Most practical cars

20 Jun, 2013 4:07pm

We round up the 10 most practical cars, based on the experiences of more than 46,000 drivers

No matter what type of car you’re looking for, it’s likely that practicality will be high on your list of priorities. Do you need it to carry three kids and all of your luggage, too? Will you need the seats to fold flat? The answers to these questions can seal the deal for many buyers.

With this in mind, we’ve trawled through the Driver Power 2013 results to bring you the 10 most practical cars, based on the experiences of more than 46,000 owners.

As you would expect, our top 10 is dominated by big estates and spacious MPVs - but there are a few notable exceptions, in the form of the Skoda Roomster and both generations of the Honda Jazz. These results show that owners value not only how much space a car has, but also how well it’s used.

However, there are no surprises at the bottom end of the practicality chart. The last four places go to the Audi TT, Mazda MX-5, Porsche 911 and Jaguar XK, but it’s unlikely those manufacturers will be too worried about this result. After all, nobody buys a high-performance model or a roadster like the Mazda on the basis of how much luggage can be crammed in.

1. Skoda Superb Mk2

Practicality rating: 98.75%
Overall position: 2nd

The Skoda Superb has been voted the most practical car, with a score of 98.75 per cent. The Mondeo rival is a huge car, with masses of boot space and more legroom for rear seat passengers than in some luxury limousines. It also comes with useful touches like an umbrella holder in the rear door, an air-conditioned glove box and even a rechargeable torch. But the Superb’s party trick is that it’s both a hatchback and a saloon, thanks to an innovative 'TwinDoor' hatch that can be opened like a saloon's to drop smaller items into the boot or opened fully when you want to load larger objects. Plus, the Estate model is even more spacious, with one of the biggest boots of any car on sale. The Superb also ranked well for performance, braking, build quality, ease of driving, in-car tech and running costs, which is why it also took 2nd place in our overall Top 100.

2. Land Rover Discovery 4

Practicality rating: 98.16%
Overall position: 8th

Last year’s practicality champ has fallen to second place, but its rating has actually improved from 97.50 per cent to 98.16. The Discovery comes with seven useable seats, with even the rearmost two seats suitable for adults. What’s more, the second and third row of seats can also be folded into the floor to create a massive – and completely flat – 2,558-litre load area. Permanent four-wheel-drive and Terrain Response are standard, as is the split tailgate, which makes loading heavy items much easier and doubles up as a bench to sit on while removing muddy shoes. The Discovery topped the charts in both the ride quality and ease of driving categories, too, which has helped it rise from 52nd place to eighth in just 12 months.

3. Skoda Roomster

Practicality rating: 97.89%
Overall position: 71st

In third place is the Skoda Roomster. While the mini MPV’s looks aren’t to everyone’s taste, its boxy shape and high roofline are clearly impressing owners. The 450-litre boot expands to a massive 1,810 litres with the rear seats folded. Plus, thanks to the clever VarioFlex system, this process couldn’t be easier – the seats fold with one handle and tumble with the other. The two outer rear seats slide and recline, too, while useful storage includes two gloveboxes, wide door pockets and under-seat storage. However, owners are less impressed by its reliability, build quality, lack of tech and fidgety ride, which is why the Roomster only managed 71st place in our Top 100.

4. Hyundai Santa Fe Mk2

Practicality rating: 97.40%
Overall position: 74th

The second-generation Hyundai Santa Fe is fourth, with a score of 97.40 per cent. Key to the Santa Fe’s success is the 969-litre boot, which expands to a massive 2,247 litres with the rear seats folded. But its real trump card is that it’s available with the option of seven seats, which puts it ahead of its five-seat-only rival, the Honda CR-V. That said, the rearmost seats are difficult to get into and are only really suitable for children or occasional use. An all-new model was launched at the end of 2012, and comes with even more space, a more style-conscious design and a higher-quality interior.

5. Honda Jazz Mk2

Practicality rating: 96.88%
Overall position: 23rd

In fifth place is the second-generation Honda Jazz, which has been a hugely popular with UK buyers thanks its versatility and reputation for bomb-roof reliability. The Jazz is only available as a five-door hatchback, but it’s just as flexible as some MPVs despite its compact dimensions. The 399-litre boot is bigger than most family hatchbacks, while the rear seats can recline or fold completely flat at the pull of a lever. The seat bases can also be flipped up cinema-style to create a tall loading area, while useful storage includes a neat double glovebox and deep door bins. An all-new Jazz will be revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show in November 2013, so it will be interesting to see how it fares in future Driver Power surveys.

6. Range Rover Mk3

Practicality rating: 96.83%
Overall position: 84th

This third-generation Range Rover set a new benchmark when it was launched in 2002. It was more refined, more luxurious and more agile than ever before, thanks to insight gained from Land Rover’s time under BMW and then Ford ownership. It was also the first car to receive electronically controlled Terrain Response, which makes heading off road effortless. At five-metres long – or about the same as a Mercedes S-Class - the Rangie is a big car, so there’s plenty of space for passengers and a 994-litre boot. This expands to 2,099 litres with the rear bench folded, while the split-opening tailgate ensures loading is as easy as possible. The fourth-generation Range Rover arrived at the end of 2012 and is actually 27mm longer, which bodes well for it in this category next year.

7. Skoda Octavia Mk2

Practicality rating: 96.39%
Overall position: 6th

The Skoda Octavia took second-place in this category last year, and although it has since been overtaken, an all-new model has recently arrived in showrooms and is even more practical. This second-generation model was sold between 2004 and 2013, and comes with a boot that’s not only bigger than hatchback rivals such as the VW Golf but is also larger than a Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Insignia. However, it is worth noting that folding rear seats were only fitted as standard to S or SE models. The Estate model is even more spacious, with a maximum capacity of 1,655 litres and a wide opening. The new car is bigger still, with more legroom for rear seat passengers and lots of clever little touches, such as a reversible boot floor, boot holders and even an ice scraper hidden inside the fuel filler cap.

8. Honda Jazz Mk1

Practicality rating: 96.36%
Overall position: 77th

The second Honda Jazz in our list is the original car, which was launched back in 2001 and is still impressing owners with its innovative package. Although there was a lot of criticism of its handling, ride quality, braking and lack of performance, the Jazz still scored highly in the all-important reliability, running costs, build quality and, of course, practicality categories. The Jazz was the first car to get Honda’s ‘MagicSeats’ - pull a lever and they fold flat, or you can lift the base up, cinema-style, for extra space. The boot itself is a huge 353 litres, too.

9. Renault Scenic and Grand Scenic Mk3

Practicality rating: 96.20%
Overall position: 4th

Renault hasn’t traditionally had the best results in our Driver Power survey, which males this result for the latest Renault Scenic even more impressive. As well as being the highest-placed traditional MPV in the practicality category, it also scored well for running costs, braking, ride quality and in-car tech, helping it to finish 4th overall in the Top 100. The five-seat Scenic features clever sliding seats, which allows owners to choose between more legroom and extra boot space. The back seats can also be removed entirely and - although you'll need somewhere to store them - this frees up a van-like 1,837 litres of space. Plus, there’s also a seven-seat Grand Scenic model, which offers room in the rearmost seats for children and a host of large cubbyholes, as well as practical touches like sunblinds.

10. Ford Galaxy Mk3

Practicality rating: 95.94%
Overall position: 89th

In tenth place is the Ford Galaxy, which is the only full-sized MPV in our list. And although owners weren’t particularly happy with its reliability or build quality, they were quick to praise the Galaxy’s versatile seats and big cabin. It’s more expensive than its seven-seat sister car, the Ford S-MAX, but makes up for it with a bigger boot. In fact, there’s 308 litres of space even with all seven seats in place, but if you fold the two rows of rear seats, this expands to an incredible 2,325 litres. Plus, the taller roofline means there’s more headroom, making getting comfortable even in the rearmost seats easy. Fuel consumption will be high no matter which model you go for, but the Galaxy is good to drive and benefits from long service intervals, too.

The full results

Position Make Model %       Position Make Model %
1 Skoda Superb Mk2 98.75%       51 Volkswagen Golf Mk6 86.92%
2 Land Rover Discovery Mk4 98.16%       52 Toyota Prius Mk2 86.71%
3 Skoda Roomster 97.89%       53 Toyota RAV4 Mk3 86.67%
4 Hyundai Santa Fe Mk2 97.40%       54 Mercedes E-Class Mk4 86.49%
5 Honda Jazz Mk2 96.88%       55 Volkswagen Tiguan 86.09%
6 Land Rover Range Rover Mk3 96.83%       56 Renault Laguna Mk3 85.76%
7 Skoda Octavia Mk2 96.39%       57 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 85.71%
8 Honda Jazz Mk1 96.36%       58 Honda Accord Mk7 85.66%
9 Renault Scenic/Grand Scenic Mk2 96.20%       59 Mercedes C-Class Mk3 85.61%
10 Ford Galaxy Mk3 95.94%       60 Land Rover Freelander Mk2 85.30%
11 Volvo XC60 95.82%       61 Toyota Prius Mk3 85.28%
12 Ford S-MAX 95.51%       62 Nissan Micra Mk4 85.23%
13 Nissan X-Trail Mk2 95.26%       63 Mazda 3 Mk2 85.20%
14 Ford Mondeo Mk4 94.16%       64 Renault Megane Mk3 84.73%
15 Volvo V70 Mk2 94.10%       65 Audi A4 Mk4 84.51%
16 Skoda Yeti 93.95%       66 Jaguar XF 84.50%
17 Toyota Verso Mk1 93.83%       67 Mitsubishi Lancer Mk9 84.31%
18 Volkswagen Touran 93.64%       68 Jaguar X-Type 83.91%
19 Subaru Forester Mk3 93.60%       69 Volvo S60 Mk1 83.81%
20 Honda CR-V Mk3 93.55%       70 Toyota Yaris Mk2 83.77%
21 Vauxhall Zafira Tourer 93.47%       71 Volkswagen Passat CC 83.57%
22 Mazda CX-5 93.30%       72 Ford Focus Mk3 83.43%
23 Citroen C3 Picasso 93.13%       73 Toyota Auris Mk1 83.41%
24 BMW X5 Mk2 92.65%       74 Vauxhall Agila Mk2 82.76%
25 Hyundai ix35 92.63%       75 Honda Accord Mk8 82.47%
26 Toyota Avensis Mk2 92.58%       76 BMW 3 Series Mk6 82.35%
27 Mazda 6 Mk2 92.35%       77 BMW X1 82.31%
28 Honda Civic Mk8 92.07%       78 Kia Picanto Mk2 81.07%
29 Peugeot 3008 91.71%       79 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 80.86%
30 Audi A6 Mk4 91.38%       80 Ford Kuga Mk1 80.83%
31 Mitsubishi ASX 91.27%       81 Mercedes C-Class Sports Coupe 80.48%
32 Toyota Avensis Mk3 90.96%       82 Jaguar XJ Mk5 80.00%
33 Audi A6 Mk3 90.65%       83 Citroen DS3 79.51%
34 Volkswagen Passat Mk6 90.57%       84 Toyota iQ 78.33%
35 Mazda CX-7 90.00%       85 Audi A5 Coupe/Cabriolet 78.02%
36 Hyundai i30 Mk1 90.00%       86 BMW 1 Series Mk2 77.73%
37 Kia Cee'd Mk1 89.89%       87 BMW 3 Series Mk5 76.88%
38 Kia Rio Mk3 89.43%       88 Nissan Juke 76.85%
39 Skoda Fabia Mk2 89.28%       89 BMW 3 Series Coupe/Conv Mk5 76.40%
40 Ford C-MAX Mk2 89.18%       90 Lexus IS Mk2 76.36%
41 Mercedes E-Class Mk3 89.14%       91 Jaguar S-Type 75.51%
42 Volkswagen Golf Plus 89.00%       92 Porsche Cayman Mk1 75.20%
43 BMW X3 Mk2 88.83%       93 Porsche Boxster Mk2 74.60%
44 Kia Sportage Mk3 88.74%       94 Audi A1 73.91%
45 Subaru Legacy Mk4 88.57%       95 Volkswagen Scirocco Mk3 71.19%
46 BMW 5 Series Mk6 87.73%       96 Suzuki Swift Mk2 69.70%
47 Nissan Qashqai 87.26%       97 Audi TT/Roadster Mk2 69.39%
48 BMW 5 Series Mk5 87.24%       98 Mazda MX-5 Mk3 67.47%
49 Vauxhall Insignia 87.02%       99 Porsche 911 997 65.88%
50 Toyota Yaris Mk3 86.92%       100 Jaguar XK/R Mk2 65.60%

Disqus - noscript

Good grief! This is about as pointless a compilation/pagefiller as could be imagined. With one or two exceptions (I am being kind) the "top ten" are about as dull a lot of dull dogs as can be assembled. Is this really the view of Mr. Average?

Define practical..... I love LRs but we know they breakdown. Honda Jazz vs Ranger Rover mk3..... I bet there are 1000s of people pondering that one!

Why does Britain hate itself so much? Land Rovers break down exactly as much as every other SUV - Check Warranty Direct's figures for actual manufacturer warranty claims...

I love Land Rovers. I am not sure on the practical definition. RR Mk3 vs a Jazz..... big vs small - 60mpg vs 30 mpg - £15k vs £70k.... Thay was all I meant. I accept your comment about other SUVs.

What a load of tosh. Where is the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso? – 7 seats with the boot space of a van.

To be practical cars need to move. Not spend most of their lives on motorway hard shoulders waiting for the AA.

You are looking at an article about the top ten most practical. If you want the top 10 most exciting cars then you need a different article. And some coffee to wak you up.

lol! True, but why is the C3 Picasso there and not the C4 GP. They are truly immense inside when you go to two seat mode, absolutely massive in fact. Again, more odd results in AEs survey.

Are you a pseudonym for someone else? The "style" seems familiar even down to the espousal of received opinion.

And I am saying IMHO they are mostly dull dogs. Practically does not mean something has to be dull.

Whether they are dull or not is not relevant to practicality. Nor is being exciting or interesting a requirement of practicality. So, whilst some may argue about what should be in the list, being a list of dull cars does not detract from the point of the list.

But they aren't necessarily that practical. A friend of mine recently rejected one of the "top ten" in favour of one of the "so uncool as to be cool" modified vans in the Kangoo/Berlingo category simply because it did not do the job required. The vehicle selected actually had a sweeter running power unit as well as more available space.
This instance just emphasises that articles of this kind are for (limited) amusement only. They are not much of a help and certainly no substitute for a tape measure and actually sitting in the various vehicles.

The Honda jazz in 5th place. Really?

It may not strike you as a practical car but I had a relative who had owned three Honda Jazz's before. The boot space is MASSIVE and you can move the rear bench forward to improve boot space. Without moving the seats it has around 360 litres of space. In a supermini car. It has a good space for being highly versatile,reliable,practical yet budget friendly. Think it over

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