The Toyota Highlander is a good family vehicle for several reasons: it offers seating for up to seven passengers, offers a choice of four-cylinder, V-6 or hybrid power, and can be fitted with lots of standard and available family-friendly features. The Highlander offers a quiet ride, a clever hideaway feature for the second-row seat, and a roomy interior, although the third-row seat is basically for kids only. It's also an IIHS Top Safety Pick. The base front-wheel-drive version with a four-cylinder engine gets an EPA-estimated 20/25 mpg, while the all-wheel-drive hybrid model achieves 28/28 mpg. Options on various models include a navigation system, a rearview camera, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. The Highlander's current base price is $28,090.
2011 Kia Sorento
New for 2011, the Kia Sorento crossover is a family-friendly car that really delivers on all fronts and seats up to seven, depending on configuration. Not only is the Sorento an IIHS Top Safety Pick, it’s also good-looking, gets frugal fuel economy, and offers a choice of four-cylinder or V-6 power. The four-cylinder earns an EPA-rated 21/29 mpg in its most efficient versions, but we'd stick with the new 273-horsepower V-6 and six-speed automatic for gas mileage that's almost as good--and power that's much, much better. The Sorento has plenty of standard features, including USB ports and Bluetooth, plus the availability of all-wheel drive, rear-seat DVD players, a navigation system with rear-camera display, an Infinity surround audio system, and leather seating. It’s also priced very well, from $23,150. The bottom line: the Sorento is, in the words of TheCarConnection, “an all-weather wagon [that’s] sized right, timed right and packaged right.”