Shoppers looking for a sporty ride don't have to surrender family-car practicality. To prove that, we've compiled a list of the best sporty cars that offer a practical side for family duties. Best of all, our list includes cars at a variety of prices, proving that you can get a family car that's fun to drive on nearly any budget.
Cadillac CTS-V Wagon
With a base price of around $64,000 including shipping, the CTS-V wagon doesn't offer cheap thrills. That's especially true considering its fuel economy ratings of just 12 miles per gallon city/18 mpg highway with the optional 6-speed automatic. But drivers who pay up for the CTS-V wagon get the thrill of owning a soccer mom station wagon with a 556-horsepower V8 under the hood. That engine propels the CTS-V to 60 miles per hour in under four seconds, which is faster than many exotic sports cars. And while it lacks the cargo capacity of a large SUV or minivan, the CTS-V wagon still boasts 25 cu ft of cargo volume with the seats up. That's about the same as a Jeep Liberty.
Ford Taurus SHO
We're impressed with the Ford Taurus SHO, which stands for Super High Output. Power comes from a 3.5-liter EcoBoost turbo V6, which manages to return a respectable 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy despite producing 385 hp. The sedan also hits 60 mph in around five seconds, which is on par with many modern sports cars. Best of all, it offers a roomy interior with ample backseat space for three children or three adults. The Taurus model's large size also allows for a cavernous trunk. Best of all, the SHO is surprisingly well-priced. While its $40,000 base MSRP may seem step, it includes luxury car features like keyless access and starting, leather seats and Xenon headlights.
Although it looks small from the outside, the Veloster combines family-car practicality with on-road fun. Interior room is surprisingly ample considering the hatchback's small size. That even goes for rear seat room, which rivals many sedans -- though its 3-door setup can be an annoyance. Even with its seats in place, the Veloster's storage space is above average for a sporty car. Fuel economy is above average, too. The hatchback's base engine is a 138-hp 4-cylinder that returns 28 mpg city/37 mpg hwy. But even drivers who step up to the new 201-hp Veloster Turbo get good mileage. The new engine returns 24 mpg city/35 mpg hwy with a manual, or 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with an automatic. A base-level Veloster starts around $18,500, while the Turbo adds around $4,000 to the hatchback's base price.
Mercedes E63 AMG wagon
The E63 AMG wagon is the ultimate high-performance family car. Updated for 2014, the latest E63 AMG boasts a tremendous 550 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque. It also now includes the Mercedes 4Matic all-wheel drive, which provides year-round security from varying road conditions. All-wheel drive will also help the powerful wagon gain traction when launching, as it hits 60 mph in 3.6 seconds from a standstill. A 7-speed automatic is standard, while an optional S-Model package boosts power to 577 hp. Also available is a rear-facing third row seat, which is located in the wagon's cargo area. While Mercedes has not yet announced pricing, the wagon started around $95,000 in 2012 -- and we expect a similar figure for 2014.
The Clubman is among MINI's most practical models. Thanks to a stretched wheelbase, it seats rear passengers in relative comfort compared to the standard MINI Cooper. But they may have a hard time climbing in, since the Clubman has only one rear door. Located on the Clubman's passenger side, the door is rear-hinged to allow for easy access to the backseat. The Clubman also has unique rear barn doors to its cargo area instead of a traditional rear liftgate. Base models are powered by a 121-hp 4-cylinder, while the Cooper S Clubman uses a 181-hp turbocharged version of the same engine. Sportier still are John Cooper Works models, which offer 208 hp. While those numbers aren't in muscle car territory, they move the small Clubman well. And the Clubman also benefits from MINI's razor-sharp handling. Pricing starts around $22,000 for a base model or $25,700 for a Cooper S Clubman.
Subaru Impreza WRX
Offered in sedan or hatchback guise, the WRX retains the same design as last year's Impreza models. Powered by a 265-hp 2.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder, the WRX reaches 60 mph in less than six seconds. But it can also be efficient, return fuel economy figures of up to 19 mpg city/25 mpg hwy. A 6-speed manual is the only available transmission. Many convenient features are included in the WRX model's $26,500 base price, like automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a USB port for music and 17-inch alloy wheels. Options include comfort features like a navigation system and an auto-dimming mirror, as well as sport-minded items like a short-throw shifter and a sport exhaust.
The GTI is still among the top choices for shoppers looking to combine sporty and practical. The hatchback starts around $24,800 for a 3-door model. Drivers looking to maximize practicality will prefer a 5-door GTI, which adds around $800 to the base price. An automatic transmission adds another $1,100. While many sporty drivers will prefer a manual, we recommend VW's DSG automatic for its lightning-quick shifts. It also gets better fuel economy than the traditional stick shift, returning 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy compared to 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with three pedals. Power comes from a 200-hp 4-cylinder, which propels the GTI to 60 mph in around six seconds.
What it means to you: Our list of the best sporty cars with a practical flair proves you don't need to skimp on performance when you start a family.