Best Medium to Large Car
Once an Aussie family staple, the medium to large car segment is becoming increasingly niche in a world of SUVs and dual-cab utes. But, for those who dare to be different, there's a lot to like about the once-traditional family car.
It’s a sign of how far the once mighty family sedan has fallen in the public’s consideration that just a lone entrant fronted up to this year’s Drive Car of the Year Best Medium to Large Car category.
But, while SUVs and utes dominate the new car landscape, the humble sedan continues to offer an alternative for those who eschew the high-riders that dominate our roads today.
A quick look at industry sales data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) tells the tale.
In 2022, Australians bought a total of 16,491 medium and large-sized cars in the mainstream (non-luxury) category. That was down almost 18 per cent on the previous year’s number of 20,015.
Jump back a decade to 2012, and sales of medium and large passenger cars totalled more than 150,000 – almost 10 times that of 2022.
Medium SUVs and utes, meanwhile, accumulated a total of 406,381 sales in 2022. Little wonder then that carmakers are throwing resources at those volume sellers while simultaneously slowing down the development of – if not ignoring entirely – their ever-diminishing range of medium and large-sized cars.
Certainly, in 2022 no new contenders emerged to take on the reigning Drive Car of the Year Medium to Large Car champion, the Skoda Octavia, which faced this year's judging panel unopposed.
Winner: Skoda Octavia
4 variants available
What we love
- -Decent engines, even in entry-level specification
- -Interior feels premium with nice practical touches
- -Plenty of space in the second row and boot
What we don't
- -Some features buried inside touchscreen because of...
- -... a lack of physical buttons and dials for key functions
- -Up to $4500 more expensive than 12 months ago
Under Drive Car of the Year rules, every category winner is invited back the following year to defend its title against either an onslaught of new combatants or, at the very least, significantly updated rivals. That didn’t happen in 2022, leaving the Skoda Octavia to hold on to its crown as Australia’s Best Medium to Large Car for another 12 months.
That lack of competition doesn’t detract from the Octavia’s award-winning credentials, the Czech brand’s offering taking on some tough competitors in 2022, the first time it won the crown. You can read about that competition here.
The essence of what made the Octavia great in 2022 remains in place this year. Something of a quiet achiever, the Skoda Octavia offers a level of quality and refinement that would be expected of cars twice the price.
Available as either a sedan or station wagon – and with a choice of engines from a 1.4-litre turbo with 110kW to the 180kW 2.0-litre turbo four in the performance-focussed Octavia RS, there’s a breadth to the range that speaks to a lot of buyers.
Of particular note, interior comfort and space with a smattering of Skoda’s clever touches iced the cake of the Octavia’s engine combinations which, even in its mildest 1.4-litre trim, still delivers pleasing performance while remaining eminently usable day-to-day.
A pleasing list of standard equipment from the base Style variant also helped the Octavia secure the coveted title.
The price spread for the Octavia ranges from $40,990 drive-away for the entry-level sedan to $57,490 drive-away (nationally) for the RS station wagon, a not insignificant jump over the last 12 months. Skoda is not alone, however, in raising the prices of its cars.
Last year, the judges said the “torque-rich engine and snappy transmission response make the Octavia a delight around town, as does the stable roadholding on the open road”.
In 2023, the Skoda Octavia remains as delightful as ever and a worthy winner of the Medium to Large Car category.
You can read about all the other 2023 Drive Car of the Year categories and winners here:
Drive Car of the Year categories and winners
Note: All vehicle specifications pertain to variants tested as part of DCOTY assessment program.