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Top 12 Family Cars for 2017

By Lyndon Conrad Bell, May 6th, 2017

The best family cars provide more than adequate protection in an accident, have room for the entire family and their stuff, and ideally, should be enjoyable to drive, too. While the title of this article is the best family "cars," the best family car for you might be a minivan or a crossover SUV, which is why you'll find a selection of those vehicles on our list as well.

Manufacturer photo: Family cars to put on your test-drive list include the Chrysler Pacifica, Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Volkswagen Passat.
Manufacturer photo: Family cars to put on your test-drive list include the Chrysler Pacifica, Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Volkswagen Passat.

-- Chevrolet Malibu

Malibu's chiseled styling has an international flair. The classy-looking mid-size Chevrolet also boasts wholly competitive fuel economy, features, and interior space. Its ride quality is refined, and yet it can be engaging to drive. Upscale features include an 8-inch touchscreen and premium-looking interior furnishings. Standard features include keyless entry and push-button start, Bluetooth, and OnStar telematics. The best engine choice is the 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four with 260 lb.-ft. of torque. With it, Malibu returns 26 mpg combined. Pricing starts at $21,680.

-- Chevrolet Traverse

Comfort, practicality, and a handsome appearance land Chevrolet's Traverse crossover SUV on this list of the best family cars. To all of the above you can add an exceptionally commodious interior, as well as a smooth and quiet ride. With three rows of seating for up to eight people, it's perfect for carpooling kids to school and activities, or colleagues to work. WiFi capability, outstanding cargo capacity, and a pleasant ride rank Equinox high on this list of the best family cars. Power comes courtesy of a 281-horsepower 3,6-liter V-6 with 266 lb.-ft. of torque in its base configuration. Traverse is rated to tow up to 5,200 pounds and returns 19 miles per gallon overall. Pricing starts at $28,700.

Manufacturer photo: Family cars to put on your test-drive list include the Chrysler Pacifica, Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Volkswagen Passat.

-- Chrysler Pacifica

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica offers all of the goodness of a minivan with a profile that looks somewhat like a sport utility. At the wheel, you'll be impressed with the upscale appearance of the interior. In its standard configuration, Chrysler's new minivan seats seven, though this can be bumped to eight if you forego the Stow 'n Go middle row in favor of the optional (and removable) bench. Generously spacious in every way, adults can happily occupy every seat in the Chrysler. The second-row captain chairs can even be folded forward with child safety seats installed to ease access to the third row. Power comes from a 3.6-liter V-6 with 287 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. Fuel economy is estimated at 18 mpg in the city, 28 on the highway, and 22 combined. Pricing starts at $28,995.

-- Ford Fusion

Easily one of the most handsome and technologically advanced family sedans currently offered, the Ford Fusion also numbers good looks, a responsive personality, and exceptional comfort among its attributes. Available features include voice activation, self-parking, and keyless entry and start, dual-zone automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, and smart cruise control. Engines range in power from 175 horsepower up to 240. All-wheel drive is available, as is a hybrid powertrain. Fuel economy for standard powertrains ranges from 25-city/37-highway to 22-city/31-highway. Fusion Hybrid is rated at 44 city and 41 highway. Pricing starts at $22,120.

-- Honda Accord

Manufacturer photo: Family cars to put on your test-drive list include the Chrysler Pacifica, Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Volkswagen Passat.

Okay, now you know this list of the best family cars is straight-up legit. After all, any list purporting to enumerate the best in family transportation omitting the Accord is patently incomplete. The Accord has been a best seller since it was launched way back in 1976. Nicely updated for its 40th birthday, available features include dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, Bluetooth, blind spot monitoring, and a rear-view camera. Accord also delivers outstanding reliability, excellent resale value, and handsome, styling. What's more, it's comfortable, spacious, well laid out, and easy to drive. The base engine is a 2.4-liter four delivering 185 horsepower and 31 mpg overall. The upgrade is a 3.5-liter V-6 good for 278 horsepower and up to 26 mpg combined. Pricing starts at $22,455.

-- Honda Odyssey

Generally agreed upon by automotive reviewers everywhere to be the best of the breed in the minivan category, the Honda Odyssey offers such niceties as power-adjustable seats for the driver and front passenger, dual-zone air conditioning (albeit manually controlled in base models), full power accessories, a split-folding third row seat, Bluetooth, a Pandora interface for streaming music over the Internet, text to speech capability, and cruise control-all as standard equipment. Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 248 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft. of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 22 miles per gallon combined. Pricing starts at $29,850.

-- Nissan Altima

Good power, determined agility, and a comfortable ride can indeed be had in a spacious and family friendly four-door sedan. This is why the Nissan Altima clocks perennial appearances on every list of the best family cars. Available equipment includes keyless entry and start, Bluetooth, and full power accessories. You can also get remote ignition, blind spot monitoring, a rear-view camera, and a Bose audio system. Altima's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 182 horsepower, 180 lb.-ft. of torque, and 31 mpg combined. If you need more power, the 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 produces 251 lb.-ft. of torque and 26 mpg combined. Pricing starts at $22,500.

Manufacturer photo: Family cars to put on your test-drive list include the Chrysler Pacifica, Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Volkswagen Passat.

-- Mazda6

If you genuinely love to drive, the driver's choice on this list of the best family cars is the Mazda6. The company makes it point to infuse every model in its lineup with outstanding handling and flexible engine choices. With its spacious interior, generous array of available features, and strong fuel economy, the driving enthusiast who suddenly realizes a need for four doors and roomy back seat will really appreciate the Mazda6. Available features include Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen, voice activation, and collision mitigation with automatic braking. Power comes from a 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four with 185 lb.-ft. of torque. Underscoring the driver focus, the Mazda6 can also be had with a six-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy comes in at 31 mpg combined. Pricing starts at $21,945.

-- Mazda CX-5

If you're looking for a compact crossover with the driving attributes of a sporty sedan, Mazda's CX-5 should provide you with a great deal of satisfaction. After its recent redesign, the CX-5 offers more sound insulation for a quieter ride, an updated infotainment interface, and standard Bluetooth. Available equipment includes smart cruise control, lane departure warning, and heated seats. Power comes from a choice of two engines, but if you're going for the sportiest feel possible get the 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four with 185 lb.-ft. of torque. Mazda's predictive all-wheel-drive system is optional. Fuel economy is rated at 29 mpg combined, pricing starts at $24,045.

-- Subaru Outback

Manufacturer photo: Family cars to put on your test-drive list include the Chrysler Pacifica, Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Volkswagen Passat.

If your family outings include an adventurous aspect from time to time, the robust Subaru Outback will accommodate those proclivities while looking good as you go about your normal day-to-day activities. Mildly off-road capable, the Outback can pretty much go anywhere a reasonable person would with a family of four and recreational toys. Available features include Bluetooth, roof rack rails with crossbars, Pandora and Aha audio streaming, windshield wiper deicing, voice activation, and a power rear liftgate. Power comes from either a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine delivering 173 horsepower, 174 lb.-ft. of torque, and 28 mpg combined, or a 3.6-liter horizontally-opposed six capable of 256 horsepower, 247 lb.-ft. of torque, and 22 mpg combined. All-wheel drive is standard with both engines. Pricing starts at $25,645.

-- Toyota Camry

Naturally, the best selling four-door sedan appears year-in and year-out on this list of the best family cars. After all, the Camry sells the way it does for a reason -- well several reasons, actually. Among them are reliability, low cost of ownership, reasonable fuel economy, a premium attitude, and a quiet yet somewhat dynamic driving experience. In other words, Camry comes very close to being all things to all people. Power comes from a choice of two engines; a 2.5-liter four good for 178 horsepower, 170 lb.-ft. of torque, and 28 mpg combined, or a 3.5-liter V-6 capable of 268 horsepower, 248 lb.-ft. of torque, and 25 mpg combined. Features include Toyota's Entune telematics system with a touchscreen interface, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, and pushbutton start. Pricing starts at $23,070.

-- Volkswagen Passat

The most affordable German engineered mid-size four-door sedan available in America was also designed and built with Americans in mind. Thus, the Passat is amazingly spacious and bristling with comfort and convenience features. In fact, while the Passat is classified as a mid-size sedan, it could easily pass for full-size. The Volkswagen Passat is also handsomely restyled inside and out. Available safety features include lane departure warning, front collision warning with automatic braking, dual-zone automatic climate control, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, keyless entry with pushbutton start, and handsfree trunk opening. Passat's base engine is a 1.8-liter turbocharged four good for 170 horsepower, 184 lb.-ft. of torque, and 29 mpg combined. The upgrade is a 3.6-liter V-6, capable of 280 horsepower, 258 lb.-ft. of torque, and 23 mpg combined. Pricing starts at $22,440.

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