Choosing a car for your family is a big decision: you want to make sure that you’re choosing a car that will provide safety and security, but also that has plenty of room for the kids and looks good on your drive. Our comparison of some of the three top family cars in America should hopefully make the search a little easier.
With a proud history behind it (the name dates from 1935) the Chevrolet Suburban is still a favourite with Soccer Moms across the country. This model is renowned for its safety, particularly the 2009 model which received the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s best rating of five stars.
Fuel economy can be an issue with Suburbans – just as it can with any other SUV. The car can add a hint of glamour to the drive though (gone are the days of wood panelling) as it now shares the same running gears as the Cadillac Escalade.
The Suburban has room for nine passengers: great if you have a big family or want to join in the school’s carpool. But it could be frustrating when you have to take all of your kid’s friends out for pizza.
This model is responsible for the SUV becoming one of America’s most popular vehicle types, and is generally one of the safest on the road. There was some controversy twelve years ago where a number of Ford Explorers were found to roll over if fitted with Firestone tyres – windshield repairs were just about the best case scenario in instances where this happened.
Rest assured that current models are far safer, with Roll Stability Control fitted to prevent such accidents and a plethora of airbags: the usual front and side ones, and also a side head, torso and rollover protection airbag. The seatbelts are even equipped with airbags: this technology won an award from the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.
The Explorer is favoured by emergency services: including the NYPD. If it’s safe enough for high speed chases (and keeping criminals locked in the back) then it should be able to handle the drive to school no problem.
With regards to fuel economy, the Honda Odyssey is better than other SUVs on the market. Although it’s technically a mini-van, the Odyssey makes up for what it lacks in size with plenty of substance. It’s a particular favourite for family road trips, as some models include voice controlled satellite GPS and DVD navigation (to keep the kids happy in the back). The air conditioner powered cool-box is a great innovation too: ice cold Coke’s all round.
When it comes to safety, the Honda has all other cars beat: earning a five star crash safety test in all categories (apart from rollover testing, where it received four stars). The accolade is well earned, as Honda build in Advanced Compatibility Engineering which evenly distributes crash energy and makes collisions less dangerous.