These Are the Best Family Cars for 2020 (According to Experts)

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When you’ve got a carload of kids to haul around, finding the right car is about more than tech options and color schemes (though we have to admit, Volvo had us at massaging seats). Parents need a people-moving vehicle that’s safe, reliable, car seat friendly—and has all the connectivity and power ports to keep kids happy on the road. Need some good recs? We scoured the experts’ reviews to find everything from the best SUV to the best minivan for families in 2020, keep reading to see them all.

Best Small SUVs and Crossovers

2020 Volvo XC60

This five-passenger compact SUV made Edmunds' list of the Best Family Cars in 2019, and the 2020 model isn't all that different from its predecessor. If you've got a smaller family and don't need a minivan or a three-row SUV, it's a good, safe option that has loads of fun features for kids and parents (Hello, massaging seats!).

Best family-friendly features:

  • Comfortable seating for five
  • Apple Carplay & Android Auto puts what's on your phone on the center console screen, allowing you to access your apps and music easily
  • Optional rear seat iPad holder lets the kids easily watch movies on their iPads
  • Spacious second row seating easily fits two car seats
  • Massage function available for front seats (!!)
  • Four-zone climate control keeps you cool up front even when your tots want it toasty in the back
  • In-car WiFi

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)
  • Forward collision warning sends a warning if a forward collision is imminent and automatically applies the brakes if needed
  • Blind spot warnings
  • Lane departure warning notifies you if you're drifting out of your lane
  • 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 booster seat that can be hidden in the seatback when not in use

Starting price: $40,150

Online: Volvocars.com

2020 Subaru Outback

Sporty and nimble according to Kelley Blue Book, the Subaru Outback works great for smaller families who don't want an SUV but still want the off-road feel of a truck. The 2020 wagon features a new engine, upgraded tech, roomier rear seats and loads of safety features.

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
  • 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
  • DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System senses if you're falling asleep or straying from 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

Starting price: $27,645

Online: Subaru.com

Best 3-Row SUVs

2020 Kia Telluride

Named one of the top 10 cars of 2020 by Kelley Blue Book and Motor Trend's 2020 Car of the Year, the 8-passenger Kia Telluride has the tech to satisfy the kids and the safety and reliability parents want.

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 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 alert 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: $31,690

Online: Kia.com

photo: Ford

2020 Ford Explorer

If you like a rugged-looking car that'll fare well in snow and rain, you'll love the completely redesigned Ford Explorer, a stylish SUV with a punchy engine that, according to Gear Patrol, makes it "as easy to drive as a midsize car."

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
  • 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: $36,675 

Online: Ford.com

2020 Hyundai Palisade

This hefty family hauler—which was named one of the best three-row SUVs of 2020 by Motor Trend and was an IIHS Top Safety Pick in 2019—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.

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.

Starting price: $31,550

Online: Hyundaiusa.com

Best Sedan 

2020 Honda Accord

This year's winner of Edmund's Mid-Size Sedan category and named one of the "Best Cars for Families" by U.S. News & World Reports, 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 its 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 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 (48 city. 47 highway) saves your family money

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
  • Multi-angle rear view camera with available cross-traffic monitor
  • Smart Entry with Walk Away Autolock lets you lock and unlock your car without taking out your keys

Starting price: $23,870

Online: Honda.com

Best Minivans

Honda Odyssey

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: 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, why don't all cars have these?), 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
  • The built-in vacuum helps you keep all those crumbs at bay
  • The 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 
  • Active cruise control with 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 rear view 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

Starting price: $30,690

Online: Honda.com

2020 Toyota Sienna

The top-rated minivan for 2020 by Consumer Reports, the Toyota Sienna has a slew of tech and safety features that make it a perfect people mover.

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

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: $31,565

Online: Toyota.com

—Melissa Heckscher

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Feature photo: iStock