It doesn’t take a seasoned industry analyst to tell that SUVs and crossovers are outperforming sedans, station wagons, and minivans on the sales chart. They’re still outsold by pickup trucks, but they’ve become America’s go-to family haulers thanks largely to the extra space they offer. By nature, most crossovers and SUVs are decent family cars, but some models stand out from the pack. Theis the best SUV for families with kids, dogs, and gears to haul.
If you’re not sold on the biggest Kia currently sold in the United States, we’ve selected three additional options that shine by offering a blend of space, features, value, and, for one of our picks, zero-emissions driving.
Best family SUV: 2021 Kia Telluride
Why you should buy this: There’s room for everyone and everything — including multiple devices — yet it doesn’t feel like driving a whale of an SUV.
Who’s it for?: Families who like to bring the whole gang along.
How much will it cost?: $31,990
Why we picked the 2021 Kia Telluride: The Telluride is purpose-built for families. It’s a midsize SUV with three rows of very spacious seating, and it even offers enough room in the third row for adults on short trips. It has more cargo space than most SUVs in its class, even with all the seats in use, thanks to its generous dimensions.
The Telluride’s engine is powerful enough for most tasks without being zippy, though you would hardly expect zippy from a vehicle this large. Fuel economy is fine for a midsize SUV, with 23 mpg combined (20 city/26 highway).
Tech is where the Telluride dazzles. Standard equipment includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. USB ports are available for all three rows. Upgrades include Driver Talk, which sends the driver’s voice to the rear speakers, and Quiet Mode, which restricts the speaker output to the front so you can rock out after the kids fall asleep.
Everyhas a full menu of safety tech, like forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, and an alert that lets you know it’s safe to open the vehicle’s doors on a busy street. It’s a Kia, so you know it will be reliable for years to come.
Best compact family SUV: 2021 Toyota RAV4
Why you should buy this: It offers advanced safety tech and great gas mileage for an affordable price.
Who’s it for?: City-dwelling families who need a lot of interior space and to fit in a parking space.
How much will it cost?: $26,050
Why we picked the 2021 Toyota RAV4: Not every family needs to haul half the soccer team, and some families like to fit into parking spaces without swearing or leaving paint marks on other cars. Those families will like the 2021 Toyota RAV4. This compact SUV has been around since the late 1990s, but it’s not as quirky as it used to be. Toyota gradually pushed it towards the mainstream, and it brought thousands of drivers into the fold by doing so.
The RAV4 has great fuel economy for the class. It maxes out at 28 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 40 mpg combined when it’s not electrified, though Toyota offers two gasoline-electric hybrid models.
While it’s reasonably compact, the RAV4 offers 37.5 cubic feet of trunk space as a five-seater and 69.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat, which is enough for a run to the hardware store. Everyregardless of price or powertrain also comes with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P), which bundles driving aids like a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, a lane departure warning system, automatic high beams, and dynamic cruise control.
Best electric family SUV: 2021 Audi e-tron
Why you should buy this: You want cutting-edge electric vehicle tech from a brand you know.
Who’s it for?: Luxury SUV fans who prefer charging to filling up.
How much will it cost?: $65,900+
Why we picked the 2021 Audi e-tron: Electric SUVs are in a new and expanding category. You won’t find many inexpensive and widely available choices out there — yet. The top contenders in 2020 have roomy interiors and long-range batteries, but they also have price tags above $60,000. That’s true of our pick, the 2020 Audi e-tron.
If you’re looking for an electric SUV for your family, you’re probably looking for something that can compete with gasoline SUVs for the same price, and the e-tron does. It has plenty of passenger and cargo space, plus a full suite of safety tech, including Audi Pre Sense City, which detects pedestrians and can apply the brakes automatically. It also comes with Quattro all-wheel-drive, though it’s a through-the-road system, meaning there’s no connection between the front and rear axles. Each set of wheels gets its own motor — one over the front wheels, and one over the back.
The‘s estimated range is a bit shorter than its rivals from Tesla and Jaguar, though, at 222 miles. However, the Audi has better predicted reliability. It also delivers on luxury and tech features. The e-tron features two touchscreens in the center console and it offers Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, a 12.3-inch screen positioned between the temperature and fuel gauges. The driver can customize it to include navigation, audio information, and much more.
Best hybrid family SUV: Toyota RAV4 Prime
Why you should buy this: It’s one of the most proven hybrid systems on the planet in one of the most popular SUVs on the market.
Who’s it for?: Buyers willing to pay for great gas mileage plus a full slate of tech and safety features.
How much will it cost?: $38,100
Why we picked the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime: This SUV has been around for a long time, and Toyota has been a consistent presence in the hybrid vehicle market. Right now, it’s one of the few plug-in hybrid SUVs available (though more are coming in 2021), so it’s not surprising the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is a good choice for families.
Toyota quotes an electric-only range of 42 miles, and it also points out the Prime is the quickest RAV4 it has ever built. It earns this distinction thanks to a 302-horsepower gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain which consists of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a pair of electric motors, and a lithium-ion battery pack.
Thehas a full slate of tech on board. Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto compatibility are all standard, as is a Wi-Fi hotspot. It also comes with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which is a suite of electronic driving aids that bundles pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and more. Finally, it has plenty of room for people and their gear, and the batteries don’t intrude on the cargo area like they do in some hybrids.
The trade-off is that it’s not cheap. Offered in two trim levels, it carries a base price of $38,100 before incentives.
- The best cars for driving in the snow
- The best cars for teens
- AWD vs. 4WD
- The best SUVs for 2021
- Future cars: The best upcoming cars worth waiting for