Anyone who’s ever needed to cram a gaggle of kids into the back of their car for the morning school run or change a diaper in the trunk knows that it can be hard to raise a family and run errands every day without a reliable vehicle. Sure, you need loads of space for the whole family, the various school bags and sports kits, not to mention groceries and who knows what else. But not everyone can afford a full-size SUV or a massive pickup truck, though sales figures in the US may say otherwise. Instead, shoppers with a discerning eye, and wallet, should be looking to some of the best Honda SUVs, or maybe crossover from Kia or Toyota. Not every high-rider out there is a winner, but there are more than enough options to fit just about any lifestyle and/or budget.
Sure, a sedan or coupe may be cheaper, but only a handful actually have enough room for the whole family and those that do generally have to sacrifice cargo space in the name of rear-seat legroom. You could always opt for one of the few remaining station wagons or minivans still available for sale, but most of these are either too expensive to be suitable for the average family or too out of date to be safe and reliable enough to want to put your family in them. Read a Honda CR-V review, or a review of any of the other top-selling crossovers in America, and you’ll see why they are so in demand. If you don’t have the time for that, here is a quick breakdown of some of these popular cars.
Earning the top spot behind the various pickup trucks that Americans simply can’t get enough of, the RAV4 is more than just highly capable; it’s also very customizable. It is available as a gasoline variant with 203 horsepower, or an MHEV or PHEV with 219 hp. In either configuration, it’s more than capable enough of moving you, your family, and even a decent-sized trailer. Of course, the hybrids have much better fuel economy and will save you a fair amount of cash in the long run.
Like most family cars, it leans more towards comfort than fun, but you do have to opt for something higher than the base model to get access to power-adjustable seats and dual-zone climate control. Luckily, the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 safety suite is standard right from the get-go.
One of the most affordable crossovers on the market, the CR-V is backed by excellent safety and reliability ratings, though it isn’t quite as strong or well-outfitted as some of the competition. It is also available with a gas-powered or hybrid powertrain, with the latter boasting superior mileage figures and a higher starting MSRP. The standard turbo engine is by far the more enjoyable, supplying loads of low-level power for zipping around town and the kind of handling to take advantage of it.
Inside, the subcompact has great capacity for its footprint, and the standard safety specs are nothing to sniff at. You do have to upgrade a little to get blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. In comparison to the top-selling RAV4, the Honda lacks smartphone integration and it isn’t nearly as hardy with no off-road build and a much lower towing rating.
One of the smallest Chevies you’re likely to find, the Equinox is also the cheapest of the three crossovers listed here. Unfortunately, it makes some serious sacrifices in the name of affordability. It gets a single engine option, and it’s not a very good one. Luckily, you can get an all-wheel drivetrain if you live in an area where the weather can really ruin your daily driving experience. Other advantages include a classic design, great fuel efficiency, and a very user-friendly infotainment suite.
But, like so many other Chevy models out there, the Equinox cuts some corners in terms of quality to save buyers a few bucks. It’s a great option if your budget is tight, but there are better value-for-money propositions out there, especially where your family’s well being is concerned.