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3 family haulers with top safety ratings

Families need space to haul their kids, friends and stuff. To get that space, they usually choose an SUV or minivan. Either way, safety is very important to those families.

Two 2017 minivans and one SUV have just won top safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The organization announced recently top grades for minivans Kia Sedona and Chrysler Pacifica as well as Chinese-built SUV Buick Envision. The Pacifica is a totally new model.

Earning the top grade of Top Safety Pick Plus has become harder. As always, a vehicle must perform well in crash tests simulating front, side and rollover accidents. But now to get the top grade, a model must offer new technology that can help prevent accidents. That technology, often called front automatic braking, hits the brakes if it senses that the vehicle is about to slam into the car ahead.

Let's have a closer look at these well-rated new family haulers.

Buick Envision

Buick

Envision is the first General Motors (GM) vehicle to be built in China and sold here. Buick models sell strongly in China, and this SUV was first introduced there in 2014.

The Envision is powered by a lively 252-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The vehicle features some luxury touches like triple-zone climate control that includes separate controls for the kids in the rear seats.

To boost mileage, the Envision has an automatic stop-start feature that turns the engine off at stop lights and then restarts it when you press on the gas pedal. The result is an EPA rating of 22 MPG in city driving and 29 on the highway.

Envision list prices range from $42,995 to $45,635.

Chrysler ​Pacifica

Chrysler

Pacifica ranks No. 1 among minivans, according to reviewers surveyed by U.S. News Best Cars. That's a sizable improvement from the Town and Country model it replaces.

Test drivers praise praise the Pacifica's powerful V-6 engine and responsive handling. They also praise its Stow'n'Go feature, which lets both the second- and third-row seats fold into the floor to maximize cargo space. In most rivals, the owner must remove the second-row seats to get comparable room.

Reviewers also praise the Pacifica's infotainment system as being simple and user-friendly.

In tests of the automatic braking, IIHS reports that the minivan avoided crashes at speeds of both 12 MPH and 25 MPH, The Pacifica's 3.6-liter engine is rated for 18 MPG in city driving and 28 on the highway.

The minivan's list prices run from $28,595 to $42,499.

Kia Sedona

Kia

The Sedona, named for the picturesque town in Arizona, has scored good crash test ratings with previous models. But the addition of an option for automatic braking in the 2017 version has let it gain the Top Safety Pick Plus rating. In tests of the automatic braking, the Sedona system avoided crashes at both 12 and 25 MPH.

With three rows of seats, the Sedona can handle up to eight people. Its 3.3-liter V-6 engine is rated for 18 MPG city, 25 highway.

The Sedona list prices run from $27,295 to $33,595 with leather trim.