The family car sure isn’t what it used to be. But then the family sure isn’t what it used to be either. Families come in all shapes, sizes and compositions these days, and we hear the word diversity a lot. Well, we are here to tell you that there is unprecedented diversity in family cars these days, and while that is nothing but a good thing, it does make picking the proper conveyance for your family unit a bit more daunting. Which is why we at Kelley Blue Book have put together this incisive look at the Best Family Cars of 2016.
How did we arrive at this list? How did we choose these from among the 250 models that can make some claim to good-familycardom? The truth is it is an exhaustive and exhausting process, but also a very satisfying one. We know there are few more important choices that you will make as a consumer than the choice of a car, truck or van for your family. Safety, comfort, convenience and financial well-being are all wrapped up in that choice, since a family car, in many ways, is a rolling version of your house – and these days some family vehicles can cost as much as a house.
Choosing the contenders
The process of picking the best of the best began with our Kelley Blue Book editorial staff identifying two dozen vehicles that in our vast experience we believed worthy of a look for the coveted accolade of “Best Family Car.” We then sought out a representative example of each of those models and brought them all together in a family-car conglomeration.
Real-world test for real-world families
For two weeks’ time we drove, lived-with, folded-down-seats-of, paired-phones-to and installed-baby-seats-in each and every one of the contenders. We loaded cargo, contorted ourselves into third rows, watched movies on rear-seat screens, toted rowing teams to marinas – in short we did everything that you and your family might do with a vehicle day-to-day. And we did all this with a certain sense of what a family needs and wants since many of our testers are simultaneously parents of kids ranging from mid-twenties to newborn. From pre-schoolers to middle schoolers to high schoolers to post-schoolers our staff has the kid thing covered. So this wasn’t just a cursory exercise but instead it drew heavily upon our family-car experiences, needs and wants.
Selecting the cream of the cream
After we did all we could think to do to these vehicles and a little bit more than we hadn’t thought of originally, we came down to a list of 16 vehicles that we feel are befitting the title Best Family Cars of 2016. Now we admit that 16 might seem like a lot to you, since we don’t expect anyone to consider and research 16 different vehicles. But what you will find is that these 16 vehicles can be divided into logical subsets that will make your shopping much easier. To be explicit, we identified three minivans, six sedans, three 2-row crossover/SUVs and four 3-row SUVs on our list. Last year a couple of pickup trucks were included among 2015’s Best Family Cars, but this time the high quality of the field in the center-cut section of minivans, midsize sedans and crossovers/SUVs put the pickups we considered into also-ran status.