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Babble Best Picks:
Best Crossovers for the Family

With winter right around the corner and dealers clearing out the lots to make room for next year's models, now is a great time to take advantage of dealer and manufacturer incentives and shop for a new SUV. To help consumers make sense of the increasingly crowded crossover market, I examined the most popular models on the market under $35,000 and chose the best SUVs for families based on price, cargo capacity, safety, features, and fuel economy. Read More »

There are a lot of options to choose from, and many vehicles are very evenly matched. When there was a tough call in deciding which vehicle was best for the category, I took the uncertain economy and the ever-changing price fuel into consideration and gave the top spot to the less-expensive vehicle that got better gas mileage.

Safety is also a big consideration when selecting a vehicle. New car stickers have the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 5-star safety ratings on them, so here we listed the more stringent crash test scores given by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). To cross-check our results, we also listed the Consumer Reports vehicle score and provided their Consumer Satisfaction rating when available.

We hope you find this information helpful in your search for a family crossover. Don't see your favorite vehicle on the list? Nominate it here! - Liane Yvkoff

Best 8-seater SUV | 2011 Chevrolet Traverse

Best Crossovers for the Family: 2011 Chevrolet Traverse

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MSRP: $28,180- $45,780

FUEL ECONOMY: 17 city/24 highway mpg

A lot of vehicles try to offer the space of a minivan without looking like one, and the Chevrolet Traverse does this better than its competitors. The vehicle is equipped with a 3.6-liter, 281-horsepower engine that has enough power to really make the vehicle go, and its fuel economy is on par with minivans.

On the outside, the Traverse is extremely clean and simple (although some may call it plain). On the inside, the cabin’s materials and design feel modern and refined, and possible upgrades include two-tone leather interior with brushed-metal accents.

FEATURES

The base model is equipped with a few tech touches, including OnStar (subscription required), Bluetooth connectivity, and standard XM radio. Upgrading to higher-end models gets you a rear-view camera, navigation, and XM Nav Traffic (again, monthly subscription). The USB port is conveniently located on top of the dash rather than in the glove compartment or at the bottom of the center console, making it easier to reach and charge mobile devices.

Of course, each upgrade gives you more convenience features, including remote vehicle start and keyless entry. And rather than blind-spot warning systems, the Traverse actually has a blind-spot mirror built into the side-view mirror.

Other optional interior features worth mentioning include a dual sunroof and a power tailgate to automatically open the cargo area.

SEATING + STORAGE

Three-row SUV with standard seating for 8 passengers. The SUV’s 57.8-inch second-row bench is wide enough to support a range of car seat configurations, and GM’s smart-slide chairs were developed so that even a 5-year-old can flip and slide them to gain easy access to the third row.

There are also lots of cup holders and storage compartments throughout the vehicle. The Traverse designers thoughtfully included cup holders in the rear-door armrests, which put drinks within reach of toddlers strapped in car seats.

Of all 8-seat SUVs, the Traverse offers the most cargo space behind the third row so you can fit lots of kids and their gear, and there’s also in-floor storage for emergency supplies.

ENTERTAINMENT + NAVIGATION

The Traverse offers an optional ceiling-mounted DVD player, but you could opt for the aftermarket dual seatback video entertainment system instead, which would be sold by and installed by the dealership.

RATINGS

  • IIHS Top Safety Pick.
  • Consumer Reports gave the Traverse a score of 80 out of 100 points, and 76 percent of owners would purchase this vehicle again.

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