It’s nearly a requirement for automotive manufacturers to pepper their four-wheeled offerings with a few SUVs here and there in order to be successful in today’s market. The days of driving a smaller vehicle are long gone. At the same time, what is it about these sport utility vehicles that we love so much?
In this article, we’ve gathered nine reasons we think SUVs are the ultimate family car. Some of them might be obvious. Others maybe less so. In the end, the ultimate family car is the one that serves you and your loved ones the best. So if you’re in the market for a new ride for the fam, keep the models we mention below in mind the next time you’re at the dealership.
Available Safety Systems
One of the main reasons SUVs are better suited to families lies in the number of safety features built into them. Even low-tech safety features like the lower anchors and tethers for carseats (LATCH system) keep your children safer. SUVs are typically higher off the ground than most sedans. That means there’s an additional barrier of height that allows these models to be safer in the event of a collision.
Among the many systems on the market today, the Honda Sensing suite is one of the most popular. Built into the 2019 Pilot, these safety features include a Collision Mitigation Braking System, a Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control, and so much more. Families enjoy SUVs that have these more sophisticated safety systems because they can rest easy that they’ll be protected in case of an accident.
Now that we’ve checked safety off the list, let’s consider the SUV’s capability for lots and lots of space. From day-to-day activities to long road trips, having a vehicle that allows you to bring everything you need — and probably lots of stuff you don’t — is another big reason why SUVs suit family needs well.
Cargo capacity changes with each model and can vary from year-to-year. However, models like the Ford Flex, Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, and Buick Enclave are just a few examples that can store tons of junk in the trunk. If that’s not enough room for you, check out the 2020 GMC Yukon XL Denali. It will get you and your family where you need to go, along with all your gear.
Tons of Seating Configurations
Having enough space for you and your family in one vehicle is a privilege many smaller families overlook. That’s why SUVs are one of the best vehicles to buy if you have a growing family. You can choose from smaller SUVs with only two rows, such as the Subaru Forester, Acura RDX, Jeep Renegade, Hyundai Tucson, or Ford Explorer. These work great for the nuclear family of two parents and a couple of kids.
Larger families will enjoy the extra seating in the Kia Sorento, Mitsubishi Outlander, Toyota Highlander, and many other three-row SUVs that can be found across brands and price points. The extra row allows for up seven passengers. It’s a much needed boost for families with three (or more) kids.
Wide Selection Among Brands
Speaking of brands, you can pretty much find an SUV in the lineup of any large automotive manufacturer. Ford has the EcoSport, Explorer, and Expedition, Dodge has the Journey and Durango. Honda’s CR-V and Pilot are historical nameplates at this point. Toyota usually stocks their lots with the C-HR, RAV4, 4Runner, Highlander, and Land Cruiser. If you’re looking for an import, check out the Subaru Forester and Ascent, the Nissan Pathfinder, Rogue, and Murano, Mitsubishi’s Outlander, or the Acura RDX or MDX.
Pick Your Price Point
Don’t quote us too strictly, but there’s nearly an SUV on the market today for any budget. U.S. News put together a list of the cheapest SUVs out there. You’d be surprised at some of the contenders. Names like the Jeep Renegade and the Grand Cherokee were there, along with the Mazda CX-3 and the Hyundai Kona. Of course, there’s always the Lamborghini Urus and the Bentley Bentayga if you’re looking to splurge.
Roomy But Maneuverable
Crossover is a term used in the automotive industry to describe smaller SUVs. Even though you may get more room — and more bodies — into an SUV, that doesn’t always translate to needing more space when it comes to things like parking or fuel efficiency. Admittedly, there are large SUVs that will park and drive more like a large pickup truck. However, most of the models on the market today maneuver and park just like a “normal” car would. You’re just a bit higher off the ground than you would be in a sedan.
It doesn’t take a college degree to know that children test the extent of the environment around them. Especially in terms of durability. Simply put, they are little terrors and will actively ruin whatever they get their hands on. (We’re kidding — kind of). The best SUVS for families are those that can handle spills, messes, muddy boots, sticky fingers, and anything else life — or your kid — throws at them. A durable family vehicle is one that can last a lifetime and still keep going. Of course, it’s partly on you, the owner, to help keep your SUV clean and well taken care of.
We’re not saying you have to live in the remotest area to need an SUV that has all- or four-wheel drive. However, it’s definitely a feature you’ll be thankful for when the inclement weather starts to take hold. In fact, you might even consider it a safety component.
Most SUVs these days are AWD capable. It often comes standard, depending on the model. Models like the Toyota RAV4 and Kia Telluride are great AWD machines, along with the GMC Terrain, Hyundai Tucson, and the Chevrolet Traverse. If you experience at least three out of the four seasons where you live, an SUV is the ultimate family car for you. If you live somewhere it never snows, well… just know that the rest of us are low-key jealous.
Respectable Fuel Efficiency Ratings
You might think that with the size, shape, and weight of SUVs, that they don’t perform well when it comes to gas mileage. However, there are quite a few models that would surprise you. In fact, the Toyota Highlander is one of them. The current model can achieve up to 21 city and 27 highway EPA-estimated miles per-gallon . Compare that to the Chrysler Pacifica (yes, we realize a minivan isn’t technically an SUV), which achieves around 19 city and 28 highway MPG. It makes you rethink why you haven’t bought an SUV yet.
Chock Full of Family-Friendly Features
Any SUV can be the ultimate family car for a lot of reasons and not just those we listed above. Which ones do you agree with? Are there any we left out? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!