Someone looking for the best family SUVs is typically looking for a few very important qualities. Safety is generally at the top of the list. It must score well in crash tests and have enough safety features to offer peace-of-mind on the road. The passenger cabin is also important. It needs to be roomy and functional with rear seats easily accessible. There should also be generous cargo space available, even with all seats in place to haul groceries, sporting equipment and luggage for those ... (full review continues below)
Someone looking for the best family SUVs is typically looking for a few very important qualities. Safety is generally at the top of the list. It must score well in crash tests and have enough safety features to offer peace-of-mind on the road. The passenger cabin is also important. It needs to be roomy and functional with rear seats easily accessible. There should also be generous cargo space available, even with all seats in place to haul groceries, sporting equipment and luggage for those weekend getaways. Lastly, since most families are typically on a budget, fuel-economy often plays a role in the decision as well.
The 2012 Toyota Highlander starts the list of best family SUVs. Although three rows of seats is a bonus, it is its innovative second row seat design that earns it rave reviews, as it slides and reclines. It also features a 40/20/40-split design, with the centerpiece being completely removable and easily stowed beneath the center console. A quiet ride, great crash test ratings and an optional rear seat DVD entertainment system seal the deal.
Next is the 2013 Lincoln MKX that is as stunning on the outside as it is practical on the inside. It returns superb fuel-economy with an average of 22 mpg and receives a "Good" rating in side and front crash tests. The cabin is gorgeous and although it only offers two rows of seats, the second row is more than spacious enough for three passengers to get comfortable.
Next on the list of best family SUVs is the 2012 Buick Enclave. It offers the functionality of a minivan with the sporty styling of an SUV. All three rows are incredibly spacious and it receives top crash test scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This is a vehicle that has it all from strong performance to generous cargo capacity to a long list of safety and technology features.
A classic choice as a family-hauler would be the 2012 Ford Expedition. A high level of interior flexibility is granted by the easy-to-fold rear seats and the third row seat is roomy enough for adults to get comfortable. Expedition comes in two body lengths; each with four trim levels and an exhausting number of packages and additional features to add for customization.
Another one of the best family SUVs is the 2013 Ford Escape. Despite its more compact size, the cabin is surprisingly spacious and seating is comfortable. It also comes with Ford's MyKey system, which parents of teenage drivers will appreciate. This system allows you to set speed and stereo volume limits for young drivers to help keep them safe on the road.
An adult-friendly third row seat, welcoming interior and top crash tests earn the 2012 Dodge Durango a place on this list. Plus, properly equipped, the V8-powered Durango can tow 7,400 pounds, making it perfect for the family with a boat, jet skis or snowmobiles to tow.
The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek is next. This all-new model has a surprisingly spacious interior and it returns an average of 28 mpg, with the continuously variable transmission. It is essentially a new version of the Impreza Hatchback, so it is expected to do phenomenal in crash tests. Do also check out the 2012 Subaru Tribeca, if you are sold on this product line.
Those who are having a hard time trading in their sporty little car for a family hauler will appreciate the chiseled good looks of the 2013 Mazda CX-5. This brand new model is stunning, returns a combined 29 mpg and has a roomy interior. What more could you ask for? Another vehicle with great styling, but priced a little lower would be the 2013 Kia Sportage.
The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox has a spacious and adjustable rear seat along with a ton of storage bins, which are perfect for toys, coloring books, a first aid kit and emergency snacks. An optional rear seat entertainment system will keep little ones entertained on those long boring drives, and an average of 26 mpg means that you won't have to stop to fill up so often and risk waking everyone up from their nap.
Finishing off the list of best family SUVs is the 2013 Buick Encore. This affordably priced vehicle is perfect for a smaller family. It gets great gas mileage, handles fabulously and has a surprisingly roomy interior for a vehicle classified on the compact crossover segment. This brand new model offers as much rear seat legroom as much large vehicles like the Chevrolet Equinox.