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Best deals on cars for soccer moms and dads

Discounted minivans, SUVs, and wagons primed to transport the team

Published: June 20, 2014 12:00 PM

With soccer's quadrennial World Cup well under way in Brazil, soccer fever is rekindled around the globe. These international clashes among amazingly talented teams are inspiring today’s youth to grab a ball and hit the fields, but they need a ride. As families know, the enthusiasm to play team sports of all kinds may drive the next car purchase. With this in mind, we have assembled a list of 10 models well suited to transporting athletes and their teammates.

To choose these vehicles, we first looked at those models that meet Consumer Report’s criteria to be recommended, which include good overall road test scores, average or better predicted reliability, and adequate performance, if tested, in government and/or insurance industry crash tests.

We then honed in on minivans, SUVs, and wagons for their passenger space and cargo flexibility. All included models have current discounts available of at least 5 percent of sticker price; many have much more negotiation room available. (Complete pricing details, and much more information, is available on the model pages at ConsumerReports.org.)

When shopping for the right sports ride for your team, consider models with plenty of venting, as the smell of victory is often tinged with da feet. Also, seat covers can protect upholstery from dirt, just as all-weather floor and cargo mats can protect the carpet.

With that, here are the 10 best deals on cars for soccer moms and dads.

Acura RDX

Derived from the Honda CR-V, the upscale RDX is a sensible SUV, with a comfortable interior, respectable fuel economy, secure handling, and responsive 273-hp V6 engine. Three adults can fit in the rear without much crowding, and the cushions are well shaped and set high, affording a good view out. Foot room benefits from a flat floor. Cabin storage facilities are generous with deep console bins, well suited to shin guards and other travel essentials. Cargo volume is moderate—a bit less than in the CR-V by our measurements. The rear seatbacks are spring-loaded and fold down easily to make more cargo space. The 2015 RDX is already available, helping grease negotiations on the outgoing 2014 model.

 

Make & model MSRP Invoice Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
Acura RDX $36,815 $34,921 7/7/2014 5%+

Chevrolet Traverse

The Traverse is one of GM's roomy, car-based three-row SUVs. It has a spacious and quiet interior, with a third-row seat that's roomy enough to accommodate adults. Seating for eight is available. In our tests, the smooth and refined 3.6-liter V6 returned 16 mpg overall, but has its work cut out for it with this heavy vehicle. A recent freshening brought the better MyLink infotainment system. Handling is relatively agile and secure, and the Traverse steers nicely. The ride is taut yet comfortable and steady. Rear visibility isn't great, but clever extra mirrors reduce side blind spots. Reliability has been average.

 

Make & model MSRP Invoice Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
Chevrolet Traverse
$36,885 $35,805 6/30/2014 10%+

Ford Flex

The genre-defying Ford Flex combines SUV-like versatility with car-like driving dynamics. Although similar in concept, this boxy model is roomier than a conventional wagon.  This packaging makes the Flex a great family hauler, aided by large doors and low floor. Large comfortable seats make for adult-grade accommodations in all three rows. There are abundant storage nooks, and the rear cargo space forms a deep, ball-holding well when the third row is being used. Reliability of the turbocharged V6 is well below average, but the regular V6 version is average.

 

Make & model MSRP Invoice Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
Ford Flex
$34,745 $33,263 7/7/2014 10%+

Honda CR-V

Looking for a Goldilocks solution to your commuting and team transport needs? Consider the Honda CR-V, one of the more sensible and competitively priced choices in the small SUV class. Its 185-hp four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic are smooth and responsive, and fuel economy is decent at 23 mpg overall. The ride is absorbent and composed, but road noise is pronounced. Of course, with rowdy kids on-board, you’ll never notice. Handling is responsive in ordinary driving, but it doesn't shine at the limits—only a factor if you’re running late for the big game. It has a roomy rear seat, large storage bins, and a low load floor with ample cargo space. AWD can come in handy during tough weather or when you need to park off-pavement at a crowded field. A standard rear-view camera is always welcomed when there are kids around.

 

Make & model MSRP Invoice Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
Honda CR-V
$27,300 $25,932 6/30/2014 5%+

Hyundai Santa Fe

The stylish three-row Santa Fe provides enough room for the defenders and midfielders, with generous seating in the second row. Smaller players will need to take the third row, as access and space there is not varsity scale. Fuel economy from the standard V6 engine tops the class. The second row slides forward and aft, allowing some adjustment for passenger space. We saw 20 mpg overall in our testing—one to two mpg better than most competitors—with no compromise in performance. Ample power points and USB ports ensure players can recharge their gadgets on the go. Available third-row climate controls allow rear riders to cool down without freezing the driver.

 

Make & model MSRP Invoice Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
Hyundai Santa Fe
$32,525 $31,333 6/30/2014 5%+

Infiniti QX60

Buyers looking for a spacious, quiet, luxurious, and well-finished interior with room for seven but without the bulk of a full-sized SUV should consider the QX60. This three-row crossover is powered by a smooth 265-hp, V6 engine mated to a continuously variable transmission. Our all-wheel-drive JX returned 19 mpg overall on premium fuel, slightly above par for the category. The second row is roomy for three. A family-friendly feature is the ability to gain access to the third row even with a child seat installed in the second row. A full suite of active safety systems are available, as is a first-aid kit.


 

Make & model MSRP Invoice Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
Infiniti QX60
$44,495 $41,750 6/30/2014 10%+

Mazda5

In between a small wagon and a minivan, the Mazda5 carves a unique niche with much appeal. This affordable model is relatively fun to drive, easy to park, and is fuel efficient. Add to that dual sliding doors and three rows of seating, and you have a great soccer taxi. The Mazda5 features captain’s chairs for the front rows; the snug two-place third row brings total seating to six. Cargo space is scant if all seats are used. The Mazda5 is priced aggressively, making it inviting to step up to the Grand Touring for a few extra bells and whistles.

 

Make & model MSRP Invoice Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
Mazda5
$25,465 $24,706 6/30/2014 10%+

Nissan Quest

The Nissan Quest brings style and panache to the minivan segment in an artfully rendered model befitting an Infiniti badge. It provides abundant space, the way only a minivan can, with three seating rows and much interior versatility. Soft front seats feel wide and plush. Large, comfortable captain's chairs in the second row slide fore-and-aft and recline. Three adults will fit comfortably in the third row, which also reclines. Access is typically generous for a minivan, and even the climb to the third row isn't too bad, but the sliding door doesn't open as wide as you'd expect. The 260-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine feels lively, even in this big van. The continuously variable transmission is very smooth and responsive. We got 19 mpg overall in our testing. Available dual moonroof and DVD player are certain to delight the kids.

 

Make & model MSRP Invoice Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
Nissan Quest
$34,610 $32,614 6/30/2014 10%+

Toyota Sienna

Tying the Nissan Quest for road test score, the Toyota Sienna is a conventional choice for a family hauler. It offers seating for up to eight (one more than Quest), and it returned 20 mpg overall in our last test. It provides a comfortable ride, with good isolation around town and on the highway. The engine sounds coarse under load, and wind and road noise provide a constant background hiss. Neither is a concern with kids onboard or the optional JBL stereo cranking. Toyota offers a full portfolio of safety and entertainment options befitting a minivan. Owner satisfaction and predicted reliability are above average, helping make this a smart choice for frequent carpoolers.

 

Make & model MSRP Invoice Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
Toyota Sienna
$41,775 $39,767 7/7/2014 5%+

Volvo XC60

Based on the S80 sedan, the XC60 is slick, upscale SUV that benefits from Volvo's latest safety advances, including the "city safety" system. The muscle on the version we tested, and highlighted here, comes from a 300-hp, turbocharged, 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Performance is lively, although fuel economy is just 17 mpg overall. At least it requires only regular fuel, unlike its other luxury competitors. The interior is nicely finished, although storage is moderate and rear-seat room is just sufficient. Integrated two-stage booster seats are optional and convenient for children 33 pounds to 80 pounds and 37 inches to 55 inches tall.

 

Make & model MSRP Invoice Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
Volvo XC60
$42,465 $40,472 6/30/2014 10%+

Build & Buy Car Buying Service

When buying a car, in addition to research and reviews, Consumer Reports offers subscribers access to the Build & Buy Car Buying Service at no additional cost. Through this service, a nationwide network of more than 7,000 participating dealers provide upfront pricing information, as well as a certificate to receive guaranteed savings off MSRP (in most states). The pricing information and guaranteed savings includes eligible incentives. Consumer Reports subscribers have saved an average of $2,919 off MSRP with the Build & Buy Car Buying Service.


   

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