Families looking for a new vehicle to haul the clan from soccer game to recital to birthday party should probably start their search as their local Honda and Chevrolet dealers.
The two automakers each had two vehicles fall in the top 10 of top family cars for 2018 as ranked by Parents magazine and Edmunds. The 2018 Honda Odyssey and Accord and Chevrolet Traverse and Malibu are four of the top 10 on the list.
“We’re not playing favorites in terms of why there are two Hondas and two Chevrolets. The vehicle had to have a top safety score from NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to be considered,” said Brent Romans, senior analyst at Edmunds. “That narrowed down the list.”
Also making the list was the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SUV. The result is a bit of a surprise given VW didn’t make a large SUV – the Atlas seats more than six people depending upon the size of the people – this year.
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“Volkswagen smartly looked at the market — the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Traverse — and said, ‘What do people want out of these vehicles?’ They want a lot of space. So they made it big,” Romans said.
“It has a nice controlled ride to it. The interior is typical Volkswagen — tasteful and upscale.”
Here are the winners:
- Best minivan: Honda Odyssey
- Best SUV-like wagon: Subaru Outback and Kia Soul
- Best two-row SUV: Acura RDX and Ford Edge
- Best three-row SUV: VW Atlas and Chevrolet Traverse
- Best sedan: Chevrolet Malibu and Honda Accord
- Best hybrid: Toyota Prius
Parents magazine and experts at Edmunds chose the winning vehicles based on “substantial” car seat capacity, roomy cabins and cargo space, and having advanced safety features such as blind-spot, speed and lane-departure warnings.
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Additionally, the list uses Edmunds’ ratings. The site rates more than 300 cars annually and winners needed at least a 4 out of 5 rating. After that,the magazine judges installed child safety seats and performed other tests to select the winners.
Romans said the Honda Accord took top honors among sedans because the design is new and it drives very well while the Chevrolet Malibu’s well-thought out touch-screen interface on the instrument panel made it appealing, he said.
The Traverse was completely redesigned for 2018, and it paid off as it ranked higher than the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander, he noted.
“The Traverse is also lighter than the previous model by a few hundred pounds for better gas mileage, handles nicer but still has plenty of room on the inside, and it’s very comfortable,” Romans said. “Both the Highlander and Explorer are older designs, so consumers are a bit tired of them, and maybe they’re a bit behind on technology. The Traverse is roomier than both those other models, too.”
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For sporting families, Romans favors the Subaru Outback saying, “Subaru raises the suspension on that, so it’s really good if you’re into recreational things like bicycling and kayaking — to get you out close to nature.”