AAA and Parents Magazine Announce the 15 Best Cars For Families
Parents magazine and AAA this week named their fourth annual list of "Best Cars for Families."AAA's auto reviewers and Parents editors examined 200 new car choices and put the finalists through real-life test-drives by Parents staffers and readers. AAA and Parents considered everything from air bags and fuel economy to cup holders and cargo space. The reviewers also installed a variety of child safety seats and booster seats into every car, making sure it could be done easily and securely. Of those vehicles tested, the AAA/Parents picks rated among the top performers in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The AAA/Parents Best Cars for Families for 2005 are: Minivans -- Chrysler Town & Country - New "Stow 'n Go" second- and third-row seats easily fold flat into the floor for hauling extra cargo. Extra storage space and side-curtain air bags protect passengers in case of rollover. -- Honda Odyssey - The "gold standard" of minivans raises the bar with standard features that include stability control, a rollover sensor, and side-curtain air bags for all three rows. -- Toyota Sienna - Features include roll-down windows on sliding doors (a plus for kids who get carsick), second-row bucket seats that slide apart (great for separating squabbling siblings), and an overhead mirror that lets you spy on kids without turning around. Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) -- Nissan Murano - High "command" seating makes even shorter drivers feel confident at the wheel. The rear seat and cargo area can easily handle a week's worth of groceries. -- Volvo XC90 - Standard safety features include side-impact and side-curtain air bags, stability control, and a rollover prevention system. Luxury features include 12-cup holders, bottle warmers, grocery-bag hooks and three power outlets for charging your cell phone or plugging in a portable DVD player. -- Dodge Durango - Has plenty of cup holders, trays and storage bins, plus antilock brakes and true four-wheel drive to handle off-road trips. Second-row seats recline, perfect for older kids who need a nap. Sedans -- Honda Accord - Safety features include antilock brakes and side-curtain air bags. Maintains Honda's hallmarks of low maintenance and a smooth ride. Available as a hybrid for the first time in 2005. -- Chrysler 300 - Dubbed the "Baby Bentley" for its distinctive look, the 300's biggest selling points are its roominess and distinctive style. The backseat easily fits three children while the trunk has room for two strollers plus a day's purchases at the mall. -- Toyota Camry - Antilock brakes and side-impact air bags are standard. The backseat fits two car seats comfortably, and the ride is super-smooth. Among the most reliable - and popular - vehicles on the road for years. Station Wagons -- Subaru Legacy/Outback - Every parent will appreciate its superb storage space, standard side-curtain air bags, and the reinforced frame, which makes for better collision protection. -- Mazda 6 - Room in back for two car seats, generous trunk space, and a safety cargo net that shields you and your kids from loose objects. Side and side-curtain air bags are both standard. -- Ford Freestyle - Second-row bucket seats recline for naps and include a cool tray-and-cup holder console. The back-row bench seat folds flat for storage. Economy Cars -- Mazda 3 - Has the handling and performance of a sports car, along with practical features such as upholstery that makes cleaning up toddler spills simple. And the five-door hatchback's cargo area can fit all your baby essentials. -- Honda Civic - This model has a superb track record for safety and reliability, fits four comfortably and has ample trunk space for a stroller plus small suitcases. Also available as a gas-thrifty hybrid. -- Scion xB - Offers lavish legroom and headroom to rival many large SUVs. Standard safety features include antilock brakes and stability control. Huge windows offer terrific visibility, which makes trips more fun for little passengers.