The 9 best cars for people moving to the suburbs

VolvoVolvo XC90 Hybrid.

So you’ve decided the big city isn’t for you anymore. Instead, you’re settling down for a quieter, roomier life in the suburbs.

The next thing you’ll need is a car, since public transportation in the ‘burbs historically isn’t great. Plus, you’ve your young family to think about. So, which car is the best?

It really all comes down to you and what you need. Do you think you’ll need an SUV, a sedan, a pickup, or a station wagon to get by? How much stuff are you hauling? These are all questions you should be asking yourself.

One of the first steps to buying a car is figuring out which car to buy. (For the entire car-buying process, check out Business Insider’s guide to car-buying for first-time car buyers here.)

Note that I intentionally kept convertibles, coupes, hatchbacks, and compacts off of this list, since they aren’t typically what people think of when they are getting a new car for suburban life. It’s not always the easiest to cram a family into one of these.

Safety ratings were also a huge criterion that I drew from.

Keep reading to find top picks for each body style!

Sedan: Mazda 6

Mazda2020 Mazda 6.

The Mazda 6 is a lovely, stylish sedan that you can get for a reasonable price – they start at $US24,100 – that punches way above its weight class. Get into a Mazda 6 and you’ll immediately notice the interior trims and materials easily rival any top-tier Japanese or German luxury brand.

Though it faces tough competition from the likes of the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord, the Mazda 6 distinguishes itself with a fun-to-drive appeal. Plus, it looks better and is not quite as common. You’ll be distinguished in one of these.

Overall safety ratings: five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and was one of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick Plus winners for 2020.

SUV: Volvo XC90

VolvoVolvo XC90 Hybrid.

If you’re moving to the suburbs, most likely you’ll be looking at some sort of SUV. That’s just how most buyers think these days. Look no further than the Volvo XC90: also very stylish, also very versatile.

The XC90 is a three-row SUV that starts at $US48,350. And there are a number of ways you can have it. It comes in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. And there’s a plug-in hybrid version as well.

Overall safety ratings: five stars from NHTSA and was one of the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick Plus winners for 2020.

Hybrid: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid or Honda CR-V Hybrid

Toyota2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

If the idea of a hybrid, three-row SUV is a bit much for you, both Honda and Toyota make nice hybrid crossovers in the form of the CR-V hybrid and RAV4 hybrid, respectively.

Both cars have all the boxy utility that their shapes offer, but with slightly better gas mileage than their non-hybrid counterparts. The Honda CR-V hybrid starts at $US27,850 and the Toyota RAV4 hybrid starts at $US28,350.

05 2020 Honda CR V Hybrid sourceHonda2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid.

Another thing to have on your radar is the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, which is the plug-in hybrid version of the RAV4 and is estimated to return 42 miles of all-electric driving before the gasoline motor has to kick in. It also produces a claimed 302 horsepower. The RAV4 Prime is available now and starts at $US38,100.

Honda CR-V hybrid overall safety ratings: five stars from NHTSA and was one of the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick winners for 2020.

Toyota RAV4 hybrid overall safety ratings: five stars from NHTSA and was one of the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick winners for 2020.

EV: Nissan Leaf Plus or Tesla Model 3

Nissan Leaf Plus.NissanNissan Leaf Plus.

If you’ve decided to make the jump to a full-on all-electric car, congratulations. Hopefully, you have a way of charging it at home or at places where you regularly commute.

There are a few electric cars on the market right now, so they’re no longer the oddball cars that they used to be. Electric cars now function basically as normal, gasoline-driven cars do. They even look like normal cars and if you weren’t paying attention, you wouldn’t be able to spot the difference between them.

On this front, a Nissan Leaf Plus or the Tesla Model 3 are both great options. The Nissan Leaf is wonderful at doing just plain-old car things without necessarily the flashiness and badge-snobbery that the Model 3 carries. Plus, with its hatchback design, it can carry quite a bit of cargo in its trunk.

The Leaf starts at $US31,600, so it’s quite a bit cheaper than the Model 3. If you want the longer-range Leaf Plus, that starts at $US43,900 and has an estimated range of 226 miles.

Tesla Model 3 TeslaTesla Model 3.

The Tesla Model 3 is a bit roomier. It also can have a bigger battery and produce more power, depending on which version you want. Some find its minimalist, one-screen-only interior a bit distracting to use, however. Also, keep in mind that Consumer Reports has reported reliability issues with the Model 3 in the past. Prices start at $US37,990.

Nissan Leaf overall safety ratings: Not rated by NHTSA but awarded top crashworthiness ratings by the IIHS.

Tesla Model 3 overall safety ratings: five stars from NHTSA and was one of the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick winners for 2020.

Pickup: Honda Ridgeline

2018 Ridgeline 114 sourceHondaHonda Ridgeline.

Pickup trucks are currently leading car sales in the United States. The trend is to buy big, and it doesn’t get much bigger than a pickup – especially since today’s pickups are extremely comfortable and can be optioned to rival luxury cars.

A full-sized pickup can be far too big for a new family just starting out, but luckily there are plenty of very nice mid-sized pickups to choose from. The Honda Ridgeline is one of them.

The Ridgeline has been praised for its SUV-like comfort while also having a pickup bed where the trunk would be. It’s not as rugged as some of the offers from Jeep or Ford, but for some light towing or hauling, it will get the job done. Prices start at $US33,900.

Overall safety ratings: five stars from NHTSA and was one of the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick winners for 2019.

Minivan: Chrysler Pacifica

2020 Chrysler Pacifica HybridChrysler2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

Minivans might not be as in vogue as they used to be, but you cannot deny their versatility. While many people might immediately jump to the Honda Odyssey or the Toyota Sienna, you might want to consider the Chrysler Pacifica.

Not only does the Pacifica look nice, but it’s been praised for its comfortable and adaptable interior and its technological features.

And! The Pacifica is currently the only plug-in hybrid minivan on the market. So you’ll be able to go further than ever. Prices start at $US34,045.

Overall safety ratings: five stars from NHTSA and was one of the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick winners for 2019.

Station wagon: Mercedes E-Class Wagon

2021 Mercedes Benz E Class All TerrainMercedes-Benz2021 Mercedes-Benz E Class All-Terrain.

Say you look around at all your SUV- and pickup-driving neighbours and decide not to be like any of them. Say instead you want a station wagon. You’d receive high praise for being an individual, but you wouldn’t have that many new cars to choose from. This isn’t Europe, after all.

While the supercharged and awesome Jaguar XF Sportbrake would be a top recommendation, it hasn’t really been rated by the two safety agencies we’ve been using. Still a great car, though. Definitely test drive one if you can swing it.

Instead, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon is a great option. It’s the only wagon Mercedes currently offers and has wonderful, wagonish looks. Mercedes cars have superior interiors – and, if you’re willing to splurge, the beastly Mercedes-AMG E 63 S packs 603 claimed horsepower.

Prices for the E-Class wagon start at $US66,100.

Overall safety ratings: five stars from NHTSA but not rated by the IIHS.

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