Best Family Cars of 2014

With high-tech performance, safety, and convenience features available at all price levels, it's easier than ever to choose a model that's built for your family's needs.

Parents demand so much from a vehicle -- no breakdowns, no safety worries, and every speck of space, performance, mileage, and technology that automakers can pack inside. Did we mention a great price? With shoppers facing so many choices, Parents and Edmunds.com analyzed the field to select the ten top cars for 2014. These models are made for hectic commutes, soccer car pools, gear-packed vacations, and long trips to Grandma's. Your family's security comes first, with every pick featuring multiple air bags and built-in stability features. Many also offer electronic watchdogs, including blind-spot monitors and collision-avoidance systems that, until recently, were the exclusive domain of luxury models. And all provide a winning mix of good looks and cool features that make the journey as satisfying as the destination. Recognizing that every buyer has his or her own priorities, we've included city-friendly subcompacts, spacious SUVs, and everything in between. Whichever one you pick is sure to become a trusted, cherished member of the family.

Best Budget Cars

Mazda 3

  • Starts at $17,740
  • MPG 30 city/41 highway
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2014 Top Safety Pick+
  • 5 passenger capacity
  • 2 car-seat capacity

Mazda 3

Mazda

You'll be proud to display this small stunner in the driveway. The revamped 3 couples a sophisticated drive with a comfy and highly designed cabin. Its direct-injection engine provides outstanding fuel economy with no sacrifice in acceleration. A $2,600 technology package adds radar adaptive cruise control (which automatically keeps a safe distance from the cars ahead) and lane-departure and forward-obstruction warnings. In case you're distracted by backseat shenanigans, it also includes Smart City Brake Support, a laser-based system that stops or slows down the car when there's a risk of a collision at speeds below 18 mph. And Mazda Connect, an infotainment and connectivity system, is blessedly easy to operate.

Ford Fiesta

  • Starts at $14,925
  • MPG 32 city/45 highway
  • 5 passenger capacity
  • 2 car-seat capacity

Ford Fiesta

Ford

Forget the chintzy economy cars of yore. The Fiesta isn't merely affordable but Euro-chic fashionable and surprisingly roomy in back, even for grown-ups. The ride is notably quiet for a subcompact, with zippy handling. Unexpected standard features include a driver's knee air bag. The optional three-cylinder EcoBoost engine delivers the best mileage of any gas-powered car sold in America. Should you decide to move up to the $19,125 Titanium version, you'll also get heated exterior mirrors (to boost vision on icy mornings) and leather seats and steering wheel.

"I love the way my Fiesta drives, the fact that my 3-year-old can get in and out with little assistance, and the roominess in back and in the trunk." - Jennifer Metcalf; Pleasant Hill, Missouri

Best Hybrid

Toyota Prius

  • Starts at $25,010
  • MPG 51 city/48 highway
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2014 Top Safety Pick+
  • 5 passenger capacity
  • 2 car-seat capacity

Toyota Prius

Toyota

Open that college fund: The Prius can save you $6,250 in fuel bills over five years compared with the average new car. The world's best-selling hybrid offers a reliable ride and packs impressive interior space into a compact footprint, so installing bulky car seats is no hassle. Interactive display screens coach the driver to maximize mileage: Topping 50 mpg has never been this much fun. Hate getting into a hot car? The cutting-edge Solar Roof Package (a $1,500 add-on available on all but the entry-level model) generates electricity from sunlight to cool the car while it's parked.

Best Sedans

Mazda 6

  • Starts at $21,785
  • MPG 28 city/40 highway
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2014 Top Safety Pick+
  • 5 passenger capacity
  • 2 car-seat capacity

Mazda 6

Mazda

The all-new 6 makes you feel as if you're getting away with something: No car this practical and inviting to rear passengers (including toddlers in car seats, teens, and even grandparents) should be such a blast to drive. Its "commander" knob lets you manage both the navigation and the entertainment system while minimizing eyes-off-the-road time. The four-cylinder engine supplies brisk power. The Grand Touring version ($30,490) offers a $2,080 package that includes the i-ELOOP system (which captures braking energy and boosts this model to class-best highway mileage) as well as adaptive cruise control (to prevent you from closing in on the car ahead of you) and lane departure and forward-collision warnings. Rear seats fold individually to accommodate your kids and bulky gear as well; a backup camera comes standard.

Honda Accord

  • Starts at $22,745
  • MPG 27 city/36 highway
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2014 Top Safety Pick+
  • 5 passenger capacity
  • 2 car-seat capacity

Honda Accord

Honda

It's easy to see why the Accord has been a longtime family-favorite sedan. Drivers love the airy views and impeccable road manners, while the standard four-cylinder engine combines silken operation with solid efficiency. Gear-toting parents will appreciate a trunk that swallows two suitcases plus a stroller and a Pack 'n Play. Even the entry-level version includes a backup camera. Cutting-edge safety technologies, including lane departure and forward-collision warning systems, are available on the $29,060 EX Leather trim line. And Honda's new LaneWatch (standard on the $25,670 EX model) brings peace of mind: Flick the right-hand turn signal and a brilliant image of the right-side roadway beams onto the touch screen, showing cars, pedestrians, or bicyclists you might not otherwise see.

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