Which Are the Best Cars for Families? Parents 2024 Best Family Car Awards Tell All

Who's to say which is the right car for you and your family? Parents asked a panel of parents who are also car experts, to be the judge. Here's what they said.

Parents Best Family Car Awards 2024

The Best Family Cars, Judged by Family Car Drivers

There are a lot of car awards out there. But which ones really help you determine the right car for you and your family?

And who is best suited to judge which are the best for you?

Ideally, a car awards program would ask people just like you but who are experts on the subject. Sort of like asking your friend group what they think — assuming they are all more knowledgeable about cars than you.

That was the mission behind the 2024 Parents Best Family Car Awards: To ask a panel of judges, all parents and all experienced with family cars on the market today, which are the best.

Oh, and why am I excited to share this story with you? Because I was one of the judges and I’m beyond thrilled to be able to share what we have learned with you and with the Parents audience.

Related: These Are the Best Family Cars – and It’s Not Just About The Kids!

Ford Expedition Timberline

The Ford Expedition Timberline is the best form of transportation for those families that like to get messy on the weekends. Photo: Ford

The Overall Parents Best Family Car Award Winners

It’s not as easy as it seems to pick the best, even when narrowing down the categories. And when it comes to minivans, it might seem simple, but, no.

Minivans are so desirable now that most have a waitlist for orders: they feature advanced technology and safety and let buyers choose hybrid, all wheel drive, flexible seating and more. And when the discussion comes to SUVs it’s even trickier with so many choices on the market.

The panel of judges (see below for more on the group) gave top nods to the Chrysler Pacifica for its style and technology including a plug-in hybrid version, and to the Ford Expedition for having the most flexible seating and most space in any SUV. The Expedition also was recognized as the best SUV for kids car seats for its movable center row seats and ample room in all rows. Both of these have been around for a while and both have been game-changers for families with lots of kids and stuff to haul.

For smaller SUVs, the panel went with the Honda Pilot for best 3-row family SUV and the Toyota RAV4 for the best 5-passenger SUV. The Honda Pilot just underwent a makeover and added an adventure trim, the Trailsport. And the RAV4, which continues to be one of the best selling SUVs in the country, offers plug-in hybrid, hybrid and adventure trims so buyers can get just what they need for their daily drive and lifestyle needs.

Related: 7 Best Luxury 3 Row SUVs

The 2024 Lexus Tx 350 Front Face

The front face of the 2024 Lexus TX 350. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Luxury Is Not Overlooked In Family SUVs

This is a competitive category, but also, a rewarding one; just because your seats are filled with kids and dogs doesn’t mean you have to skimp on luxury.

The panel chose the Cadillac Escalade as the best full-size luxury SUV, and we tend to agree: We love the advanced features and tons of headroom and leg room, even in the 3rd row.

The Lexus TX, a brand new model and one that completes the Lexus lineup with a full array of 3-row SUV options for family buyers, finished as the best mid-size luxury 3-row SUV. And the panel picked the Genesis GV80, elegant in its future-forward design that’s spacious and comfortable, as the best mid-size 5 passenger SUV (even though there is a 3-row option in the mid-range trim).

Related: Best Foldable Stroller Wagons for Travel

The 2024 Kia Ev9

The 2024 Kia EV9. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Electric SUVs Finally are a Family Consideration

A range of electric-powered SUVs are now, or soon, on the market and give buyers a choice: full electric, plug-in hybrid electric or hybrid power. These tend to be more powerful than their gas-powered counterparts and give buyers one really great feature: Less time spent going to the gas station. Here are the Parent’s Best Family Car Awards winners:

Best Electric SUV voting resulted in a tie: Kia EV9, which made its market debut just a few months ago, and Volvo EX90 which has been on display a few places and will hit the market shortly. Both are an electric version of their gas-powered siblings: The EV9 takes its cues from the Kia Telluride with lots of space and a boxy design; the EX90 is an electrified version of the XC90 with new technology and an updated design inside and out.

In this category it was a double win for Volvo; best hybrid went to the Volvo XC90 for its nicely powered engine, minimalist design and safety.

Lexus TX was also a double winner, taking the best plug-in hybrid nod. With 33 miles of range, families can do all the school and sports runs on electric, yet road trip to Disney World on fuel efficient hybrid power.

A Side View Of The Land Rover Defender 130

A side view of the Land Rover Defender 130. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Adventure, Value, Travel and City Driving

Land Rover Defender won for best adventure vehicle for its off-road capability, clean-ability and incredible selection of overlanding accessories. The Land Rover Defender 110 was cited by the judges since it was compared to a  number of other adventure SUVs including the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Sequoia and Lexus GX, as well as the Honda Pilot Trailsport and Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition. But buyers who need a 3rd row can still have a Defender: the 130 has a 3rd row and seats 7 just like many of its competitors.

When it came to best value for families, the jury selected the Honda CR-V, a great choice for its newly refined design, reliability and space.

And, for families who can’t just sit home, the panel picked the Toyota Grand Highlander as the best family road trip SUV. With an expansive cabin and 3 rows of seating, enough cargo space for lots of luggage and roof racks for more, plus the new hybrid max engine that delivers 362 HP, this SUV also delivers power and confidence on the road even when fully loaded.

Last, for those who need a family car for the city, the panel went with the Subaru Crosstrek. Also newly redesigned, the Crosstrek still offers all wheel drive and the rugged capability the brand is known for, with added technology, more safety features and lots of passenger comforts.

You can see the full list including best family sedans, sports cars, tech features and more here.

Meet the Parents Panel of Judges

It was my honor to be part of this process, serving both as a judge and as the lead writer on this awards program. The panel of judges included:

Christina Branman, @mobile_mama-reviews: Her “Hey Mamas!” callout gets our attention every time as Christina delivers minute-or-less recaps on the highlights of family cars, SUVs and more, all from the point of view of moms. She brings humor, her kids and her life into her posts stories.

Kelly Stumpe, @the_car_mom: You may know her as the mom of three— soon to be four— who reviews cars, especially as they fit the needs of families like hers, whose kids are in car seats, who have strollers, gear and Costco hauls. Kelly is also a certified child passenger car seat technician and expert on assessing and installing kids car seats.

Omar Rana, @omardrives: A dad of two girls, Omar left his corporate job to follow his passion for creating automotive content. His videos and reviews can be seen on Instagram and YouTube and focus on luxury, performance, electric and family cars and SUVs, and the features that put them over the top.

Paul Waatti, Auto Pacific:A dad of two small boys, Paul serves as the director of industry analysis at Auto Pacific, the California-based automotive research, consulting and marketing firm. As an analyst, Paul focuses on developing deep knowledge of the automotive industry and its products, and with his family in tow, on family cars and how they function for his crew.

Scotty Reiss, @agirlsguide2cars: Here’s where I get to humbly talk about myself: I founded A Girls Guide to Cars with the mission of bringing women and new voices to automotive through reviews, videos, social content and more. Part of that is participating in projects like Parents Best Family Car Awards and sharing what we have learned with a larger audience.

Teia Collier, @teiacollier: A single mom of three, one with special needs, Teia’s, site Modern Family Driver, dispenses advice, car reviews, insights and more for parents behind the wheel with their kiddos. MFD is a spinoff of her first site, Dallas Single Mom/Dallas Single Parents, focused on advice and insights for single parents. In addition, Teia serves as a trustee of the Mesquite Independent School District and the past president of the Texas Auto Writers Association.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss