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Bye-Bye, Beater. These Family Vehicles Rank Tops for Value and Safety

A red and white sports utility vehicle or SUV go around a hairpin curve on a winding road through a scenic forest.
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We always want the best for our families, and that extends to what we drive.

That’s why, after having a kid or two, it’s, “Goodbye, beater car from college. Hello, shiny minivan with all the bells and whistles.”

Families who’ve budgeted for a new car in 2018 might want to check out U.S. News & World Report’s latest list of the best cars for families.

This news outlet — which also ranks colleges, hospitals and more — came up with its family-vehicle ranking by examining automotive reviews, safety and reliability ratings, seating and cargo volume, and the availability of family-friendly features in 127 new cars, SUVs and minivans.

Even though all those factors are important, price is also crucial when you’re buying a new car — especially when you’re a Penny Hoarder.

So we cross-checked U.S. News & World Report’s Best Cars for Families list with its Best Cars for the Money list, which was released earlier this year. The Best Cars for the Money list focused not just on the initial price but on long-term ownership costs (like fuel, insurance and repair expenses) in addition to factors like quality and performance.

Four vehicles were category winners in both rankings.

Best Midsize Car

2018 Toyota Camry

MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price): $23,495

Notable features:

  • Ranked a perfect score for safety
  • Infotainment system is user-friendly and has standard smartphone integration
  • Fuel-efficient, averaging between 32 and 41 miles per gallon on the highway and 22 and 29 miles per gallon on city streets

Downsides:

  • Trunk space is smaller than average
  • Not compatible with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

What U.S. News & World Report says: “The Camry has plenty of advanced driver assistance features that help avoid collisions, such as standard lane departure warning and pedestrian detection. It's also a great commuter car.”

Best Compact SUV

2018 Honda CR-V

MSRP: $24,150

Notable features:

  • Scored well on crash tests
  • Ample seating and cargo space
  • Fuel-efficient, averaging between 31 and 34 miles per gallon on the highway and 25 and 28 miles per gallon on city streets

Downsides:

  • Few standard features, causing buyers to pay extra for upgrades
  • No major changes from last year’s model

What U.S. News and World Report says: “Those looking for a family car will appreciate its roomy back seats, huge trunk and good safety scores, while great fuel economy estimates boost the CR-V’s appeal as a commuting partner.”

Best Two-Row SUV

2018 Ford Edge

MSRP: $29,315

Notable features:

  • Infotainment system is user-friendly and integrates with smartphones
  • Above-average fuel economy for a midsize SUV, getting between 23 and 29 miles per gallon on the highway and 17 and 21 miles per gallon on city streets
  • Smooth handling, like driving a car

Downsides:

  • Transmission has been described as slow to shift
  • No major changes from last year’s model

What U.S. News and World Report says: “A premium interior along with an above-average predicted reliability rating further help the Edge stand out in its class. Its below-average starting price doesn't hurt its appeal either.”

Best Minivan

2018 Honda Odyssey

MSRP: $29,990

Notable features:

  • Boasts numerous family-friendly tech features, like a rear entertainment system and an in-cabin camera system
  • Handles well
  • Seats up to eight
  • User-friendly infotainment system

Downsides:

  • Must remove the second-row seats for maximum cargo capacity
  • On the pricy end

What U.S. News & World Report says: “Though it has a higher price tag than most rivals, it's worth it. The 2018 Odyssey has enough space for all your stuff, whether you're going on vacation or shuttling soccer equipment to the big game … Excellent crash test scores and a variety of advanced safety features make the Odyssey a great choice for a family vehicle.”

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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