When we talk about family cars, we usually describe vehicles with more than five seats. After all, Filipinos in general prefer larger vehicles for the practicality and flexibility that multiple seats and a huge cargo boot entails. Of course, there is no perfect car for anyone, and some families can range from a couple with a single child, to a couple with several children and even grandparents. Such is the Filipino way, and even more so when road trips and out of town excursions are involved.
Space is usually king, but more and more people now consider fuel efficiency as a top factor in a family car buying decision. It’s great to haul everyone and their gear, but it’s even better to stretch that full tank for many more kilometers and drives. In this article, we’ll be narrowing down some practical and frugal vehicles that could cater to you and your family. These will range in size and price, and chances are, you’ll find something for you on this list.
For the small family with only two kids, the Honda Jazz stands out as a platform that offers some of the most versatile seats in its class. It seats up to four adults comfortably, or two adults and three kids in the backseat, complete with seatbelts and ISOFIX car seat mounting points; it’s a vehicle that can grow with your kids and then still take them to high school. The 1.5L gasoline engine mated to a nice CVT is also a plus, giving owners 7.3 km/l in urban conditions, and up to 23 km/l when cruising on the highway, meaning that 40L tank can go quite a distance.
The Mitsubishi Xpander is the Japanese brand’s latest attempt at taking the small MPV crown from more established nameplates. Although late to the game, the Xpander does many things right, namely, the best cargo space in its class when all the seats are folded down. This seven-seater vehicle offers easy access to the third row, cupholders in all seats, ISOFIX mounts, and a myriad of small cubby holes for storage. Best part is, it feels and drives like a car, but with the space and practicality we’ve come to know and love about MPVs. The Xpander also returns around 9 km/l in heavy traffic, and a sweet 16-17 km/l on longer highway drives, making full use of the four-speed automatic transmission and 1.5L engine.
What’s a family car list without one of the strongest running brands in our country? The Toyota Innova stands as the perennial answer to Filipino MPV buyers, and we tend to agree. The Innova is a seven-seater do-it-all family car offering good space, almost bulletproof reliability, and a tried-and-true diesel mill that is more than enough for any drive. While it might be time for a refresh very soon, the Toyota Innova still offers a good balance of features and fuel economy, returning 9-10 km/l in the city, and can break the 15 km/l figure on longer stints.
We enter the European compact crossover realm with the Volkswagen Tiguan. This no-fuss, all-business five seater is a handsomely mature and responsible machine, offering a nice interior and German build quality. There are ports for charging even up to the second row, and a massive cargo area with the said row folded down, automatic climate control, and even a nicely sized sunroof. The Tiguan is surprisingly frugal for a 1.4L turbocharged gasoline engine and a six-speed dual clutch transmission, returning 7.2 km/l in urban drives, and a whopping 19 km/l on the highway.
Taking the crown for the most fuel efficient of the midize SUVs is the RZ4E variant of the Isuzu mu-X. The 1.9L is the smallest in its class, but provides impressive numbers with 148 hp and 350 Nm of torque — that’s even more than what the outgoing 2.5 variant. With that said, the mu-X 1.9L produces notable fuel economy figures at 8.6 km/l for city and 18.2 km/l for highway runs. Those are excellent numbers, and this vehicle can seat seven people, making it a great long distance SUV for family trips and outings.