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 SUV for carpooling | 2011 Dodge Journey
MSRP: $22,245- $32,740
FUEL ECONOMY: 19/25
If you frequently find yourself with extra toddlers in tow, the Dodge Journey makes it easy to carpool without doing the car seat shuffle with other parents.
The crossover is available with two engine options: a smaller 173-horsepower 2.4-liter engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission or a much stronger 283-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
While it may not be as stylish as some other crossovers on the market, parents like the Journey because it’s more like a minivan. It rides lower to the ground, handles more like a car, and offers tri-zone climate control – all without the soccer mom stigma of sliding doors.
However, the vehicle’s steering wheel-mounted controls are a little goofy. While most manufacturers have the station and volume buttons on the front of the steering wheel, Chrysler stuck those on the back, and you may end up accidentally skipping songs when making sharp turns. Though it’s not dangerous, it could get annoying.
SEATING + STORAGE
The crossover is available with five or seven seats, but when you opt for the 7-seat configuration, the second-row captain’s chairs are available with optional built-in booster seats that pop up when needed.
One of the unique optional features of the Journey is a front passenger seat that folds flat to turn into a tray table. If you’re trying to work while waiting for soccer practice to finish, the table is good for a laptop or textbooks, and the plastic surface can also double as a diaper changing station.
Other carpool-friendly features include an air-conditioned glove box to keep bottles and snacks chilled. The front passenger seat cushion lifts up to reveal a storage compartment where you can stow away valuables or hold a stash of emergency supplies, and there’s an always-charged LED flashlight in the rear cargo area.
ENTERTAINMENT + NAVIGATION
Setting it apart from other crossovers, the Journey features the voice-activated uConnect Touch. The 8.4-inch touch screen is easy to use and displays directions well with vibrant graphics.