Cars That Really Are the Whole Package
Updated on May 21, 2021 | by Evan Chase
Every automaker wants to sell you on their brand, with some offering you value for money like Honda and Toyota, while cars from Bentley or Rolls-Royce claim to be the most luxurious machines on the road today. Others still, like Tesla and upcoming releases from BMW, think they are the world leaders when it comes to technology, such as self-driving or safety systems that many of us will likely never see in action, thankfully. But few people buy a car with only one purpose in mind unless it’s to hoon around a track in a speedster that would never be legal on the road.
Most buyers in the USA want a reliable daily commuter with a modicum of comfort and safety features that can double as a practical family car. This is why SUVs and crossovers are dominating the market while sedan and coupe models are reserved for those weekend drives. Nevertheless, every manufacturer is trying to develop the perfect automobile that combines all the features that buyers are looking for into a single package. But have any succeeded?
Also Read: How Self-driving Cars Work
Best in Breed
When it comes to the top-end brands, names like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Volvo come to mind, with Bentley and Rolls-Royce discarded as options unless you have a doting billionaire uncle who’s about to kick the bucket. These companies have a long history of designing masterpieces of automotive art that combine style, luxury, and performance. But, just like a pedigreed animal that has been carefully bred over generations, a few genetic weaknesses are bound to crop up. But, instead of weak hips or a tendency towards dandruff, premium vehicles often present buyers with subpar rear-seat and cargo space, poor fuel economy figures, and crippling MSRP price tags.
It may be true that you get what you pay for, but the adage isn’t entirely applicable when it comes to our vehicles. Here, your money is going towards a fast, fun, and handsome car that probably has a lot of techs, but is missing many of the fundamentals that we look for in our daily drivers. Furthermore, many manufacturers seem to think it’s okay to leave off desirable features, such as rear cross-traffic alert, navigation, or automatic climate control because they know they can milk their consumers by instead offering them as expensive add-ons. Sometimes, you can get more by spending less.
No Showboats, but They Won’t Sink
Unsurprisingly, it’s the economy brands that really know what the average consumer wants. Because, as simple math dictates, 99% of us aren’t one-percenters. We generally cannot afford to dole out huge sums on cars that won’t actually return on our investment over a 5-7 year period (the duration most people keep their cars before trading in). By focusing on practical considerations like gas mileage, comfort, trunk space, and dependability, these reserved contenders make a great case for “less is more.” Toyota, Honda, and Kia are top names in this particular segment.
Sport-utility vehicles that don’t cost an arm and a leg are the top sellers, but just because everyone seems to want them, that doesn’t mean they are perfect. It stands to reason that, when you’re paying a budget price, you can’t expect a premium product. These cars drive well, but they’re not usually fun, and while they are safe, they rely more on savvy construction than high-tech gadgetry. Comfort is important, but don’t expect high-quality materials, and some take the idea of a family car too far by installing more seats than the cabin is really designed to accommodate. We’re looking at you Toyota Highlander.
Is There a Middle Ground?
It may seem like there are simply too many disparate factors that go into making the ‘perfect’ car since you can’t have luxury without paying through the nose for it, and making room for five to eight people and their luggage seems to destroy any hope for fun driving. But hope is not yet lost. Technology has a habit of making the impossible seem quite attainable, and many automakers are taking advantage of new trends in the industry to develop cars that tick more and more boxes.
Electric vehicles are becoming more affordable, and since you will be saving so much on fuel over the course of their lifespan, footing a few grand extras for those plush leatherette seats and nifty infotainment features don’t feel so bad. Similarly, tech is becoming smaller and lighter, so it’s possible to put even more in a car without hindering its handling or speed. We may be moving out of the era of the V12 and V8 engines, but that doesn’t mean we have to settle for less power. Turbo- and supercharged powertrains are capable of throwing out a fair amount of horsepower, and EVs are hard to beat in the torque department.
So, while we wait for the car to end all cars to arrive, there are a few options on the market that come pretty darn close. If you’re looking to buy a new vehicle soon, then consider taking one of these for a test drive:
- Kia Sorento/Hybrid
- Tesla Model 3
- Toyota RAV4 Prime
- Genesis G70/G80
- Volvo V60
- Ford Mach-e
- Honda Civic Si