Here’s our top picks for the coolest and safest cars of the year. Plus check out must-know safety tips for installing a car seat in your new ride.
Got a baby? Or a double stroller? Are you road-trippers? Carpool MVPs? No matter your fam’s shape, size, or personality, we’ve got a match for you. Because a family car is more than a vehicle—it’s a pack mule, restaurant, movie theater, wrestling ring, relaxation chamber, and people mover. We spend so much time in our ride, we need one that fits the family like a swaddling blanket. Pick the one that best suits your fam.
You Are: A tech-savvy fam with a jones for the outdoors.
Seeking: A spacious ride built for road trips and rugged play.
We Recommend: JEEP COMPASS
23 city / 29 hwy mpg, $19,295
What We Love: The UConnect System features voice-command navigation (“Pinkberry!”) and a 40-gigabyte hard drive for storing digital entertainment files, undoubtedly designed for those kids who think Jake and the Never Land Pirates makes road trips better. The LED-illuminated cup holders help reduce juice spills after sundown. The swing-down speakers on the rear liftgate turn picnics into dance parties. Heads-up: The cargo lamp that doubles as a flashlight is handy, but precisely the kind of thing young kids fight to play with.
You Are: A city-dwelling fam with one child, or working parents with long commutes.
Seeking: A medium-size car that won’t incur the costs of an extra child.
We Recommend: TOYOTA PRIUS C
46 city / 53 hwy mpg, $18,950
What We Love: The average 50 mpg is the highest mile-age of any car without a plug, a huge plus with gas approaching a Lincoln per gallon. The Smart Key System enables you to open doors without having to pull out keys, a bonus for parents who often carry a latte in one hand and an infant in the other. It fits in any parking space. Heads-up: If you’ve got multiple small children, take the trunk for a test drive. Your double stroller might not fit.
You Are: Carpool warriors by day, date-nighters by night.
Seeking: A sporty sedan with equal parts fashion and function.
We Recommend: HONDA ACCORD
23 city / 34 hwy mpg, $21,480
What We Love: The stylish new Accord has a true lifesaving perk: The SMS text-message function means no more futzing with your phone while driving. (Got a message? Say “Read.” Want to reply? Say “Text message.”) The trunk is surprisingly big, sizable enough to store a couple rollaway suitcases and your UPPABaby stroller. Heads-up: The interior is stylish, though not expansive. Backseat legroom is at a premium until toddlers graduate from car seats to boosters.
You Are: Carpool MVPs; parents with children in both the Team Umizoomi and the Hunger Games demographics.
Seeking: A safe ride that can curb backseat distractions.
We Recommend: CHRYSLER TOWN & COUNTRY
17 city / 25 hwy mpg, $29,995
What We Love: The five rear seats stow away. (When not in use, the in-floor bins make for great storage.) With the rear-seat entertainment system and two drop-down screens, one can screen Bubble Guppies while the other plays video games. Heads-up: The minivan has topped the annual Insurance Institute for Highway Safety list nearly ten years in a row.
You Are: A family with more to-do list items than spare time.
Seeking: A functional car that simplifies everyday parenthood (grocery trips, extracurriculars).
We Recommend: FORD EDGE
19 city / 27 hwy mpg, $27,525
What We Love: Gone are the days of cursing quietly as you contort your body to fold down the rear seats. Two buttons in the trunk collapse backseats automatically. (The power liftgate is equally helpful.) Rear legroom is considerable; the phrase “please stop kicking the seat” becomes obsolete. Two USB ports in the center console mean you can charge your iPhone while the kids plug in the PSP. Heads-up: Hear that ding? That’s another car backing up toward you. Thank you, Blind Spot Information System.
You Are: A young brood that’s still growing.
Seeking: Crossover with lots of storage but fits in the garage.
We Recommend: HYUNDAI SANTA FE
20 city / 33 hwy mpg, $24,450
What We Love: This five-passenger car has a built-in meltdown deterrent: When things get hairy, use the panoramic sunroof to play the cloud-shape game. Stain-resistant cloth seats mean never sweating a leaky sippy cup. The in-board 4.3-inch touch screen with rear-view camera keeps an eye on preschoolers meandering in your blind spot. Heads-up: Upgrade to the Santa Fe GLS, and get three rows with seating for seven.