While it’s easy to drool over the muscle cars or exotic concepts, at the end of the day it’s the family car that drives Americans into dealerships. Versatility, fuel economy, and safety are among the top attributes any good parent will look for — but that no longer means limiting buyers to minivans. As families have shrunk, for one, cars have gotten progressively bigger. A current generation Volkswagen Golf, for example, boasts a 20 percent larger interior than its first generation counterpart, while a full-size 2015 Range Rover is a healthy 12 percent larger than its 1970 stablemate. Then there are the amenities: Heated seats, stylish grilles, and athletic stances have all found a place in otherwise practical vehicles. In other words, the family car is no longer a cookie-cutter buy. Just see these 12 great cars as proof.
GMC Yukon XL Denali
While its Escalade brother may dwarf it in prestige, the Yukon XL Denali, with 121 cubic inches of cargo space, is no shrinking violet. It’s a family workhorse in every sense, from its large rear doors that contribute to an overall solid feeling to its second- and third-row seats that accommodate eight comfortably. Power everything, including lift gate and folding running boards, also lend to an ease of use to this truck. Under the hood, a 420-hp, 6.2-liter V-8, coupled with magnetic-ride-control for a smooth drive no matter the terrain, offers excellent acceleration. From remote start to a powerful climate control to a center console large enough for hanging folders or a laptop, creature comforts abound — making the stylish Denali XL ideal for a weekend hunting trip or a run to the PTA meeting.
The dependable Odyssey, with its proven safety record and flexible seating arrangement, has come a long way from its first-generation five-door people hauler. Nearly 20 years later, the latest incarnation has a refined V6 for smooth acceleration, sporty (by minivan standards) road manners, and remains an excellent value for the money (new Touring and Touring Elite trims appease those wanting a dose of luxury with their utilitarian ride). The well-oiled, front-wheel-drive family van doesn’t skimp on interior space, offering one more seat in the second row that can be removed or flipped up — not to mention a functional center console with handy flip-up trash-bag ring. The second- and third-row seats are among the easiest to configure of any minivan thanks to easy-to-use lower anchors and tethers. A HondaVAC vacuum is also a recent addition.