Nothing beats packing up the car, loading up the family, and heading to the beach or mountains for an outdoor adventure. Typically, the consummate family vehicle these days is the SUV, which offers a terrific blend of space, power, and capability; it’s ideal for both families and outdoor enthusiasts. There are also plenty of pickup trucks that provide extra cabin space, of course, along with a bed and the ability to tow that give families another option. But there are also smaller, more versatile options in the form of wagons and cars that can match up on many levels with their larger counterparts.
There are, of course, some advantages that come with cars and smaller vehicles over trucks and SUVs. Stronger fuel economy, more versatility, and higher speeds headline the list, and in many cases, lower sticker prices. For the family that loves the outdoors, the options are extensive. Whether your family likes to go surfing, snowboarding, or kayaking, there are cares built for your tastes.
Here we take a look at eleven of the best cars that are fit for families that love to hit the outdoors. The list is in no particular order, and all the vehicles have space, power, and comfort taken into account to earn their spot on this list.
Read on to see the eleven best vehicles for families that love the outdoors.
1. Subaru Outback
Perhaps the most well-known car that fits our laid-out criteria, the Subaru Outback is a world famous wagon that is beloved by outdoors enthusiasts. The Outback is quick and powerful, but also has enough cargo space and seating for the whole family, along with snowboards, skis, or paddles. The base model Outback sells for under $25,000, making it a very affordable option as well. Add on to that the fact that the Outback reaches around 30 miles per gallon combined, and it’s easy to see why it has become so popular.
2. Audi Allroad
Luxury and the outdoors don’t always exist together in perfect symbiosis, but the Audi Allroad can challenge that idea. With this wagon, you get the luxury and comfort you’d expect from an Audi, with the additional versatility offered by an off-road vehicle. The Allroad is loaded with the latest technology and creature comforts, and also comes with a fairly powerful 220 horsepower engine. It does come at a cost, however, with the base model starting at more than $42,000.
3. Volvo XC70
Another sleek and classy wagon, Volvo’s XC70 rightfully earns a spot on our list thanks to its remarkable capability and versatility. Fold down the seats to fit in some surfboards or oars, or pack in the entire family — the XC70 has the ability to handle it all. The XC70′s price starts at around $35,000, making it a more affordable alternative to the Audi Allroad. It also comes with an available turbocharged engine, giving speed fans the thrill they need no matter where the road takes you.
4. Toyota Venza
The Venza seems to straddle the line between wagon and SUV, but that provides some insight into why they call them crossovers. The Venza lives up to what customers expect from a Toyota in terms of reliability and fuel economy, averaging 26 miles per gallon on the highway. It is also available for less than $28,000, making it a thrifty choice as well. Drivers can choose between a four-cylinder engine or a V6, giving an additional level of customization that may better cater to your family’s needs.
5. Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI Clean Diesel
The Jetta has become a staple of American roadways over the years, and its more spacious variant, the SportWagen, offers all the perks of the standard Jetta with the advantages of a wagon. The SportWagen is sold for a very reasonable $26,565, handily beating many other outdoorsy vehicles. For customers that opt for the clean diesel engine, fuel economy is boosted all the way up to 42 miles per gallon on the highway. There’s also the increased torque to help with rough terrain, of which the TDI can produce 236 pound-feet.
6. BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon
For those who want a little a more on the luxury front than the Jetta SportWagen can offer, the BMW 328d xDrive Sport Wagon might be a better suitor. BMW’s famous German luxury engineering shines brightly in this 328d variant, from the aesthetics all the way down to the mechanics. It uses a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine to produce 180 horsepower and achieve a very impressive 43 miles per gallon combined. Naturally, as a BMW, it does come with a higher price tag than many other options. The 328d xDrive Sports Wagon starts at around $43,000, more than twice the price of the Jetta SportWagen. One more thing — the 328d comes with all-wheel drive, an option that the Jetta doesn’t have.
7. Mini Cooper Countryman
Another vehicle that looks to overlap a little bit with the SUV world, Mini Cooper’s Countryman earns a spot due to its small profile. Although it’s small, it does provide seating for five, four doors, and a solid amount of cargo space. It isn’t afraid to get off-road either, so don’t let the European styling fool you. There are a number of variants available, with horsepower ranging from 121 all the way up to 208. Prices also range from $22,000 for the base model, up to around $35,000 for the more inclusive versions.
8. BMW X4 xDrive35i
This sporty new idea from BMW showcases luxury with a rugged side. The X4 xDrive 35i has the appearance that melds a sedan with a compact SUV, but brings along the best of both worlds. The X4 is strong — 300 horsepower strong — thanks to a 3.0-liter turbo V6 engine. It’s quick, too, and can reach 60 miles per hour from zero in just 5.2 seconds. Of course, that power comes with the loss of the extra space offered by a wagon. But that doesn’t mean it’s cramped, as there is still seating for five with a fairly large trunk.
9. Mercedes-Benz E350 4MATIC
Taking the luxury level up a notch, the Mercedes E350 4MATIC might be the most high-end car on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s afraid to get dirty. For starters, the price is a bit steep — $58,600 for the base model, to be exact. But for that you get an awful lot, including a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes over 300 horsepower and still achieves around 24 miles per gallon combined. On the inside, families can take advantage of the 57.4 cubic feet of cargo room to make sure everything gets packed along for the trip.
10. Acura TSX Sport Wagon
For luxury at a much more reasonable price, the Acura TSX Sport Wagon offers many of the same comforts as the Mercedes, but at a starting price of roughly $32,000. The TSX delivers what families need for making trips to the beach or mountains, including gas mileage topping 30 miles per gallon combined and plenty of space for passengers or cargo. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine churns out 201 horsepower — enough to power this sleek wagon through the trickiest terrain. For luxury and capability at a reasonable price, the TSX is a prime suspect.
11. Volvo V60
The final entry on the list is another vehicle from Volvo, this time with the V60. This estate vehicle comes in a variety of different versions, even a plug-in hybrid. It’s also available with a diesel or standard gasoline engine, with varying levels of horsepower and torque. Customers also get to take advantage of the space an estate wagon provides, with lots of cargo and passenger room to bring along the whole gang.