Top 15 Best Family Vehicles for 2012

Shoppers looking for family vehicles know that one size definitely does not fit all, figuratively or literally.

For example, if you're a single parent with one child and a tight budget, fuel economy probably trumps passenger room on your list of priorities. A high-mileage compact like the Chevrolet Sonic likely holds the most appeal. On the other hand, if you've got a spouse and three kids, passenger space and cargo capacity assume greater importance. For this kind of shopper, a minivan or a large crossover makes the most sense. got together with Parents magazine to pick the 15 vehicles best suited for family transportation. Family-vehicle shoppers have diverse needs, and our picks reflect this diversity.

We've listed our top three choices across five segments that pretty much run the gamut: feature-laden family sedans; budget cars priced well under $20,000; roomy yet maneuverable crossovers and compact minivans; fuel sippers that get outstanding gas mileage; and full-size SUVs and minivans for those who need the most room.

To arrive at our choices, experts from both organizations pored over hundreds of vehicles. Safety and reliability were the primary focus. Additionally, performance and availability of family-friendly amenities were taken into account, along with the look and build quality of each model's cabin and sheet metal. We also spoke with actual parents who use these vehicles for daily family duty.

From smooth-handling family sedans to SUVs with front consoles big enough for diaper bags, our picks offer alternatives for a broad range of shoppers.



Crossovers/Compact Minivans

Fuel Sippers

Big Haulers