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30 Best Family Cars


PUBLISHED MONDAY, JULY 19, 2021

Feature-packed for the whole family.

Best Family Cars | CarMax

There are several things that make a great family car. First, you need plenty of space for your kids, their things, strollers, and everything else. You might also be looking for the features that make family life easier including entertainment systems, teen driver technology, and driver aids. No matter the size or age of your family, there's a great vehicle out there for you.

To help you get started on your search, take a look at this list of the best family cars across a number of different categories.

Best Small and Compact SUVs

Small and compact SUVs give you the best of both worlds with the maneuverability of a city car and plenty of space to accommodate a growing family. We put together a list of the best small and compact SUVs for 2021 shoppers, based on CarMax vehicle and sales data from September 1, 2020, through February 28, 2021. Here are the highlights.

1. Nissan Rogue

This athletic little SUV comes with plenty of available driver technology and lots of family-friendly features. 2017–2019 models come with slide-and-recline rear seating that has a 40/20/40 split. This makes it easy to strap in a kid or two with part of the rear seat lowered to give space for longer items that wouldn't normally fit in the trunk.

The standard engine in 2017–2019 models is a 2.5L four-cylinder but there's also a hybrid model available that has a 2.0L gas engine that works alongside an electric motor.

Here are some of the other features you'll find on 2017–2019 Nissan Rogues:

  • Cargo management system

  • Remote trunk release

  • Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto TM integration

  • Seven-inch touchscreen display (from 2018)

  • Rear cross-traffic alert (from 2018)

Other great small and compact SUVs to consider include:

2. Jeep Compass

3. Ford Escape

Best Midsize SUVs

If you need a decent amount of space but rarely have more than five people in your car, a midsize SUV is a great choice. Here's the top three from our list of the 10 best midsize SUVs for 2021 shoppers, based on CarMax sales data from November 1, 2020, through April 30, 2021.

1. Chevrolet Equinox

This upscale SUV comes with plenty of driver tech following its 2018 redesign. Inside, you'll find an eight-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The cargo space will tick a lot of boxes too, all 2018–2019 models have 29.9 cu-ft of cargo space in the trunk—so even with a full passenger list, you've got space for school bags and sports equipment.

Here's what you can expect from the Chevy Equinox in model years 2018 and later:

  • Available all-wheel drive

  • Remote keyless entry and push-button start

  • Bluetooth connectivity

  • Heated mirrors

Other notable midsize SUVs to consider include:

2. Jeep Grand Cherokee

3. Ford Explorer

Best Crossover SUVs

Crossover SUVs offer the benefits of a larger SUV with a smaller footprint that's great for urban driving. If you can see a crossover as your next family vehicle, take a look at the top three from our list of the 10 best crossover SUVs for 2021 shoppers, based on CarMax vehicle and sales data from November 1, 2020, through April 30, 2021.

1. Honda CR-V

This good-looking crossover is powered by a capable 2.4L four-cylinder engine as standard in 2017–2020 models. The comfortable cabin is great for families who like to go on long road trips and the base model is well equipped across all model years. For 2017–2020 models, look to the EX trim upwards if you'd like advanced driver-assist features such as a blind-spot information system, walk-away lock, and more. If you prioritize space, the 2019 CR-V will please with 39.2 cu-ft of space behind the second row.

Base 2017–2019 models come with these standard features:

  • Automatic climate control

  • 17-inch alloy wheels

  • Remote keyless entry

  • Five-inch touchscreen infotainment system

Other great crossover SUVs to consider include:

2. Nissan Rogue

3. Ford Escape

Best Used SUVs under $20K

If you have a strict budget to stick to but still want the versatility of an SUV, check out our list of the 10 best-used SUVs with average prices under $20,000, based on CarMax sales and average pricing data from July 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.1 Please be aware that certain model years and upper trim configurations may bring the prices of some of these vehicles over $20,000.

1. Nissan Rogue

Appearing once again in our list of best family cars, the Nissan Rogue is a great choice if you're shopping on a budget. 2017 models feature an upscale interior to go along with generous cargo space. You've got three rows for your passengers to stretch out in, which is great if you've got a large family or regularly transport friends. Fold the third row and you'll open up 32 cu-ft of space.

Look out for these features on 2017 Nissan Rogues:

  • Satellite radio

  • Push-button start (from SV trim)

  • Rear cross-traffic alert (from SV trim)

  • Available adaptive cruise control

  • Optional emergency braking system

Other used SUVs under $20k to take note of include:

2. Chevrolet Equinox

3. Ford Escape

SUVs with the Best Gas Mileage

If you regularly do long trips with your family or just want to maximize what you get from each tank between school runs, an SUV with good gas mileage will help. To help you on your search, we've compiled a list of the 13 SUVs with the best gas mileage for 2021 shoppers, based on CarMax sales data from May 1, 2020, through October 31, 2020—and using city and highway fuel economy data from fueleconomy.gov.2 Take a look at the top three:

1. 2017–2018 Buick Encore

Tied at the top are two model years of the Buick Encore. The compact footprint makes it a great choice if you live in the city or regularly travel in with your kids. 2017–2018 front-wheel-drive models with the turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder and six-speed automatic transmission get an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.2 This is great news for those long family road trips where you want to minimize stops at the gas station.

Standard features on the 2017–2018 Buick Encore Sport Touring include:

  • Rearview camera

  • Forward automatic braking

  • Lane-keep assist

  • Fog lamps

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility

Other high-mpg SUVs to consider include:

2. 2017–2019 Nissan Rogue

3. 2018–2019 Chevrolet Equinox and 2017 Subaru Forester

Best Used Hybrid SUVs

A hybrid SUV is a great choice if you want a little bit of electric power to help you go longer between trips to the gas station. This makes them perfect for busy families who are often on the road. To help you on your search, take a look at our list of the best used hybrid SUVs for 2021 shoppers, based on CarMax sales data from July 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

1. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The 2017-2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a great option for families. The 2.5L engine comes paired with an electric motor for an EPA-estimated 40 mpg combined.2 This is great if you log a lot of miles between school, daily errands, and work. All-wheel drive is standard on all hybrid models from 2017, making this a great pick if you live in a climate that regularly gets rain and snow. Perfect for active families, the RAV4 Hybrid from 2017-2019 includes these standard features:

  • 6.1-inch touchscreen

  • Cloth upholstery

  • Power sunroof

  • Six-way adjustable driver seat

  • Rearview camera

Other great hybrid SUVs to consider include:

2. Toyota Highlander Hybrid

3. Lexus RX 450h

Best Minivans

The minivan has evolved over the years. Primarily designed for families and large groups, these vehicles excel at carrying passengers in comfort. This is a great place to start if you're looking for a versatile family car. Start with some of the best minivans for 2021 shoppers, based on CarMax vehicle and sales data from November 1, 2020, through April 30, 2021.

1. Chrysler Pacifica

Seating seven or eight depending on the type of chairs you choose in the middle row, this is a great choice if you have a lot of passengers to carry. If you find your family growing faster than you can keep up with, or your routine is ever-changing with extra-curricular activities, this is one to watch. There are five sets of LATCH connectors on 2017 models onward, too, so you can easily carry even the youngest kids in comfort.

The 2018–2019 Chrysler Pacifica base trim model features as standard:

  • Automatic engine stop-start

  • Seven-inch touchscreen display

  • Rearview camera

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration

  • 60/40-split folding third-row seat

  • Three-zone climate control

Other minivans topping our best of list include:

2. Honda Odyssey

3. Dodge Grand Caravan

Best 7-Passenger SUVs

If you need to carry lots of people, a seven-passenger SUV has you covered. Your children and their friends can relax across three rows, so you never have to worry about how someone is going to get from A to B. Start your search with our list of the 10 best seven-passenger SUVs for 2021 shoppers, based on CarMax vehicle and sales data from October 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021. Here are the top three to keep an eye out for:

1. Ford Explorer XLT

This handsome SUV not only has plenty of space inside for your passengers but the 3.5L V6 on 2017–2019 models also means you can tow with it too. With an estimated towing capacity of 5,000 lbs when properly equipped, this means camping trips and weekends away for the whole family are in your future.3 Here's what you can expect on 2017–2019 XLT models:

  • Second-row captain's chairs

  • Push-button start

  • LED signature lighting

  • Six-speaker audio system

  • 18-inch aluminum wheels

Other great 7-passenger SUVs to note include:

2. Infiniti QX60

3. Acura MDX

Best Full-Size Trucks

If you need maximum utility, look out for a full-size truck. You'll get space provided by the cargo bed, but you'll also be able to find cabs that fit the whole family, too. If you're ready to look for a full-size truck, take a look at the top three from our list of the 10 best full-size trucks for 2021 shoppers, using CarMax sales data from May 1, 2020, through October 31, 2020.

1. Ford F150

Versatility, toughness, and presence. This is what you get with all Ford F150s from 2015 onward. 2017–2019 models offer seven trims with plenty of configurations on bed and cab size. If you want to tow a camper or ATV for your next family adventure, look for the 2019 models with the 3.0L diesel engine, which can pull an estimated 11,000 lbs or the 2017–2019 Ecoboost® V6, which can tow an estimated 13,200 lbs (both when properly equipped).3

Take a look at these features on all 2017-2019 Ford F150 XLTs:

  • Ford's SYNC® 3 infotainment system

  • Eight-inch touchscreen

  • Available Wi-Fi hotspot4

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration

  • Available driver-assist features including rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning, 360-degree camera, and more

Other great full-size trucks to consider include:

2. Ram 1500

3. Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Best 3-Row SUVs

If you need three rows to accommodate the whole family, these SUVs will check your boxes. Get your search started with these three vehicles from our list of the 15 best three-row SUVs for 2021 shoppers, based on CarMax sales data from May 1, 2020, through October 31, 2020.

1. Ford Explorer

This chunky SUV has abundant interior space for people and their things. It's also very capable with a standard V6 engine on all 2017–2019 models. Look for the XLT and Limited trims on 2019 models to get the most comfort and entertainment features. These trims include great tech like additional USB ports, a rain-sensing windshield, driver-assistance features, and more. There are also some kid-friendly available features, such as a DVD entertainment system, which is great for long journeys.

Here's what else you can expect from the 2018–2019 Ford Explorer:

  • Power-adjustable front seats

  • Power-folding third row

  • 110-volt power outlet

  • Hands-free liftgate

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration

Other great 3-row SUVs to take a look at include:

2. Nissan Pathfinder

3. Kia Sorento

When you're looking for the best family car for your needs, it's only right you take the time to research. This list is a great place to start, whether you need a compact vehicle for a school run or a large SUV for your growing family. You'll love the available convenience and comfort features from all the vehicles on this list.

If you need more inspiration, check out these related articles:

1Based on prices on carmax.com from July 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. Actual prices may vary based on your selected model year, features, and trim packages. Prices do not include taxes, tags, titles, and any applicable fees.
2Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates for when vehicle sold as new. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history. Unless specified, figures are for vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. See fueleconomy.gov
3Various factors may impact towing capacity, including weight of passengers, cargo, and options/accessories.
4Wi-Fi hotspots require a data plan to activate and may also require a compatible device. See the owner's manual or manufacturer website for more information.
Unless otherwise noted, information related to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.




* Price excludes taxes, title, registration, and fees. Applicable transfer fees are due in advance of vehicle delivery and are separate from sales transactions.

Unless otherwise noted, information related to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.