Families come in many different sizes. The same is true with family vehicles, and it makes sense to choose accordingly. After all, that seven-seater that's perfect for a mom and dad with a brood of five will no doubt be overkill for parents raising a single child.
Edmunds.com and Parents magazine have gotten together to sift through the wide array of choices and select the vehicles best suited for family duty. When evaluating vehicles, safety was at the top of our list. All our picks boast excellent crash-test scores, and all have at least six airbags to protect passengers in the event of an accident.
2013 Toyota Prius C
Baby brother to the omnipresent Prius hatchback, this hybrid subcompact offers excellent fuel economy (53 city/36 highway mpg). With a starting price of just $19,080 and a generous list of standard features, it offers impressive value: Bluetooth connectivity and steering-wheel audio controls are included on base models. The Prius C comes with nine airbags, including ones in the front seat cushions that help keep you positioned in your seatbelt in the event of a crash. Though it's a subcompact, its interior is relatively spacious, offering enough room for two passengers to sit comfortably in back.
Best Budget Cars
2013 Subaru Impreza
The Impreza comes with standard all-wheel drive. As such, it's a great choice for parents who frequently tangle with rain and snow. This sedan is a pleasure to drive, thanks to its enjoyable handling and excellent rear visibility, and fuel economy is among the best in the class — 27 city/36 highway mpg. Family-friendly features, such as a two-prong outlet for kids' games and an organizing tray for the center storage box, are offered as low-cost options. Families who need a bit more versatility and who are willing to step up a couple grand in price will also want to consider the utility-laden hatchback.
2013 Honda Civic
The Civic is one of the most popular cars on the market, and with good reason. Its assets include strong fuel economy (28 city/39 highway), a roomy cabin and a comfortable ride. Standard features include a rearview camera and audio controls on the steering wheel.
2013 Ford Fusion
One of the Fusion's most striking attributes is, without a doubt, its handsome sheet metal. Ford's designers were clearly taking inspiration from the design team at Aston Martin when creating the Fusion's sleek lines. But this car is more than just a pretty face. Handling is sharp and responsive and ride quality is well-mannered. The cabin is also quite tranquil, making this car a pleasant companion on longer trips.
2013 Honda Accord
Redesigned for 2013, the Accord offers pretty much all of the features buyers want in a family sedan. Its available powertrains offer crisp acceleration while at the same time delivering the sort of frugal mileage (27 city/36 highway) that saves dollars at the pump. There's also a long list of standard features to enjoy, including a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and dual-zone climate control.
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
The Sport is the five-passenger version of the Santa Fe SUV. It offers a gorgeous cabin that's spacious enough to seat you and your family in comfort. All models come with rear climate control ducts and four outlets to keep everyone's gadgets properly charged. It's available with a rear seat that folds flat in three sections, offering a wealth of storage options.
2013 Honda CR-V
Though it's a small crossover, the CR-V offers a roominess and versatility that's more typically associated with larger SUVs. Fuel economy is superb (23 city/31 highway mpg), and the list of family-friendly features is lengthy. The CR-V also offers the latest in tech amenities, including a Pandora interface and an available text messaging function that allows you to listen to incoming text messages via the audio system.
2013 Chevrolet Traverse
With seating for up to eight, the Traverse is a compelling choice for families in need of a larger crossover. The generous cargo area can hold up to four suitcases, and its capacity increases with the third-row seats folded. Ride quality is smooth and agreeable, and standard features include Bluetooth connectivity and a rearview camera.
2013 Nissan Pathfinder
Nissan's Pathfinder seats up to seven passengers in its cavernous interior. Handling is smooth and forgiving, and at 20 city/26 highway mpg, fuel economy is among the best in the segment. Family-friendly amenities include sliding and reclining second-row seats. There are myriad nooks and crannies for storing toys and other carry-ons.
2013 Toyota Sienna
A minivan like the Sienna is the best choice for those needing a family vehicle with the most storage and passenger capacity. This Toyota seats up to eight passengers, yet, despite its significant dimensions, it cruises down the road with a poise that's positively carlike. Its hallmark is versatility. Middle-row captain's chairs slide and recline to accommodate passengers of all sizes, and the third-row seat folds flat in two sections. Those who frequently face rain or snow will appreciate the minivan's available all-wheel drive. It's the only minivan to offer this feature.
These vehicles didn't quite make our top 10 but are also worth considering for those seeking family transportation.
1. 2013 Dodge Dart Sedan
2. 2013 Ford C-Max Wagon
3. 2013 Ford Escape SUV
4. 2013 Honda Odyssey Minivan
5. 2013 Kia Rio Sedan
6. 2013 Mazda CX-5 SUV
7. 2013 Nissan Altima Sedan
8. 2013 Nissan Quest Minivan
9. 2013 Toyota RAV4 SUV
10.2013 Volkswagen Passat Sedan