Families come in all shapes and sizes so it follows that the 10 best family cars of 2018 also come in various shapes and sizes. If you are part of a family with infants and small children, we at Driving Today have a vehicle for you. If you have a mix of pre-teens and teens we have you covered, too. And even families with college-age children can find their vehicle on this list. As with all of our DT 10 Best Lists, we concentrate on quality, reliability, safety and value. Your family is the most precious cargo on Earth, and we want to protect them every way we can.
All the vehicles on this list are eminently family-worthy, but they are shown in our order of preference from number one to number 10. We’re sure this list can help you in your quest for the best family vehicle for your crew.
1. 2018 Honda Odyssey
While some still deride minivans, as a practical family vehicle the minivan has no peer, and in our estimation the new-for-2018 Honda Odyssey is the best minivan on the planet. Even in base trim it is filled with thoughtful features that include alloy wheels, remarkably versatile seating, parking-assist camera system, and Bluetooth/USB infotainment system. If you step up to higher trim levels the equipment gets even more lavish — power sunroof, power liftgate, rear-seat DVD entertainment center with dual screens, AC electrical outlets, Wi-Fi, even a vacuum cleaner. The safety equipment array is too long to list here, and amazingly this rolling rec room is actually very pleasant to drive, thanks to its 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine.
2. 2018 Toyota RAV4
One of the most popular vehicles in America, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 stuffs a lot of equipment and uncommon quality and longevity into a compact package. With five trim levels from which to choose, RAV4 buyers can find an appropriate combination of equipment and price. Even the base RAV4 has ample room for five and an impressive array of standard equipment, including roof rails, parking camera system, and Bluetooth/USB integration and 6-inch touchscreen in its audio system. Going up the trim-level chain nets you even more comfort, convenience and safety features like leather upholstery and parking sensor system. Power is provided by a stout 176-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine.
3. 2018 Honda Pilot
Honda hit the high notes perfectly with the Honda Pilot when it was thoroughly re-designed for the 2016 model year. Since then the model has been constantly refined, improving its up-to-eight-passenger utility while giving it the comfort-and-convenience features of a topnotch minivan.
Compared to many of its import-brand competitors the Pilot is big, and that translates into useful passenger and cargo space. Lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control lead the list of driver-assistance technology offered. Three-zone automatic climate control and HomeLink remote system are just a couple of the many features standard on up-level trim models. Ample power is available from the 280-horsepower V6, and that power is channeled through either a 6-speed or 9-speed automatic transmission, depending on trim level.
4. 2018 Chevrolet Traverse
Completely redesigned for the 2018 model year, the Chevrolet Traverse bears a family resemblance to the even larger Chevy SUVs, and one of its calling cards is its substantial size. It offers surprising room for third-row passengers and features exceptional cargo space behind the third row. Newly designed split-folding second-row seats and second-row captain’s chairs have a sliding feature to enhance access and versatility. The curbside second-row seat tips up and slides forward to provide third-row access even with a forward-facing child seat in place. Keyless unlock/start and three-zone automatic climate control are standard on all models. The standard MyLink radio systems feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility plus OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. The standard engine is a 3.6-liter V6, while a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is offered in the RS model.
5. 2018 Toyota Highlander
The midsize Toyota Highlander crossover SUV delivers seating for seven in three rows plus a plethora of standard and optional features. Even the base model includes alloy wheels, heated/power-operated mirrors, tilting/telescoping steering wheel, rear vents, split/folding second and third-rows, and six-speaker audio system with touchscreen. Safety highlights are collision mitigation and parking camera systems. Front and rear parking sensors, panoramic sunroof and a rear-seat entertainment system are among the up level goodies available. The 3.5-liter V6 engine delivers 295 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful in the segment. Plus the Highlander tops many lists for reliability and longevity.
6. 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe
Built on the substantial Chevrolet full-size pickup truck chassis the Chevrolet Tahoe has been a family favorite for decades because of its ample room, versatile interior and substantial towing ability. This year a 6.2-liter performance package is available including a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine, 10-speed automatic transmission and performance-calibrated Magnetic Ride Control, but the standard 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 engine gets the job done. Safety equipment abounds. Among the highlights: front and side-impact air bags for driver and front passenger with front-center air bag and head curtain side-impact air bags for all rows, Forward Collision Alert, Safety Alert driver’s seat, Lane Keep Assist and Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking. The Tahoe rides like a limousine and can be filled with convenience and entertainment options galore.
7. 2018 Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler invented the minivan, and the company is dedicated to keeping a substantial portion of the minivan business. That’s why they reinvented their minivan a year or so ago and renamed it Pacifica. With a versatile interior that can accommodate up to seven, the Pacifica can be modestly equipped with a commensurate modest price tag or it can be equipped with a variety of bells, whistles and 20-speaker audio. Base models feature heated/power-operated mirrors, keyless entry, stow-away second-row seats, power-operated driver seat, and parking camera system. Chrysler’s infotainment interface is one of the best in the business. Going up the trim level chain power-operated doors, power-operated liftgate and power-folding second- and third-row seats become available. Powering the shebang is a 287-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 or a hybrid gasoline-electric system.
8. 2018 Honda CR-V
The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 are head-to-head competitors, but the CR-V throws off a more lighthearted vibe, while the RAV4 is more businesslike. Both are great vehicles for smaller, younger families, and the CR-V has been one of the most popular vehicles in the country for a decade or so.
The CR-V was completely redesigned for the 2017 model year, so this year it largely stands pat, but it boasts a premium-quality interior, an available turbocharged engine, and an incredible list of safety features. The CR-V’s Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver-assist technologies includes Road Departure Mitigation and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow. Additional available driver-assists are Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, Blind Spot Information System, Auto High-Beam and Driver Attention Monitor. EX and higher trims are powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine while LX trims are powered by a 2.4-liter direct-injected i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine.
9. 2018 Kia Soul
Versatile economy is the hallmark of the Kia Soul. It is one of the few vehicles available under $20,000 that is suitable for family-car duty, and in some ways is the standard-bearer for the Kia brand. Now in its fifth model year, the Soul has ranked at the top of the J.D Power Initial Quality Study in its category for three consecutive years. For 2018 the popular UVO3 infotainment interface is available across the model range. New packages of equipment that can be added to the $20,300 Soul Plus include Smart Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, HID headlights and LED positioning lights. Three engines are offered: 130-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, 161-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. Fuel economy numbers for all the engines will be good news for the family budget.
10. 2018 Ford Expedition
Ford apparently got tired of Chevrolet owning the full-size SUV business so it assembled an all-new Expedition that provides families generous space, a heavy dose of connectivity and smart new technology. Ford claims the Expedition has best-in-class second- and third-row legroom. Flexible seating solutions include second-row tip-and-slide seats that offer easy access to the third row even when child seats are installed. The rear-seat entertainment system can stream live cable or satellite television, and there are USB ports in every row. The powertrain is a 400-horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine teamed with a 10-speed automatic transmission for fuel economy and towing capability. Towing is enhanced by Pro Trailer Backup Assist that makes it easier for drivers of all skill levels to back up a trailer.
Of course, if minivans and family SUVs aren’t the way you want to roll, there are other alternatives.