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

2021 Chevrolet Suburban
Photo courtesy of Chevrolet
1/5

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

2021 Kia Telluride
Photo courtesy of Kia Motors


1/5

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

2021 Honda Passport
Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc
1/5

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

2020 Toyota RAV4
Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.
1/5

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

2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

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

1/5

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

2021 Honda Odyssey
Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
1/5

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

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

1/5

Best Large Car for Families: 2021 Toyota Avalon

2020 Toyota Avalon
Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.


1/5

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

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

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

1/5

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The Hyundai Palisade got a mild refresh for 2023.

Hyundai

Earlier this year, Hyundai announced changes to the Palisade for 2023. The list includes a new front fascia, an updated grille with new headlights and daytime running lights, a 12-inch touchscreen with navigation, and more. A new XRT trim joined the lineup as well, bringing brawny off-road styling and dar exterior trim. Today, Hyundai announced pricing for the SUV, which starts at a little more than $32,000.

2023 Hyundai PalisadeA new XRT trim adds rugged styling. Hyundai

The Palisade's powertrain carries over from 2022, which includes a 3.8-liter V6 that makes 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. Inside, the SUV got several new and updated technology features, including a more powerful wireless device charging pad, an updated digital key system, and a larger infotainment display.

As Hyundai's flagship SUV, the Palisade edges on luxury territory, with plush leather upholstery and a serene cabin that offers excellent noise cancellation and comfort. Captain's chairs and seven-passenger seating are available, but a second-row bench comes standard and brings eight-passenger capacity to the SUV.

Muscular SUVs are more popular than ever before, so Hyundai gave the posh Palisade an outdoorsy treatment with its XRT trim. The new Palisade XRT builds on the SEL trim with 20-inch wheels, a more rugged bumper and lower body cladding, a sunroof, and leatherette upholstery. To be clear, XRT is an appearance package that does not improve off-road capability to a large degree.

2023 Hyundai PalisadeTop trims border on the quality and design of some luxury brands. Hyundai

Standard safety equipment is generous, and includes forward collision warnings with avoidance, lane keep assist, lane following assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, driver attention warnings, high beam assist, and adaptive cruise control.

Pricing for the base Palisade SE starts at $36,245, which includes a $1,295 destination charge. The top Calligraphy AWD model starts at $52,095 after destination. All-wheel drive is available for all trims as an added-cost option.

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The N Line forms a midpoint between the standard Kona and the Kona N.

Hyundai

Hyundai has a lot going on, with new EVs hitting the market, but the brand has been on a surprising run with performance models lately. The Veloster N is an excellent, rowdy hot hatch, and the brand followed that act with the Kona N and Elantra N. Hyundai’s Kona N takes the hot hatch formula to the next level with an incredible powertrain and useful space, but it’s too much for many people. The mid-point is Hyundai’s N Line, which borrows styling cues from the hottest N variants but lacks the all-out grunt of those vehicles.

2022 Hyundai Kona N LineThe N Line gets aggressive styling cues from its sportier N counterpart. Hyundai

The styling works for the Kona N Line, as it does with the Kona N, but the powertrains couldn’t be more different. Where the Kona N gets a 286-horsepower four-cylinder, the N Line comes with a milder turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 195 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which adds a layer of engagement not found in the continuously variable transmission that standard Kona models get.

That modest output lends the Kona N Line modest performance, with more noise generated than expected. In motion, the powertrain feels decently responsive, but it lacks the razor sharp nerves of steel that the Kona N brings. Shifting into sport mode changes the gauge cluster to a bright red and hastens the vehicle's responses, but again, it's important to temper expectations for a milder experience here.

2022 Hyundai Kona N LineThe digital gauge cluster responds to drive mode changes. Hyundai

Styling is more aggressive than the standard SUV, with 18-inch wheels and mean-looking exhaust tips. The Kona’s front-end design is still busy and will still be polarizing, but the dark trim and sporty aero bodywork help the situation. The N Line’s all-black interior gets red stitching and accents that help break up the otherwise monotonous color scheme. The seats are supportive and comfortable, but could be deeper for better body-holding during spirited driving sessions. There’s plenty of room up front and a surprising amount of space in back, aided by the Kona’s large-ish rear door openings. Parents will find an easy time loading kids, and older children can ride in relative luxury with plenty of legroom.

A 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster is standard, which offers configurable colors and legible information. It’s paired with a standard 8-inch touchscreen, but a 102.5-inch screen with navigation is available. Hyundai’s excellent infotainment software runs flawlessly on both units, and offers an intuitive and straightforward way to interact with the vehicle. A Harman Kardon eight-speaker stereo also comes standard.

2022 Hyundai Kona N LineRed accents liven what is otherwise a dark, monotone interior.Hyundai

The Kona N Line, while not as hot as the Kona N, offers a reasonable styling upgrade for people wanting a small SUV with sporty looks. Enthusiasts should look at the full-on N model for thrills, though, because the N Line should be viewed as more of an appearance package than a performance model.

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