The 10 Best Family Cars of 2018

Starting from the momentous drive home from the hospital, your car plays a big role in your family’s life. We partnered with car-shopping site Edmunds to help you find a ride as safe and beloved as you deserve. Hop in!
Courtesy of Volkswagen

Best 3-Row SUVs

Volkswagen Atlas Starts at $30,750MPG 19
Passenger capacity: 7
Car-seat capacity: 5

Debuting a year ago, the American-built Volkswagen Atlas ($30,750+) provides  a lot of legroom in the third row and is easy to maneuver. “We rated the steering 5 out of 5,” says Dan Edmunds, head of vehicle testing at Edmunds (but no relation). “It drives a lot smaller than it is.” Installing car seats is simple because the lower anchors in the LATCH system are some of the easiest to access of all the cars  we compared, says Abbie Patterson, a certified  Child Passenger Safety Technician. You can check  if your doors are locked  and see where your car  is parked with Atlas’s Car-Net app. The standard warranty covers six years or 72,000 miles—double that of many other brands. Comes in 7 colors.

Courtesy of Chevrolet

Chevrolet TraverseStarts at $29,930MPG 22
Passenger capacity: 7
8Car-seat capacity: 4

Fresh from a redesign, the American-made Chevrolet Traverse is more comfy and fuel efficient, plus easier to drive. Passengers in the second and third rows snag a few more inches of legroom, and the cargo area is significantly expanded. “It’s great for driving around kids who have sports equipment and musical instruments,”  says Dan Frio, an editor at Edmunds. The LS base model ($33,595+) fits eight thanks to a bench- style seat that pops up in the middle of the second row; this feature is an option available on the LT ($36,490+). All models have added tether anchors on the passenger and driver sides in the third row, making car seats easier to install. “We couldn’t believe it has six USB charging stations,” says Felicia Bowers, of Sullivan, Missouri, whose kids, ages 6 and 8, have each claimed a  row to themselves. Comes in 10 colors.

Courtesy of Ford

Best 2-Row SUVs

Ford EdgeStarts at $29,315MPG 24
Passenger capacity: 5
Car-seat capacity: 3

While the new colors (hello, blue metallic) are worth swooning over,  it’s the Ford Edge’s back row, which is big enough  for you to install three car seats, that deserves your applause. “Even with a rear-facing seat behind the driver’s side—which you might need if you have twins—a taller driver still has legroom,” explains Patterson. The cargo area is also larger than that of most other vehicles in this category, and when you press the button to fold down the backseats, they lie flat enough for you  to do some serious bulky- item shopping and have enough space to haul it home. By adding the Ford Safe and Smart Package ($1,495) to the base model ($29,315+), you’ll get features like sensors that help guide you in and  out of tight parking spaces and a heads-up when you put on the turn signal and a car is in your blind spot. Comes in 9 colors.

Courtesy of Acura

Acura RDXStarts at $35,800MPG 24
Passenger capacity: 5
Car-seat capacity: 23

Not only does the Acura RDX look more expensive than it is, the base model ($36,000+) includes higher-end features like heated front seats and a sunroof that you typically have to upgrade for in other cars, says Frio. “It’s also one of the few two-row SUVs that comes with a powerful V-6 engine on standard models, earning it a 5 out  of 5 Edmunds rating for drivability,” he says. While you’ll easily be able to install two car seats in the back row—the lower anchors are particularly accessible—you might have trouble fitting three across, depending on the size of your seats. On the plus side, there’s virtually no center seat hump, so it’s more comfortable than other SUVs for a kid who has outgrown a booster or for an adult  to sit in the middle. Comes in 7 colors.

Courtesy of Honda

Best Minivan

Honda Odyssey
Starts at $29,990
MPG 22
Passenger capacity: 7
8Car-seat capacity: 56

Thanks to a makeover this year, the Honda Odyssey ($30,090+) looks and drives better—plus it offers more family perks. “The rear-row head restraints are adjustable in several ways, making car seats easier to install,” says Patterson. The  2018’s engine is about 15 percent more powerful, so it won’t feel sluggish  if you need to quickly merge onto the highway, notes Brent Romans, an editor at Edmunds.  The EX model or above ($34,060+) will beep if another car is in your blind spot when you put on your turn signal. With its “Magic Slide” system, you can move secondrow seats apart to give kids personal space or push them together so passengers can climb into the third row. If you splurge for the Touring or Elite model ($44,610+), you’ll have a screen with a view of the back rows to see if your baby has drifted off. “I love how the navigation system links with the ‘Are We There Yet?’ app so my kids can see on the screen how much time is left in the trip,” says Kate L. Mary, of Troy, Ohio. Most models come in 8 colors.

Courtesy of Kia

Best SUV-Like Wagons

Kia SoulStarts at $16,200MPG 27
Passenger capacity: 5
Car-seat capacity: 2

The lowest-cost vehicle on the list ($16,200+), the Kia Soul is “fun, funky, and has so much maneuverability,” says Edmunds. The boxy design allows for more interior space so you won’t have trouble taking boosters or car seats in and out of the back. Front crash-protection and highintensity headlights (available in a package  for an extra $4,500) helped it garner the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s highest rating. Comes in 11 colors.

Courtesy of Subaru

Subaru OutbackStarts at $25,895MPG 28
Passenger capacity: 5
Car-seat capacity: 23

The Subaru Outback’s standard all-wheel drive easily handles bumpy, nonpaved surfaces so there’s no limit to your family’s exploring. Roof rails and integrated crossbars on all models allow you to haul bikes or kayaks. The Outback comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. “It’s a great car in any kind of weather,” adds Frio. By adding the “EyeSight Driver Assist Technology” ($1,995 in a package with other features) to the 2.5i Premium model ($27,995+), you’ll be alerted if you stray out of your lane. The technology also reduces the engine power and applies the brakes if you are likely to hit another vehicle. Comes in 9 colors.

Best Hybrid

Toyota PriusStarts at $23,475MPG 52
Passenger capacity: 5
Car-seat capacity: 2

If you want an eco-friendly car that you don’t need to plug in, the Toyota Prius Hatchback ($23,475+) will be your family’s jam. It gets 52 miles per gallon by combining its efficient gas engine with a self-charging electric motor, says Edmunds editor Cameron Rogers, who calculated that it will save you more than $500 on gas a year compared with a similar-size nonhybrid. The Prius offers enough space in the backseat to comfortably seat three or install two car seats, unlike some other hybrids that are a tight fit. “I’m  6 foot 4, and I can get in the back with no problem,” says Rogers. He adds that the Prius doesn’t have power surges that plagued older vehicles with its type of transmission (an eCVT, if your dealer uses geek speak on you). Comes in 7 colors.

Courtesy of Honda

Best Sedans

Honda AccordStarts at $23,570MPG 
Passenger capacity: 5
Car-seat capacity: 23

The Honda Accord has been a favorite family pick since the  ’90s—and the tenth generation, which debuted this year, looks sleeker, has more interior room, and is packed with advanced safety features even on the LX base model ($23,570+). The ride is more comfy, too, with back support in the front seats. Spray-foam insulation throughout the interior helps keep out external noise, making it easier to have a conversation with passengers. Backseat passengers also have a bit more space. Comes in 11 colors.

Courtesy of Chevrolet

Chevrolet Malibu Starts at $22,555
MPG 30
Passenger capacity: 5
Car-seat capacity: 2

A redesign of the American-made Chevrolet Malibu ($22,555+) in 2016 made the back roomier for car seats and modernized the shape in addition to adding tech features like a Bose nine-speaker sound system on some models. It’s also a great choice if you have tweens—and you’re thinking ahead to what car they’re going to learn to drive on in a few years. The Teen Driver Technology, on all models except the L, allows you to register a teen’s key, which disables audio unless the front seatbelt are buckled. It also automatically turns on optional notifications, such as when another vehicle is in your teen’s blind spot, and lets you track the car’s speed. Comes in 10 colors.

Parents Magazine

Comments

Be the first to comment!


All Topics in Buying a Car


Parents may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.