How To Find The Best Family SUV

That Will Make

Everyone Happy

by Bill Flitter

While my family is still limping along with my wife’s Honda Pilot, (her pick for the best family SUV) we’ve been looking at different types of cars. Between fuel-efficient compact cars, Minivans with plenty of legroom, and all the Crossovers you could dream of, there are just too many to choose from.

So, here’s the situation, I have a family of four—two kids, my wife, and me—and we are active in sports, we take road trips, and we have three camping trips planned this summer. We also have a dog, which will need to be in a carrier or behind a safety gate.

The search for a new car started with something big and roomy. We also wanted it to meet high safety standards and get good mileage. Lastly, we hoped to find one with the latest tech built in but is not too expensive. So, I started my lists and created spreadsheets and started taking notes of possible SUVs my family would love.

Here are my search results, which you can also use to find some of the ‘best family SUV 2017’ you can buy.

best family suv 2017

The Best Family SUV 2017: 5 Things To Consider


When it comes to size, there were two factors I was looking for: seating capacity and cargo space. It would be nice to be able to take half the team with us to practice. We could even take the extended family out to dinner all in one car.

So, seating capacity was important. For all the SUVs I looked at, they almost all allowed for eight passengers. The Chevy Suburban allows for 9 and the Mercedes GLS allows only 7.

For cargo space, the Honda Odyssey is by far the roomiest. Next came the Suburban, followed by the Sequoia, the Yukon, the GLS, and then the Pilot and the Highlander. I was a little sad to see my favorite also being the one of the smallest, but it is a good five feet bigger than the Highlander.

best family suv

Safety Standards

For those all-important safety standards, I checked the Kelly Blue Book Best Safety Rated SUVs for 2016. Of all the cars on my list, only the Highlander and the Honda Pilot made the cut. The number one Best Safety Rated SUV for 2016 was the Acura MDX.

best family suv 2017


Good gas mileage is always a consideration when buying a new car. I was leaning towards a hybrid for all the local running-around-town errands I do. But I knew my options would be limited if I was stuck on getting an SUV.

In this category, you would think the Highlander Hybrid would be the clear winner, but it’s not. It’s listed at 30/28 (city/highway) while the Pilot is 19/27. Clearly, the hybrid outperforms in city mileage, but it is a basic tie on the highway.

The Mercedes came in a close second at 19/22, with the Yukon and Suburban coming in third at 16/23.

So far, the Pilot emerges as a leader in terms of safety and mileage.

best family suv 2017


At the turn of the century, a six-CD changer was all the rage. But these days, I’m looking for USB ports, Bluetooth integration, and compatibility with Auto Android. That requirement alone knocked Toyota out of the running.

All of the other makes and models do support Android, so that was another check mark in Honda’s favor. I also looked at rearview cameras, lane-change warnings, screens for the kids in the backseat, etc., but all of that fell into the category of “nice to have, but I’m not basing my decision on that.”

best family suv 2017


I knew that cost would definitely be an issue, as we are not the wealthiest family on the block and being frugal is always a good idea for anyone on a budget. In this category, Toyota did give Honda a run for its money, pun intended. But Honda still delivered the lowest price, at around $33,000 for the both the Pilot and the Odyssey.

The Highlander is about a thousand dollars more expensive than the Honda, while the Highlander Hybrid cost a little over $3,000 more; and when comparing mileage, again, Toyota lost. For comparison, GMC, Chevy, and Mercedes were all $15,000 to $20,000 more expensive ($44,000 to $63,000) with the Mercedes coming in at $67,000.

best family suv 2017

Best Family SUV 2017 – My Personal Picks

My list of best family SUVs started with a wide range of vehicles, mostly from what I’ve seen around the neighborhood. Is would have thrown in the Cadillac Escalade, but I knew without looking that luxury mobile was out of my price range. We’re a Honda kind of family but I wanted to give all the cars a fair shot.

My list of the Best family SUV 2017:

Over to You

So after comparing and contrasting vehicles base on several key factors, it is still a difficult choice. Would love to hear your thoughts on the best family SUV or Minivan.

How did you pick your last car? What SUV would you pick from our list? Do you agree with my analyses? For even more choices, check out Carjojo’s Best SUV 2017 guide. There are really so many great options to consider. I’m having a hard time narrowing down the list — but I must! Any predictions on what car I will buy?


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