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Top 10 vehicles for family travel

Consumer Reports News: June 27, 2011 11:33 AM

Headed out on a road trip this summer? If you are looking to ditch your old car before that big trip, check out our list of the top 10 vehicles for family travel. The list includes models that have done well in safety tests, in our reliability ratings and covers a variety of cars, from small SUVs to luxury sedans, at a range of prices. We've focused on cars that are comfortable, quiet, ride well, and have plenty of space for both people and luggage, yet attain reasonable fuel economy.

Chevrolet Traverse
The Traverse has space for adults in all three rows, so kids definitely will have enough room in the back. Even with all three rows in use, some space for luggage still remains. The Traverse is also quiet to drive and handles like a much smaller vehicle.

Ford Flex
The Flex has very easy access into its vast cabin. Second row seat room is immense and there is a third row as well. The ride is comfortable and quiet. An optional turbocharged engine improves performance with little difference in fuel economy. Crash test results are impressive.

Honda Accord EX V6/Crosstour
The Accord is one of the most accommodating family sedans available. The driving position is excellent, the seats are supportive, visibility is impressive, and the rear seat is very roomy. Uplevel V6 versions are more refined and have more features than lower-trim four-cylinder versions. The Crosstour adds the flexibility of a hatchback but it has more clumsy handling.

Hyundai Genesis
The Genesis rivals luxury sedans that cost a lot more. The refined V6 delivers quick acceleration and decent fuel economy; a more powerful V8 is optional. The interior is very quiet and very well finished. The cabin is roomy with a very hospitable rear seat.

Subaru Forester XT
Small on the outside, the sensible and practical Forester has a roomy interior. Visibility is excellent, with big windows all-around. Limited and turbocharged models have a telescope steering wheel that improves the already good driving position. The ride is impressively comfortable and noise levels are well controlled.

Subaru Legacy/Outback
The Legacy's standard all-wheel-drive could be welcome if the road to Grandma's house is snowy. But even on summer trips, the Legacy has a spacious interior with a composed and comfortable ride. Cabin noise levels are low. The all-wheel-drive doesn't come with much sacrifice in fuel economy. The Outback adds station wagon versatility.

Toyota Avalon
The Avalon has all of the qualities of a Lexus LS except the badge and high price tag. The quiet interior has limo-like rear seat leg room. Getting in and out is extremely easy and there is a large trunk. Fuel economy is impressive given the responsive performance of the V6 and the car’s size.

Toyota Camry
The Camry excels at providing quiet and comfortable family transportation. The rear seat is spacious. All versions have good fuel economy with the hybrid version averaging 34 mpg in our tests.

Toyota Highlander
The Highlander scores high for its refinement, quiet interior, ride comfort, and flexible and roomy second-row seat. The 3.5-liter V6 delivers solid performance and 18 mpg overall. A hybrid version gets 27 mpg, fuel economy on par with much smaller sedans.

Toyota Sienna
The redesigned Sienna rides very comfortably. Performance is lively from the 3.5-liter V6 and fuel economy is very respectable at 20 mpg. If you want an all-wheel-drive minivan, the Sienna is the only game in town. The roomy and flexible interior has very comfortable second row seats; they slide back-and-forth to optimize either leg room or cargo space.

For more advice including tips on saving gas, driving with pets, and car maintenance, see our guide to summer road travel.

Tom Mutchler

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