Awards Season

U.S. News & World Report releases annual list of Best Cars for Families

The Ford Expedition has made the cut, alongside some Toyota, Honda, and Kia models, among others.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Families use cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs to get around. Some vehicles do it better than others. U.S. News & World Report has released its latest list of the best new vehicles for families.

To come up with the winners of the 2020 U.S. News Best Cars for Families awards the company evaluated 90 new 2020 model year. vehicles. To come up with the winners, the company looked at a combination of the vehicles's reviews, safety and reliability ratings, seating and cargo volume, and family-friendly feature availability.

The awards are distributed in nine classes with the winner being the Best Car for Families in that category. Scroll down to see all nine.

Best 3-Row SUV for Families: 2020 Kia Telluride

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The three-row 2020 Kia Telluride has family-friendly design front and center. It has a number of features that will make families fall in love with it from its easy-access third row to its USB ports.

Best Compact SUV for Families: 2020 Toyota RAV4

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Toyota completely redesigned the RAV4 for the 2019 model year and added a new trim level for the 2020 model year, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road. It remains the most popular SUV sold in the U.S. For the 2021 model year, Toyota is adding a plug-in hybrid version of the RAV4 called the RAV4 Prime.

Best Minivan for Families: 2020 Honda Odyssey

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Honda Odyssey isn't just America's top-selling minivan. It's also one of the most reliable. Recent studies revealed that its one of the top 15 vehicles that owners keep for 15 years or more and one of the few models that frequently reaches 200,000 miles on its odometer. Honda recently announced a host of updates to the van for the 2021 model year.

Best 2-Row SUV for Families: 2020 Honda Passport

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Honda Passport isn't for large families in the way the Odyssey or Pilot are, but it's a great two-row SUV that is suitable for empty nesters and families of four. How do we know? AutomotiveMap recently took the model on a trip to Yosemite National Park, testing out its on-road prowess and family-hauling capability. We've also put a rooftop tent on it and tested it on a family camping weekend.

Best Hybrid or Electric Car for Families: 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The Toyota Avalon doesn't get much publicity but that doesn't mean that it's not a good car. The large Toyota is comfortable and capable. It comes in a traditional internal combustion engine model and a hybrid variant. The Avalon Hybrid is a fuel-efficient model that still delivers the space a family needs, and it's one of the most reliable cars on the road today.

Best Hybrid or Electric SUV for Families: 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The redesigned Toyota Highlander Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient model ever. It also has some of the most family-friendly features ever shown in a three-row Toyota SUV. For the 2021 model year, Toyota will be adding a new model, the Highlander XSE, to its lineup.

Best Large Car for Families: 2020 Toyota Avalon

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Like its hybrid variant, the Toyota Avalon seats four in comfortable accommodations. It's a large car, but that doesn't mean that it drives like a boat. It also doesn't have stodgy design or a lack of high-tech features.

Best Large SUV for Families: 2020 Ford Expedition

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The three-row Ford Expedition is definitely a truck. It's also an SUV and family hauler. The model isn't as elegant or refined as its sister, the Lincoln Navigator, but it makes up for it with more rugged looks and a lower price tag. Ford recently added King Ranch and Platinum models to the Expedition lineup for the 2020 model year, as well as a new FX4 Off-Road Package.

Best Midsize Car for Families: 2020 Toyota Camry

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The Toyota Camry is one of the best-selling cars in the U.S. year after year because it's a good choice for a wide range of people, from singletons to families. This new generation is more fuel-efficient than ever and it has the largest number of tech features. Toyota has also recently started offering the Camry in an all-wheel drive format.

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The series follows unique road tripping experiences.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai, an automaker that has recently pushed the power of family travel with the launch of the Palisade three-row SUV, has teamed up with Tastemade for a four-part originally programming series.

One out of ten Americans has never left their birth state. "The Un-Adventurers" will follow the story of an American who leaves their home state for the first time ever to embark on a road trip that they've always dreamed about.

Hyundai Tastemade The Un-Adventurers series Hyundai and Tastemade will present the show on the Tastemade streaming platform.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The subjects of the series will drive a Santa Fe, Tucson, Kona, and Palisade. "We are excited to share the personal and emotional journeys of these 'Un-Adventurers,' and showcase the comfort and reliability of our vehicles as each participant experiences America beyond their states' borders," said Angela Zepeda, chief marketing officer, Hyundai Motor America.

The adventures follow the participants across state lines, venturing into and out of Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky, among others. They take back roads, highways, and everything in between seeing the ocean, farmland, charming small towns, and cities. Activities enjoyed include an air boat ride, going on-stage at The Laughing Skull in Atlanta, and spending time at the beach.

The Santa Fe, Tucson, and Kona are two-row SUVs that come with varying amounts of legroom in the second row. The Kona is the tightest fit. The Palisade is a large SUV, built on the same platform as the Kia Telluride, but delivering a more elegant interior and refined ride.

The series will debut on June 3 across Tastemade's streaming network. Check out the trailer below.

"The Un-Adventurers" was developed in collaboration with INNOCEAN USA and Canvas Worldwide, Hyundai's advertising and media agencies of record, respectively. This is the second collaboration between Hyundai and Tastemade, who together produced three seasons of "The Grill Iron" back in 2014, 2015, and 2016 as part of Hyundai's broader college football marketing campaign.

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Newer Ford police SUVs can immediately begin installing the technology.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

A software solution will allow police officers across the world to reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19. All Ford Motor Company Police Interceptor Utility customers with certain model year vehicles are immediately eligible for the no-cost upgrade, which was engineered by the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker.

"First responders are on the front lines protecting all of us. They are exposed to the virus and are in dire need of protective measures," said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's chief product development and purchasing officer. "We looked at what's in our arsenal and how we could step up to help. In this case, we've turned the vehicle's powertrain and heat control systems into a virus neutralizer."

What does it take to kill coronavirus? It sounds simple: Bake the vehicle until viruses inside are neutralized.

Ford heated sanitization testing and development process

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

What does that mean? The interior cabin temperature must reach beyond 133 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than Death Valley on the hottest day, for at least 15 minutes – long enough to help disinfect vehicle touch points.

According to Ford, here's how it works:

"Once activated, the vehicle's powertrain and climate control systems work together automatically to elevate interior cabin temperatures. The software warms up the engine to an elevated level, and then turns both the heat and fan settings on high. Interior temperatures are automatically monitored by the software to know when the entire cabin hits the optimal level and that temperature is then maintained for at least 15 minutes.

Law enforcement will have multiple ways to monitor progress. Hazard lights and taillights will flash in a pre-set pattern to notify when the process has begun, and they will change at the end to signal completion. Additionally, the instrument cluster inside the vehicle will indicate the progress of the procedure. A cool-down process has also been developed to help bring the temperature down from its highest points."

To develop the method, Ford worked with scientists from The Ohio State University. Ford also conducted software operational trials in vehicles owned by the New York City Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Michigan State Police, Massachusetts State Police, Boardman Township Police Department (Ohio), and Seminole County Sheriff's Office (Florida).

This process doesn't just have to be a one-time thing. Law enforcement officers can regularly sanitize their vehicle, when it is unoccupied, using the same technology.

Police departments with their own service centers are now able to install the software solution through their own diagnostic service tools, while other fleets can work with their local dealers to install the software.

For 2016-19 police vehicles, the heated software process can be activated by a smart sequence of commands that involves pressing cruise control buttons in a predefined order. For 2013-15 vehicles, this mode can be activated and carried out through an external tool that connects to the onboard diagnostics port.

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