There Are a Few Notable Companies Missing from U.S. News’ ‘Best Cars for Families’

People rely on the annual ‘Best Cars for Families‘ list to help them discover the vehicles that check off all of their boxes. This year, no one was surprised to see old favorites like Toyota and Honda on the list. What was surprising that powerhouse car companies like Ford, Subaru, Nissan, and Mazda were all left off. 

Features families are looking for in the best cars

2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime is on display at the 112th Annual Chicago Auto Show
The Toyota RAV4 Prime, one of the best cars for families | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Families have a unique set of needs for their vehicle that requires the right mix. Safety is obviously a top concern, and technologically advanced safety features are a must. Automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, rear parking sensors, and other driver-assist features are expected. Shoppers with families are also looking for comfort for everyone. This means amenities and comfortable seats for the rear passengers, with features like heated seats, dual or tri-zone climate control, and entertainment. Lots of cargo space for everyone’s gear is also a top priority.

With all this in mind, U.S. News did everyone a favor by breaking down their favorites every year. Their professional reviewers look for the following main traits when considering vehicles:

  • Positive automotive reviews
  • Available family-friendly features
  • Strong safety and reliability ratings
  • Passenger and cargo space

Through rigorous testing of cars, SUVs and minivans, they determine the best cars for families out there. Which landed on top for 2021, and which didn’t make the cut?

The best cars for families

Which makes and models made this year’s list? Their vote for the best 2-row vehicle for families overall is the 2021 Honda Passport. They loved this family crossover for its great balance of features. The best 3-row vehicle for families is the 2021 Kia Telluride. Introduced last year, the Telluride has been a hit thanks to its space, safety, and dependability.

The best large SUV for families goes to the totally redesigned 2021 Chevy Suburban. This classic has been modernized for today’s family with abundant legroom and cargo space. The best compact SUV for families is the 2021 Toyota RAV4. This compact crossover has a huge fan club and works well for families thanks to its versatility. The best minivan for families is the 2021 Honda Odyssey, which is tough to beat when it comes to features. 

The best car for families in the midsize class was the 2021 Honda Accord, and the best large car was the 2021 Toyota Avalon. Toyota also dominated the electric and hybrid categories with the 2021 Highlander Hybrid and the 2021 Avalon Hybrid.

What models didn’t make the cut?


Consumer Reports Recommended Every Large Car It Tested for 2021

Even though they all make family-oriented vehicles, companies like Subaru, Ford, Nissan, and Mazda all are not on the list. The Ford Transit, while an amazing vehicle, just didn’t have the right combination to make the cut. The 2021 Ford Expedition was also not on the list in the SUV category. The Ford Escape and Ford Edge SUVs also didn’t make it. 

Similarly, the 2021 Subaru Legacy has won a variety of other awards for its family-friendly features but was left off the U.S. News’ ‘Best Cars For Families’ list. The 2021 Mazda CX-9, a three-row, seven-passenger crossover designed for families, also did not make this year’s list. Neither did the Mazda6, the CX-5, or the CX-3. 

Just because these well-known companies were left off this particular list doesn’t mean they’re bad. U.S. News considers specific criteria to determine their winners. However, this year’s winners are a reminder of just how far car companies like Kia have come and how brands like Toyota and Honda continue to impress in all categories year after year.