Mom Test Drive: The Best Vehicles for a Busy Family

Find out how a popular minivan, sedan and SUV fare in real life with three kids

Mom with kids in the back seat

From classic sedans to sprawling minivans, there are plenty of choices when it comes to family cars. But which are truly family friendly? We drove three popular options to see how they measured up in the real world.

A white 2015 Toyota Sienna

 

2015 TOYOTA SIENNA

XLE V6 7-Passenger 6A

With its deep, spacious cargo area (39.1 cubic feet) and plenty of room inside for everyone to maneuver comfortably, the Sienna is off to a great start with this mom and her family of five. I tried the four-wheel drive, seven-passenger Limited package, which comes with captain’s seats in the middle row. (Eight-passenger and AWD are also available.) ISOFIX Anchors accommodate up to four car seats, and audio and temperature are customizable for the various zones of the van. The kids loved the extra-wide (16.4-inch) monitor for watching movies. Despite its many features and size, the Sienna is easy to drive. Still, the backup camera and blind spot monitor come in handy.

PRICE AS TESTED:$48,303

MOM RATING: ★★★★★

 

A black 2015 Nissan Altima

2015 NISSAN ALTIMA

2.5 SL + Tech

While recent decades have seen a trend toward the SUV, crossover and minivan, this classic sedan is still a practical drive for smaller families. Roomy, with plenty of legroom in back (36.1 inches), it’s a smooth, comfortable, quiet ride, and school-age kids should find it easy to get in and out of. The Altima also has the option to add a remote engine start system, so in winter, you can start your car remotely, and it’s all warmed up when you and the kids are ready to go. It’s easy to drive and park, with good visibility. But still, safety features on the Technology package such as blind spot warning, lane departure warning and moving object detection offer peace of mind.

PRICE AS TESTED: $32,763

MOM RATING: ★★★

A white 2015 GMC Acadia

2015 GMC ACADIA

Denali

My Acadia test drive came with seven-passenger seating (eight-passenger is available), and was loaded with safety features: rear cross traffic alert, side blind zone alert, forward collision alert and lane departure warning. It took some getting used to, but with the car’s poor visibility (especially when the DVD screen is down), I ended up needing all of it. Hipster parents will like the we-still-got-it cool SUV exterior, but they’d do better with older kids. It was too high for our young children to get in and out of, and buckling them in was awkward too. If you need all three rows, you’ll have to sacrifice storage: you can only fit a stroller or a week’s worth of groceries if you fold down the back seats.

PRICE AS TESTED: $61,410

MOM RATING: ★

Driving to Florida with the kids? Check out our best picks for family-friendly stops along the way.

Advertisement