The Best Family Cars I Drove This Year

Year-end lists are a necessity of life and as Cars.com just announced its finalists for the Best of 2014 award I thought it a good time to reflect on the cars I drove this past year in terms of family life.

Now, this post came about when I started compiling a list of cars I drove this year from my calendar. The list of some 74 cars is below. These are vehicles I actually drove home for at least one night. So, cars I drove at rallies, on tracks or on trips aren't all listed...like the SRT Viper.

But which ones of those that I did park in my driveway were the biggest turn-ons as a dad of two young kids?

Honda Odyssey

When you think family car you immediately think minivan. Whether that reaction is one of retching into a diaper pail is another question. But if you have no van hang-up then you can't deny that the Odyssey is the best car for families especially if you have young kids.

Give me automatic doors and floors so low that my kids are in their car seats - one buckled in - by the time I reach the end of my driveway any day. The crazy stuff in my test car like a widescreen LCD screen and built-in vacuum are just bonuses. Even if I bought a more basic model, the size, space, powerful V-6 engine and decent mileage and cargo flexibility are all major wins.

It is time to get over the minivan stigma America.

Nissan Pathfinder

If you're never going to bend to my will the best minivan alternative I've driven is the Nissan Pathfinder. There are a lot of great three-row crossovers but I liked the Pathfinder's power, upscale interior and especially the low step-in height for the kids.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Right on the heels of the Pathfinder is the Santa Fe. It has all the same positive attributes with slightly better technology integration and features for the money. (Also shown at top of this post with Carter checking out the back seats.)

Acura MDX

If I had the income though I'd probably step-up to the MDX. It has a much quieter ride, better performance and a second row of seats that slides forward with a touch of the button. Seriously. I'm not saying "button" willy-nilly. Plus it looks great in black.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

I don't think I'd get a two-row SUV as big as a Grand Cherokee because I've lived with our Subaru Outback and don't see a big advantage, especially because of the cost involved. However, if I threw out the practicality aspect of things I'd go with the Grand Cherokee for the added room over a compact SUV if not our Outback, ground clearance and off-road/snow performance.

Honda Accord

The Mazda6 may be sexier but it isn't better than the Accord. The fact that my father-in-law bought a new one recently and all my time in it only reinforces how great of an all-around performer it is...and it has a huge backseat. It also won Cars.com's last mid-size comparison test. Again, how can you argue against it...

Dodge Charger R/T Daytona

With this! If I'm a sedan-driving daddy, I want an all-wheel drive, Hemi-powered R/T and I really want the Beats by Dre stereo I tested in the Daytona version. Seriously. I'm not a rap fan but it turned Nine Inch Nails into an otherworldly experience. Note: Beats by Dre doesn't sound as good in other Chrysler models. Also, the Charger has a big backseat for kids, voluminous trunk for strollers/crap and come on...it looks badass.

Chevy Silverado

I am not a truck guy... but if I were I'd go with the new Silverado and its ridiculous number of USB ports so all my kids' crap could be powered on long trips. Mark my words: in the future a USB port for every seat will be far more valued than a built-in rear-entertainment system. Plus, my kids love to ride in trucks.

Check out all my work on Cars.com and here's that full list I promised you. Feel free to ask me about any of the vehicles in the comments below. The above list is in no particular order. 

Can Fit Families

  • Acura MDX
  • Acura RLX
  • Acura ZDX
  • Audi A6
  • Audi Q5 TDI
  • Audi SQ5
  • BMW 335xi
  • BMW X1
  • Buick Verano Turbo
  • Cadillac CTS 2.0, V-Sport
  • Cadillac XTS V-Sport
  • Chevy Cruze Diesel
  • Chevy Impala
  • Chevy Malibu
  • Chevy Silverado
  • Chevy Sonic RS
  • Chrysler 200
  • Chrysler T&C
  • Dodge Avenger
  • Dodge Charger RT Daytona
  • Dodge Dart
  • Dodge Durango
  • Ford C-Max Energi
  • Ford F-150
  • Ford Fiesta Titanium
  • Ford Fusion EcoBoost
  • Ford Mustang Convertible
  • GMC Acadia
  • Honda Accord Hybrid
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Hyundai Equus
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Jeep Compass
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
  • Kia Cadenza
  • Kia Forte
  • Land Rover LR2
  • Land Rover LR4
  • Land Rover Range Rover
  • Land Rover Range Rover Sport
  • Lexus GS350
  • Lexus GX460
  • Lexus IS-F Sport
  • Mazda3
  • Mazda6
  • Mercedes GL63AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Nissan Armada
  • Nissan Murano
  • Nissan Pathfinder
  • Nissan Sentra
  • Nissan Versa Note
  • Ram 1500
  • Ram EcoDiesel
  • Subaru Forester
  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Volvo S60 R Design
  • VW Beetle Convertible
  • VW Beetle TDi

 Not Really Family Friendly

  • Audi RS5
  • Chevy Corvette Stingray
  • Jaguar XJ
  • Lexus LS 460
  • Lexus LS 600h
  • Mazda Miata
  • Mitsubishi Mirage
  • Nissan Juke Nismo
  • Porsche 911
  • VW Eos