If you look at the range of motoring magazines on sale in your local newsagents, it’s unlikely you’ll see one dedicated to the most comfortable cars. Instead, dozens of titles and headlines will mention the words ‘fast’, ‘performance’ or ‘sports’, all catering to enthusiasts. But what if you want a car that soothes rather than excites; cars with the most comfortable seats and bump-absorbing suspension setups?
There have been several advancements in the last few years in order to make cars as serene as possible. Things like air suspension utilise pressurised air in order to soak up big bumps in the road, while certain manufacturers work with health organisations to provide the most comfortable seating possible. There are even cars that incorporate noise cancelling technology in the interior, just like a pair of posh headphones.
Our guide to the most comfortable cars you can buy details the models that’ll transport you to your destination, feeling as fresh as you did when you set off. If you’re looking for the finest in performance and luxury, why not check out our list of the best luxury cars on sale? If your budget doesn’t quite stretch that far, our lists of the best small automatic cars and best motorway cars all showcase models that are relaxing to drive.
For now, keep reading for the most comfortable cars you can buy – split up into three price brackets.
Many associate small cars with an unrefined drive and a barebones interior, however the Volkswagen Polo feels just as polished as its bigger sibling, the Mk8 Golf, and comes with a plush, tech focused interior. When equipped with the optional DSG automatic gearbox, the Polo wafts down the road like very few other superminis can, with supple suspension that prevents much intrusion from bumps into the cabin.
Those looking for the most relaxing drive will be best-off opting for the mid-spec 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine with the aforementioned optional DSG transmission – if you require a bit more poke, a more powerful 108bhp engine is also available and comes as standard with the automatic gearbox. Steer clear of R-Line cars as these come with a stiffer, sportier suspension setup; the Style trim should offer all most buyers could ever need, with an eight-inch touchscreen, digital dials and dual-zone climate control.
Citroen C5 X
Citroen is renowned for making comfortable cars; the original Citroen DS was revolutionary with its hydropneumatic suspension setup. While the new Citroen C5 X isn’t quite as revolutionary, it still comes with trick ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushion’ suspension, which helps provide a cosseting ride. Partner this with the brand’s ‘Advanced Comfort’ seats that have been filled with 15mm of high-density foam for an ‘armchair-like’ feeling, and the C5 X is one of the most relaxing mainstream cars you can possibly travel in.
If you can get past the C5 X’s funky shape, you’ll quickly realise it’s a practical and spacious family car. Private buyers are best opting for the 1.6-litre petrol engine as it offers sufficient punch and feels less strained under acceleration than the entry-level 1.0-litre unit. Company car drivers – or those looking for the most refined drive – will be enticed by the even more powerful plug-in hybrid model. With 39 miles of pure-electric range, you can travel around for short distances in complete silence – adding to the car’s already serene driving experience.
Our Carbuyer Best Estate Car for 2023, the Skoda Octavia is also available in hatchback guise and is one of the most comfortable cars on the market. The Octavia’s interior is simple, yet smart and everything you touch feels of high quality. Skoda has also partnered with the German Healthy Back Campaign to develop the car’s Ergo Comfort seats, which offer a wide range of support and can even be specified with a massage function.
The entry-level SE model comes with a surprisingly high level of standard equipment, with digital dials, a 10-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors. Our pick of the engine lineup would be the 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol as it offers plenty of punch and is whisper quiet when on the move. If you’d rather not change gears yourself, the optional DSG automatic gearbox makes the Octavia even more relaxing to travel in.
From £30k to £60k
The Mercedes E-Class is famed for its comfortable ride and is used across the world as a reliable taxi and/or motorway mile-muncher. All versions of the current-generation E-Class come fitted with an adaptive damper suspension setup, which has multiple settings and allows the mid-size executive car to glide along the road in an unflappable manner when placed into its Comfort mode.
As you’d expect from a premium car such as a Mercedes-Benz, even entry-level models come well-equipped; however, we’d step up to the mid-spec AMG-Line Premium model as this adds things like heated seats and a 360-degree camera, to the already-impressive list of equipment that includes Mercedes’ slick dual-screen MBUX infotainment system. The E220 d diesel model is the most popular for good reason; it’s smooth and offers a good blend of performance and fuel economy.
Volvo is renowned for making safe and comfortable cars and the brand’s smallest SUV model, the XC40, is no exception. While some SUVs in its class – such as the BMW X1 – focus on providing a sporty hatchback-like drive, the XC40 aims to cocoon its occupants from the outside world and offers a plush, minimalist interior and supple suspension to soak up the majority of Britain’s potholes.
Buyers have the choice of either a 2.0-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine, or a 1.5-litre plug-in hybrid ‘Recharge’ model with up to 28 miles of electric range – unless you’re a company car driver, we’d stick with the cheaper, yet still punchy petrol offering. There’s also a fully-electric model (confusingly also given the ‘Recharge’ nameplate) which offers a range of up to 286 miles on the base single-motor model and 316 miles on the top-spec dual-motor car.
Our favourite Large Electric Car for 2023, the Nissan Ariya blends style and substance with its classy interior design and sublime ride quality. Particular highlights of the cabin include an illuminated wood dashboard, which only displays the car’s touch-sensitive controls when the ignition is on. A power-sliding centre console allows you to prioritise foot space in the front or rear, allowing passengers to get as comfortable as possible.
If you spend most of your time driving around town, we recommend saving some cash and opting for the entry-level 63kWh battery model in well-equipped Advance trim; this still offers a decent range of 250 miles, although you need to step up to the Evolve model to get the aforementioned sliding centre console, as well as heated and cooled leather seats. Opting for the larger 87kWh battery increases the Ariya’s range to 322 miles, turning the Japanese SUV into an ideal motorway cruiser.
Genesis is a relatively unknown quantity in the world of luxury cars, but its first raft of models provide an appealing alternative to the onslaught of German rivals. Sitting as the South Korean brand’s largest SUV, the GV80 boasts a beautifully-appointed interior, with 3D-effect dials and swathes of sumptuous leather. The GV80 also makes use of noise cancelling tech to eliminate any kind of external road noise.
The Genesis GV80 focuses on comfort and that quickly becomes evident behind the wheel; a forward facing camera scans the road ahead to brace the suspension for any large bumps or potholes, while driving aids take away most of the stress of driving. That’s not to say the GV80 is any slouch; the 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel model is our pick of the lineup as with 274bhp, it offers sufficient punch to haul the two-tonne GV80, while still offering decent fuel economy.
The undisputed king of chauffeur-driven limousines, the Mercedes S-Class offers a cornucopia of technology and comfort, all wrapped in a sleek saloon body. Sweeps of ambient lighting help set the mood of the cabin, while the optional Chauffeur Package folds the front passenger seat down to allow those in the back to stretch out – just like in First Class.
Available in Standard and Long Range configurations, as well as petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains, there are several options available to buyers looking for a new S-Class. No matter which powertrain you choose, all offer a smooth driving experience, with a slick and almost imperceptible dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Rear-wheel steering comes as standard to aid manoeuvrability, while Mercedes’ AIRMATIC air suspension helps soak up all but the largest of bumps.
The Range Rover has undergone a huge transformation over its lifetime, from a comfortable, yet hugely capable off-roader to a lumbering luxury behemoth that’s able to carry its pampered passengers anywhere – no matter the terrain. The latest Range Rover is perhaps the most luxurious and comfortable yet, with air suspension to filter out smaller objects such as potholes – even when specified with enormous 23-inch wheels – and a plush interior that puts even the Bentley Bentayga to shame.
For the most relaxing driving experience, opt for one of the plug-in hybrids; the ability to travel around in blissful zero-emissions silence for up to 68 miles adds to the feeling of serenity, while the combined output of 434bhp in the P440e offers a mountain of grunt under the bonnet. Four wheel steering is standard to aid the titanic SUV’s manoeuvrability around town, while a 4.4-litre V8 with 523bhp offers the ultimate in ‘point-and-squirt’ performance.
Looking for something that feels special, but don’t need a giant luxury car? Check out our list of the top 10 luxury small cars