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Hot Family Cars

Being a parent involves all types of sacrifices, such as giving up that sporty two-door car.

But getting a larger, safer, family car doesn't have to mean sacrificing style or value.

For the second year in a row, Parents magazine has teamed up with the AAA (the American Automobile Association) to compile a list of the best cars for families.

The two organizations compared the top performers in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. They then narrowed their list by looking at style, value and convenience.

Betty Wong, a senior editor at Parents magazine and Mantill Williams, the director of public affairs at AAA visited The Saturday Early Show with their picks for the best family vehicles.

Here's what Parents magazine and AAA say about some of the vehicles they demonstrated on Saturday:

SEDAN: Altima $17,900 - $23,700

The Altima is practical and has a nice style, says Parents magazine. The roomy sedan has an arched roof, which creates more headroom than in almost any other sedan. The trunk opens low, which puts less strain on your back when lifting strollers and groceries from the trunk. Also, the backseat is very flat so it's easy to install child safety seats. And, with each car, Nissan gives parents a list of which child seats fit the best into the car.

WAGON: Ford Taurus $20,000 - $24,000

With the Taurus you get lots of space for less money. A bench seat in the back of the car helps the Taurus seat eight. The car also comes with pedal extenders that allow shorter drivers to sit farther away from the steering wheel. The Ford also offers a soft, quiet ride that's good for long road trips, according to Parents magazine.

For safety, the Taurus has dual-stage airbags. AAA says if you are in a minor fender-bender, your air bag will only partially inflate in this car, decreasing the chances of you or a passenger being injured by the airbag.

SUV: Volvo XC90 $34,000 - $40,000

The Volvo SUV is in high demand. It's part of a new breed of crossover vehicles, which are a combination of a wagon and an SUV. The center section of the middle seat slides forward 12 inches to give parents easy access to a rear-facing infant seat. The middle and third rows split and fold completely flat for hauling space. The car seats seven and has 17 cup-holders.

The Volvo has a groundbreaking, innovative, anti-rollover technology, says AAA. The car literally senses when it's about to rollover and manipulates the brakes to help regain control. It also is built with a high-strength steel cage and comes with a built-in booster seat for older kids.

Also, thanks to its design, AAA says the car is less harmful to other cars when involved in accidents.

MINIVAN: Honda Odyssey $24,900 - $30,900

The Honda Odyssey has sliding doors on both sides and mid-row bucket seats slide together, or slide apart to separate siblings. Even with the third row of seats, there is lots of room in the back for groceries, sports equipment and other kid essentials, says Parent Magazine.

For safety, AAA says, the van drives firmly like a car, the handling is fantastic and the braking is first rate. It received a perfect score from the government in front and side crash tests.

Here's the complete list from Parents/AAA:

Top Family Sedans: Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry

Top Family Wagons: Ford Taurus Volvo V70, Volkswagen Passat

Top Family SUVs: Volvo XC90, Honda Pilot, Ford Expedition

Top Family Minivans: Honda Odyssey, Ford Windstar, Dodge Grand Caravan

Top Economy Cars: Honda Civic, Mazda Protege, Volkswagen Jetta

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