Porsche Panamera S/S Hybrid/GTS/Turbo/Turbo S
Base Price: $76,825/$92,325/$97,125/$111,975/ $139,625/$176,275
Output: 300 hp, 295 lb-ft/400 hp, 369 lb-ft/333 hp, 428 lb-ft/430 hp, 384 lb-ft/500 hp, 516 lb-ft/550 hp, 553 lb-ft
Why It Made the List: The pinnacle of speed and luxury, in four-seat form.
The Porsche Panamera may not be the best family car, as it only has seating for four (although it does have a hatchback to aid cargo capacity). Granted, those four seats are extremely comfortable and, depending on how the car is optioned, each seat can have its own temperature, heating/cooling, and massage functions. If you’re looking to pamper your kids, this could be the car.
This could also be the car to pamper you, depending on which powertrain you opt for. The Panamera is offered in six different trim levels, not counting all-wheel drive and special-edition variants, ranging from a 300-hp V-6 to a 550-hp turbocharged V-8. All Panameras use a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox that executes shifts quicker than you can.
Subaru WRX/STI sedan/hatchback
Base Price: $26,605/$35,105
Output: 265 hp, 244 lb-ft/305 hp, 290 lb-ft
Why It Made the List: Raucous, rally-bred fun; all-weather capability; and room for the whole brood.
When you think of frugal, all-weather fun, you think of the Subaru WRX. You should also think of another F: family. The compact sedan has tidy dimensions, but it’s comfortable enough for two parents plus children and is available as a hatchback for those who want even more utility. The WRX starts at a relatively thrifty $26,605, so picking one up won’t break the bank. The price includes a raucous 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer four mated to a five-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive.
For even more fun without having to make any familial sacrifices, buyers can step up to the WRX STI. Essentially a watered-down version of the same car Subaru used to run in World Rally Competition races, the STI takes the WRX to the next level: 40 more horsepower, an extra cog in the transmission, and a trick all-wheel drive system that allows for driver-selectable torque distribution between the front and rear axles.
Tesla Model S Performance
Base Price: $88,570
Output: 416 hp, 443 lb-ft
Why It Made the List: Effortless power and seating for seven without using a single drop of gas.
Once you have a family, you may find yourself starting to worry more about the future – it is your children’s future after all. But instead of opting for a hybrid or a heavily compromised electric car, consider the California-made Tesla Model S. Our 2013 Automobile of the Year has both space for the family and impressive performance credentials. Its hatchback shape is aerodynamically slippery, and the all-electric powertrain means that there’s room for some junk in the frunk (what Tesla calls the front trunk). That front trunk can be helpful if you opt for the two rear-facing jump seats to increase the Model S’s passenger capacity to seven.
Choosing a Model S isn’t necessarily a responsible choice as far as your driver’s license is concerned. Not only can the silent sedan outrun a BMW M5, but its 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of silent and effortless power will speed you and your passengers to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.
Volkswagen GTI 4-Door/GLI/Golf R 4-Door
Base Price: $25,390/$24,740/$35,590
Output: 200 hp, 207 lb-ft/200 hp, 207 lb-ft/256 hp, 243 lb-ft
Why It Made the List: The GTI blends hatchback utility with excellent handling dynamics and an accessible price point.
We like the Volkswagen GTI. We like it so much that we’ve named it to our All-Stars list multiple times and crowned it Automobile of the Year in both 2007 and 2010. We love the pep of the 2.0-liter turbo four, the well-tuned and robust chassis, and the high-quality interior. It’s the pinnacle of the compact performance class.
A family-friendly hatchback body style and a low entry price make this hot hatch a winner for fun-seeking families. Those who want a more traditional three-box design don’t have to miss out on the fun, either: Volkswagen also offers the Jetta GLI, which has all the GTI’s performance upgrades under the skin of the Jetta compact sedan. Finally, for those thrill-seeking VW enthusiasts, there’s also the limited-run Golf R with 256 hp and all-wheel drive.
Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Base Price: $44,995
Output: 325 hp, 354 lb-ft
Why It Made the List: Gorgeous design, high-quality materials, advanced safety technology, and good performance credentials.
The Volvo S60 is a Q-ship: its design is stunning but not head turning; its power is impressive but not overwhelming; and its utility is admirable but not as good as it could be (we wish Volvo would sell the V60 wagon in the U.S.). We named the S60 a 2011 All-Star and discovered after a Four Seasons test that it was “a sleeper hit.” However, that was before Volvo introduced the R-Design model with 25 extra horsepower and 29 more lb-ft of torque, which turns this svelte Swede into a BMW-beater.
It’s not surprising that a Volvo is a good choice for those who want to keep their family safe. City Safety automatic braking is standard, and options include blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and collision warning with pedestrian detection. The S60 has also been rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and earned a five-star overall crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Talk about playing safe.