The best choice for a family car depends a lot on your family and your budget. But if you start with Consumer Reports' short list of highly rated cars that are also practical, durable, comfortable and safety conscious, picking the right wheels for your crew can be a snap.
If you're in the market for a family car, Consumer Reports considers safety, performance and reliability to recommend some smart choices for every stage of life.
"When your kids are little, it's all about car seats. When your kids get older or when traveling with aging parents, it's all about accessibility, getting in and out. For lanky teenagers, rear seat comfort is all about enough head room and leg room," said Jen Stockburger, Consumer Reports.
The Lexus R-X SUV is one of several recommended vehicles that hit all the markers for families of every age.
Big doors and chair-height seats make getting in and out a snap. The backseat fits three adults fit comfortably. It has a powerful V-6 engine and the available hybrid version gets an impressive 29 miles per gallon. But it starts at $42,000.
For family travel, you can't beat the flexibility of a minivan. You can get into a Toyota Sienna for just under $29,000.
It sits eight comfortably, but a removable center seat in the middle row can be stow-away easily if you have fewer passengers.
The V-6 is lively and it earns bonus points for being the only minivan available with all-wheel drive.
The budget conscious Subaru Forester can be had for as low as $22,400. It offers great cargo space and it's a standout for cabin access, comfort and driver visibility.
The Forrester is also reliable and efficient. Turns out, sometimes you can have it all, for less.
If car seats are a part of your life, you might want to have an extensive conversation with dealers while you're shopping, to ensure the vehicles you're looking at are right for you.
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Consumer Reports: Family cars for every stage