Best Crossover Vehicles For Families – Some families are just starting to produce new people. Others have several of them, each blooming differently. Others have a boat to tow. We have something for each.
Our annual Best Family Cars list includes vehicles in a wide variety of sizes and price points because there’s an even wider range of families. We only feature mainstream brands, no luxury marques, because that’s where more than four out of five car buyers put their money.
Best Crossover Vehicles For Families
Of course, we consider the obvious factors like safety, space, and functionality, but we also weigh in on easily overlooked factors like predicted resale value and historical reliability. We all want to reduce car hassles and get more money back whenever we sell or trade in a vehicle, but those qualities are especially beneficial for families.
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For years now, we’ve only had SUVs and minivans on our list. That’s not to say the sedan isn’t a good fit for a family of four or five, but the market has spoken: Today’s family cars aren’t cars at all.
Starting that hunt for the perfect family car involves research and serious evaluation. “Does everyone and their stuff match?” There is more to answering the question.
Take a look at the top subjects we considered when assembling this list. Any family car you choose should pass most, if not all, of these categories.
When it comes to a family hauler, safety should be a top concern, and it is for most car shoppers. According to market and consumer data provider Statista, safety is the top concern for 65% of car shoppers. That’s usually a bigger percentage than any other criteria for car shoppers. That’s more than likely, especially for shoppers looking for a family car.
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Today’s cars are safer than ever before. Through government mandates, effective features such as anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, rear-view cameras and tire pressure monitors are now standard on all new cars. And an incredible number of advanced safety and driver assistance features are available as standard or on most new models.
Any family car you consider must pass the Insurance Institute’s strict standards for highway safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has been conducting crash tests on new cars for decades. Although these tests have evolved and developed over the years, test scores can be found for nearly 10 years for most cars. Whenever we recommend a car, Kelley Blue Book relies heavily on IIHS test scores and ratings. You can do your own IIHS research here.
The IIHS is a nonprofit trade organization funded by auto insurance companies. The core of its safety findings comes from a battery of six crash tests. There it is:
The IIHS’s top crash-test scores are “Good,” followed by “Acceptable,” “Marginal,” and “Poor.” When applicable tests are available, a vehicle must achieve six out of six “good” scores to qualify for this list. When not available, we require a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
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Each year the IIHS awards its Top Safety Pick (TSP) or Top Safety Pick+ (TSP+) designations to top performing vehicles. They base this accolade on a better than perfect six-for-six performance. To make the TSP or TSP+ list, a vehicle must also excel in other evaluation areas, such as vehicle-to-vehicle frontal crash prevention, headlight efficiency, and so on. In these fields, the marking is Super, Advanced and Basic. Many of our picks on this list have earned TSP or TSP+ honors.
“Bang for your buck” means finding the car that offers the most features and functions you’re looking for at the lowest possible price. However, “cost” is the operative word, as it includes much more than transaction price.
Obviously, the transaction price and car loan interest rate have a lot to do with the cost of ownership, but there are other factors that influence the life of the car. For example, insurance, fuel, maintenance and repair costs all contribute to the cost of ownership, as does depreciation (how much value your car loses from the time you buy it until you sell it.). For a comparative cost of ownership for the choices on this list, our baseline is Kelley Blue Book’s fair purchase price. We then calculated the 5-year cost of ownership.
Reliability and durability are part of the value discussion. They work out the maintenance costs of a car and the resale value expressed through our 5-year cost. However, in the spirit of wanting to transport your family in a safe, reliable environment, reliability and durability warrant a closer examination.
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Determining the reliability of a new car involves gathering data from past model years and careful analysis by Kelley Blue Book’s data scientists. Each year, Kelley Blue Book collects a large amount of data on how models are holding up. This is key information when installing used engraving. We tap into this wealth of information when assembling our “Top 10” lists.
Hassle-free ownership is a win for financial considerations and peace of mind. This isn’t just for new car shoppers. Used car shoppers can find several of these models based on our “best of” criteria in our latest list of the 10 best used family cars under $15,000.
While the primary goal is to make sure your family gets to a destination in comfort and safety, a large part of ownership is the driving style of a vehicle. Our picks make the cut for their driving comfort, steering precision, brake and accelerator pedal feel and overall visibility. Some of these vehicles can be quite large, making parking and use in the city challenging. Many come with driver aids like blind spot monitoring, pedestrian detection and automatic braking, boosting your confidence behind the wheel.
A good family car offers more than a large cabin. Seats should be comfortable. Seating configuration is of prime importance. What kind of second row seats are available? Do they adjust front and back? How easy is access to the third row, and how spacious is the way back?
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Infotainment and entertainment should work seamlessly, offering a range of connectivity options including Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Power liftgates and sliding doors reduce the effort of getting people and their belongings in and out of the vehicle. These are questions that can only be satisfied by seeing them in action.
When going almost anywhere, a family often resembles a traveling circus with all the gear and flotsam that a road show musters. Every parent has experienced this at one time or another. Our best family car picks put a premium on available cargo space and flexibility. Things we look for include the ease of lowering the rear seats and if they are flat, as well as the height of the rear lift. Have extra cubbies or lower deck storage that offers more convenience and capacity?
Child safety seats are a priority for family car considerations. When evaluating seat options for infants and toddlers, you should ask yourself the following questions:
All of our listed vehicles rank among the best in their class, but you may want to take your current seats with you when shopping.
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One of the criteria the IIHS uses in issuing its annual TSP and TSP+ awards is the ease of use of a vehicle’s LATCH system. When you consult the IIHS website during your own research, scroll down the vehicle’s page for its IIHS LATCH score.
Testing new cars, trucks and SUVs by the Kelley Blue Book editorial staff is an ongoing endeavor throughout the year. In any given week, the team drives and evaluates a combination of familiar models and all-new vehicles. Our staff includes parents of children from toddlers to young adults. This wealth of experience was invaluable when arriving at our final picks for the best family cars. These are the 2023 vehicles we’d choose for our own families.
We selected several minivans and 2- and 3-row SUVs that do a great job of meeting the needs of small and large families. Moreover, our selections offer solid fuel economy, low operating costs and high safety levels at a relatively affordable price. All models on this list either have a 5-star NHTSA rating, are IIHS TSP/TSP+ vehicles, or have received the highest ratings from both agencies based on the most recent ratings.
For those on a tighter budget, check out our story on the best used family cars under $20,000.
Best Used Suvs Under $15,000
Our editors drive and evaluate hundreds of new cars each year, turning thousands of miles and countless hours behind the wheel into helpful reviews, ratings and comparisons. They also have lives outside of work, or so they think. You’d be surprised what you can learn by hauling a dirt bike, hunting for a sippy cup, or packing a trunk full of groceries.
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