Selecting a new family car is a big decision. Not only is it a significant purchase, but it also significantly impacts your and your kids’ comfort and safety while on the road. Add to that the numerous car options on the market, and it’s enough to make your head spin. Which is why we’re helping you navigate this tricky road. Here’s what to look for when shopping around, and which vehicles made our list of the best family cars out there. In our book, safety always comes first—so every car here scored a 5 star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the highest ranking there is.
What to Look for in Family Cars
The best family cars are the ones that best meet your specific needs—so a natural starting place is to pinpoint exactly what you want out of your vehicle. If you’re just starting a family, you’ll want to look at the best cars for babies; if you’re already a rowdy crowd, you might want to look at large family SUVs. Consider how many kids you have, how old they are and what kind of activities they’re into. Will you be hauling sports equipment around? Do you end up driving everybody everywhere along with their best friends? Do you take a lot of road trips, where having kid-friendly entertainment options are must-have sanity-savers?
Here’s a quick checklist of what to keep in mind as you browse the best family cars available:
· Size · Price · Comfort (in both the back seat and front) · Trunk space · Entertainment and connectivity options · Safety ratings · Safety features
Family car safety features
Safety features may appear last on the features list, but they’re one of the most critical criteria to consider. After all, what’s more important than the safety and wellbeing of your children? Good news: Family cars are safer than they’ve ever been before, and they just keep getting better. Here are some of the modern safety features to look into when shopping for family cars:
· Car seat support. Most cars make it fairly easy to get car seats in and out, but if you still multiple young kids at home, you’ll want to know how many car seats can fit in one row. Most cars made after 2002 come with the built-in LATCH system for easy car seat install.
· Back seat reminder. We’re all busy, and we all get distracted. To avoid ever forgetting your kids in the car, look for a vehicle with an audio reminder to check the back seat when you reach your destination.
· Collision warning. These come in various forms, but they’ll alert you when you’re too close to someone in front of you or moving in too quickly. Some will even automatically apply the brakes. They work not just for other cars, but also for pedestrians who are crossing in front of you.
· Blind spot monitoring. This one is literally a lifesaver. We all check our side mirrors before changing lanes or making that turn, but now the mirrors have warning lights that tell you when someone’s in your blind spot.
· Parking sensors. Especially helpful for city drivers, these sensors let you know when you’re getting too close to other vehicles, shopping carts or anything else above a certain height.
· Lane-change assist. When you start to slip out of your lane but your turn signal isn’t on, this will gently turn your steering wheel back and alert you.
· Adaptive cruise control. Thanks to this feature, you can set the maximum speed for cruise control, and your car will speed up or slow down to keep pace with the car in front of you. It’s especially helpful in stop-and-go traffic.
· Rear vision cameras. When you’re in reverse, you get a live image of what’s behind you, with grid lines to help you keep a safe distance from other objects. There are also 360-degree cameras, which provide a virtual 360-degree view around your car, helping you navigate tight spaces.
Best Family SUVs and Crossovers
Need room for your growing brood? SUVs and crossovers will serve you well, with loads of cabin and cargo space and flexible seating options.
Hands-down one of the best family cars around. This SUV features one of the highest cargo volumes for a three-row, mid-size SUV—a godsend, given that it’s near impossible to travel light with little kids. Parents will appreciate the wide seats (so a car seat won’t crowd), air vents in the ceiling (to keep rear passengers cool), and a pass-through between the second-row bucket seats to access the rear bench seat (which saves you a lot of effort when loading up the family). As if there wasn’t enough space already, an additional hidden rear storage compartment under the floor lets you stash even more gear. Certain models include a hands-free liftgate, so when your hands are full (and when are they not?), you don’t have to drop everything to open the back.
Callout safety features: Standard safety technology in the Traverse includes a rear-seat reminder that prompts drivers to double-check the back seat for kids and pets, as well as a rearview camera and the Teen Driver system, which monitors young drivers when it’s their turn behind the wheel and lets parents limit the SUV’s top speed and stereo volume.
Price range: $31,000-$53,000
Shop it: Chevrolet.com
The Pilot is another mid-size SUV offering families a great combination of space, storage and a smooth ride. With three rows included, you can fit up to eight people comfortably. It’s got plenty of horsepower and lots of room for all your stuff, including various nooks and holders, plus underfloor storage. And when you’re busy loading up the car, you don’t have to worry about having a free hand, thanks to the hands-free access tailgate (in certain models).
Callout safety features: Though the base model only features a multi-angle rearview camera, higher tiers offer impressive driver assistance features, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot…
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