Those include such niceties as rear-seat video entertainment systems, WiFi hot spots, and back-up cameras, plus safety and security systems, such as GM's OnStar, that can help parents keep track of teen drivers.
Read MoreAutonomous drive cars further off than most expect
General Motors led in more of those categories—four, in all—than any other manufacturer. But Honda had the distinction of capturing a win for best family minivan for the fifth year in a row: The Honda Odyssey locked down its lead in that segment ever since the Family Cars awards were first announced.
While many parents think of minivans and SUVs as the classic family car, the editors also looked at conventional sedans and even some small hatchbacks, such as the Volkswagen Golf, aiming to satisfy "every family lifestyle and every family budget."
More from The Detroit Bureau:
The 10 most exciting new models at the Geneva Motor Show
Auto recalls aren't likely to slow down from 2014's record pace
Audi takes aim at Tesla with long-range, battery-powered car
Family cars have changed a lot since the first time U.S. News tried to compare them, noted Managing Editor Page Deaton. Back then, there were far fewer amenities—especially high-tech connectivity features—and far less advanced safety systems. New safety tech like forward collision warning, she said, "can watch out when you're distracted, yelling at the kids in the back seat."