Twenty years ago, Family Cars were thought of as the most boring vehicles available because they were flat-out boring in nature and served only one primary function: to offer basic transport for five passengers. Luxury amenities, performance and styling all took a back seat to price.
Today’s Family Cars are vastly different. Not only have the humble economy sedans received extensive updates, but new entrants based on these platforms present upgraded options for those who yearn for something a little more special. Crossovers, Minivans and SUVs have all been developed by manufacturers to compliment the main Family Car category. Even Compact Cars, which are not quite as compact as before, offer an affordable alternative for smaller families while earning outstanding safety ratings and fuel economy ratings. For the 2014 model year, we present the Top 5 Family Cars.
Last year’s best Family Sedan is even better for 2014. The Honda Accord has been the Family Sedan benchmark for decades, and the 2014 model year is no exception to its impressive streak. This year, Honda updated the Accord, giving it a more stylish and more sculpted look, improving its presence in Wal-Mart parking lots across America. Taller children will fit easily in both the front and rear seats, which feature oodles of leg room. There is no doubting the Accord's supremacy in the Family Car segment, considering its peppy base four-cylinder, 278-horsepower optional V-6, decked-out cabin and well-balanced handling. On top of all of that, you can add in the fact that Honda has by far one of the best reputations in the automotive industry for quality and reliability, making the Accord a very deserving addition to this list.
EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 23 City/33 Highway mpg.
For all-out driving excitement and an aggressive yet rugged look, the Mazda CX-5 is just the ticket if you’re looking for the best SUV Crossover. It will reward prospective owners with its utility, handling, fuel efficiency and comfort—all at a surprisingly affordable price.
EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 25 City/32 Highway mpg.
If you need something larger than an Accord or Mazda6, the Minivan might just be what the doctor ordered. In terms of Family Cars, it’s arguably the poster child for the segment. Today, Minivans are pricier than ever, but there is hope. The Dodge Grand Caravan is little more than the Chrysler Town & Country stripped of its expensive luxury features. This vacating of creature comforts drops the base price to under $20,000, which means it is the most affordable minivan on the market today. Like its Town & Country brethren, the Grand Caravan leads the class with its 283-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6, but comes up short at just 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Are there better minivans out there? Yes, namely, the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, but those both cost a whopping $8,000 more.
EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 17 City/25 Highway mpg.
All families start somewhere, and that’s exactly what the Volkswagen Jetta intends to address: couples who are ready to start a family. While other manufacturers are moving toward “world cars” using a “design once, sell everywhere” model, VW has adapted the Jetta to the U.S. market. The upshot is the U.S. Jetta is a slightly larger, more spacious variant of the European version, making it an easy recommendation for small families intending to keep their primary vehicle long-term. In addition, VW offers a wide range of Jetta models, including sedans and wagons powered by gas, hybrid or diesel powertrains spread amongst eight trim levels. With such an expansive range, feature levels and driving satisfaction vary from basic to exquisite. The GLI trim stands out as a great value, with a stout engine and driving dynamics that mimic upscale European brands. All Jetta models feature the hallmarks of safety, space and fuel economy which will reward shoppers looking for a small Family Car.
EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 25 City/36 Highway mpg.
Mazda is well-known for injecting a sporty feel into every car it builds, including its Family Cars. This rings especially true with the all-new 2014 Mazda6. Teenagers and adults alike will feel good basking in the attention they receive from being seen in, around or coming out of this sporty sedan. The Mazda6 comes standard with a brand-new SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that cranks out 184 horsepower and 185 foot-pounds of torque. This engine is rated at 26 mpg city and 38 mpg highway when equipped with the automatic transmission. Later this year, Mazda will offer up a 2.2-liter diesel engine that is sure to offer a boost in torque and mpg. Mazda rounds out the package with a roomy and stylish interior, loads of standard features and a price just over $20K, making it one of the best values in this list.
EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 25 City/37 Highway mpg.