March 21, 2002

Parents Magazine and AAA pick top 12 vehicles for families

Parents Magazine and the American Automobile Association have teamed up to pick the best 12 vehicles for families. “We’re combining Parents’ understanding of what moms, dads, and kids want with the AAA’s 100 years of auto-safety expertise to come up with a list of cars perfect for shuttling the kids to doctor’s visits, soccer practice, shopping, and everywhere in between,” said Parents editor-in-chief, Sally Lee.

Parents and AAA test-drove dozens of vehicles, considering family-friendly features, value, and the latest safety attributes for passengers of all sizes. The Parents/AAA picks are among the top performers in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).


  • Honda Accord: “Runs quietly, smooth ride; a great value. Lap/shoulder seat belts come standard in all seat positions, allowing you to secure even an older child riding in a booster seat.”

  • Nissan Altima: “Drives like a sports car; cup holders big enough for supersize drinks. Innovative Snug Kids program provides a list of children’s car seats that best fit Nissan vehicles.”
  • Ford Taurus: “One of the few sedans that can seat six passengers-perfect for carpools. Its sturdy structure protects passengers big and small. Was rated a ‘Best Pick’ by the IIHS.”

Sport utility vehicles:

  • Chevrolet Suburban: “A top choice for large families; can seat up to nine people. Up to eight cup holders, a rear-seat heating duct and two power outlets in the front plus one in the back.”

  • Acura MDX: “This award-winning vehicle has high gas mileage for an SUV (17 to 23 mpg). Comes with lap/shoulder belts in every position to safely accommodate any size kid or car seat.”
  • Hyundai Santa Fe: “This stylish compact SUV drives like a luxury sedan, and beat out nearly every other SUV in its class in IIHS crash tests. The backseat splits for extra cargo space.”

Station wagons:

  • Volkswagen Passat Wagon “The Passat, which has earned industry praise for years, offers better-than-average warranties and a built-in pollen/dust filter; an IIHS ‘Best Pick.'”

  • Volvo V70 “The V70 comes equipped with front, side and side-curtain air bags; antilock brakes; seats are designed to prevent passengers from sliding out under seat belts.”
  • Ford Focus “With this smaller station wagon, you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck; a high roofline maximizes headroom and storage space.”


  • Honda Odyssey: “Powerful engine, low overall maintenance, and quadruple five-star rating in NHTSA’s front- and side-impact crash tests. An optional DVD entertainment system.”

  • Ford Windstar: “Hugs the road like a smaller vehicle; earned the highest crash-test ratings possible. Rear-sensing system alerts you if you’re about to back into something or someone.”
  • Toyota Sienna: “Maintenance costs lower than average; high resale value. A ‘Best Pick’ by the IIHS. Smart brakes can tell whether you’re depressing the pedal hard enough in an emergency.”

Connect with