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Best cars

Best large cars for 2020

By Daljinder Nagra

Article 7 of 16

Our expert lab and road tests reveal the very best large hatchbacks and saloons available now.

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The very best large cars are reliable, economical, practical, and far sharper to drive than an SUV. 

The large car class includes premium models – such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. There are also more reasonably priced mainstream designs, including the Ford Mondeo, Skoda Octavia and VW Passat.

With plenty of sleek coupés and saloons available, plus slightly more practical hatchback models, there is bound to be a large car to suit your needs and budget. Provided you choose carefully, that is.

In the tables below are the very best large cars we’ve tested. These are Which? Best Buys that excelled in our lab and road tests, offering decent fuel economy and good reliability.

If you're in the market for an upmarket large car that prioritises passenger pampering, you'll be pleased to know we've also separated luxury models, both new and used, into their own category. This will make it easier for you to find the best large car for your needs.

Plus we’ve picked out the worst large cars we’ve tested, to make sure you don’t waste your money on a car that’s short on space, is uncomfortable to drive or drinks fuel at an alarming rate.

Scroll down to the tables below to see our best new and used large cars recommendations. We also reveal a model you should avoid.

If you want to find out more about how to buy the best large car, you can use the links below to jump to:

The best large cars 

Our lab and road tests are impartial and independent, so you can trust our reviews. Only Which? members can view our expert reviews in the tables below.

Log-in to see the large cars we recommend. If you're not already a member, join Which? to unlock our results - you'll also get access to our Best Buys, Don't Buys and all of our exclusive, expert car reviews.

Best new large cars

74%
£23,453
Reviewed

Proof that large cars don't need to be powered by diesel to be economical, this hybrid model excels across the board. It's comfortable, easy to use and is backed up by its maker's rock-solid reliability rating.

74%
£61,500
Reviewed

If you want to run a car that minimises your environmental impact, this model makes a pretty good case for itself. Its only emission when it's being used is water - yet it's much more feasible to run every day than most zero-emissions cars because its range is good and it can be refuelled quickly rather than plugged in for hours.

72%
£24,729
Reviewed

If you spend your life driving around town, then this hybrid model could lower your annual running costs. It's very easy to drive, well-built and safe in an accident, too. Poor rear visibility and a small boot count against it, but not enough to deny it a Best Buy rating.

72%
£11,497
Reviewed

The economy of a regular hybrid, boosted by a far greater battery range. It's not the most fun to drive, and visibility is poor to the rear, but it’s a Best Buy due to decent comfort, refinement and reliability.

71%
£20,272
Reviewed

It's been an institution on British motorways for years, and with good reason. This large four-door saloon is comfortable, reasonably economical and superbly easy to drive. Only an awkward-to-load boot and its rather anodyne styling count against it. It's a deserved Which? Best Buy.

71%
£30,862
Reviewed

This model provides the perfect riposte to the sporting bent of its main rivals, with a refined hybrid drivetrain that makes for serene progress. Cabin quality is second to none and it's very reliable.

The best new luxury large cars

Looking for a premium large car? We've got your covered - drive in comfort with the best-performing luxury large cars that have aced our expert tests below.

Best new luxury large cars

77%
£83,718
Reviewed

Successfully dispelling the notion once and for all that hybrids can't be fun to drive, this enormous hatchback is a serious luxury car proposition. With both exhilarating performance and the potential for very low running costs, as well as superbly finished cabin, it's the car for every occasion.

75%
£37,110
Reviewed

This practical model hits all the high notes for luxury and usability. It’s a stellar effort, which makes you question why you’d need anything else. The styling won’t be to all tastes, however.

75%
£64,375
Reviewed

This has traditionally been seen as the model to beat in the luxury saloon market. Its superb quality, class-leading technology and engineering put it in a class of its own. It's very hard to fault, even in the rarefied world of luxury limousines.

75%
£56,265
Reviewed

This luxury car is made all the better for the addition of plug-in hybrid technology. Not only is it more economical overall than the diesel version, but cabin refinement is improved thanks to the whisper-quiet electric motor and battery which also offers reasonable emissions-free driving range. It's an expensive purchase, but you won't be in the least bit disappointed.

74%
£90,492
Reviewed

This is a performance powerhouse - a saloon car with the performance to embarrass sports car drivers without breaking a sweat. It keeps the huge five-seat interior of the entry-level model and is no less comfortable on long distances. If you're brave enough, this could be all the car you ever need.

The best used large cars

Large cars don't have to stretch your budget - find the best large cars below available used for a great price.

Best used large cars

76%
£4,411
Reviewed

Using such a good base car as a starting point was always going to be a wise move. This model improves it with revised suspension for a comfy yet engaging drive. It’s also pretty exclusive and will return decent fuel economy.

73%
£3,085
Reviewed

Superb comfort, refinement and an overarching feeling of quality is why this large car has topped the table for large car satisfaction. ‘It’s the best car I have ever owned,’ enthused one happy owner.

72%
£8,424
Reviewed

This executive saloon is a perennial favourite in the UK, thanks to its upmarket image, well-appointed five-seat cabin and real driver appeal. A wide range of efficient and powerful engines fit the bell, whether your prioritise performance or fuel economy.

72%
£3,544
Reviewed

This large car appeals to the head rather than the heart. What it lacks in styling or performance appeal, it makes up for with high levels of quality and safety, efficient engines and a well-ordered, practical cabin.

The best used luxury large cars

Looking for a great deal on a premium large car? We reveal the best models to choose in the table below.

Best used luxury large cars

84%
£8,846
Reviewed

This brand has great experience with hybrid technology, and this old generation limousine shows it off to great effect. It’s supremely quiet and refined and returned acceptable fuel economy in our tests, despite the hybrid system being mated to a very large petrol engine. It’s also superbly well-made and backed up by the brand’s bomb-proof reliability record.

79%
£12,925
Reviewed

Owners of this particular brand are amongst the happiest on the road, with it consistently scoring highly in our annual car survey. This generation of its large luxury saloon is a particularly fine example of the breed; combining sumptuous build quality with an understated and silky-smooth driving experience. It’s so good that it’s beaten far newer and more expensive luxury saloons for overall driver satisfaction.

77%
£8,053
Reviewed

This oddly-shaped car sports superb engines, crisp handling and excellent dynamic feedback. Yet it's also superbly refined, with a composed ride and admirable noise suppression. It’s noticeably more practical than the model it’s based on, too.

75%
£8,295
Reviewed

This popular luxury saloon is very good to drive, whether you opt for a petrol or diesel engine. The diesels are frugal but not quite as inspiring as the petrol versions. The handling and steering are top-drawer. The only real gripes concern visibility and an interior that can be daunting to get used to.

75%
£5,740
Reviewed

Its styling certainly divided opinion, but in all other respects this was the best iteration of the model we’d yet seen, upon its launch in 2008. It’s supremely comfy and spacious and handles quite well for such a large car. Petrol engines are thirsty.

Not found the car for you? Head to all our large car reviews

And here's a large car to avoid

If there’s one thing a large car should get right, it’s space. Whether driving or sitting in the passenger seats, no one should be short of room in a large car. 

The same goes for the boot. It should be big enough to fit a family food shop, a pushchair and an extra tyre, with room to spare.

It’s easy to assume that a large car will meet these requirements with ease, but that’s not always the case. A big boot doesn’t mean it’s well designed. 

We don’t just measure size: we also consider how easy a boot is to load. A high load lip may not seem like a huge problem – until you’re trying to lift your family’s holiday luggage into it.

A large car should be roomy and comfortable, but ample size and space don't necessarily mean that a large car will be a gas guzzler. 

Our unique testing has found large cars that manage well over 60mpg, while others fail to get over 30, despite the sometimes outlandishly high figures claimed by some manufacturers.

Large cars to avoid

61%
£1,293
Reviewed

Where once it was a solid new car purchase, the long term reliability of this model is so bad we simply cannot recommend it.

54%
£2,855
Reviewed

A reasonably priced large saloon is rarely likely to get pulses racing, particularly as it ages, but drivers of this older model are particularly unimpressed. We’ve criticised it for a lack of rear headroom and an awkward boot, but for owners its poor all-round visibility has proved a particular bugbear. A lack of modern technology and iffy reliability seal its fate as the least satisfying large car to own.

How to buy the best large car

From checking you have enough rear passenger headroom to what to look for when buying a premium brand, there's a large car to suit every budget. 

Our tips will show you what to look for and consider before buying a large car.

Best large cars: passenger space and headroom is key 

The main reason for choosing a large car over a medium model is that they offer a greater amount of space for passengers and luggage. However, our tests have shown that just because a car takes up a lot of room on the road, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be cavernous on the inside.

For instance, you may be surprised to hear that upmarket models such as the Audi A4 and Lexus IS are pinched for rear passenger headroom, and fitting three in the back will be a squeeze.

Practical models in the large car class include the BMW 3 Series, Ford Mondeo and the Skoda Superb.

Premium handling and performance 

Don’t think you need to look to a sports car or compact hot hatchback for driving thrills. Some large models are amongst the best cars to drive, with responsive handling and decent long-distance comfort.

Premium German marques such as BMW and Mercedes produce particularly driver-focused large cars, though most manufacturer model ranges have a breadth of engines to suit most tastes and budgets.

Consider an estate car 

Estate cars have fallen out of fashion in recent years, as family buyers turn to SUVs and crossovers for their perceived additional practicality. However, if you don’t like the image of a 4x4, or don’t want to compromise on driving dynamics, a large estate car may prove a better bet.

Estate models are often only a few thousand pounds more expensive than the equivalent saloon they’re based, but often offer much greater boot space with little or no compromise to the car’s other facets.

See our expert pick of the best estate cars.

We test cars more thoroughly than anyone else

Our tests go further than those carried out by other organisations and, because Which? is independent and doesn’t accept advertising or freebies, you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about every car we test.

Every car we review is subjected to more than 100 individual tests in a lab, on a test track and on real roads – and we really clock up the distance, driving around 500 miles in every car we test.

Testing in controlled lab conditions means the results we collect are directly comparable between different cars, helping us to determine exactly which models are better and why, and helping you find the perfect car for your needs.

And so you know which cars are likely to prove reliable for years to come, we also gather feedback from thousands of UK car owners through the Which? Car Survey, using it to generate detailed reliability ratings for the cars we test.

To take the guesswork out of choosing your next car, join Which? and you’ll receive access to all our expert reviews and advice.

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