Motoring Advice

10 Fuel efficient family cars for road trips this summer

Mar 28, 2018

10 Fuel efficient family cars for road trips this summer

Spring, it seems, has finally sprung, and suddenly those summer family road trips don’t seem so far away from reality. Now clearly nobody goes out and buys a car solely with summer road-tripping in mind, but we've gone through the database and chosen ten fuel-efficient family cars that would be ideal for the job, just in case you are in the market. Worry not about your budget, either, as we've picked options across the price spectrum.

1 - Ford Mondeo Estate
Selling price: €800
Year: 2005
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel

We've started with one of the cheapest cars in the classifieds that still fits the bill. This 2005 Ford Mondeo Estate is simply cavernous in the boot and has plenty of room in the main cabin for the family, perhaps best for no more than two rear seat occupants though. It has very high mileage, but a full service history and lots of work done recently, so it should be up to a long jaunt this summer. What's more, the Mondeo is wonderfully comfortable and the 2.0-litre diesel engine has enough performance to tackle steep mountain passes without breaking a sweat, while keeping fuel costs down.

2 - Mazda5
Selling price: €5,749
Year: 2009
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel

You can't beat a purpose-built people carrier for bringing the whole family away on tour together comfortably. The Mazda5 is relatively unknown in the MPV market, probably because it sits below the big seven-seat models in terms of outright size, but it's generally a good car. It's at its best when folding the third row of seats down, creating a massive boot, but even if you do need to use all seven seats, the roof rails are perfect for carrying a roof box. The 2.0-litre diesel engine has plenty of performance and is good on fuel once you don't use all of that too often.

3 - Mercedes-Benz B-Class
Selling price: €3,500
Year: 2006
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel

Assuming you don't need three rows of seats, the Mercedes B-Class is a great family car for long journeys. All seats are upright and there's a good view out for sight-seeing, while space in all five seats is generous - and there's a good-sized boot behind. The B-Class isn't a massive car externally, either, which could be a boon if you're tackling narrow country lanes on your road trip. Finally, the diesel engine will keep your fuel bills in check.

4 - Audi A4 Cabriolet
Selling price: €4,750
Year: 2008
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel

Ok, choosing a convertible is taking a leap of faith in the Irish weather, but if the sun does come out, there is no finer way to travel through the countryside, roof down, wind in your hair - and the hair of the rest of the family of course. Think it through first, though, as there's quite a bit of buffeting in the rear seats of any four-seat open car at speed, so it's only really a good idea if a lot of your road trip is at slow speeds, taking in the views (and smells!) of the countryside. We've chosen the Audi A4 Cabriolet as it has four acceptably sized seats and even some boot space for luggage. What's more, if it rains, the roof rises quickly and is almost as snug as that of a coupe. And the 2.0-litre diesel engine is good on fuel.

5 - Hyundai Santa Fe
Selling price: €9,500
Year: 2009
Engine: 2.2-litre diesel

Ah, the Santa Fe, the perfect all-rounder. It's big inside with seating for seven (though as with many cars of this type, there's not much boot space if you fill all the seats), it's hugely comfortable on a long journey and its 2.2-litre diesel engine is effortless, smooth and economical relatively speaking. Depending how adventurous you're being with your exploring, the four-wheel-drive model could be particularly useful.

6 - Land Rover Defender
Selling price: €64,995
Year: 2016
Engine: 2.2-litre diesel

I bet you did a double-take at that price tag… But that's because this is no ordinary Land Rover Defender; it's a '110 Adventure 7 Seater Limited Edition', one of the last examples of the iconic off-roader to be made. Naturally there are other examples of the Defender that would do the trick, but this car would help make for a particularly special road trip. Why? Because you might not have to use many roads. The Defender's off-road prowess is legendary so the only thing stopping you might be permission to use farmers' land.

7 - Tesla Model S
Selling price: €65,950
Year: 2015
Engine: electric

While most electric cars don't have the range to take on a long road trip, never mind the space to hold all the family, Tesla does things differently. The Model S is a large, fast, comfortable executive car and it comes in seven-seat guise too, so there's room for all the kids. The range varies depending on model and this 85kWh variant theoretically can go over 400 kilometres between charges, which should cover you. Just plan stops at Tesla's high-powered 'Supercharger' stations to minimise delays on the road.

8 - Lexus RX 450h
Selling price: €25,950
Year: 2012
Engine: petrol-electric hybrid

Most used hybrids aren't at their best on the motorway, but who wants to spend a road trip on the boring motorway network? Hybrids are great at lower speeds and particularly in an urban environment, so if that describes your kind of driving, it's well worth considering one. We've chosen the Lexus RX 450h for this feature as it mixes the efficient petrol-electric powertrain with a sleek SUV body and a gorgeously-made and spacious cabin. It'll even drive at low speeds in purely electric mode, preserving the silence of the countryside.

9 - Mercedes-Benz Viano
Selling price: €20,000
Year: 2012
Engine: 2.1-litre diesel

Now to ramp up the space considerably. The Mercedes Viano is based on one of the company's proper vans so it's square and massive. That means seating space for eight - proper seating - and room for bags, with roof rails in case you want to carry any kayaks or mountain bikes or whatever. Despite its gargantuan size, the Viano is easy to drive and not so wide that it'll feel out of place on Ireland's back roads. The 2.1-litre diesel engine is pretty decent on fuel, too.

10 - Volkswagen California
Selling price: €58,500
Year: 2018
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel

The Volkswagen California is the ultimate road trip companion, but we realise it barely qualifies as a car. Still, depending on which version you specify, it can have up to five seats with buckets of legroom, headroom and space for all your gear, plus a massive bike rack on the back. Of course, the beauty of the California is that you can drive it as easily as a car (more or less) and then sleep four people in it without too much discomfort - more if the kids will all squeeze in together. It's a clever piece of design, allowing it to fit below most car park height restrictions when not being used as a camper van. Oh, and the diesel engine sips fuel, as you'd expect.