Drive Home in Style: The Best Family Vehicles of 2016

Posted November 04 2016
by PenFed Team
family buying a car

Back in the day, buying a family car meant piling the kids into a station wagon. Later, it meant the relative luxury of a minivan. Today’s family vehicles are as diverse as families themselves. The best family rides of 2016 are designed to appeal to soccer moms and dads, active outdoorsy families, the urban hip, and the list goes on.

What should you look for in a modern, family-friendly car? Let’s take a look.

Must-have car features for the family

Safety features. Family cars today are generally comprised of one of four categories: minivans, sedans, crossover SUVs, and three-row SUVs. Family vehicles that make the cut put safety first. A new family vehicle should offer the latest in safety technology for: braking, cruise control, and blind spot monitoring, to name a few.

Space for baby seats and multiple passengers. These vehicles should also be able to accommodate all sorts of car safety seats in all sorts of configurations. Make sure the vehicles you’re considering can securely accommodate multiple car seats and booster seats in the positions you’d like to use them. If you have to isolate the baby in a third-row seat to make the car seat fit between booster seats and big kids, you may want to keep looking.

Comfort and modern media technology. Comfort and convenience also feature high on the list for best family vehicles because families spend so much time driving back and forth to school and to and from multiple after-school activities. And when heading off on those longer road trips to family functions, or when on the big family vacation, well, these features are a must-have! Look for modern media compatibility with systems like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Keep the kids happy in the back with backseat entertainment and media systems, and Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities.

Convenient accessories. Don’t overlook the importance of utility features like cup holders and storage cubbies (of all sizes) to help you corral loose change, sippy cups and wet wipes. The Honda Odyssey even comes with its own built-in vacuum cleaner in the back —now that’s utilitarian function!

Dog-friendly features. Your four-legged family members need to ride in safety and comfort too! Some dog-friendly features are already built into the vehicle design itself, while others are customized accessories that can be purchased separately.

Look for built-in design features such as fold-down cargo areas that can easily be hosed down, a childproof back door or hatch that opens in the back (a tremendous help when loading and unloading a dog crate), rear A/C vents that provide proper ventilation, childproof windows (the same safety concerns that apply here for children, apply to dogs as well), extra roomy cargo space for larger dogs, extra cubby space for supplies (crates, leashes, chew toys, pet food, grooming brushes, towels for cleanup, and feeding bowls. . . you get the picture), seats that fold down, and seats that are washable. When it comes to carpet, less is always more. For vehicle accessories, consider a cargo barrier or rear cargo attachment to help keep the family pet harnessed or contained in the back of the car, and cargo liners that can be easily removed and cleaned.

The Best Family Cars of 2016

Kelly Blue Book’s best overall family car buy for 2016 is the Honda Civic sedan, which also made the list as the most affordable, top family car. Let’s look at what else made the Kelly Blue Book family cars list.

Best family sedans. Families looking for a dash of sophisticated, urban sleekness should keep their eye on the Honda Civic, the Chevrolet Malibu, the Hyundai Sonata, and the Kia Optima.

Crossover SUVs. The new category of subcompact SUVs is taking the family market by storm. Try the two-row Honda HR-V, the Honda CR-V, or the Subaru Outback.

Multi-row SUVs. On carpool duty? When you have many small passengers, you need many passenger seats. For three rows of seats, consider the Nissan Pathfinder, the Toyota Highlander, the Honda Pilot, or the Chevrolet Tahoe.

Minivans. Ready to join the minivan brigade? Look for a Kia Sedona, a Toyota Sienna, or, of course, the Honda Odyssey.

The Best Pet-Friendly Cars of 2016

If Rover is just as much a regular passenger as the rest of the family, then you’ll want to check out these top picks for best dog-friendly cars and crossovers by AutoGuide.com:

  • Best cargo capability: Honda Fit and HR-V
  • Best rear seat space: VW Tiguan and Volvo XC70
  • Best in ease of cleanup: Jeep Wrangler, Honda Odyssey, and Chrysler Pacifica
  • Best for spaciousness and accessibility: Subaru Outback, Kia Forte5, and the Hyundai Elantra GT
  • Best in stink control. Yes, that’s right. Keep dog stink at a minimum with a snazzy, built-in fragrance system in the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300!

Fit a Family Car into Your Budget

Cars designed for on-the-go family lifestyles can add a massive dose of comfort and convenience to day-to-day life, but a new family vehicle is a big bite into your budget.

With the holidays just ahead, improve your cash flow by lowering your current payments. Refinancing your car through PenFed helps you save every single day. With a no-stress online application process, and up to 100 percent financing available, you can face the end of the year knowing you’re paying the best rates on your family car.

If a new family vehicle is on your holiday wish list, line up financing first with a PenFed new or used auto loan. Great deals don’t stop there. Use the PenFed Car Buying Service, and save even more on your financing with PenFed. Your passengers will be glad you did!