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16 vehicles recommended for family life

Honda big winner in Kelley Blue Book’s top 2016 family cars

The Toyota Highlander’s towing capacity isn’t particularly stellar when compared to the others on our list, but at 2,268 kg (5,000 lb) when equipped with the optional towing package, it represents the upper limit for an affordable crossover ute built on a front-drive unibody platform (the VW Touareg is the noted exception). To get that, you’ll need to specify the optional 3.5-L V-6 that’s rated at 270 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a six-speed automatic working in tandem with either front- or all-wheel drive.

Kelley Blue Book has unveiled its top 2016 model year family cars in 16 categories, and Honda capturing more than a third of the spots.

KBB’s 16 Best Family Cars of 2016 were judged by the publications’ editors on their safety features, comfort and convenience, spaciousness for both passengers and cargo, and the ability to securely and easily fit three different types of child safety seats (a rear-facing infant seat, a convertible seat that can be installed either rearward- or forward-facing, and a forward-facing booster seat).

The 16 recommendations were pared down from a list of 24, and not only were Honda vehicles recognized for their family-friendliness six times, they covered the entire spectrum of family-vehicle considerations — three different vehicle classes (sedan, minivan and crossover/SUV), and six different size classes (mini, compact, mid-sized, full-sized, 2-row and 3-row utilities).

“For two weeks’ time we drove, lived-with, folded-down-seats-of, paired-phones-to and installed-baby-seats-in each and every one of the contenders,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst of Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com. “We loaded cargo, contorted ourselves into third rows, watched movies on rear-seat screens, toted rowing teams to marinas – in short, we did everything that you and your family might do with a vehicle day-to-day.

“We did all this with a certain sense of what a family needs and wants, since many of our testers are simultaneously parents of kids ranging from mid-20s to newborn. So this wasn’t just a cursory exercise, but instead it drew heavily upon our family-car experiences, needs and wants” he explained

The Honda Civic added to its growing list of awards, claiming a compact sedan recommendation for its generous standard equipment, list of safety features and cool design. The editors said the Civic is just an all-around great car, which is why it was previously named KBB.com’s Overall Best Buy of 2016.

Other recommendations from the Honda stable were the midsized Accord sedan, the Odyssey minivan, and the HR-V, CR-V and Pilot crossovers (in mini, compact and mid-size categories, respectively).

General Motors managed the most other recommendations, with three Chevrolets making the list — the mid-sized Malibu sedan and full-sized Impala sedan, and the full-sized Tahoe sport utility. The Hyundai group also had three representatives — the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata mid-sized sedans, and the Kia Sedona minivan.

Toyota’s Sienna scored the other minivan recommendation (along with Sedona and Odyssey), and Toyota also netted a recommendation for its Highlander mid-sized crossover.

Single recommendations were also earned by the Subaru Outback midsized wagon/crossover and the Nissan Pathfinder midsized crossover/SUV.

Eight other vehicles were considered for awards, but did not quite reach editors’ expectations — Ford F-150 full-sized pickup and Explorer midsized crossover/SUV, compact Hyundai Tucson crossover and Kia Soul hatchback/crossover, Ram 1500 full sized pickup, Subaru Crosstrek compact crossover/SUV, and Toyota Avalon full-sized sedan and Camry mid-sized sedan.

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