Today’s best small suvs are perfect vehicles for a family of four. They are easy to get into and out of, accommodate child-safety seats with ease, and provide more versatility than the typical small sedan or hatchback. The good news is they also lack many of the drawbacks plaguing earlier SUVs that were based on small trucks. Those vehicles didn’t feature the pleasant ride quality or the excellent fuel economy offered by today’s crop of small crossovers.
Yes, there are downsides — towing capacity is an example. But many young families would cheerfully give up the ability to tow major loads in a trade for higher fuel economy and a more comfortable ride. Here’s a detailed look at the 10 best vehicles for a family of four.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2019 Toyota RAV4
For several years running, the Toyota RAV4 compact SUV has been one of the best-selling vehicles in the country. The full-size pickup trucks from the Big 3 carmakers often are the only vehicles to outsell Toyota’s stalwart SUV. Why? Superior quality and longevity are two big reasons. The Toyota RAV4 is powered by an exceptionally dependable 176-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Previous editions of the RAV4 were spartan and truck-like, but all that changed radically with the newest redesign.
Now the RAV4 boasts an impressive array of standard equipment, including roof rails, parking camera system, Bluetooth/USB integration, and 6-inch touchscreen-operated audio system. And for families who crave the outdoors, the RAV4 is offered in Adventure grade, which includes a higher ride height and more rugged off-road-oriented styling.
Photo Credit: Kia
2019 Kia Sportage
Those who have lingering questions about the product quality of the Korean-based brands should know that Kia is now getting accolades for its high product quality from the likes of J.D.Power. In addition, the brand offers an exceptionally long vehicle warranty, which should be welcome news to those with a family of four. The compact five-passenger crossover features a laundry list of standards — alloy wheels, automatic headlights, power-operated side mirrors, and heated front seats among them.
The Sportage is better looking than ever before, and the standard 181-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine provides plenty of acceleration. If you’d like more, a 240-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is available too, as is all-wheel drive. A technology package offers blind spot detection, lane departure warning, and rear cross traffic alert.
Photo Credit: Chevrolet
2019 Chevrolet Equinox
The Chevrolet Equinox SUV, which was all-new in the 2018 model year, offers the compact crossover buyer both wide variety and substantial size. Three different engine choices are available: the 170-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the 252-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, and the 137-hp 1.6-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder.
Alloy wheels, LED running lights, automatic xenon headlamps, stop-start system, heated/power-operated side mirrors, parking camera system, remote entry/start, and a six-speaker audio system controlled by touchscreen all are on the list of standard equipment. Options include leather upholstery, all-wheel drive, heated rear seats, and rear parking sensors. Safety features include safety alert seat, low speed forward automatic braking, and Surround Vision. Families of four will appreciate its exceptionally roomy interior.
Photo Credit: Ford
2019 Ford Escape
The Escape is on-road-oriented, which is sensible given the way the vehicle is typically used, but all-wheel drive and a turbocharged engine are available for those who want them. The base engine is a 168-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder, and an available turbocharged EcoBoost 2.0-liter four-cylinder that offers 245 hp transforms the character of the Escape. With four trim levels from which to choose, family-car buyers are likely to find a version to suit their particular tastes and budget.
The base model lacks alloy wheels, but it does offer tilt/telescoping steering wheel, automatic headlights, LED tail lights, split/folding/reclining rear seats, and Bluetooth/smartphone integration. The top-of-the-line Escape Titanium features the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, navigation system, enhanced active park assist, and high-intensity discharge headlights.
Photo Credit: Nissan
2019 Nissan Rogue
The five-passenger Rogue is one of Nissan’s most popular vehicles, a runaway hit in the market. It offers exceptional passenger and cargo flexibility with its innovative EZ Flex seating system and Divide-N-Hide cargo system. Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist technology is an important bundle of safety and driver-assist equipment. It includes features that aid steering, braking, and even acceleration during single-lane highway driving.
Most 2019 Rogue models are equipped with a 170-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to the Xtronic continuously variable transmission with Sport and Eco modes. The CVT boosts fuel economy (26 mpg city/33 mpg highway/29 mpg combined), and Nissan engineers have tamed the offputting features of the CVT technology.
Photo Credit: Hyundai
2019 Hyundai Tucson
The Hyundai Tucson was named most dependable small SUV by J.D. Power in the research firm’s 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study, just another indication that Korean brands have solved the quality/reliability issue. The Tucson’s well-appointed interior benefits from heated seats and a 7-inch audio display system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Two engines are available: a 175-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged direct-injected four-cylinder, and a 164-hp 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder.
With a base price under $25,000, the Tucson SEL offers young families upscale items like LED daytime running lights and accent lights, eight-way power driver seat with two-way power lumbar support, heated front seats, and power-operated windows with driver’s auto-up/down feature. Worthwhile options include proximity-key entry with pushbutton start and hands-free liftgate.
Photo Credit: Buick
2019 Buick Envision
The Buick Envision is a good-looking, useful vehicle that offers more than a touch of luxury while also presenting good value. Among the niceties for family drivers are standard heated front seats and optional heated rear seats. Ventilated and cooled front seats are standard on the highest trim level, as is a head-up instrument display — rare in this class. Dual-zone climate control is standard, and the top-level trims feature tri-zone climate control. All Envisions are equipped with a sliding, 60/40-split rear seat and programmable power liftgate with hands-free operation.
Engine choices are 197-hp 2.5-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine (standard on base, Preferred, and Essence trims), and a 252-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (standard on Premium trims). The Buick Envision is a rare U.S.-available model manufactured in China.
Photo Credit: Honda
2019 Honda CR-V
Though it doesn’t offer major changes for the 2019 model year, the five-passenger Honda CR-V compact SUV boasts a premium-quality interior, wide availability of a turbocharged engine, and a laundry list of safety features. The Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver-assist technologies includes sophisticated systems like road departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control that family drivers will appreciate.
EX and higher trims are powered by a 190-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while LX models are powered by a 184-hp 2.4-liter direct-injected i-VTEC four-cylinder engine. The CR-V has been one of the most popular vehicles in the country for years now, and though competitors have infringed on its territory, it still is a very worthy choice for young families.
Photo Credit: Fiat Chrylser Automobiles
2019 Jeep Cherokee
Jeep calls Cherokee a midsize SUV, but Jeeps tend to “run small” versus most of their competitors, so the Cherokee is a better choice for young families than the smaller Compass. The featured powertrain is a 270-hp 2.0-liter direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission, but cost-conscious young family buyers will find the base 180-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder more than adequate.
For those who need to tow, the optional 271-hp 3.2-liter V6 delivers a tow rating of 4,500 pounds. As you’d expect from Jeep, the Cherokee offers three distinct 4×4 systems for extra traction in challenging conditions. Inside, the Cherokee is well-finished with hints of luxury suvs.
Photo Credit: Mitsubishi
2019 Mitsubishi Outlander
Substantial interior room, commodious cargo space, and three-row seating are advantages the Mitsubishi Outlander brings to families of four. It’s inches longer than most of its competitors, but it is equally handy to drive in urban traffic. The option to transport two additional passengers in the third row is appealing even if you are a family of four.
The Outlander offers a 7-inch touchscreen display audio unit with Bluetooth as standard on the base trim. A package includes forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. The base engine is a 166-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder. A 224-hp 3.0-liter V6 engine and a hybrid version also are available. Upscale features include dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, and rearview camera system.