Doing loads of miles every year? Then you need a big saloon, right? Nope. There was a time when, broadly, the more miles you were doing, the bigger the car you needed to do them comfortably. But that was in the days when small cars generally were noisy, had dreadful ergonomics, and felt built down to a price. Small cars have come on massively in every area, to the point where some of them are genuinely suitable for more than 20,000 miles per year in perfect comfort.
So, for this list we’re going to give you cars that span the breadth of sizes and price points; it would be too easy (and not very much use) to just give you a list of massive luxury cars. Here are 10 cars that will give you mile upon mile of comfort.
City Car: Volkswagen Up
Despite the Up being a decade old now, no city car has surpassed its blend of comfort, refinement and space. It just feels impossibly roomy from the driver’s seat, which is a huge factor in the sort of long haul comfort it boasts. It has better basic ergonomics than a lot of much bigger cars. On top of that it’s surprisingly quiet and the ride quality nicely controlled, so it doesn’t bounce around on the motorway like some small cars do.
Small Hatchback: Citroen C3
Since the 1954 DS, Citroen has built its reputation on making the most outright sumptuous and comfy mass market cars. That’s the main quality the company trades on today…well, that combined with quirky ‘avant-garde’ design features. To be honest, Citroen sometimes misfires when it comes to basic driver ergonomics (cramped pedals, weird steering wheel position) and the C3 does suffer from a bit of that, but its ride quality is exceptional. Soft and soothing, and fitted with flat, comfortable seats, it’s a car that’s easy to do long trips in.
Small Crossover SUV: Skoda Kamiq
We could have gone for the Citroen C3 Aircross here - the C3’s taller, spongier namesake - and although the Kamiq doesn’t ride quite as comfortably as the Citroen, it’s probably the more complete car. It has a great cabin, and much better ergonomics and refinement than the Citroen. The Kamiq is also on the bigger side for a compact crossover, so it’s flexible, and its 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre turbo petrol engines are proper quiet at motorway speed.
Family Hatchback: Skoda Octavia
The Skoda Octavia has long been arguably the best pound-for-pound family hatchback on the market, offering Ford Mondeo space and Volkswagen Golf quality but at, well, Skoda prices. The latest Octavia hatchback is truly a brilliant family car in every way, because it blends big hatchback flexibility with near enough luxury car comfort and refinement. What a thing.
Family Crossover SUV: Citroen C5 Aircross
Another Citroen, yes, but there’s just no denying that the C5 Aircross is the best riding family crossover on the market. It’s just so soft and emollient, and it does a better job at a ‘fits all’ driving position than Citroen’s smaller cars. It’s as clumsy as a tipsy zombie to drive around a corner, but if it’s just a motorway cruiser you’re after, and a sizable one, this is a great choice. And with a 1.5-litre diesel model you’ll get a good 50mpg.
Large SUV: Volvo XC90
The XC90 is getting on a bit now - it’s 7 years old and due to be replaced imminently - but it’s still one of the most outright comfortable and luxurious big SUVs on the market. Its USP is Range Rover comfort and refinement (near enough) but at two-thirds of the price. It’s the whole package: a lovely interior with hugely adjustable driving position, wallowy ride quality and a range of proper quiet engines. There aren’t many cars, at any price, that can match the outright comfort of an XC90 over long distances.
Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
With every S-Class (there’ve been 7 of them since 1972) Mercedes sets out to make the most comfortable and luxurious car on the planet. The result is almost inevitably the most comfortable and luxurious car on the planet. You’ve not really experienced true luxury ride quality until you’ve driven an S-Class. All kinds of clever suspension tricks go into making that so in the latest one, including a system called E-Active Body Control that’s constantly monitoring the road ahead and then self-adjusting the hydraulic dampers. It makes even the crappiest road surface feel smoother than a bathing cap gliding through an Olympic pool.
Saloon: Jaguar XF
The best trick the XF pulls is that it feels kind of sporty in the way that a Jaguar should but at the same time effortlessly comfortable over long distances. Supple suspension combined with excellent body control mean it feels lovely and settled sitting at 70mph, while the cabin is really well made and has superb driver ergonomics. It’s the little details that make the XF a good place to spend time, like how the steering wheel feels, and the perfect placement of the elbow rests, and the basic comfort of the seats.
Estate Car: Audi A6 Avant
The Audi A6 Avant makes a strong case for being the most complete car in the world, in the sense that it’s really spacious and comfy for passengers, has an enormous cargo space, a great cabin, and actually drives with a bit of excitement too. Build quality is exceptional, and the wide range of engines means that it’s possible to get something that’s either very economical (like the 200mpg rated plug-in hybrid) or outrageously quick (591hp in the RS6). Whatever you get though, including the RS6, it's a vast and brilliant motorway car.
Electric Car: BMW iX
Okay, so there are plenty of much cheaper electric cars that are very comfortable, the Mercedes-Benz EQC and most of the Audi e-tron stuff, for instance. Heck, even the MG ZS EV is good on the motorway. But no electric car is as suitable for long distance driving as BMW’s biggest EV, the iX. It’s mostly because it rides like a true luxury car - and feels a bit like a Mayfair apartment on wheels, with its high end cabin design - but also because its big battery makes the range manageable. That’s especially the case in the xDrive 50 model, whose 112kWh battery pack is nearly 4 times the size of the one in a MINI Electric.