highway and 24 in town. Add to that the 25 gallon tank and you 500 plus miles before refueling isn’t that difficult to obtain. If you want more mileage try the fabulous E-Class sedan with the Bluetec engine and 30 mpg is common for this luxury sedan.

The R-Class safety features include an interesting Pre-Safe program that uses the brakes, accelerator, and steering inputs to detect if a crash/rollover is imminent. Once the computers sense this danger they tighten the seatbelts and, this is nearly impossible to believe, the passenger seat is moved into the optimum position for the airbag to deploy, and the windows and sunroof are closed. Other safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, curtain side airbags, and front and rear side airbags. I would also consider the optional park-assist system.


The Mitsubishi Lancer is priced around $18,000 with a lot of features for those willing to take a chance on an “off-brand” sedans. The Lancer got high crash scores, and has dual-stage front, side and head curtain air bags with some models getting anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution. Always get as many safety options as you can on any vehicle. The 2.0-liter, 152-horsepower four-cylinder engine delivers well over 26 mpg in mixed driving. It look sporty and drives sporty while still offering room for a family and it has an exceptional warranty with five years/60,000 on the car and 10 years / 100,000 miles on the drivetrain as well as five years of roadside assistance.

One of our favorites doesn’t have a pretty face, but it is a beauty with a price tag of $10,000 and room for five. The Nissan Versa is probably the best small family car you can buy for the money. It has a huge interior, enough pep to make it fun to drive, especially with the manual transmission, and it is easy to get over 30 mpg. Good crash safety ratings. However, the 1.6 engine and the bare bones interior, even air conditioning is an option, is really not what most families would want. Thus consider adding a few extras and you can still have a family friendly vehicle for well under $12,000 and that includes six standard airbags. We also recommend better tires and the optional safety equipment. Be aware that if you load the 1.6 with too much you are going to make it more expensive than the much better equipped 1.8 model. The Versa isn’t the quietest or the best looking, but it is frugal and roomy.

Hyundai’s Genesis 3.8 is well equipped at $38,000 and a breath of fresh air for those looking for a family vehicle with plenty of luxury and still gives you 24 mpg in mixed driving and a terrific warranty that Hyundai calls “America’s Best.” Plenty of room inside for five, a list of standard features that makes other manufacturers blush, and a pleasant, if not sporty, ride. It was our family car of the year and deserving, but the difficult part is explaining to everyone that you didn’t pay over $50,000 for the Genesis.

High-tech equipment features you can order include electronic stability control, XM NavTraffic, adaptive headlights, radar-based active cruise control, a 500-watt 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, and electronic active head restraints. The Genesis also has heated and cooled seats and ultrasonic sensors located on the front and rear bumpers to help park in tight spaces. Safety wise the Hyundai has dual front airbags, front and rear seat-mounted side-impact airbags, and roof-mounted side curtain airbags.

Family conference: These vehicles are the perfect remedy for the family that needs good transportation, exceptional fuel mileage, and cargo space without surrendering to the thought you have to buy a tipsy, gas swilling SUV. Pick your price range and one of these unique vehicles could save you plenty.

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