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Best Family Cars

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-Welcome to Parents TV on demand. A place for parents to learn, share, and develop a healthy family together. Parents TV. Our families, our lives. -Hi, everybody. I'm Juli Auclair, and you're watching Parents TV. Finding a car that fits the needs of your family is no small task. This year, Parents Magazine teamed up with Edmunds.com, and named the best family cars of 2008. And joining us now is Parents Magazine senior editor, David Sparrow, to tell us which cars made the list. Thanks so much for coming in. -My pleasure. -So, tell us how Parents Magazine and Edmunds.com came up with the best cars. -First and foremost, we look at safety. The models that fit in the top echelon of the safety ratings done by the industry and the government. -And you split the cars into five categories. -That's right. -And what are those categories? -Crossovers, SUVs, minivans, sedans, and best-value cars. -Okay. Let's start with the crossovers. First of all, what is it for those who don't know? -Well, they're a very popular category these days. They're kind of a cross between a sedan and an SUV. They're more economical than a lot of SUVs for many families to own. We don't-- we don't need seating for eight. -Okay. And one of the crossovers that made the list is the Honda CR-V, and Parents TV's Anne Ebeling went to look at the CR-V. And Anne, what makes it so family-friendly? -The inside is spacious, with reclining captain's chairs. And more than a dozen storage nooks for all your family's gear. The CR-V also gets high marks for safety. Side-curtain airbags are standard, and it features stability control and anti-lock brakes. Four-wheel drive is optional, and you can also add a moonroof and a cargo organizer. It even has a baby mirror to check on the little one while you're on the road. The Honda CR-V gets about 20 miles per gallon in the city, and 27 on the highway. And depending on the options, it ranges from $21-27,000. So David, now, we've seen the CR-V. What other crossovers made the list? -The Nissan Rogue, which is a great newcomer, and then the Toyota RAV4. What I love about the RAV4 is the second-row seats move forward and back. So, if you wanna-- if you need replace your baby's binky, or wipe your little one's nose, it's very nice feature. -Okay. Now, SUV is still a very popular choice for families. But what type of family is the SUV good for? -Really, those who need the ability to fit seminary kids, soccer moms, it's great-- it's great for that. It's great for those who really just don't want a minivan because they want a little bit more style. -All right. And you named the Toyota Highlander this year. So, let's check in with Anne again for more about this SUV. Anne. -Juli and David, the Toyota Highlander is all grown-up and ready to go. The newly redesigned 2009 version is bigger and better than ever for families. Let's take a look. Simplified controls make adjusting the temperature easy. This middle portion of the second row converts from a seat to a console for extra storage. And if you need even more storage, just take out the third row. The family-safe Highlander goes for just under $28,000 to a little more than $40,000. It gets 17 miles per gallon in the city, and 24 miles per gallon on the highway. -So, the Toyota Highlander is a great choice. What other SUVs are on the list? The Hyundai Veracruz and the Saturn Outlook. They're both great cars. The Saturn, in particular, such a roomy feel when you're in that car. Even the third-row seats, adults fit comfortably in that third row. And yet, it drives like a sedan. It has endless space, and yet, it just doesn't feel as big as it is. -However, a lot of families go for minivans. But what families do they work best for? -Well, I think those who are looking for the ultimate in comfort and in terms of option. So, families that need flexibility. -All right, David. And Anne also had the chance to take a closer look at the Toyota Sienna. So, let's see what she found. -Minivans have long been a staple of convenience for families on the go. And the Toyota Sienna doesn't disappoint. It has three outlets for all those gadgets, two cushy captain's chairs, and 14 cup holders to make sure everybody's drinks are safely stowed. Other high-tech options include these power-sliding doors. The Sienna gets 16 miles per gallon in the city, 23 miles per gallon on the highway. You can get all this for about $25-36,000. -And two other vans made the list. What are those? -Honda Odyssey and Dodge Grand Caravan. The Grand Caravan in particular, it's a redesigned model for '08. The second-row seats actually turn around so that facing the third row, a table pops up, so that you can actually have meals or play games. -A table in the car. -Isn't that amazing? -What could beat that? Perfect for the kids to eat. Okay. Now, we're talking about traditional cars, sedans. What did you find there? -There is a certain segment out there that really prefers a lower-to-the-ground ride. They think it's easier for kids to get in, and in general, they get somewhat better gas mileage than the SUVs. -All right, David. Now, back to Anne again for more information on the 2008 Chevy Malibu. -This is the redesigned 2008 Chevy Malibu. Now, this car fits three comfortably in the back, and has large rear pockets for all your kid's books and toys. Drivers say the wide back door makes it easy to take a car seat in and out. You can add on heated seats or a remote starter that let's you turn on the heat or air-conditioning before you even get in the car. The Malibu gets 17 miles per gallon in the city, and took a 30 on the highway. It's all yours starting at just under $20,000. And Juli and David, this car is American-made. -Okay, David. Other sedans on the list. -The Honda Accord and the Ford Fusion. And both of them are great cars. The Ford Fusion has heated mirrors. So, when it's fogging up or totally cold, you don't have to worry about having a hard time seeing. I think that's really nice. -That's a really great feature. -And what cars of the best value did you find for 2008? -Well, the best values category, it-- we really picked cars that were under $20,000, but we also looked for cars that gave big performance. -All right. And the Honda Civic made the list this year. Here's Anne to tell us why. -Guys, the Honda Civic is just perfect for a growing family. And at a price between $15,000 and $23,000, it's not going to break the bank. Drivers say they love the great gas mileage. You'll get 25 miles a gallon in the city, and 36 on the highway. And the Civic has some great options, like an mp3 jack, and a sunroof. And check this out. A feature parents love, scuff- resistant material behind the front seats that won't show so much wear and tear. -So, what were the other best-value cars on the list? -The Nissan Versa, which starts at $12,500, which is an outstanding value. And also, the Kia Rondo, which for about $17,000, you have the capability of turning it into a seven-passenger car, which is amazing at this price point. -All right, David Sparrow. Great information. Thank you so much for coming in. -It's my pleasure. -All right. And for more information about the cars we talked about today, the complete article from Edmunds.com and Parents Magazine is in the March issue of Parents Magazine, and that is on news stands now. Thanks for watching Parents TV, your source for the best information for your growing family. -Thank you for watching Parents TV. Our families, our lives.