Luckily, some slightly-more-knowledgeable professionals at Parents Magazine and Edmunds have a better idea—or ten. The group of automotive experts recently released their ranking of the top 10 best family vehicles of the year.
The 2018 edition marks the 11thannual list compiled by the publications. This year, editors and experts combed over specs for more than 300 cars to create the final ranking.
Each car listed achieved a perfect 5-out-of-5 safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA). And to even qualify for consideration, a car had to score at least a 4 out of 5 in an overall evaluation by Edmunds, including checks for driving, comfort, interior design, utility, and technology.
To further narrow the field, Parents Magazine tested car seats in the top 20 finalists. The publication looked for how much leg room was left once the safety devices were installed, plus checked for availability of cup holders and USB ports.
When all was said and done, 10 winners emerged from the crowd, including picks for 3-row SUVs, 2-row SUVs, minivans, wagons, hybrids, and sedans.And the winners are…
The massive vehicle is particularly good for those who have a lot to carry.
The Atlas boasts enough room for five car seats—and 17 beverages. (Aside from becoming increasingly popular, cupholders can be especially handy for family trips.)
And the car lives up to its global name. It comes with an app that tracks where the vehicle’s parked, helping parents navigate through oceanic theme park lots. The app also lets owners check on whether doors are locked to help families feel secure, even when away from their vehicle.
This SUV is perfect for families who love their technology.
Among the top qualities pointed out by the publications is the Traverse’s easy access to USB ports. It sports six in total, meaning Mom, Dad, their two kids, plus the dog and cat can each get their own personal charging station.
The vehicle is also noteworthy not only for the massive cargo space it offers, but also the easy movability of its seats to access it.
It may be called the Edge, but the car sits dead center in the Venn diagram of desirable qualities.
With an average gas mileage of 24 MPG, it’s on the higher range of fuel efficiency for a non-hybrid SUV. But it doesn’t sacrifice size for the economy.
The Edge is still equipped to hold 3 car seats. And after all that, the expansive cargo space left over can fit enough coolers to keep a family well fed.
As may be hinted at by its foreign moniker, the sleek family vehicle is all about the luxury.
Acura’s RDX comes standard with heated seats for winter, and a sunroof is also included on every model. The perks are perfect for a family who believes road trip season lasts all year long.
The car also impressed editors with its powerful engine. It sports a turbocharged V6 capable of producing up to 272 horsepower.
The only minivan entrant on the list, the Odyssey is great for families who want to get away—from each other.
The model was noted for its innovative second row, which features what Honda has called “Magic Slide ” seats. At the push of a button, the bench-style seat can split down the middle, with each chair taking its own side. (Honda has advertised the concept as a peaceful way to separate warring siblings, but it can also be a useful trick for easy back seat access.)
But parents can keep an eye on the last row of the car without pulling the Red Sea lever. The minivan includes a special screen offering those in the front a back-row view.
Kia SoulIt may be the lowest-cost vehicle on the list, but it has the highest safety rating.
The Soul received an impressive score from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning a “Top Safety Pick Plus” designation for not only crash protection, but collision avoidance. (The Institute took special note of the vehicle’s passenger-side impact capabilities and its ease of installing car safety seats.)
The Soul also gets 27 MPG on average, making it not only a good choice for families, but also a good choice for the environment.
Subaru OutbackA family that plays together stays together. And the Outback is the perfect vehicle for those who love to find that recreation in the great outdoors.
The model was noted particularly for its myriad cargo options, including full use of its roof. Special rails and crossbars that come standard make excellent places to secure large equipment like kayaks and bikes.
But on the way to those more low-tech environments, kids riding in the Outback can utilize the car’s high-tech entertainment system, with hook ups for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
And long known for its ability to drive hundreds of thousands of miles, the Subaru could become a true family car, sticking around long enough to be handed down to the kids one day.
Toyota PriusThe lone hybrid on the list is already a classic, first making a splash on the automotive scene at the turn of the millennium, as the world’s first widely commercialized battery-powered vehicle.
Today, the numbers posted up by its unique engine are even more impressive. The Prius can get a mind-boggling 52 MPG, making family trips not only faster but much less expensive.
But it’s not just the engine’s battery the car works to keep full.
The hybrid now offers wireless charging, allowing any and every device within the confines of the vehicle to juice up at once. The future is truly now.
Honda AccordEven on a list based on safety specs, the Accord boasts an impressive resume.
The model offers a full suite of crash avoidance features, including forward collision warnings, lane departure warnings, traffic sign recognition, and a program intended to help drivers stay within their lane.
But the extra technology does nothing to hurt the car’s interior space. It was also noted for its comfortable design and particularly roomy seats—an unsung hero of any successful family vacation.
Chevrolet MalibuParents of older children may want to consider the Malibu. The sedan made waves with its innovative ideas on “Teen Driver” technology.
The program allows parents to remotely track a number of aspects about a trip, including the car’s top speed and distance traveled, along with any need to activate safety features like stability control and anti-lock brakes.
The system also lets parents control for other aspects of the ride, like how high the radio volume can be turned up—which, in a way, is a shame for the Malibu. Among the car’s other noteworthy options is its superb nine-speaker sound system, produced by Bose, which could make even the quietest family member want to rock out.