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4 Best SUVs for Families

Best Family Cars

Best Family Cars

We start at a size that is meaningful for family use and then step up to a full-size vehicle capable of carrying eight passengers.

Here is our list of the four best family SUVs and why we feel they earn this distinction.

Are you looking for a vehicle to comfortably seat the whole family? Check out our other picks:

Let’s first explain what we consider a sport utility vehicle.

First, it must have all-wheel drive. Second, it must be able to tow a trailer. Third, it must have a spare tire. Since family is our most precious cargo, every SUV on our list has earned the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick if it has been tested.

You will also notice we did not select subcompact SUVs for this list. They are just too small to be considered a family vehicle.

Read about how we rank our cars >>

Best SUVs for Families Comparison

Best Family SUVsFord Bronco Sport Badlands AWDMazda CX-5 Signature AWDKia Telluride EX AWDToyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD
Base Price
$27,000
$27,000
$33,000
$40,000
Best Trim Price
$35,000
$40,000
$40,000
$50,000
Passenger Volume
106 cu. ft.
106 cu. ft.
178 cu. ft.
141 cu. ft.
Max Cargo Volume
60 cu. ft.
60 cu. ft.
87 cu. ft.
84 cu. ft.
Seating
5
5
8
7
HP
250 hp
277 hp
291 hp
243 hp
EPA Combined MPG
23 MPG
24 MPG
23 MPG
35 MPG
Tow Rating
2,200 lbs
2,000 lbs
5,000 lbs
3,500 lbs

1. Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

Bronco-Sport-FamilyThe Bronco Sport is a rough-and-ready SUV that can tackle any off-road challenge. The Bronco Sport is in the “RAV4 and CR-V” size segment, but it offers a unique list of off-road features that most crossover-based SUVs in this segment do not.

Our choice is the Badlands trim, which is second from the top of the four available trims. The Badlands features a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine making a strong 250 hp. More importantly, the Badlands has great low-end torque, a feature any off-roader will appreciate. 

The Bronco Sport Badlands is unique on our list because it has Trail Control terrain management, a locking rear differential, and comes standard with all-terrain tires. Snow-rated all-terrain tires are a factory option. Also unique on our list is the Badlands’ full-size spare tire. No SUV under $40K offers the capabilities the Bronco Sport does off-road.

Families looking for an SUV that works very well in daily use but can also double as an overlander or off-roader will appreciate what the Ford Bronco Sport Badlands brings to the table.

Pros

  • Full-size spare tire
  • Strong turbocharged engine
  • Goes over any terrain

Cons

  • Fuel economy
  • Crash test rating pending

Current Ford Bronco Sport Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021FordBronco Sport$5000.00%$331/month for 39 months, $3,163 due at signing7/6/2021

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Ford deals here.

2. Mazda CX-5 Signature

Mazda-CX-5-FamilyMazda’s CX-5 is the polar opposite of the Ford Bronco Sport, and we love it for that. The CX-5 is hands-down the best on-road sporty SUV available under $40K. The Signature trim features a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with 277 hp and the most torque on our list at a whopping 310 lb-ft. That translates to a very quick SUV.

Interestingly, the power and torque are not why we love this crossover/SUV best. Rather, it is the handling. The CX-5 is a crossover that feels like a premium European sports crossover for half the price. That low price point includes features like a head-up display and adaptive (swiveling) headlights. 

Those shoppers searching for an SUV with a satisfying driving experience, premium feel, and a surprisingly low price point will find the CX-5 Signature fits the bill.

Pros

  • Outstanding performance
  • Premium, upscale amenities
  • Best looking small SUV

Cons

  • Fuel economy
  • Infotainment system is not best in class

Current Mazda CX-5 Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021MazdaCX-50.90%$219/month for 36 months, $2,999 due at signing6/1/2021

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Mazda deals here.

3. Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD

Highlander-Hybrid-FamilyThe Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD is a unique vehicle. Despite class-competitive power and torque, it has the best fuel economy and best emissions scores of any SUV on our list. Over ten years of ownership, its fuel economy advantage will add up to a savings of more than $8,000 by comparison to the Kia Telluride. That helps bring its nearly $50K price point into perspective.

The Highlander Hybrid uses a unique all-electric real wheel drive system we have tested and found that it works extremely well. Coupled with its powerful and efficient front motors and engine, the Highlander Hybrid has the most advanced powertrain in its segment. Best of all, there is no downside. The Highlander feels just as responsive as its peers, and you never need to plug it in.

Couple the affordability and safety of the Highlander Hybrid with its rock-solid reputation for durability, and it is hard not to call the Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD the overall winner on our list.

Pros

  • Class-leading fuel economy
  • Most advanced powertrain in segment
  • Two years of included maintenance

Cons

  • 8-passenger seating not available with Hybrid AWD

Current Toyota Highlander Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021ToyotaHighlander$7502.90%$329/month for 36 months, $3,999 due at signing6/1/2021

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Toyota deals here.

4. Kia Telluride EX AWD

Teullride-FamilyThe Kia Telluride landed in the full-sized SUV segment with a bang. This new model from Kia immediately became a segment favorite among testers, and Kia struggles to maintain a supply to meet demand. The Telluride is so popular because it offers many of the best attributes of a full-size SUV, without the “too-big” footprint.

Kia also upped the ante with an interior and features list that tops the class. Incredibly, Kia’s Telluride is among the lowest-cost full-size SUVs in its class as well. Combine Kia’s 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty with its low price, and it simply screams value. Note that the top trim is limited to seven, which is why the EX trim is our pick.

Kia has moved up to the top quarter of every list that ranks vehicles for quality, making this an easy choice for those looking for a full-sized family SUV capable of carrying eight passengers.

Pros

  • 8-passenger seating capacity
  • 5,000-pound towing capability
  • Upscale feel

Cons

  • Top trim limited to seven passengers
  • Fuel economy

Current Kia Telluride Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021KiaTelluride1.90%$319/month for 36 months, $3,499 due at signing7/6/2021

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Toyota deals here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best SUV for a family?

Our pick for the best SUV for families would be the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD model. It is affordable, safe, and durable. Some other top models include:

  • Ford Bronco Sport Badlands
  • Mazda CX-5 Signature
  • Kia Telluride

What makes an SUV good for a family?

SUVs tend to have all-wheel drive, a spare tire, the ability to tow a trailer, and high safety ratings. Subcompact SUVs might be too small to be considered a family vehicle.

What SUV is good for a family of 6 or more?

The Kia Telluride is capable of carrying eight passengers. It comes with the best attributes of a full-size SUV but without being too big. It is also a good value with Kia's 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

What all-terrain SUV is good for families?

The Ford Bronco Sport is a good choice for daily use and for off-roading. It comes with all-terrain tires, a full-size spare tire, and a strong 250 hp turbocharged engine.