The Best Family Cars

The best family cars start every time, can be counted upon to provide more than adequate protection in an accident, have room for the entire family and their stuff, and are enjoyable to drive too. While the title of this article is the best family “cars”, the best vehicle for you might well be a minivan or a crossover SUV, which is why you’ll also find a selection of those listed here as well. The really good news is, with but one exception, every model on this list of the best family cars has a starting price below $25,000.

Chevrolet Malibu

All new for the 2016 model year, the revised Malibu features chiseled styling with an international flair. The classy-looking mid-size Chevrolet also boasts wholly competitive fuel economy, features, and interior space. Its ride quality is refined, and yet it can be engaging to drive. Upscale features include an eight-inch touchscreen and premium-looking interior furnishings. Standard features include keyless entry and pushbutton start, Bluetooth, and OnStar telematics. The best engine choice is the 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four with 260 ft-lbs of torque. With it, Malibu returns 26 mpg combined.

Chevrolet Traverse

Comfort, practicality, and a handsome appearance land Chevrolet’s Traverse crossover SUV on this list of the best family cars. To all of the above you can add an exceptionally commodious interior, as well as a smooth and quiet ride. With three rows of seating for up to eight people it’s perfect for carpooling kids to school and activities, or colleagues to work. WiFi capability, outstanding cargo capacity, and a pleasant ride rank Traverse high on this list of the best family cars. Power comes courtesy of Chevy's 281-horsepower 3,6-liter V6 with 266 ft-lbs of torque in its base configuration. Traverse is rated to tow up to 5,200 pounds and returns 19 miles per gallon overall.

Ford Fusion

Easily one of the most handsome and technologically advanced family sedans currently offered, the Ford Fusion also numbers good looks, a responsive personality, and exceptional comfort among its attributes. Available features include voice activation, self-parking, keyless entry, and pushbutton start; along with dual-zone automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, and smart cruise control. Engines range from 175 horsepower up to 240. All-wheel drive is available, as is a hybrid powertrain. Fuel economy for standard powertrains ranges from 25-city/37-highway to 22-city/31-highway. Fusion Hybrid is rated at 44-city and 41-highway.

Honda Accord

Any list purporting to enumerate the best family transportation omitting the Honda Accord is patently incomplete. The Accord has been a best seller since it was launched way back in 1976. Nicely updated for its 40th birthday, available features include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, Bluetooth, blind spot monitoring, and a rear-view camera. Accord also delivers outstanding reliability, excellent resale value, and handsome styling. What’s more, it’s comfortable, spacious, well laid out, and easy to drive. The base engine is a 2.4-liter four delivering 185 horsepower and 31 mpg overall. The upgrade is a 3.5-liter V6 good for 278 horsepower and up to 26 mpg combined.

Honda Odyssey

Generally agreed upon by automotive reviewers everywhere to be the best of the breed in the minivan category, the Honda Odyssey offers such niceties as power-adjustable seats for the driver and front passenger, dual-zone air conditioning, full power accessories, a split-folding third row seat, Bluetooth, a Pandora interface for streaming music over the Internet, text to speech capability, and cruise control—all as standard equipment. Propulsion comes from a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 280 horsepower and 250 ft-lbs of torque. Transmission choices include a nine-speed automatic and a ten-speed. Fuel economy is rated at 22 mpg combined.

Nissan Altima

Good power, determined agility, and comfortable ride quality can indeed be had in a spacious and family friendly four-door sedan. This is why the Nissan Altima clocks perennial appearances on every list of the best family cars. Available equipment includes keyless entry and start, Bluetooth, and full power accessories. You can also get remote ignition, blind spot monitoring, a rear-view camera, and a Bose audio system. Altima’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 182 horsepower, 180 ft-lbs of torque, and 31 mpg combined. If you need more power, the 3.5-liter 270-horsepower V6 produces 251 ft-lbs of torque and 26 mpg combined.

Mazda Mazda6

If you genuinely love to drive, the driver’s choice on this list of the best family cars is the Mazda6. The company makes it point to infuse every model in its lineup with outstanding handling and a flexible engine. With its spacious interior, generous array of available features, and strong fuel economy, the driving enthusiast who suddenly realizes a need for four doors and roomy back seat will really appreciate the Mazda6. Available features include Bluetooth, a seven-inch touchscreen, voice activation, and collision mitigation with automatic braking. Power comes from a 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four with 185 ft-lbs of torque. Underscoring the driver focus, the Mazda6 can also be had with a six-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy comes in at 31 mpg combined.

Mazda CX-5

If you’re looking for a compact crossover with the driving attributes of a sporty sedan, Mazda’s CX-5 will provide you with a great deal of satisfaction. Updated for the 2016 model year, the CX-5 now offers more sound insulation for a quieter ride, a revised infotainment interface, and Bluetooth as a standard feature. Available equipment includes smart cruise control, lane departure warning, and heated seats. Power comes from a choice of two engines, but if you’re going for the sportiest feel possible, get the 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four with 185 ft-lbs of torque. Mazda’s predictive all-wheel drive system can be had as option. Fuel economy is rated at 29 mpg combined.

Subaru Outback

If your family outings include an adventurous aspect from time to time, the robust Subaru Outback will accommodate those occasional proclivities, while looking good as you go about your normal day-to-day activities too. Mildly off-road capable, the Outback can go pretty much anywhere a reasonable person would with a family of four. Available features include Bluetooth, roof rack rails with crossbars, Pandora and Aha audio streaming, windshield wiper deicing, voice activation, and a power rear liftgate. Motivation comes from either a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder delivering 173 horsepower, 174 ft-lbs of torque, and 28 mpg combined; or a 3.6-liter horizontally-opposed six capable of 256 horsepower, 247 ft-lbs of torque, and 22 mpg combined. All-wheel drive is standard regardless.

Toyota Camry

Naturally, the best selling four-door sedan year-in and year-out appears on this list of the best family cars. After all, the Camry sells the way it does for a reason—well—several reasons actually. Among them are reliability, low cost of ownership, reasonable fuel economy, a premium attitude, and a quiet yet somewhat dynamic driving experience, In other words, Camry comes very close to being all things to all people. Power is generated from a choice of two engines; a 2.5-liter four good for 178 horsepower, 170 ft-lbs of torque, and 28 mpg combined; or a 3.5-liter V6 capable of 268 horsepower, 248 ft-lbs of torque, and 25 mpg combined. Features include Toyota’s Entune telematics system with a touchscreen interface, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, and pushbutton start.

Volkswagen Passat

The most affordable German engineered mid-size four-door sedan available in America, was also designed and built with Americans in mind. Thus, the Volkswagen Passat is amazingly spacious and bristling with comfort and convenience features. In fact, while the Passat is classified as a mid-size sedan, it could easily pass for full-size. Available safety features include lane departure warning, frontal collision warning with automatic braking, dual zone automatic climate control, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, keyless entry with pushbutton start, and hands free trunk opening. Passat’s base engine is a 1.8-liter turbocharged four good for 170 horsepower, 184 ft-lbs of torque, and 29 mpg combined. The upgrade is a 3.6-liter V6, capable of 280 horsepower, 258 ft-lbs of torque, and 23 mpg combined.

Volvo V90 Cross Country

The elegance of the latest big Volvo sedan translates nicely to a wagon and also makes for a supremely beautiful alternative to a crossover SUV.  The upscale and stylish interior treatment is brilliantly complemented with plenty of cargo capacity and outstanding comfort in every seating position. Naturally, all of the safety watchdogs we’ve come to expect from Volvo are in evidence. Power comes from a choice of two engine offerings. An innovative combination of turbocharging and supercharging applied to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder results in 316 horsepower and 25 mpg overall, while a turbocharged-only version of the 2.0-liter makes 250 horsepower and 26 mpg. An eight-speed automatic with a manual shift function handles power transmission to all four wheels.

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