Family vehicles play an important role for most manufacturers, but what's interesting about this segment of the market is that there isn't one single definition for what constitutes a family ride. Sure, there are specialized options out there (minivans), but there are also compromises between space, ride, and utility (crossovers), traditional sedans, and even a few wagons still kicking around. In short, family shoppers have it good when it comes to variety, which means that there should be a car, crossover, or van out there that suits your particular needs when it comes time to buy.
Let's take a quick look at 10 of the best family vehicles available.
Best Family Vehicles - 01 - 2013 Toyota Sienna
The 2013 Toyota Sienna is one of the most popular minivan options out there, and it’s not hard to see the qualities that also qualify it for inclusion of a list of the best family vehicles. The interior of the Toyota Sienna is enormous, with seating for up to eight passengers as well as room for a massive 150 cubic feet of cargo with the rear rows removed. Available exclusively with a six-cylinder engine that displaces 3.5-liters and generates 266 horsepower and 245 lb-ft of torque, the Sienna is the only minivan on the market that features the option of all-wheel drive. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with the Toyota.
Best Family Vehicles - 02 - 2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon has remained a tested and true part of the German luxury brand's lineup for decades. Currently offered in both V-6 and full-bore AMG performance editions - with the latter boasting a truly ridiculous 518 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque - the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon can actually seat as many as seven passengers due to a rear-facing row of accommodations that folds up from the floor. Cargo space is also generous, checking in at 57 cubic feet in total, and all-wheel drive is standard with the E350 4MATIC model. The most common version of the E-Class wagon, and much more down-to-earth than the E63 AMG, the E350 4MATIC comes with a 302 horsepower six-cylinder engine.
Best Family Vehicles - 03 - 2013 Mazda MAZDA5
The 2013 Mazda MAZDA5 is not only a practical family conveyance, but it's also one of the few genuinely fun-to-drive vehicles in its class. The Mazda MAZDA5 could best be considered a compact minivan, with its six-passenger seating and copious amounts of cargo space (97.7 cubic feet in total), but find a curvy stretch of road and you will be surprised by just how well this people mover acquits itself. The MAZDA5 is additionally unique due to its standard six-speed manual transmission, which is matched with a 157 horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder mill. Also capable of generating 163 lb-ft of torque, the engine can be matched with a five-speed automatic if desired.
Best Family Vehicles - 04 - 2013 Honda CR-V
The 2013 Honda CR-V is a five-passenger compact crossover that has won over the hearts and minds of millions since it first went on sale in the 1990s. Comfortable and well-equipped when ordered in EX-L trim, the Honda CR-V also features just a tick over 70 cubic feet of total internal storage space for oversized items. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is the only drivetrain option for the CR-V, and it provides 185 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission handles the gear-shifting duties for the crossover, and all-wheel drive (which transfers power on-demand from the front to the rear axle) can be added as an option.
Best Family Vehicles - 05 - 2013 Nissan Pathfinder
The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder abandons its truck-based body-on-frame design for the current model year and emerges as a large seven-passenger SUV that rides far smoother than the model that precedes it. Good looking, and with three rows of seating, the Nissan Pathfinder also switches to a front-wheel drive (or optional all-wheel drive) layout and a continuously-variable automatic transmission helps the crossover improve its overall fuel efficiency. Cargo space is competitive (80 cubic feet), and power remains good thanks to a 3.5-liter V-6 that provides 260 horses and 240 lb-ft of twist.
Best Family Vehicles - 06 - 2013 Acura TSX Sport Wagon
The 2013 Acura TSX Sport Wagon takes the willing chassis of the TSX sedan and matches it with an extended cargo compartment that grafts a total of 61 cubic feet of hauling space to the platform. The end result is a premium family vehicle that looks good, drives like a sport sedan, and is relatively easy on gas. The Acura TSX Sport Wagon is offered with a four-cylinder engine that squeezes 201 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque from its 2.4 liters, and a five-speed automatic transmission sends that output to the vehicle's front wheels.
Best Family Vehicles - 07 - 2013 Honda Odyssey
The 2013 Honda Odyssey is the Toyota Sienna's staunchest competitor amongst minivans, and while it doesn't provide available all-wheel drive it does present a good-looking exterior design and plenty of interior space for either eight passengers or 148 cubic feet of cargo. A navigation system, HID headlights, and parking assistance help to make top tier editions of the Honda Odyssey feel more luxurious than one would expect from a minivan, and its 3.5-liter V-6 engine (mated to a standard five-speed automatic transmission) provides 248 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed autobox stands in for the five-speed on the Touring and Touring Elite trim levels.
Best Family Vehicles - 08 - 2013 Toyota Highlander
The 2013 Toyota Highlander is an all-around crossover that has attracted fans with its car-like handling, its seven passenger seating, and its conservative styling. The Limited trim level also gifts the Toyota Highlander with the Entune infotainment system, which is a new development from the brand that makes it easier to link mobile devices with the vehicle's systems. 95.4 cubic feet of total cargo space are on tap inside the Highlander, and buyers can choose between either a 187 horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine or a more robust 3.5-liter V-6 that can be counted on to produce 270 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. A mix of five and six-speed automatic transmissions are on offer with the Highlander, and V-6 buyers also get the chance to add all-wheel drive to the mix.
Best Family Vehicles - 09 - 2014 Subaru Forester XT
The 2014 Subaru Forester XT is the high performance version of the brand's completely redesigned compact SUV. With a tighter chassis and more aggressive sheet metal than the departing model, the Subaru Forester XT looks and drives the part of a sporty crossover. It also comes with a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that drops 250 horses and 258 lb-ft of twist to the tarmac via standard all-wheel drive and a fresh continuously-variable automatic transmission. This is all icing on the cake, as the Forester XT boasts the same practical interior, five passenger seating, and 74.7 cubic feet of cargo space offered by the base version of the Subaru.
Best Family Vehicles - 10 - 2013 Dodge Durango
The 2013 Dodge Durango is the only family vehicle on this list that can be ordered with a V-8 under the hood, and its available 5.7-liter Hemi mill can be counted on to produce 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. The eight-cylinder motor helps the Dodge Durango tow up to 7,400 lbs, but it can handle a still-impressive 6,200 lbs when ordered with its entry-level 290 horsepower 3.6-liter V-6. Four-wheel drive is optional with the Durango, and the SUV is also capable of transporting 84.5 cubic feet of luggage or as many as seven passengers across three rows of seating.