The 14 Best Family Cars, from 3-Row SUVs to Minivans

My car is not my own—and it hasn’t been since my kids were born. Instead, it’s the family pod. It’s where we wait for doctor appointments, plan bucket list road trips and tailgate for fireworks and parades. But it’s also where I sort through emails, browse shopping recommendations and have important conversations with my daughters.

Car time, though, can be frustrating and chaotic if your vehicle isn’t equipped with what you need. From USB ports for every passenger (all the cars on our list provide that!) and top notch safety technology to enough room to install kids’ car seats and plug-in electric motors that’ll save money, what makes a car right for your life? Automakers across the board (think: stalwarts like Lexus and Ford, newbies like Genesis and perennial favorites like Jeep) are doing all they can to wow you and win your business in 2022. Here are 14 of the best family cars, including new or recently redesigned standout SUVs and minivans with top features for families. Bonus: None of our picks will force you to skimp on style or luxury—because no one should have to compromise when it comes to the family pod.

15 Things to Do on a Long Car Ride (Besides Playing ‘I Spy’)

best family cars kia carnival

1. Kia Carnival

The Cool Minivan

If convincing your other half that a minivan is really what you need, this one wins the praise of enthusiast drivers everywhere. When Kia presented this three-row minivan as the ‘unminivan’ that drives and performs more like an SUV, we thought, no way. But, as it turns out, way. Add to that the Kia reputation for quality and reliability, as well as many safety and convenience features you typically find on more expensive SUVs, and it’s not such a hard sell after all.

Best Feature: Second row captain’s chairs that rival that of a first class airline seat with extending footrests and personal video screens.

What It Costs: $32,100 to $46,100

best family cars acura mdx

2. Acura Mdx

The SUV with Minivan Smarts

Redesigned for 2021, this badass SUV took some lessons from its minivan sibling Honda Odyssey, incorporating popular features like a center row middle seat that can easily be removed, a mic and speaker system that makes chatting with the third row passengers easy and a ‘fam cam’ that displays a video of second and third row passengers on the media screen. This is probably the most versatile yet luxe SUV on the market, which, paired with its fun to drive dynamic, also makes it one of our favorites of the year.

Best Feature: Acura’s ELS premium sound system, created by Grammy Award winning producer Eliot Schiner (Foo Fighters, Steely Dan, Beyoncé). It’s really, truly like a world class music studio on wheels.

What It Costs: $47,200 to $60,950

best family cars genesis gv 80

3. Genesis Gv 80

Over the Top Luxury That’s Under the Radar

As much as we love our luxury cars, sometimes they feel a bit ubiquitous. I don’t want to see my red carpet dress on anyone else; why would I want to show up in the same car? Genesis, at least for now, answers that concern with its superbly appointed, uber-elegant SUV, the GV80. Buyers can choose a center row bench or captain’s chairs, as well as a third row (which you can raise or lower from the multimedia touch screen). This brand is conditioned to deliver more bang for your buck than its competitors, so expect ample power, Nappa leather, head up display and other luxuries for the price of a less-equipped competitor.

Best Feature: The elegantly crafted multimedia and gear selector dial on the center console; swathed in jewelry-like textured metal and crystal, it’s like holding a David Yurman creation in your hand.

What It Costs: $49,700 to $67,500

best family cars jeep grand cherokee l

4. Jeep Grand Cherokee L

The Best Family 4x4

Jeep has long been the go-to for families who ski, camp or cross dunes and swamps to get away. (Or those who relish lingering at the local eatery while the rest of the town is rushing home to beat a brewing snowstorm—Jeep owners know they can simply drive home when they’re ready.) But until now, many families were forced to give up their cherished Jeep for an SUV with a third row (hand: raised). Finally, finally, Jeep has created a third row option of the Grand Cherokee and they did it brilliantly. The cabin is roomy, second row seats slide and tilt for third row access (or go with captain’s chairs for pass-through access), the third row is amply sized and underneath it all, it’s still a Jeep: Just as capable and awesome as it ever was, but now with even more refined and capable interiors.

Best Feature: The new UConnect multimedia system with voice-activated assistance; just say “Hey Jeep” to change the radio station or turn on the windshield wipers.

What It Costs: $38,890 to $63,760

best family cars wagoneer and grand wagoneer

5. Wagoneer And Grand Wagoneer

Old School Grandeur Returns

Back in the day, a Wagoneer in the driveway also meant a house on the Cape or the dunes of Montauk. It took a special vehicle to get the family to that special place, after all. Jeep brought back the Wagoneer, and its more luxurious sibling, the Grand Wagoneer, for 2021 and it’s not a minute too soon. The Wagoneer incorporates a number of heritage details like wood trim, this time on the interior rather than side panels, and the premium MacIntosh sound system. It also sports a three-panel sunroof, a spacious cabin that will easily fit seven or eight passengers, kids’ car seats and cargo.

Best Feature: All the luxury details, which are truly over the top and on par with brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW: quilted leather seating with massaging front seats, premium materials and screens for nearly every passenger.

What It Costs: $69,440 to $104,845

best family cars vw atlas

6. Vw Atlas

Because You Carry the World On Your Back

We just can’t get enough of this SUV; it’s roomy enough for our growing kids, easy to wrangle kids’ car seats (we love the slide and tilt center seats that even function with a car seat installed!), has plenty of room for adults up front or in the third row, and it’s priced nicely from the base model to fully loaded sporty R Line. It’s popular with families because it’s focused on what you really need in a car: ample space, easy-to-clean seats and floors and a multimedia system that puts everything at your fingertips. What they didn’t include—which saves you money—are things like a rear seat entertainment system (bring your own tablets) or quilted leather (not the best for messy toddlers or car seats that leave their mark behind).

Best Feature: The crisp, elegant design of this SUV. It’s a classic and keeps this SUV looking fresh and modern, even when it’s several years old.

What It Costs: $33,475 to $50,645

best family cars lexus nx

7. Lexus Nx

The Future of Lexus Gets It Right

Lexus gets top scores among luxury car brands for its distinct design, reliability, resale value and the dealership experience. But when it came time to evolve the brand’s models, the company began with the compact and well-priced NX. Changes to the exterior are not dramatic; it continues to look refined and familiar; the interior, however, was revolutionized. More than 80 gaming and IT experts were hired to retool the car’s technology, resulting in a fantastic new multimedia system. The track pad was eliminated and in its place are a touchscreen system with a voice assistant that pops up when you say, “Hey Lexus.” The NX has new engine options including a plug-in hybrid that can travel 35 or so miles on a charge and gets about 35 MPG from the gas-electric hybrid engine.

Best Feature: The head up display with touch sensitive controls; as you swipe your fingers over the control pad on the steering wheel you’ll see the functions highlighted in the HUD. And it’s brilliant.

What It Costs: $37,950 to $56,900

best family cars audi q5 sportback1

8. Audi Q5 Sportback

Form and Function

Just when you thought a family car meant giving up your personal style, the Audi Q5 Sportback reminds you who you are. Redesigned last year and even more beautiful, this mid-size five-passenger SUV is sleeker and more stylish than ever. I particularly love that the cabin is well thought out, with just the features you need but not an overwhelming edit. The leatherette (or at the higher trim, leather) seats are great for families because they are resilient and easy to clean. And they are not overly bucket shaped, so they accommodate kids’ car seats well.

Best Feature: The shape of this car is so beautiful it’s hard to take your eyes off of it.

What It Costs: $49,900 to $58,600

best family cars kia sorento phev

9. Kia Sorento Phev

The Best SUV You Can Buy

This is the one value brand model that we encourage even confirmed luxury car buyers to consider. First, it’s simply gorgeous. Kia’s product planners outdid themselves in finding beautiful and luxurious details to add to this interior. But then, it plugs in for 35 miles of all electric driving—you can wave as you pass the gas station every day—and when the battery power is used up, the hybrid engine kicks in, getting about 35 MPG (it’s available in a pure hybrid, too). Most drivers are able to complete all their daily rounds just on the battery.

Best Feature: While this car is filled with great tech features, there’s nothing like standard captain’s chairs to make rear seat passengers feel special.

What It Costs: $44,900 to $47,890

best family cars infiniti qx60

10. Infiniti Qx60

A Fantastic Luxury SUV Made Even Better

Two words: Theater seating. This luxury SUV has long been good at all it does—pampering leather seats, great driver assist technology, nicely connected systems like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But for the 2022 model, Infiniti added “theater seating” which elevates the seating position of the second and third rows as if they are in a theater. This means that every passenger has a better view of the road, is less likely to get car sick and the driver can clearly see every smiling face in the rear view mirror.

Best Feature: The smart slide and tilt center row seats that can function even with a kid’s car seat installed. They operate via a push button that third row passengers can use to get out of the car—unless there’s a passenger in the center row seat, and then this function is disabled (so, no cries of “mom, it was an accident!” when the seat is slung forward with the baby in it.)

What It Costs: $46,850 to $63,250

best family cars volvo v90 wagon

11. Volvo V90 Wagon

The UnSUV for Those Who Love to Drive

Possibly one of the most elegant cars on the road, the V90 wagon boasts all the modern, minimalist luxury design features of Volvo’s sedans and SUVs in a lower to the ground, more fun to drive wagon. The cargo area lends to the open, airy cabin and has room for all the large things you need to haul (hello LAX gear). Even sweaty Lacrosse players will feel privileged in this interior, and front seat passengers will love the heated massaging seats, available in the top trim.

Best Feature: Volvo’s new multimedia system, which is a collaboration between Volvo and Google. It has a familiar look and function; just ask Google for what you want the way you do at home, and she’s at your service. Note: The system does not yet accommodate Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connected phone services, but it promises them in the near future (you can connect via Bluetooth, of course).

What It Costs: from $51,800

best family cars hyundai tucson phev

12. Hyundai Tucson Phev

City Ready and Primed to Go the Distance

We love compact SUVs for city living; they are easy to drive, easy to park and thanks to their higher ground clearance and flexible cargo space, they can manage our stuff and our people. But even more, we love compact SUVs that have a combination plug-in electric and hybrid gas engines, or the PHEV. They are the best of both worlds: drive 35 or so miles on all electric and when the EV battery’s charge runs out, the hybrid engine takes over, giving you nearly double the MPG of the typical SUV. Hyundai introduced the fully redesigned and futuristic looking Tucson last year with the added PHEV option in addition to the hybrid and standard gas engine options.

Best Feature: From the futuristic headlights integrated into the grille to the front center console that is integrated into the dashboard, everything in this car is fresh and modern.

What It Costs: $34,750 to $42,550

best family cars lincoln aviator

13. Lincoln Aviator

The Original “Quiet Flight” SUV

New to the market a few years ago, this three-row luxury SUV was so advanced that other car makers are still catching up. That’s because Lincoln didn’t skimp on anything, even in the most affordable trim levels; the Aviator has a gliding ride, quiet cabin and powerful engine. All three rows are comfortable and roomy and there are USB ports and climate vents at every seat. Add to that a refined leather interior, effortless push-button door handles and technology that even some of the most luxe cars on the market can’t match—like the digital key, which allows you use your phone to unlock, start and drive your car without a key—and the Aviator remains at the top of the luxury SUV category.

Best Feature: The audible alert system: rather than machine-created beeps to let you know someone’s not wearing a seatbelt, Lincoln had the tones recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. And it’s so elegant.

What It Costs: $51,465 to $87,905

best family cars cadillac escalade

14. Cadillac Escalade

The OG of Luxury SUVs Is Now Even More Extra

Cadillac just can’t help itself. When its engineers come up with something cool—the best near-self-driving system you can get (called SuperCruise), layers of curved screens (a 38” continuous panel that spans the dash) so you can see everything perfectly, night vision so you can spot that deer before it jumps out in front of you—they have to get it into their cars ASAP. And it’s nice to know that when you buy this super luxe SUV fully loaded that it’s really, truly fully loaded. We love not just the technology, but also the attention to detail. It was redesigned in 2021 with a more streamlined, modern look and inside, every passenger will feel spoiled by this SUV.

Best Feature: As wowed we are by the technology and screens, there’s nothing like the fragrance of Cadillac’s leather. Nothing.

What It Costs: $76,295 to $105,840

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Freelance PureWow Editor