Families aren’t all cast from a single mold, which means that a crossover, minivan or SUV that works for one set of parents and kids might not necessarily be the best match for another. Fortunately, there exists such a wide variety of people movers on the current market that it is virtually impossible not to find a vehicle that offers the space, comfort, fuel efficiency and price point that is a perfect fit for your family’s needs.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at a list of 10 people movers that can handle families of all different sizes.
01. 2011 Ford Flex
The 2011 Ford Flex straddles the line between tall wagon and full-size crossover, incorporating the flat-roofed, slab-sided styling cues that were popular on 1960’s family vehicles into an updated and modern design. Inside, the Ford Flex provides seating for as many as seven passengers, and with the rear rows out of the picture the vehicle can haul up to 83 cubic feet of gear.
The 2011 Ford Flex starts out with a 262 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine under the hood. Also rated to produce 248 lb-ft of torque, this unit is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission, can be had with both front and all-wheel drive and returns fuel mileage of 17-mpg city and 24-mpg highway. The EcoBoost trim injects some excitement into the large crossover’s DNA by incorporating a turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 that offers up 355 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Most impressive is that fact that the EcoBoost setup – with standard all-wheel drive and the same six-speed transmission – barely affects the vehicle’s fuel economy, which shows as 16-mpg city and 21-mpg highway.
02. 2011 Chevrolet Equinox
The 2011 Chevrolet Equinox is a compact crossover targeted at young families who are looking for a little more space than what a sedan has to offer, but who don’t want to get behind the wheel of something that feels too big to navigate through urban streets. Despite its smaller dimensions, the Chevrolet Equinox is still roomy enough inside to handle five passengers in total comfort. It also offers just over 31 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, and 63.7 cubic feet of total room with the second row of seating folded forward.
The 2011 Chevrolet Equinox can be ordered in either four or six-cylinder form. The entry-level crossover’s 2.4-liter engine puts out 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque, and provides fuel economy figures of 22-mpg city and 32-mpg highway. The optional 3.0-liter V-6 bumps up performance through the introduction of 264 horses and 222 lb-ft of twist, but there is a price to pay in terms of reduced fuel economy (17-mpg city and 25-mpg highway). A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and the option of all-wheel drive is offered with each engine choice.
03. 2011 Subaru Outback
The 2011 Subaru Outback is the latest edition of the crossover that started it all. The mid-size vehicle has come a long way since its all-wheel drive wagon roots, and while its engine still turns all four wheels as standard equipment a number of important changes have been made to help the Subaru Outback evolve with the rest of the crossover market. Perhaps the most notable improvement has been in its size, with the Outback’s proportions growing to offer much more interior room (for five passengers in total) as well as 73 cubic feet of room for luggage and other gear with the rear seat folded forward.
The 2011 Subaru Outback is initially offered with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that is capable of producing 170 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. Unlike many of its crossover competitors, the Outback features a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment, with the option of a six-speed auto unit. Fuel mileage for the four-cylinder shows as 22-mpg around town and 29-mpg on the highway. More power is on tap from a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine, which generates 256 horses and 247 lb-ft of torque and provides fuel economy of 18-mpg city and 25-mpg highway. A five-speed automatic is the only gearbox available with this motor.
04. 2011 Chevrolet Traverse
The 2011 Chevrolet Traverse is the biggest crossover in the entire Chevrolet family, but it doesn’t drive like a behemoth. Instead, the Chevrolet Traverse feels more like a large four-door family car from behind the wheel, which is surprising considering the fact that it can be configured to carry as many as eight passengers and that there is enough interior volume to swallow as much as 116.4 cubic feet of soccer balls, groceries and building supplies.
The 2011 Chevrolet Traverse comes in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive variants, and each is outfitted with the same 3.6-liter V-6 engine. This motor puts out 281 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque (numbers which jump to 288 ponies and 270 lb-ft of twist with the available dual exhaust installed), and it returns fuel mileage of 17-mpg city and 24-mpg highway. A six-speed automatic transmission handles the gear shifting duties for the Traverse.
05. 2011 Toyota Sienna
The 2011 Toyota Sienna is the first minivan on our list, a class of vehicle that has long been associated with large loads of both people and cargo. In the case of the Toyota Sienna, that reputation is well deserved: redesigned for 2011, the minivan provides room for up to eight passengers or 150 cubic feet of hauling space.
The big news with the 2011 Toyota Sienna redesign hasn’t just been a new look and more comfortable cabin. The minivan also enjoys a four-cylinder entry-level engine between the front fenders for the first time since it hit the North American market. This 2.7-liter motor generates 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque and also comes with fuel economy of 19-mpg in stop and go driving and 26-mpg during highway cruising. A more robust 3.5-liter optional V-6 remains in the Sienna’s bag of tricks, and it provides 265 horsepower and 245 lb-ft of torque while dropping fuel mileage by one and two miles per gallon for each respective measure. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board, and the V-6 brings with it the availability of all-wheel drive.
06. 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid
The 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid allows families to save at the fuel pump without compromising on practicality. The Ford Escape Hybrid offers the same five passenger capacity as its gasoline-only sibling, and it also comes with 66 cubic feet of storage space behind the first two seating positions – not bad for a compact SUV.
The real story behind the 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid, however, is its fuel efficiency. The Escape Hybrid proudly boasts an EPA rating of 34-mpg city and 31-mpg highway when found in front-wheel drive trim, a feat it accomplishes thanks to its gasoline / electric drivetrain. A 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine works together with an electric motor (two electric motors if optional all-wheel drive is ordered) to punch out 177 horsepower. An advanced continuously-variable automatic transmission is standard with the SUV.
07. 2011 Subaru Forester
The 2011 Subaru Forester is another Subaru crossover that is all grown up. Bigger and brawnier than in years past, the Subaru Forester is now a true-mid-size SUV replacement option, one which can accommodate five occupants or be configured so as to carry up to 68.3 cubic feet of luggage. The Forester also sports full-time all-wheel drive.
Like the Subaru Outback, the 2011 Subaru Forester starts out with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. This motor provides 170 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque, and thanks to a revision for the current model year fuel economy comes out as a more frugal 21-mpg city and 27-mpg highway. A turbocharged version of this motor is also available, and it improves acceleration thanks to its 224 horsepower and 226 lb-ft rating. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual and four-speed automatic for the base engine, but the turbo four-cylinder is found in auto-only trim.
08. 2011 Nissan Quest
The 2011 Nissan Quest is a minivan that walks to the beat of a different drummer, especially when it comes to styling and handling, with the latter being one of Nissan’s traditional strong points. The Nissan Quest’s somewhat quirky appearance disguises a very utility-oriented design, one which offers seven passenger seating as well as a maximum cargo space rating of 108 cubic feet with the rear two rows folded flat.
The 2011 Nissan Quest comes with a continuously-variable automatic transmission, which is also unusual in the minivan segment. A 3.5-liter V-6 is the only engine offered with the Quest, and it puts out 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage for the CVT-equipped hauler is rated at 19-mpg city and 24-mpg highway.
09. 2011 GMC Savana
Sometimes “mini” just isn’t enough “van,” which is what typically causes families to turn towards full-size vehicles like the 2011 GMC Savana. The GMC Savana is a large and versatile van that provides seating for between eight and 12 occupants, depending on how the interior is configured, and the van’s 216 cubic feel of total cargo space are unmatched by any of its smaller rivals.
The 2011 GMC Savana’s power plant is a 5.3-liter V-8 engine that has been tuned to provide 310 horsepower and 334 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choice is limited to a stout four-speed automatic unit, but buyers can choose between either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive versions of the van. Fuel economy for the heavy vehicle shows as 13-mpg city and 17-mpg highway.
10. 2012 Mazda MAZDA5
The 2012 Mazda MAZDA5 is another outlier in the van community, a compact people mover that has recently gone through a full redesign in order to further tighten the handling and engaging driving experience that are its primary attraction. Although much smaller than most other vans on the market, the Mazda MAZDA5 can still service six passengers or instead haul up to 27.5 cubic feet of cargo behind the second row of seating.
The 2012 Mazda MAZDA5’s agility is aided and abetted by a willing 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. Providing 157 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque, this unit can be paired with a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic gearbox. Fuel efficiency for the lightweight mini-minivan is rated at a strong 21-mpg city and 28-mpg highway.