Awards Season

U.S. News & World Report releases list of 2021's Best Cars for Families

The Honda Odyssey took top honors in the Minivan category.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

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 2021 U.S. News Best Cars for Families awards the company evaluated 86 new 2021 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.

"Families come in many forms, and with nine different categories to choose from, there's a Best Cars for Families award winner that will work for any family," said Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News Best Cars. "The award winners have the space, safety and features to satisfy any family, from new parents to parents with new drivers to households that may be welcoming grandparents."

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 and click here to see 2020's results.

Best Large SUV: 2021 Chevrolet Suburban

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet
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The Chevrolet Suburban has been reborn for the 2021 model year alongside its GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Cadillac Escalade brothers. The famously spacious SUV has gotten even more roomy as part of the complete overhaul. It's also filled with the new tech and safety features you'd expect.

Best 3-Row SUV for Families: 2021 Kia Telluride

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors


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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 2-Row SUV for Families: 2021 Honda Passport

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc
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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 Compact SUV for Families: 2021 Toyota RAV4

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.
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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 Hybrid and Electric SUV for Families: 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

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

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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 ToyotaSUV. For the 2021 model year, Toyota will be adding a new model, the Highlander XSE, to its lineup.

Best Minivan for Families: 2021 Honda Odyssey

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
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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 mileson its odometer. Honda recently announced a host of updates to the van for the 2021 model year.

Best Midsize Car for Families: 2021 Honda Accord

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

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Best Large Car for Families: 2021 Toyota Avalon

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


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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 and Electric Car for Families: 2021 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

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

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The Bronze Edition model builds on the XLE trim.

Toyota

The Toyota Highlander entered its fourth generation for the 2020 model year, which brought sleek style, updated tech, and a premium-look interior. A new XSE trim joined the lineup for 2021, and for 2022, Toyota is adding a new hybrid-only Bronze Edition trim.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Bronze Edition adds useful features, such as a hands-free power liftgate.toyota

The new Bronze Edition Highlander builds on the XLE trim with:

  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Digital rearview mirror
  • Ambient interior lighting
  • Memory driver's seat with 10-way power adjustments
  • Hands-free power liftgate

Toyota notes that the Bronze Edition previews features that will show up with the greater 2022 Highlander release. Among them are the new Wind Chill Pearl color, which replaces Blizzard Pearl from the previous model, and height/tilt passenger seat adjustments.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Highlander is a supremely comfortable SUV with room for the family.Toyota

The Highlander carries on into 2022 with a standard 3.5-liter V6 that makes 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. A Highlander Hybrid is available, which mates a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors. Combined system output is 243 horsepower. With the V6 on board, the Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Bronze Edition is available for Highlander Hybrid models.Toyota

All 2022 Highlander models get Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, road sign assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts, lane tracing assist, a sway warning system, and automatic high beams. Those features and the Highlander's excellent crash testing scores were good enough for the SUV to earn a Top Safety Pick + designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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New luxury full-size SUV

All-new 2022 Lexus LX 600 will be here soon

The new LX will go on sale in early 2022.

Lexus

The Toyota Land Cruiser and Lexus LX are among the most revered off-road vehicles of all time. Even so, Toyota is cutting the Land Cruiser in the U.S. after the 2021 model year due to slow sales. We will see its twin, however, as the 2022 Lexus LX was just announced. The full-size SUV will go on sale in the first quarter of 2022 and will bring all two new trims, more intuitive tech, and updated but familiar exterior styling.

2022 Lexus LX The new LX gets a twin-turbo V6 instead of a big V8, and its new platform shaves weight while improving rigidity.Lexus

The 2022 Lexus LX 600 comes in five trims: Standard, Premium, Luxury, F Sport, and Ultra Luxury. The new Ultra Luxury trim cuts the number of seats to four by replacing the rear bench with a pair of plush reclining captain's chairs. A rear entertainment system and large rear center console complete the top-level trim. Also new for 2022 is the LX F Sport, which brings Lexus' sharp appearance package to the LX for the first time. The F Sport gets exclusive 22-inch wheels, aggressive exterior styling, and sport seats with unique color schemes.

The LX is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that produces 409 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission. The body-on-frame SUV rides on an all-new GA-F platform that Lexus says is 20 percent more rigid than that of the previous model. Lexus also carved 441 pounds out of the previous LX's platform weight.

2022 Lexus LX The LX is available in five trims, including a new top Premium Luxury model. Lexus

A new Active Height Control (AHC) system and adaptive suspension provide stability and a comfortable ride while retaining the LX's off-road capabilities. AHC allows the driver to select from three ride heights depending on the situation, and a low setting is available for entering and exiting the vehicle. Three wheel sizes are available, and the F Sport trim comes with a Torsen limited-slip differential.

Lexus updated the LX's cabin for 2022 with new infotainment system and a cleaner, more upscale design. A new dual-screen infotainment system is standard. The top 12.3-inch touchscreen handles audio and infotainment duties, while the lower 7.0-inch touchscreen is used for climate controls and related settings. The LX also gets Lexus' new infotainment software, which promises to be more intuitive and simpler than previous systems. Over-the-air updates will bring new features and update existing functionality, while voice controls can command audio, navigation, phone, and other vehicle settings.

2022 Lexus LX Ultra Luxury trim reduces seating capacity to four but makes the LX's cabin seriously plush.Lexus

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