Parents magazine and Edmunds.com recently collaborated to name the top 10 family vehicles for 2014. While each family will have their own unique needs and preferences, the winners named to this list represent some of the best-value choices across the industry.
"Whether they're taking a summer road trip or just making a grocery run, families expect a lot from their vehicles," says Parents Editor-in-Chief Dana Points in an Edmunds press release. "Safety is every parent's top priority, and we're excited by how many manufacturers are now offering blind-spot mirrors and collision-avoidance systems in addition to multiple airbags and government-required electronic stability control."
Experts from both parties critically rated the latest models of vehicles based on reliability, mileage and cargo capacity, with varied budgets kept in mind. If parents are looking for a new economical, environmental or large-capacity vehicle, the list has an option to suit their needs.
Best budget cars
For those looking for the best option at the best price, Parents and Edmunds recommended the Mazda 3 and the Ford Fiesta models, starting at $17,740 and $14,925, respectively. The Mazda 3 has 30 city and 41 highway mpg and is one of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's 2014 Top Safety Picks. With space for five passenger or two car seats, this car is suitable for both young and grown children. The Ford Fiesta has 32 city and 45 highway mpg. A little cheaper than the Mazda 3, this option has the same capacity.
The Toyota Prius starts at $25,010 and has 51 city and 48 highway mpg. It's also an IIHS 2014 Top Safety Pick and has room for five passengers or two car seats. The bonus to buying a new Prius is the potential fuel savings over time - in a span of five years, it's possible to save as much as $6,250 with the help of the hybrid engine, according to Parents.
The Mazda 6 and Honda Accord are the best family sedans of 2014, according to the rankings. Starting at $21,785, the Mazda 6 is also a 2014 IIHS Top Safety Pick. The backseat is spacious enough to suit children, teens or even adults. The Honda Accord starts at $22,745 with 27 city and 36 highway mpg. It too is a Top Safety Pick and has five-passenger capacity. A spacious trunk can hold several suitcases or strollers, among other cargo. Both models have built-in backup cameras.
Families looking for a versatile new car should test the Subaru Outback. Starting at $24,320, this model has 24 city and 30 highway mpg. The Outback performs like an SUV in inclement weather and has a larger carrying capacity than a sedan, but its tires hug the road like a smaller car, so it's easy to maneuver. It was also named a top highway safety pick by the IIHS.
The Nissan Rogue is a good option for larger families that may need a little more room for passengers or some extra cargo. The Rogue starts at $23,650, with 26 city and 33 highway mpg. This model has room for four car seats or seven passengers and was another Top Safety Pick. It has better fuel efficiency than last year's model and individually sliding second-row seats.
The Honda Odyssey starts at $29,655, with 19 city and 38 highway mpg. Despite its size, the Odyssey now has backup cameras for easier driving and shifting second-row seats that can move closer together or farther apart.
Two family- friendly SUV options for 2014 are the Hyundai Santa Fe and Chevrolet Traverse. The Santa Fe starts at $30,750 with 18 city and 25 highway mpg. Starting at $31,670, the Traverse has 17 city and 24 highway mpg. It has enough capacity for eight passengers or five car seats. These two options offer more storage space in the back and more powerful engines than sedans.