“Just as there is no perfect family, there is no perfect family vehicle that is just right for all families, all the time,” says said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com.
"However, there are many great options available on the market today in various segments,” he notes, and fortunately for those in the car-buying market, KBB.com has just provided their annual listing of the cars best suited for transporting families, large or small, and all that comes with them.
Click ahead to see the top 10 cars for families, presented in alphabetical order by brand.
By Colleen Kane
Posted 24 Feb 2011
Fair Purchase Price: $39,781
The massive Chevy Surburban has room for big families and their pets and other cargo, with seating for up to nine, and impressive 45.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. When called into service for moving or family vacations, it can also tow up to 9,600 pounds. Another point in its favor, the 2011 Chevy Suburban fuel economy is 15 city and 21 highway miles per gallon. “Add to this people- and cargo-moving mix a pleasant ride and all manner of creature comforts, and it’s easy to see why the Suburban made our list again this year,” say the Kelley Blue Book editors.
Fair Purchase Price: $29,219
The Chevy Traverse has appeared on this list a time or two before. It remains a popular SUV with families due to practical features like seating for up to eight passengers, abundant cargo space, reasonable fuel economy for its size, and a five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And all that sensible stuff aside, “the 2011 Chevy Traverse’s attractive exterior styling and surprisingly nimble handling help win over our emotions,” say the editors at KBB.com.
Fair Purchase Price Not Yet Available; MSRP is $27,995
The idea of a large family sedan was much more common before the era of minivans and SUVs, note the editors at Kelley Blue Book. Today, only a few large sedans come with family-friendly starting prices. The 2011 Chrysler 300 gets the nod on this list due to its interior with roomy backseat, a near-silent highway ride (of course, this claim of silence does not account for any youthful passengers), keyless entry and ignition, not to mention 8.4-inch LCD control screen.
Fair Purchase Price: $27,487
Previous Explorers featured truck-style body-on-frame construction, but the 2011 Ford Explorer is something completely different. This is a car-based crossover vehicle with unibody construction, to provide a better ride, improved handling and better fuel efficiency. Unlike earlier Explorers, this version is not the best for off-roading and you can do better for towing capabilities, but for the non-extreme purposes of most families, it gets a thumbs up. Figure in the vehicle’s design, both interior and exterior and you’ve got what KBB.com editors call “the best Explorer ever.”
Fair Purchase Price: $29,316
This boxy, wagon-style vehicle is appropriately named-- the 2011 Ford Flex has a car-like lower center of gravity than most three-row vehicles, with amenities like an optional small refrigerator and SYNC audio system that make it comparable to a minivan. the 355-horsepower twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine allows parents to get a little speed-crazy after dropping the kids off.
No wonder the editors at KBB.com call the 2011 Ford Flex “the most fun-to-drive, most car-like family hauler you can get your hands on for less than $30,000.”
Fair Purchase Price: $26,980
Dubbed by Kelley’s Blue Book editors as the “gold standard of minivans,” the Honda Odyssey is a natural pick for this list of family vehicles. The 2011 Honda Odyssey is designed for surprisingly responsive handling and maintaining a comfortable highway ride. The kids won’t notice either way, though, because the extra-wide 16-inch rear video display can serve as two side-by-side monitors and show two movies at once.
Fair Purchase Price: $20,145
This mid-size sedan makes it onto the list due to its mix of style, quality and value. The Hyundai Sonata, brand-new for 2011, is packed with safety features, has a superior warranty, and is also available as a hybrid model. For drivers who need to transition from parent to professional and back again in one day with one car, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata is an easy choice.
Fair Purchase Price: $29,445
The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a five-seater traditional SUV, and is as rugged as is expected from the name, but with finer details like a 5-inch longer wheel base (shared with the next-generation Mercedes-Benz ML). It’s also got a power rear lift gate and a blind spot warning system. The recently redesigned fourth-generation Grand Cherokee is still more than competent for off-roading, but also improved for city driving. The editors at KBB take note that its “elevated level of refinement—most noticeable in its well-appointed cabin—propel Jeep’s flagship to new levels of excellence.”
Fair Purchase Price: $20,478
The 2011 Kia Sorento ranks high in a category Kelley calls “the two-and-a-half-row segment.” For drivers who don’t use the third row on a daily basis and don’t plan to put adults in the “way-back,” the 2011 Kia Sorento is a “more affordable, more fuel-efficient, more maneuverable alternative.” It’s got ride, handling and interior appeal, all of which combined to get it on this list of Top 10 Family Cars.
Fair Purchase Price: $18,390
It may not seem an obvious family car to most Americans, but the editors at KBB.com point out that in Europe wagons and hatchbacks are as popular as sedans in the United States, making the Volkswagen Golf as much a family car as the Toyota Camry. Considering its low starting price, hatchback versatility, true European driving dynamics and a stylish interior, many families will find the 2011 Volkswagen Golf practical, affordable and fun choice for a family car.