These vehicles will transport your whole family, cocooned in grandeur.
Winning the CarBuzz Family Luxury Award, unfortunately for carmakers, is a moving target. It used to be all about comfort and serenity, but now tech plays just as big a role. These cars will need to carry at least a family of four, though this year's choices can hold more, coddle all of them in quietness and comfort, and provide the kids some sort of busywork on long road trips. That could be via rear-seat entertainment, a pop-up table, or just enough USB ports to keep everyone's devices charged.
The new Cadillac Escalade won last year for its combination of size with three rows, assisted driving tech like Super Cruise, and its 38 inches of OLED screen. Runners up were the Volvo XC90 and Audi A6 Allroad. This year's class was filled with great family luxury cars including the Audi RS6 and RS7, the Genesis G80, the venerable Bentley Bentayga, Jaguar F-Pace SVR, and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. But the following models represent the best three in the segment.
We called the Jeep Grand Wagoneer the new face of American luxury, and we meant it. It competes with the largest people haulers on the planet, but outdoes the standard Chevy Suburban and GMC Yukon to do battle with the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. It comes standard with LED headlights, power-retractable running boards and wheels ranging from 20 to 22 inches. It floats down the road with Quadra-Lift air suspension, putting it well ahead of other body-on-frame vehicles in terms of comfort. It can't hide its size, but with a variable steering ratio, the SUV is both easy to park and easy to pilot down the highway.
The true luxury here comes on the inside. The Grand Wagoneer leads the class for second- and third-row legroom. There are two leather options, along with 75 inches of total screen space. That includes the digital gauge cluster, the center screen, the comfort screen below the center, the passenger screen, which can show movies because it can't be seen by the driver, and the two rear passenger screens, which have Amazon integration meaning Prime, Netflix, Hulu and the rest.
Does anyone need more than 600 hp and 620 lb-ft of torque in their family wagon? Of course not, but the point of this category isn't about luxury needs, it's about luxury wants. And we want a twin-turbo V8 Mercedes-AMG E63 Wagon that gets to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and has a top speed of 180 mph. Cutting those road trips in half with breakneck speed does a lot to keep the family unit together.
The cabin is swathed in metal, wood, suede and leather. The E63 goes a little overboard on the carbon fiber trim, but its something we'll accept when it comes with a huge infotainment/driver cluster display, a rainbow's worth of ambient lighting and some of the best massaging front seats in the business. The E63 also gets a Burmester sound system and voice activated commands, though that's more of a party gimmick. It has a ton of space for your stuff with 35 cubic feet behind the rear seats, though we'd rather have a set of rear-facing jumpseats like the E-Class Wagon All-Terrain.
The Acura MDX is now entering its fourth generation after hitting the streets in 2000. Acura says it stands for Multi-Dimensional Luxury, which we'd make fun of, if it wasn't true. The seven-passenger MDX won't blow drivers away with power, it only makes 290 hp, but it is longer and wider than the previous model, and way better looking.
In the MDX, the third row is small, mostly suited for kids. But the cabin is roomy otherwise, with plenty of space for the first and second row. The second-row middle seat can be removed for a captain's chair setup, if your kids need space to flail.
The 12.3-inch infotainment doesn't have a touchscreen, which is annoying, but it does have a touchpad, which is better than previous iterations, along with voice, steering and hard button controls. Traffic Jam Assist, Amazon Alexa, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity are all included. Tech Package cars get a 12-speaker ELS sound system, A-Spec and Advance models get a 16-speaker setup.