The Best Cars For Parents Have Changed Dramatically Since You Were a Kid

Deciding on a new car is hard enough as it is. Then add the stress of keeping your children safe in a car big enough to ferry the family, and suddenly things got even harder. While many of us millennials might’ve grown up with a minivan or station wagon in the driveway, young families today rely on a slightly different stable of family cars. So, what are the best cars for parents in 2022? 

Red 2022 Honda Odyssey
Red 2022 Honda Odyssey | Honda

Are minivans still the best cars for parents? 

If someone says “family car,” what do you picture? For decades, the smart money said either a minivan or station wagon. However, that is not really the case anymore. Minivans are still probably the most stereotypical “family car,” but they are getting fewer and fewer. But what is replacing the minivan for the modern family? 

U.S. News published a list of the “12 best cars for parents,” which is a far cry from what was hot with moms and dads when I was a kid. 

  • 2022 GMC Terrain
  • 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
  • 2022 Subaru Outback
  • 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
  • 2022 Mazda CX-30
  • 2022 Kia Forte
  • 2022 Kia Telluride
  • 2022 Mazda Mazda3
  • 2022 Honda Accord Hybrid
  • 2022 Honda CR-V
  • 2022 Honda Odyssey
  • 2022 Ram 1500

This list is as good of a sign of the times as anything else in our world currently. It’s wild to see more pickup trucks than minivans. I don’t mean to harp on the minivan, but it almost feels like this list is intentionally trying to be contrarian. I understand people have an aversion to minivans, but in what world is a 2022 GMC Terrain a better family car than the 2022 Chrysler Pacifica? That calculus simply doesn’t add up. 

This isn’t to say that pickup trucks can’t be a good family car. They surely can. But how could the Ram 1500 possibly be better than the Honda Odyssey for carting around some little goblins? Let’s take a look. 

What is the best car for families? 

Red Ram pickup truck parked in front of a stone house.
2022 Ram 1500 Limited | Stellantis

To be clear, I don’t think this is a completely illogical list. Your family would do well to have many of these models like the Kia Telluride, Honda CR-V, Toyota Highlander, or Subaru Outback. However, the pickup trucks feel a bit too much like a “cool guy” answer to make any real sense, at least compared to minivans or three-row SUVs. 

This list from U.S. News has the top three best cars for parents: 2022 Honda CR-V, 2022 Honda Odyssey, and the 2022 Ram 1500. 

The Ram 1500 is a great truck. This is nearly undeniable. However, that doesn’t make good for families. Despite my grumpiness, there is a point to be made here. For families who plan to haul campers for a family vacation, there is a decent argument to be made for the Ram. It can technically fit five people and can tow up to 12,750 lbs. Other positive aspects include good safety ratings, solid reliability, and a comfortable ride. While the Ram isn’t a bad choice for the best car for your family, it makes no sense to be in the top spot. 

The Honda Odyssey is one of the greatest vehicles ever made

A red 2022 Honda CR-V on the road in a desert environment.
2022 Honda CR-V | American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Our modern taste has dealt a serious blow to the minivan market. The latest generation of minivans is some of the best, most well-equipped, reliable, powerful, spacious, and feature-heavy cars on our roads. Not to mention, hybrid technology has come to a place where these large people movers are as fuel-efficient as some sedans. 

The only “downside” to the minivan these days is the social perception. How strange is that? Millions of people pass up one of the most practical cars on the road, not to mention one of the best-equipped, to buy something objectively worse in every way. And for what? To look cooler? 

Let’s bring the minivan back into the limelight as the segment with the best family vehicles on the market. 

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