DETROIT (WWJ) - All families are not created alike, so it stands to reason that all family cars shouldn't be alike either. Each year editors from Kelley Blue Book's www.kbb.com decide the 10 Best Family Cars, which cater to unique family specifications and situations.
This year's list features new vehicles that are family approved in a big way, offering safety, comfort, child-friendliness, strong consumer ratings and impressive Kelley Blue Book total cost of ownership statistics.
Transportation cost during the ownership period is important for families trying to get by on tight budgets, so a vital part of the selection process is identifying vehicles that have low cost of ownership in the initial five-year ownership period.
Jack R. Nerad, executive market analyst for kbb.com, said after driving and evaluating nearly all of the new cars available on the market, they identified the vehicles that offer the greatest combination of features and value for everyday families.
Kbb.com's 10 Best Family Cars of 2012:
10. 2012 Toyota Prius V
Love the idea of 50 mpg but need room for your family and fixings? You might be suffering from Prius envy. But now there's a bigger Prius Toyota called Prius V. Its combined fuel economy of 42 mpg doesn't quite match its little brother's, but it's way more fuel-efficient than any compact SUV and roomier than many.
9. 2012 Chrysler 300
Well-equipped at its starting price under $30,000, the Chrysler 300 qualifies as a screaming deal for those who favor a full-size sedan with outstanding comfort, loads of premium standard features and a distinctive sense of style. Redesigned for 2011, the Chrysler 300 gets even better for 2012 thanks to a new economy-enhancing V6 engine and segment-exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission.
8. 2012 Honda Civic
Smaller and more affordable than the prototypical family car, the Honda Civic is nevertheless plenty car for many families. In addition to offering comfortable seating for five, the Civic is capable of up to 39 mpg on the highway and is available with a new display that shows fuel economy, music info and even your favorite family photos.
7. 2012 Chevrolet Suburban 1500
The list of family cars would not be complete without a large cargo-hauling, people-moving SUV like the Chevrolet Suburban. Especially since this large SUV is capable of seating up to nine passengers, towing 9,600 pounds and is available with a host of creature comforts to accommodate almost any size family. And all their luggage. And their boat.
6. 2012 Kia Sorento
What has three rows and returns highway fuel economy of up to 32 mpg? Not much. But the 2012 Kia Sorento does, and good fuel economy is only part of the story. The Sorento starts under $24,000 and offers a voice-controlled infotainment system plus a great big panoramic moonroof.
5. 2012 Honda CR-V
Fully redesigned for 2012, the fourth-generation Honda CR-V offers a more contemporary look and feel than the vehicle it replaces along with even better fuel economy and an improved Real-Time all-wheel drive system. Perennial best-seller in the hotly contested compact crossover class, the CR-V is also one of the few in the class to offer a rear-seat entertainment system.
4. 2012 Subaru Outback
If your family deserves a sport utility vehicle but doesn't want an SUV, the 2012 Subaru Outback is the perfect on-road, off-road, all-road choice. Every Outback comes with all-wheel drive, an integrated roof rack and 8.7 inches of ground clearance – not bad for a fuel-smart, road-savvy station wagon with room for five adults and loads of cargo.
3. 2012 Ford Flex
One of the most appealing boxes in the world, the 2012 Ford Flex comes with three rows of family seating and plenty of opt-up possibilities, including all-wheel drive, an EcoBoost V6 (high power, high fuel economy) and a center-console fridge. Best of all, the Flex is just rare enough a beast to let you maintain a degree of exclusivity in neighborhoods glutted with minivans and crossover SUVs.
2. 2012 Honda Odyssey
The Honda Odyssey is perfectly practical, happily shuttling kids or cargo while offering minivan must-haves like sliding rear doors and a flexible, roomy interior. But the Odyssey also has an almost passionate side, expressed in its strong V6 engine, oddly capable handling and comparatively stylish exterior.
1. 2012 Volkswagen Passat
Crafted specifically for the American market – it's even built in Chattanooga, Tennessee – the 2012 Volkswagen Passat is both larger and cheaper than the model it replaces. But the European driving dynamics and interior feel remain, making the new Passat a uniquely well-rounded, high value family sedan.
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