Relying on a methodology that collates auto reviews from across the industry—and also takes into account safety and reliability ratings, passenger and cargo space, and levels of family friendly content—the experts of U.S. News & World Report recently announced their 2014 Best Cars for Families.
Setting the pace were Mazda and General Motors, with the former having more segment winners (four) and award-winning vehicles (three) than any other brand, and the latter ringing up six segment trophies to lead all manufacturers. Needless to say, the Mazda's own SKYACTIV family of powertrain and chassis technologies managed to hit the sweet spot for U.S. News, backed by their unique mix of driving dynamics and high EPA grades, while the top family choices from GM were notable for their more premium approach to transportation: The General's award winners included two from Cadillac, two from Buick, Chevrolet's new range-topping full-size sedan and a full-size SUV that starts at nearly $45,000.
Getting down to the nitty-gritty here, the 2014 Best Cars for Families included:
- Mazda Mazda3—Recognized in both the Compact Cars and Hatchbacks categories for its "powerful engine, upscale cabin and sporty handling."
- Buick Verano—The premium subcompact sedan garnered the Best Family honor among Upscale Small Cars.
- Mazda Mazda6—Completely redesigned for the 2014 year, the Mazda6 bested other Midsize Cars like the Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion Hybrid (see below).
- Cadillac ATS—The ATS is "capable of hanging with the best German sport sedans" according to U.S. News editors, and won the publication's Upscale Midsize Car segment.
- Chevy Impala—Editors lauded the Impala for "a high-quality interior, aggressive styling and wealth of available features" in the Large Cars class.
- Cadillac CTS—In addition to earning the nod as most family-friendly Large Luxury Car, the third-generation CTS also was named Motor Trend Car the Year in 2014.
- Ford Fusion Hybrid— The ability to achieve 47 mpg in all facets of EPA testing seemed to make a difference in the Hybrid category.
- Subaru Outback—Standard all-wheel drive and a versatile rear cargo hold help the Outback remain an ideal family entry in the Wagons segment.
U.S. News & World Report: Best SUVS/Minivan for Families 2014
While quite a few of the Best Cars for Families were fairly new on the market, the top-scoring SUVs and minivan tended to be entries with long track records. For example, the minivan choice was the Honda Odyssey that won its category for the fourth straight year, thanks to "stellar handling for a minivan, good fuel economy and a large, cleverly equipped interior."
Joining the Odyssey on the Best for Families 2014 honor roll were SUVs (and crossovers) including:
- Mazda CX-5—Chalking up another Mazda victory, as the CX-5 took home the Compact SUVs title with SKYACTIV-enhanced driving dynamics and "excellent fuel economy."
- Audi Q5—The Q5, which also has become Audi's best-selling vehicle, was named the most family friendly Luxury Compact SUV.
- Jeep Grand Cherokee—Now offering a diesel engine that delivers 30 mpg on the highway, the Jeep range-topper was the top 2-Row Midsize SUV.
- Buick Enclave—"Refined handling and a classy interior," along with "excellent safety scores," helped the groundbreaking Buick capture the 3-Row Midsize SUVs segment.
- Lexus RX—Showing the strength of a complete redesign for 2014, the RX 350 led the Luxury 2-Row Midsize SUVs class and, in the form of the RX Hybrid, claimed victory among the Hybrid SUVs.
- Acura MDX—The MDX also is all-new for the current selling season, and has posted a string of record-setting sales months before being recognized as the family friendly selection in the Luxury 3-Row Midsize SUVs category.
- Chevy Tahoe—Even with the all-new 2015 version on the horizon, the Bowtie Brand's full-size body-on-frame Tahoe came out ahead in the Large SUVs class.
- Toyota Land Cruiser—Surprisingly, the only Toyota-branded prizewinner was the Land Cruiser, which leveraged "tremendous off-road capability" for its win among Large Luxury SUVs.
Photos courtesy Megan Green for Autobytel