In the market for a new set of wheels? Finding the perfect family car can be a daunting task when you’ve got kids to consider. After all, you’re not just looking for a car that looks good; you’ve also got to make sure your ride has the best safety features, is roomy enough to fit your brood, and has enough trunk space to haul all that parenting paraphernalia (sports gear, stroller, diaper supplies, etc.). Not sure where to start? We scoured expert reviews to find the best all-wheel cars, SUVs and minivans for families in 2021. Keep reading to see them all.

Best Sedans

photo: Honda

2021 Honda Accord (Hybrid or Standard)

Last year's winner of Edmund's Mid-Size Sedan category was also named one of the "Best Cars for Families" by U.S. News & World Reports—and this year's model offers a hybrid model so you can save money on gas and teach your kids a little about environmental stewardship. Hybrid or not, the Honda Accord is an inexpensive, reliable car that has everything a small family needs to stay safe and happy on the road.

Best family-friendly features:

  • U.S. News calls the interior "cavernous," with comfortable seating for five and room for three car seats/boosters in the back row
  • 16.7 cubic feet of trunk space makes for one of the biggest in its class, says Edmunds.
  • Passenger seats have tons of pockets and bins for all your kids' books and small items
  • Available heated and ventilated seats
  • Dual-zone climate control keeps everyone happy and warm (or cool)
  • Drawer inside the trunk for storing smaller items that may roll around while you're driving
  • Cargo hook for hanging grocery bags in the trunk
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Apple Car Play and Android Auto for connecting your phone's apps and music to the car
  • WiFi hotspot connectivity
  • Impressive fuel efficiency at 30 city/38 highway mpg for the standard model; 48/47 mpg for the hybrid model

Safety features:

  • Collision mitigation braking system will automatically apply brakes when the car detects a collision is unavoidable
  • Road departure mitigation system detects if you're straying from your lane and will help correct you or apply brakes if needed
  • Available Head Up display shows important driving information—speed, directions and incoming calls—in the driver's line of sight. 
  • Remotely lock your car or see fuel status from your phone
  • Blind spot information system
  • A multi-angle rearview camera with available cross-traffic monitor
  • Smart Entry with Walk Away Auto-lock lets you lock and unlock your car without taking out your keys
  • Rear occupant seat reminder makes sure you don't forget anyone in the back when you exit the car

Starting price: $24,770

Online: Honda.com

photo: Toyota

2021 Toyota Camry (Hybrid or Standard)

Sure, the Toyota Camry used to have a reputation for just-blah styling, but the 2021 version of one of America's most popular car now looks as sleek and stylish as its pricier colleagues. New this year, all models come standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, the automaker’s newest version of the groundbreaking driver assist technology suite that includes automatic emergency braking.

Best family-friendly features:

  • Two sets of LATCH car seat anchors in rear seats and upper anchor point for the middle seat
  • 38 inches of rear legroom that make it easy to install car seats
  • Available heated and ventilated seats
  • Dual zone climate control keeps everyone comfortable
  • Apple Car Play and Android Auto for connecting your phone's apps and music to the car. Amazon Alexa compatible, if you'd like Alexa's help while driving
  • WiFi hotspot connectivity
  • Economical gas mileage at 25 to 52 mpg depending on whether you're driving the standard or hybrid model

Safety features:

  • Integrated backup camera with projected path helps you park safely and easily 
  • Toyota’s Safety Sense includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection that can detect not only the vehicle ahead but also a preceding bicyclist in the daytime and even a preceding pedestrian in low-light conditions. At intersections, the system may detect an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian when performing a left-hand turn and may provide audio/visual alerts and automatic braking. 
  • Lane departure alerts
  • Automatic high beam headlights automatically switch from high to low beams when it detects an oncoming car
  • Road sign assist can recognize some road signs and display them on the information screen
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Rear seat reminder prompts you to check the back seat before you get out of the car
  • Rear cross traffic alert notifies you if there are cars coming your way as you back up

Starting price: $24,970 for the standard LE model/ $27,270 for the hybrid model

Online: Toyota.com

Best Small SUVs/Crossovers

2021 Mazda CX-5

A stylish choice for small families who prefer a more sophisticated look on a budget, this five-person crossover was rated as one of the top Small SUVs by Consumer Reports, and is described by Edmunds as a "top contender in the compact crossover segment." It's a good choice if you're going to drive the same car to soccer as you are to the office.  

Best family-friendly features:

  • Roomy interior
  • Remote start abilities let you warm up or cool down the car before you step inside
  • Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto 
  • 10.5-inch infotainment screen  
  • Available heated front and rear seats
  • Wifi hotspot capabilities
  • Two USB ports
  • Rear power liftgate available in upper trims

Safety features:

  • Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Lane departure warning
  • Rear cross traffic alert helps detect if there's a car coming your way as you're backing up
  • Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go will let the car do the driving for you, maintaining a safe distance with the car in front of you (and stopping if the car in front of you stops)
  • Day and night pedestrian detection will detect and, if necessary, apply the brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian
  • Connect to the car via the Mazda app to start the engine remotely, lock and unlock the doors (so if you can't remember whether your kids left the doors unlocked, you can always check via your phone), check whether your lights are on and more. It can also help you find where you parked your car
  • Rear seat occupant reminder reminds you to check the back seat before you get out of the car

Starting price: $25,270

Online: mazdausa.com

2021 Subaru Forester

Comfortable and supple, according to Consumer Reports, the Subaru Forester works great for smaller families who don't want an SUV but still want a car with good off-road capabilities and standard all-wheel drive. New for 2021, the top safety-rated Subaru added steering responsive headlights (the lights move in the direction you steer) high beam assist and a rear seatbelt reminder that tells you exactly which passenger in your car is unbuckled). 

Best family-friendly features:

  • Comfortable seating for five
  • 11.6-inch vertical touch screen in the center console
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity
  • Roomy rear seats
  • Two USB ports in front; two optional in the rear.
  • Built-in WiFi hotspot connectivity
  • Power rear gate
  • Remote engine start lets you warm up or cool down your car from your smartphone

Safety features:

  • Standard all-wheel drive on all models
  • EyeSight with advanced safety keeps you a safe distance from the car in front of you; it also detects objects in front of you that you're likely to hit and reduces power to the engine to help minimize the force and impact of a collision
  • Blind spot detection system notifies you if it detects vehicles in your blind spots
  • Automatic pre-collision braking
  • Adaptive cruise control with lane-centering technology
  • Lane departure warning will notify you if you stray out of your lane
  • Subaru Starlink will alert an operator if your car is involved in a crash and get you roadside help at the push of a button
  • Front and rear camera views keep you from missing anything on the road in front or behind you
  • Standard rear seatbelt reminder will tell you which seat is unbuckled.  
  • Rear occupant reminder will remind you to check the back seat before you get out of the car
  • My Subaru app lets you set speed limits and boundaries to alert you if your (teenage) driver is speeding or going somewhere they're not supposed to go

Starting price: $24,795

Online: Subaru.com

Best Mid-Size SUVs 

photo: Volkswagon

2021 Volkswagon Atlas

This relative newbie in the midsize SUV class has wowed critics for its "cavernous interior, long list of creature comforts and long-trip-worthy road manners," according to Cars.com. Consumer Reports also hailed it as "surprisingly agile handling for its size." In a nutshell, this beauty's got some of the same style and upscale features as its higher-end counterparts—with a price far below them. 

Best family-friendly features:

  • Seating for seven
  • Second-row captains chairs available, to make getting to the third row easier
  • Available panoramic sunroof
  • Second and third rows can be stowed flat for storage (or car camping!)
  • Apple Car Play/ Android Auto so you can easily play content from your phone
  • Five USB ports, two 12-volt outlets and a 115-volt household-style outlet keep everyone plugged in and entertained
  • Large second row and large door openings make it easier to get kiddos into those bulky rear-facing seats 
  • Roomy third row makes seating easy, even when adults need to sit in the back

Safety features:

  • Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic warning and lane-keeping assist are all standard.
  • Road sign recognition
  • Rear view camera
  • Available with a turbo-charged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with all-wheel drive 
  • The CarNet app allows you to remote start your engine, lock and unlock the doors, honk the horn and flash the lights—right from the app. It will also alert you when your vehicle has traveled outside of a preset "safe" zone (for when your kids are driving and you want to keep tabs on them)
  • The Intelligent Crash System will—in the event of an accident in which the airbags are deployed—turn off the fuel pump, unlock the doors and activate the hazard lights
  • Post collision Braking System that will slow the vehicle down after a collision, helping reduce the chance of any additional impacts

Starting price: $31,545

Online: Vw.com

photo: Kia

2021 Kia Telluride

Named one of the Best Cars and Trucks for 2021 by Car & Driver magazine and Motor Trend's "Car of the Year" last year, the eight-passenger Kia Telluride has the tech to satisfy the kids and has the safety and reliability parents want. Plus, it's luxurious cabin earns rave reviews, with one C&D reviewer saying that "you get the experience of a luxury SUV without any pretense or badge-snob affectation."

Best family-friendly features:

  • Seating for up to eight
  • Available heated and ventilated front and second-row seats
  • In-car intercom to talk to rear passengers
  • Available reclining dual captain's chairs that slide forward with the push of a button for easy access to the third row
  • Dual rear sunroofs
  • USB ports for all passengers plus available wireless charging
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to easily connect your music and apps
  • Remote climate feature that lets you use your phone to warm up or cool down your car before you get inside
  • Find My Car system helps you locate your car in a crowded parking lot
  • One-touch sliding and folding second and third-row seats

Safety features:

  • Blind spot view monitor shows a live feed of your right rear blind spots and stops you if you try to change lanes while an object is detected in the blind spot
  • Rear occupant alert system can tell if you left your car with someone in the back seat—and alerts you accordingly
  • Standard Safe Exit Assist helps you get off the freeway without worry
  • Head Up display gives you important driving information (speed and road turns) on the front dash so you don't have to look down at your console while driving
  • Smart cruise control keeps your car a safe distance from the car in front of you and stops your car if needed
  • Emergency braking and warning system will warn you if you're approaching a stopped object and will apply brakes if needed
  • Lane-keeping technology keeps you from straying out of your lane

Starting price: $31,990

Online: Kia.com

2021 Volvo XC90 (Hybrid or Standard)

With its elegant interior and long range of safety features, the Volvo XC90 has consistently ranked highly in Edmunds list of Best Family Cars. New for 2021, Volvo has added adaptive headlights, front parking sensors, and a smartphone charging pad which now comes standard. Plus, there's also an optional hybrid version of the car that has all the stellar features of the original with the added bonus of a 55 miles-per-gallon fuel economy with the hybrid engine that allows you to use electric power when you want to and gas-power when you need to. 

Best family-friendly features:

  • Comfortable seating for six (or seven if the second row middle seat is installed)
  • Apple Carplay & Android Auto comes standard
  • Two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors in the second row, as well as a tether anchor for the middle seat
  • Massage function available for front seats (available in the T8 Hybrid model only)
  • Four-zone climate control keeps you cool up front even when your tots want it toasty in the back
  • Hands-free power liftgate
  • In-car WiFi hotspot

Safety features:

  • Intellisafe Assist offers adaptive cruise control, pilot assist and distance alert (all of which will keep you a safe distance from the car in front of you and in the center of your lane)
  • Road sign recognition
  • Rear cross-traffic alert will notify you if traffic is crossing behind you as you back up
  • Drowsy driver notifications
  • Forward collision warning sends a warning if a forward collision is imminent and automatically applies the brakes if needed
  • Blind spot and lane departure warnings
  • Optional protective grill keeps the contents of your trunk from flying forward in an accident (and works great as a barrier for your traveling dog).
  • "Red Key" remote, which can be given to younger drivers (or valet drivers) to encourage responsible driving. When used, it won't let your car go above 75 mph and will emit a warning when the car goes over 30, 45, and 50 mph. Also, it can restrict the volume level so your kids can't blast the radio while driving
  • Integrated second row booster seat that can be hidden in the seatback when not in use
  • Optional hands-free park assist as well as surround-view parking camera system. 

Starting price: $49,000  

Online: Volvocars.com

2021 Hyundai Palisade

This hefty family hauler—which was named one of the best three-row SUVs of 2020 by Motor Trend, with Edmunds calling it "one of the most luxuriously trimmed vehicles in the class"checks out at less than $50,000 but comes with upscale touches including heated (and ventilated) first and second-row seats, an available in-car intercom, and a slew of safety features. New for 2021, Hyundai introduces Calligraphy, the "most premium Palisade" available, with an extra-sleek design, lighting enhancements, exclusive 20-inch alloy wheels, and quilted leather seating and door surfaces.

Best family-friendly features:

  • Seating for up to eight
  • Available in-car intercom lets you break up drive-time squabbles without raising your voice
  • Second-row captains chairs available, to make getting to the third row easier
  • Available dual sunroof
  • Available third-row power-folding seats
  • One-touch second-row access (another way to get into the back seat easily)
  • Apple Car Play/ Android Auto so you can easily play content from your phone
  • Second-row/ Optional third-row USB ports, plus wireless device charging in the front seat
  • Hands-free lift-gate for easy access to the trunk

Safety features:

  • Forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection
  • Smart cruise control automatically slows your car down to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you—and will even bring your car to a complete stop on its own if needed
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Blind spot collision avoidance assist (on SEL and Limited models)
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Driver attention warning sounds an audible tone or visual alert if it detects driver fatigue or inattention
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance lets you know if there is a car approaching from the left or right when you're backing up—and will apply the brakes automatically if needed
  • Rear occupant alert system will remind you to check the rear seats before exiting when you turn off the engine; additionally, overhead ultrasonic sensors will monitor the back seat and activate a honking horn and flashing lights—as well as send an alert to your smartphone—if any movement is detected 
  • Safe exit assist won't let you open your car door if sensors detect a car approaching from the rear 
  • Surround view monitor shows a top-down view of your SUV when you park so you can avoid curbs (and other cars)

Starting price: $32,525

Online: Hyundaiusa.com

 Best Large SUVs 

2021 GMC Yukon

For big families that need lots of space for stuff, pets or gear, Car & Driver magazine called the 2021 Yukon "hard to beat." Listed at the top of the magazine's SUV rankings, it's got three rows of seating plus a roomy trunk that'll easily fit strollers, bikes or your dog if that's what you're going for (especially if you go for the XL model). New for 2021: This year's version is said to be better equipped, have a roomier cabin and more cargo space than last year's model.  

Best family-friendly features:

  • Seating for seven
  • Second-row captains seats with Power-Assist fold and a walk-through console so your kids can easily get to the third row
  • Power-fold third row for when you've got to carry gear, luggage, or the dog in the back
  • Hands-free liftgate for easy access into the trunk
  • Second-row USB ports, plus optional wireless device charging in the front seat
  • A 10.1-inch screen in the front seat looks like an iPad (in other words, kids will love it)
  • Remote start system lets the car warm up before you get in
  • Optional massaging seats in the ST and Platinum trims
  • In-car WiFi

Safety features:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Blind-Spot warning
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Cross-traffic alert
  • 360-degree camera
  • Adaptive cruise control with speed sign recognition and lane-centering technology is available on upper trims

Starting price: $51,995

Online: Gmc.com

photo: Ford

2021 Ford Expedition

If you like a rugged-looking car that's big enough to carry all the kids, dogs and gear your gang takes on the road, the Expedition has an impressive interior, loads of fun tech (massaging seats!) and four-wheel drive capabilities that make it easy to traverse snowy terrain. Edmunds rated it as its favorite large SUV for 2021, while Car & Driver called it a "workhorse for active families." 

Best family-friendly features:

  • Huge interior cargo space, especially in the MAX version (which is a foot longer than the standard model).
  • Seating for up to 8
  • Optional second-row captains seats with a walk-through console so your kids can easily get to the third row
  • Power-fold second and third row for when you've got to carry gear, luggage, or the dog in the back
  • Hands-free liftgate for easy access into the trunk
  • Second-row USB ports, plus optional wireless device charging in the front seat
  • 8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; rear seat entertainment systems available on the Limited, King Ranch and Platinum trims.
  • Remote start system lets the car warm up before you get in
  • Optional massaging front seats available in higher trims
  • In-car WiFi

Safety features:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Blind-Spot warning
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Cross-traffic alert
  • 360-degree camera
  • Adaptive cruise control with speed sign recognition and lane-centering technology is available on upper trims

Starting price: $52,810

Online: Ford.com

Best Minivans 

2021 Honda Odyssey

Sure, there's no denying it's a "Mom car," but there's a reason the Honda Odyssey has won Kelley Blue Books "Minivan Best Buy" award three years in a row, with Forbes calling it "still the best family car you can buy": It's got everything a parent needs to haul around a small tribe of children. If the interior vacuum cleaner doesn't sell you (seriously, so necessary), here are a few more reasons to check it out. 

Best family-friendly features:

  • Seats up to eight, with LATCH accommodations for up to five car seats (it's also the only minivan to earn an IIHS top rating for ease of use of its LATCH child seat attachment hardware)
  • Built-in vacuum helps keep all those crumbs away
  • Interior camera helps parents keep an eye on the back seats, even in the dark
  • DVD player and folding 10-inch screen for movies and games
  • "Cabin Talk" feature helps the driver talk to the rear passengers through the rear speakers and the DVD headphones
  • Split-folding third row offers room for strollers (even unfolded ones) and offers hefty storage space when seats aren't folded into the floor 
  • Remote start abilities let you warm up or cool down the car before you step inside
  • Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto 
  • Optional cellular plan that'll allow you to stream videos directly to your car
  • In-car WiFi supports 4G LTE wireless streaming
  • Wireless charging pad in front seat as well as front and rear USB ports
  • Sun shades for second and third row passengers 
  • Tri-zone climate control
  • Hands-free power tailgate lets you open the trunk by kicking your foot under the rear bumper

Safety features:

  • Eight standard airbags, including knee airbags for the front seats and side-impact curtain protection for all three rows 
  • All trims include Honda Sensing (which features Collision Mitigation Braking System with Pedestrian Detection; Forward Collision Warning; Road Departure Mitigation, incorporating Lane Departure Warning; Lane Keeping Assist System; traffic sign recognition; and Active cruise control with a forward-collision warning system)
  • Automatic emergency braking applies the brakes when the car detects that a frontal collision is unavoidable
  • Lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and Road Departure Mitigation all help keep you from veering off the road
  • Blind spot information system will alert you if vehicles are detected in your blind spots when you're changing lanes
  • Multi-angle rearview camera gives you extra eyes when you're backing up
  • Snow Mode recalibrates the car's traction system to give you more control in winter weather
  • Rear seat occupant reminder notifies you to check the back seats before you get out

Starting price: $31,790

Online: Honda.com

photo: Toyota

2021 Toyota Sienna

The top-rated minivan by Consumer Reports, the 2021 Toyota Sienna has a slew of tech and safety features that make it a perfect people mover—and now all Siennas come standard with a gasoline-electric hybrid engine to save you a little on gas money. Plus, the 2021 debuts a redesigned look, and while the Sienna still looks like a Mom Car, it's got a slightly sportier look than in years past.   

Best family-friendly features:

  • Seating for eight
  • Dual Blue Ray disc entertainment center featuring a 16.4 inch split-screen capable overhead display for kids to watch movies—plus two wireless headphones so those movies are for their ears only;
  • ISD and HDMI inputs plus two AC power outlets
  • Dual moonroofs give everyone in the car a view of the sky
  • Available dual power sliding doors that can be activated from the car's remote
  • Smart Key system lets you open the car doors by touching the handle and start the car with the push of a button (as long as the key is in your pocket or nearby)
  • Split & Stow third-row seat makes for plenty of available cargo space by folding the third-row seat into the floor
  • Auto access seat helps people with disabilities easily get in and out of the car by rotating the second-row seat outward and lowering it to nearly ground level
  • Driver Easy Speak System projects your voice to the back row, so your kids will hear you talking to them (most of the time, anyway)
  • Available WiFi connectivity through Verizon allows up to five users to connect to the car at one time (monthly charges apply)
  • Five USB ports to keep all those devices powered
  • With standard hybrid powertrain, you get up 36 mpg, a rare feat for a minivan
  • Sliding second-row seats can help third-row passengers get a little more legroom
  • Lower floor makes it easier for kids (and grandparents) to climb aboard

Safety features:

  • Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection will stop your vehicle if needed
  • Brake assist plus Smart stop technology
  • Dynamic radar cruise control keeps you at a safe distance from other cars
  • Available all-wheel drive (unusual for a minivan)
  • Blind spot detection system alerts you if a car or object is in your blind spot
  • Read cross traffic alert provides audible and visual alerts if there's something behind you or approaching your car when you're backing up
  • Lane departure alert with steering assist will detect if you're straying from your lane and help you by making "corrective steering inputs" to keep you in your lane
  • Automatic high beams activate high beams when it is night and the in-vehicle camera doesn't detect any cars in front of you
  • Backup camera plus Birds Eye View panoramic camera lets you see everything that's around you
  • Eight standard airbags

Starting price: $34,460

Online: Toyota.com

—Melissa Heckscher

RELATED STORIES

20 Road Trip Hacks for Your Next Long Car Ride

Car Games and Toys Perfect for Your Next Road Trip

Best Infant Car Seats for 2020

Best Convertible Car Seats for 2020