To determine which models made the cut, we looked at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Picks and Top Safety Pick+ awards for 2014. To qualify for the Top Safety Pick award, vehicles must earn Good ratings in the moderate-overlap frontal crash test, side impact, rollover, and rear tests. as well as a Good or Acceptable rating in the small-overlap frontal test. The + award goes to vehicles that earn a basic, advanced, or superior rating for front crash prevention with the availability of a forward-collision warning system. In addition, our own tests measure dynamic safety, with wet/dry braking and accidence avoidance, and factor into our overall test score.
For the value perspective, we used our owner cost data to find the least-expensive models to own in their class. These estimates include depreciation, fuel, interest on financing, insurance, sales tax, and average maintenance and repair costs. The charts above list the cost per year over five years. (Other time period breakdowns, including cost per mile, are available on the model pages.)
For the family-friendly angle, we looked at how well the vehicles fit car seats, how much visibility for school-age kids and space for their gear, and which cars are best for new drivers.
All combined, the list highlights those best all-around vehicles that are among the safest, cheapest to own, most reliable and family friendly cars on the market—just what mom deserves.
Small cars, family sedans, and SUVs populate this list. We didn't include any minivans as we think these may be a somewhat obvious choice. The Honda Odyssey is a Top Safety Pick+ winner and is estimated to cost $9,600 per year. It is not as inexpensive to own as the minivanlike Mazda5, but it costs less to own than the other minivans on the market. Minivans are also the best for young and school-age kids with ease in installing car seats, great visibility, and tons of space. But minivans may not be the best choice for new driver's, as their seating capacity allows for many potentially distracting passengers. Studies routinely show that the more passengers a teen driver carries, the greater the risk for a crash.
A number of models on the list were recently redesigned or updated for the 2014 model year, including the Subaru Forester and Toyota Corolla. In addition, plenty of vehicles also have great fuel economy, contributing to their low operating costs. Used versions of these models featured here are also compelling choices, where available.
There are many ways to slice the market, but from this perspective, these are great, practical choices for mom.
Happy Mother's Day!