General

10 of the best family cars

2022 Genesis GV70 front third quarter cinematic view

Family cars have very specific criteria that vehicles in the segment must meet. Some requirements for the family car are interior space, comfort and a relatively economical engine. Modern family cars have a bit more requirements, such as USB charging ports, child seat anchor points and – in some cases – entertainment screens.


While countries like the US and UK have their own ideas about family cars – the US has big V8s while the UK has big diesel SUVs – the eastern countries of Japan and Korea have the right family-oriented vehicles for just about every family. Honda has had the behemoth that is the Odyssey, a staple of the American family since 1994. Kia, on the other hand, recently launched the all-new Carnival, a mix of the traditional minivan, MPV and SUV – resulting in a highly desirable vehicle. Then there’s the giant that is Toyota, probably the most sensible automaker in the world. They have family cars in almost every segment, from the cheap and cheerful Corolla to the bigger Camry, the RAV4, the Sienna, the Highlander and even the Sequoia.

So, while some automakers claim to build the best family cars out there, Japan and Korea are hands down the kings of the segment. With that, here are ten of the best family vehicles built by Japanese and Korean car brands.


10 Japan: Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry has been the family’s base sedan since its introduction in 1982. Over the years it has improved in practicality, but was lacking in the sporty segment. Fortunately, Toyota has revamped the Camry, and it now even has a top-tier TRD trim, which adds a front splitter, rear spoiler and a fruitier exhaust note – paired with the 3.5-liter V6.

The Camry is the standard for the family sedan and there are few other models that even come close to the overall satisfaction that a Camry can provide. But again, this has been Toyota’s modus operandi since they started making cars.

Related: Here’s Why Gearheads Should Consider the 2022 Toyota Camry TRD

9 Korea: Hyundai Tucson

The Hyundai Tucson is a fantastic entry into the world of family-oriented crossover SUVs. The current Tucson – in its fourth generation – features Hyundai’s new ‘Jewel’ design language, which incorporates many angles and futuristic minimalism.

The engines include a number of inline-4s, some with hybrid powertrains and others with turbochargers to add a little more power and torque. The Tucson is a beautiful car that has built a reputation for reliability and durability.

8 Japan: Honda Odyssey

The current North American Honda Odyssey is in its fifth generation and is better than ever. It is only available with a 3.5-litre V6 and a 10-speed automatic. The engine is equipped with Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management, which means that depending on the load, it can run on 3, 4 and 6 cylinders, improving fuel economy.

The Odyssey has enough space inside for a family of five, with all their cargo easily fitting in the trunk. Alternatively, there are seats behind the second row, meaning two more people can fit on shorter journeys. In addition to being practical, the Odyssey features multiple zones of climate control and a myriad of USB charging ports.

Related: Here’s What’s New About the 2023 Honda Odyssey

7 Korea: Kia Telluride

The Kia Telluride Is Probably the SUV Bargain of the Decade. The Telluride may not be the most luxurious car on the road, but it packs in enough premium features to make anyone believe it costs more than it actually is.

Starting at just $33,000, this Korean SUV features a 290 horsepower 3.8-liter V6, eight seats, infotainment screen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, 5,000 lbs towing capacity, passenger and pedestrian safety features, collision warning highway and a traffic collision warning. Many of these features are optional on other family SUVs.

6 Japan: Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 is the middle class of the proven Japanese brand. The CX-5, among other Mazdas, was rated safer than both Tesla and Volvo, making it an excellent family vehicle. While Mazdas have been a little on the bland side lately — except for the MX-5 — the automaker is currently getting more exciting as they put a new 2.5-liter turbo in the Mazda 3.

They also unveiled the CX-50, a more interesting-looking CX-5 that will sit slightly above the original model. The CX-5 is available with a 2.0 or 2.5-litre naturally aspirated inline-4, the latter of which is also available with a turbocharger – the same engine as in the Mazda 3 Turbo.

5 Korea: Genesis GV70

Genesis is the luxury arm of Hyundai’s vast automotive network – just as Lexus is to Toyota and Infiniti is to Nissan. The GV70 is the brand’s second SUV and has been a success so far. The GV70 is available with two different engine choices in the US, with a diesel engine as an option in other markets.

The base 2.5T is fitted with a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-4 that produces an impressive 300 horsepower, while the sportier 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 in the 3.5T makes a significant increase to 375 horsepower. Unlike the G70 sedan on which this SUV is based, the GV70 can only be equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Related: Why the Genesis Electrified GV70 is an Underrated Family SUV

4 Japan: Subaru WRX

The Subaru Impreza has a long history, from a competitor in the WRC to one side of the ferocious Japanese rallying sedan to the only car in its class. The Impreza was split into two models in 2021, namely the more family-oriented Impreza and the sportier WRX.

The WRX is no longer based on the Impreza, but rather has more in common with the larger Outback. It is still a nice, four-wheel drive sports sedan that is one of the few that still has a manual gearbox. It is powered by a turbocharged 2.4-litre boxer-4 producing 270 horsepower – the same engine as in the new BRZ, but turbocharged.

3 Korea: Hyundai Ioniq 5

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 continues the trend where Hyundai absolutely dominates the “interesting cars” segment. The Ioniq 5 is an all-electric car that has taken the world by storm as it was one of the few production cars to share most of its design with the concept car.

The Ioniq 5 is a fairly large hatchback and puts it in both the hatchback and crossover segments. It is powered by single or twin electric motors, producing up to 320 horsepower. There are three battery capacities, which translates to a range of between 200 and 300 miles – depending on the version. In the family car segment, the Ioniq 5 is an excellent electric choice.

Related: 10 things we love about the Hyundai Ioniq 2022

2 Japan: Nissan Stagea

The Nissan Stagea can almost be seen as the wagon version of the legendary Skyline. The top-spec 260RS even has the same engine as the GT-R. The first-generation Stagea was available exclusively with inline six engines – as with the R34 Skyline – and all larger engines came standard with four-wheel drive.

The Stagea was standard equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission; however, this can be upgraded to a 4-speed automated manual transmission for faster and sportier shifts. The top-spec 25t RS and 260RS were only available with a 5-speed manual transmission to maintain the driver-centric approach.

1 Korea: Kia Carnival

The minivan is not the most attractive vehicle style out there. As such, many people looking for a family car prefer to look to the larger SUV segment for a vehicle that fits their requirements. Kia saw this and decided to spice things up a bit. Step into the new Carnival – a minivan with all the traditional minivan features, but very slightly lifted and styled to look like an SUV.

It’s a great looking vehicle and doesn’t exude the normal minivan vibes at all. The interior is ergonomic for large families, yet stylish and packed with technology. The Carnival is almost the perfect vehicle for anyone who needs a lot of space – all for less than the price of the equally brilliant Kia Telluride. The Kia Carnival is definitely one of the best Oriental family cars on the market today.