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The 2021 Family Car Awards

Including well-appointed electric SUVs, crossovers fit for weekend adventures, minivans that still drive like a dream, and family wagons that don’t skimp on the fun.

There’s perhaps no car that more deeply etches its way into your brain than the family car you grew up in. Think of the scenes: The country flying by the windows on a road trip, dad’s inscrutable tunes softly thumping in the front, a sibling gently snoozing in their car seat, plush seats supporting you and your dreams of the beach, or soccer practice, or the ride to your best friend’s house. The family car is nothing short of a rite of passage. And yet… when parents buy that car, rarely does a thought turn to their child’s point of view. Sure, we ask all the practical questions: Is it safe? Does it have enough storage? Is it on budget? All are necessary, but they have a missing component: How will this vehicle shape precious cargo in the backseat? Will they feel open and free, or will they see a car as merely a cramped transporter, a necessity to get from point A to B?

When selecting the best family cars for our annual Family Car Awards, our team looked at such down-the-middle features as drivability, safety, dependability, storage space, and efficiency. But they were equally concerned with parent- and child-specific features that make a big difference in family’s lives: How easy the interior is to clean, what it’s like to hoist a kid into the back seat, the practical systems and instrumentation that keeps a driver’s eyes on the road, and much more. (You can see the entirety of our testing criteria for the best family cars here.) The winners that made are list are in our minds the best family cars of the year and worthy of carrying your precious cargo. Including well-appointed electric SUVs, crossovers fit weekend adventures, feature-packed minivans that still drive like a dream, and family wagons that don’t skimp on the fun, here are the best family cars of the year.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback EX

Price: $25,000 (estimated)
EPA: 36 mpg combined fuel economy
Capacity: Five passengers
Max Cargo Space: 50 cubic feet (estimated)

Not ready for a crossover? The 11th-generation Civic Hatchback is a great alternative. This five-passenger hatchback is just as useful as a lot of small SUVs in the same price segment and packs tons of great features. The $25,000 price tag and hybrid-level fuel economy don’t hurt, either.

About those features: The Civic Hatchback can come with a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate controls, heated mirrors, and heated front seats, as well as a peppy 180-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder that gets a combined 36 mpg. We like the EX package best, as it comes with that snappier, more efficient motor. In terms of storage, the hatch in the back easily fits a stroller and a gross of diapers. It is extremely comfortable for a family with one kid — and you can make it work if you have two children.

Safety-wise, the Civic excels. In an industry first, Honda redesigned the airbag structure of both front systems to reduce the possibility of severe brain trauma associated with head-on collisions. The driver’s front airbag is designed like a catcher’s mitt, while the front passenger airbag has three parts, so it deploys shaped like the letter C. Both capture and cradle the head so that it doesn’t rotate, since rotation is associated with causes of TBI. Honda also redesigned its passenger cell with a reinforced fire wall and door frame to route crash energy around rather than through the cabin. The “Honda Sensing” safety system comes standard on all grades, too, and includes stop-and-go cruise control, lane-following, sign detection, and pedestrian and cyclist detection.

Last but certainly not least: The Civic is one of our hands-down favorite family cars for both agility and poise on the highway. It strikes a perfect balance between commuting comfort and curvy-roads fun.

Ford Mustang Mach-e California Route 1 RWD

Price: $51,500
Range: 305 miles per charge
Capacity: Five passengers
Max Cargo Space: 64.5 cubic feet

Yeah, the electric Mustang is a beautiful evolution of a classic American car. But is it a family car? You don’t have to strut that far outside the box to think so.

First off, it’s technically wide enough to accommodate three car seats across the second row. Yes, that’s a bit of a squeeze, but for smaller families or those who have outgrown car seats, there is without question enough leg- and headroom to seat five comfortably. There’s also more cargo room than what you’ll find in vehicles you might think are more family-sized, like the Volvo C40 or the Audi Q4 e-tron. The front trunk — “frunk” if you must — is made of nothing but plastic and can be cleaned out with a garden hose. Think of it like the bed of a pickup truck, minus all that truck-ness. And, oh yeah, the Mustang California has serious range. It’ll keep galloping along for 305 miles, on par with the best from Tesla.

So, yes, an electric Mustang is practical enough, but you’re not buying one because it’s the best soccer hauler. This pony drives like a dream — for those in the front and back seat. The 290-horsepower RWD version we’re suggesting buying corners tautly, but not in punishing matter, and a tight, 38-foot turning circle not only makes it no-sweat to squeeze through the slalom of a big-box store parking lot but a real joy on windy back roads. It’s got giddy-up, too: 60 mph arrives in 6.1 seconds, but the real fun is when you need to pass right now, as this pony is more than happy to leap forward with 317 pound-feet of instant torque.

A suite of safety tech justifies the ride carrying your most precious cargo. Called Co-Pilot 360, it includes blind spot assist, emergency braking and lane keeping, a system to prevent backing up into traffic, and advanced cruise control. The Mach-e was also named an IIHS Top Safety Pick, which means it earned a rating of “Good” across the board during IIHS crash tests.

And while the price tag is a little bit hefty for this list, don’t forget that, the IRS will give you a $7,500 tax credit on your purchase.

Volvo C40 Recharge

Price: $58,000 (estimated)
Range: 212 miles per charge (estimated)
Capacity: Five passengers
Max Cargo Space: 42.5 cubic feet

With a 75-kWh battery and dual-motor powertrain that delivers AWD and an ultra-quiet, all electric driving experience (not to mention 402 horsepower), the C40 Recharge is a super-slick EV that’s great for a small family. Yeah, there’s enough room in the back of the second row for a stroller and groceries, but the SUV isn’t massive and for that reason, like the Mustang Mach-e, it’s more at home in urban settings or commuting — which is how the vast majority of EV owners drive their cars, anyway. Road trip worries? First, be honest: How frequently do you drive 212 miles straight, without stopping for food, stretching your legs, and taking a bathroom break? Second, Volvo’s cars have switched to a Google OS, meaning not only can you ask Google where to get lunch but you have access to the world’s most comprehensive live mapping, so you can ask to be directed to the next available charging, and Google will “know” which stations are free as well.

Moving on, this is a Volvo, and as we’ve come to expect, safety is front and center. Features include a blind-spot-monitoring system, oncoming collision mitigation, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keeping, stop-start-cruise control, and driver monitoring for fatigue/attention. There will be over-the-air updates rolled out, too, including tech that will enable the car to pull off the road by itself in case a driver is incapacitated. Volvo’s XC40 Recharge got a Safety Pick+ score from IIHS; since these two models are closely linked on construction and design, we’re expecting no less here. (Volvo is the only brand in IIHS’s recent testing to receive nine Safety Pick + awards, from its S60 sedan through all of its crossovers.)

Inside, you’ll hear no complaints from the kids. The C40 Recharge is the first-ever Volvo offered without any leather. Instead, it features a new material called Nordico, made from recycled bottles and other sustainable materials. It comes stock with a glass panoramic roof, too, and the second row features the same supportive seats (optionally heated) that we’ve found to be the most comfortable in the industry — for both large and tiny passengers. If your kid has graduated from a car seat, do get the available booster for toddlers that has its own neck support at either side (like a business-class airline seat) so that it supports your child’s head when they hit the snooze button. Sure, the C40 Recharge price range is steep. But since Volvo is packing in so many features as standard, it puts it on par with rivals like the Tesla Model Y and the Audi Q4 e-tron. It’s a great buy.

Toyota Corolla Cross

Price: $22,195
EPA: 30 mpg combined fuel economy
Capacity: Five passengers
Max Cargo Space: 66.8 cubic feet

If you want space, reliability, and a frugal fuel economy at a price you can afford, the Cross is hard to beat. The SUV is about the size of a Subaru Crosstrek, but its overall cargo volume is far more impressive. The Cross comes in front-wheel drive only, which means while it’s probably not a go-to vehicle for ski vacations, the tradeoff is worth it for most, with a 30 mpg fuel economy that bests most pricier hybrid crossovers.

A ton of safety tech comes standard, too, including nine — that’s right, nine — airbags. The Toyota Safety Sense program includes pedestrian detection, pre-collision warning, and lane departure warning. Automatic high beams are included in that package as well. We especially like the dynamic cruise control that keeps the following distance consistent without driver input. We’re also expecting a strong rating from IIHS (coming soon), since the smaller Toyota CH-R that shares a platform with the Cross already scored a Top Safety Pick rating.

Around town, the Cross has reasonably quick reflexes, but not so much as to cause swaying — and carsickness — in the backseat. With 8.1 inches of ground clearance, it splits the difference perfectly between sedan height, which you may feel is too low, and taller SUVs, where hefting a child into a booster seat in the back can become a competition between your spine and the squirmy tiny human who won’t sit still during the hoist. The little things here add up to make a big difference.

Ford Bronco Sport Big Bend Edition

Price: $28,720
EPA: 26 mpg combined fuel economy
Capacity: Five passengers
Max Cargo Space: 65.2 cubic feet
Cool Family Feature: A split tailgate (a hatch door lifts up, and a lower door drops, like with a pickup truck) creates a super handy table for impromptu diaper changes — and also for actual tailgating.

The baby brother of the earth-tilling Bronco is an excellent family SUV. It’s compact and beautifully designed, with more legroom in the second row than you’d guess from the modest footprint of the vehicle. That goes for storage too, with a rear hatch that opens wide, a hungry maw ready to make short work of all your kid’s stuff.

We highly recommend the Big Bend edition, which gives key upgrades such as the ruggedized interior with pre-treated, cloth seats that are designed to be cleaned up readily. (That’s equally handy for mud and spit-up.)

The Bronco Sport is also a safe vehicle, not just in crashes (it’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for that), but because it comes standard with features like an unfastened seat belt warning for kids in the second row, automated LED high beams, and a code you can set for unlocking the car from the outside. The latter is handy for when you go for a run without the fob or for when your pre-teen gets bored running errands with you and wants to go back to the car. Elsewhere, there are power ports in the first and second row for recharging, and eight cupholders mean there’s always a place to stow not just water bottles but toys and snacks.

Let’s not forget that the Bronco Sport is fun. It handles with serious confidence, whether you’re driving through snow or a severe downpour. And thanks to its relatively boxy dimensions, it has great visibility and is surprisingly easy to park — parallel or straight-ahead. The combined 26 mpg fuel economy is not what you’d come to expect from the Broncos of the past.

Last but hardly least, Ford hit it out of the park on interior styling and functions, incorporating hidden, under-seat storage in the second row; utilizing rugged matting in the cargo hatch (to prevent you inadvertently marring the interior with bulky items); adding hard buttons and dials for climate and entertainment controls, rather than burying all functions in the touchscreen; and adding such extras as zippered pockets behind the front seats (which also helps prevent that packet of wipes from going missing just when you need them).

VW Taos

Price: $24,190
EPA: 28 mpg combined fuel economy
Capacity: Five passengers
Max Cargo Space: 65.9 cubic feet
Cool Family Feature: A “guardian” function lets you geo-fence your teen-driver, as well as know when they’ve gone somewhere other than Billy’s house. If they know and you know, they won’t, right?

Like the Corolla Cross and the Bronco Sport, the Taos is a reasonably priced vehicle packed with safety tech and a lot of interior roominess. It’s also a clear rung above a lot of bouncy-riding competitors because it’s just so damn solidly built.

Even if you get the AWD edition, fuel economy is decent at a combined 28 mpg. As for safety, VW offers a single, $895 package called IQ Drive, which includes adaptive cruise that slows the vehicle and even allows it to re-start rolling in traffic. Blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping, and automatic forward-collision warning and emergency braking are also there.

When the kids are no longer in car seats, they — and any other back seat riders — will appreciate the generous second row head- and knee-room. Parents will appreciate the storage space: Fold both rear seats and you’re looking at 65.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity, a number that easily smokes many midsize crossovers, and one big reason we’ve included the Taos on this list.

Another reason: It rides closer to car height than SUV height. That means it’s both easy to get into and out of, even if you’re a shorter driver. That lower height also leads to tauter handling, too. The 1.4-liter four, mind you, is also spunky, since peak torque happens just after takeoff. You won’t win any drag races, but the Taos won’t feel overmatched by terrain or when you’re accelerating to merge with traffic, either.

As the Taos is so new, there’s no IIHS score yet. We love that it features a lot of the safety systems we prefer, including lane keeping and smart cruise control, and comes standard with six airbags. But we’d wait on what NHTSA/IIHS have to say about crash testing.

Audi Q4 Sportback 50 e-tron

Price: $52,700
Range: 241 miles per charge (estimated)
Capacity: Five passengers
Max Cargo Space: 52 cubic feet
Cool Family Feature: There’s no center transmission tunnel in the second row, which means the center seat is far less of a “penalty” spot for a fifth passenger.

The Q4 Sportback 50 e-tron is a midsized, fully electric crossover with all the clarity, cool, and beauty you’d expect from Audi. No, it doesn’t have a gas engine. But you won’t miss it, thanks to quattro AWD and dual motors good for 295 horsepower.

Everywhere, the Sportback 50 shows off equal parts pragmatism and style. The cabin is ultra-slick, with a floating digital center display and an all-digital instrument cluster that’s reconfigurable. Navigation and other such info (like audio output) are at the center of your field of view, and easily controlled from the steering wheel. This includes an augmented reality heads-up display that, for instance, can superimpose turn-by-turn directions as if they’re on the road in front of you. Yep: It’s Star Wars tech in real life.

Range is estimated at just more than 241 miles per charge, and performance is very responsive. Handling is poised and sporty, but less aggressive than, say, the Mustang Mach-e. More innovation: The seats are made from recycled PET plastic water bottles, and speaking of bottles, the on-door cup holders are massive — large enough to swallow a 1-liter bottle each. Oh, and the car is built in a plant that’s powered by renewables, so not only does this Audi not run on carbon-emitting fuel, it’s not going to be built using it, either.

Safety is the one area to watch and wait. The Volkswagen ID.4 we loved this past spring recently received an IIHS Top Safety Pick + rating — and the Q4 e-tron is based on the identical chassis. We should know more when the Q4 e-tron Sportback goes on sale in the fourth quarter this year.

Subaru Outback Wilderness Edition

Price: $36,9950
EPA: 24 mpg combined fuel economy
Capacity: Five or seven passengers
Max Cargo Space: 75.7 cubic feet
Cool Family Feature: A 700-pound load limit on the roof rack means roof-top tents will be stable for you and your kid — or you can carry two tandem kayaks safely.

The Wilderness Edition might be the outbackiest Outback that ever outbacked. It has all the comfort and utility one expects of the station wagon in a taller, wider, more ruggedized package. Not only is it lifted to offer 9.5 inches of ground clearance, but it also packs front skid plates and has available full-undercarriage protection. Hell, Subaru even remapped its X-Mode system for off-roading, adding another mode for very low traction situations like driving in deep snow. Meaty Yokohama Geolander tires add to the look, as do revised bumpers and body cladding. In other words? Whether you’re going to the playground in a full-on blizzard or the trails around Fishhook, Alaska, it’ll get you there.

Now, don’t fear the taller ride height will be in the way of daily chores. Seat height/load height is still right around 30 inches. This means that, whereas most earth-roamers with this much off-pavement capability demand a 40-inch vertical leap to enter, especially for shorter drivers (not to mention children), loading toddlers, groceries, or ski gear into this Subaru is actually easier than with a lower-height sedan because you’re not lifting and then lowering yourself or objects. Also, the interior is spacious. The Wilderness Edition’s 32.5 cubic feet behind the second row of seats as well as 75.7 cubic feet total cargo volume outpack much taller rides, like the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

The Outback comes with eight airbags, adaptive cruise control with lane centering, pre-collision braking and lane departure warning. Subaru added headlights that turn as the car corners, automatic high beams, driver fatigue sensing, a standard reverse camera, and a front camera that shows 180 degree view around the front of the car. The latter is not only useful for off-roading but super handy for parking in a tight garage, where, yes, toys might be littering the path ahead. Adventures are everywhere.

Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB

Price: $50,550
EPA: 23 mpg combined fuel economy
Capacity: Five or seven passengers
Max Cargo Space: 62 cubic feet

By about this time next year you’ll be able to purchase an all-electric version of the GLB, called the EQB. Can’t wait that long? We had the GLB 250 in our guide a year ago and we’ve awarded the sexier, quicker 302 horsepower AMG version this year because a wagon-ish crossover that can seat up to seven but still drives like a sports sedan — and doesn’t cost $70,000 — makes for an especially appealing package. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Family cars need to be practical, but they can be sexy too. The AMG GLB is proof.

The front quarters of the GLB are especially deluxe, with hefty metal across the dash, eight-way power adjustable front seats, and a beautiful flat panel display that stretches across the cabin, incorporating the driver’s gauges as well as the navigation/entertainment functions on the center stack. A trio of ten-spoke vents anchor the heart of that console, and the rest of the cabin has a sports car bearing that you’d expect from Mercedes’ more upscale sub-label.

While the GLB is a full foot shorter than that Outback, it does have a third row. Sure, that’s a tight squeeze for full-sized humans but not for kids. And, as if defying its dimensions, first and second-row knee and headroom are excellent for the class, and getting 62 cubic feet of maximum cargo is generous. Not bad for a vehicle that does 0 to 60 in six seconds.

KIA Sorento Hybrid

Price: $34,765
EPA: 37 mpg combined fuel economy
Capacity: Seven passengers
Max Cargo Space: 75 cubic feet
Cool Family Feature: Eight USB charging ports, so the fighting can cease…

The Sorento Hybrid has a fuel economy of 37 mpg. Impressive. More impressive is that if you were to give it a blind drive, you wouldn’t know the Sorento is a hybrid. Some hybrids jolt or shudder when the gas engine lurches to life. On the Sorento, the transition between propulsion is utterly invisible.

Now, the Sorrento is large. It features more than 75 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front row, and 38.5 behind the second row, so you get a ton of usable space even if you load up with seven passengers (yes, there’s a third row). Despite that, it corners like a far smaller car. We pushed it like a race car, and though it’s not that, it’s also not going to scare you if you have to brake or corner hard. That makes keeping it centered in your lane, or parking at the grocery, no problem.

It’s a good-looking car on the inside, too. The Sorrento’s cabin is a whole level ahead of the competition, with bright swatches of metallic trim, hard buttons and dials that are also complemented by intuitive menus on the touch screen LCD. There’s a standard — yes, standard — 10-way adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar, power jacks in every row, and eight USB charging ports.

Kia will soon roll out a plug-in version of this car, which is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. The difference? You can charge that one at home and get 32 miles on EV power alone. It’ll cost more than this edition, but it’s also eligible for $6,587 in federal EV tax credits. So be sure to take a close look at both.

Mercedes-Benz AMG E-63 S Wagon

Price: $112,450
EPA: 18 mpg combined fuel economy
Capacity: Five passengers
Max Cargo Space: 64 cubic feet
Cool Family Feature: Optional rear seat heaters ensure that riding in the second row doesn’t feel like sitting in “coach.”

Clearly we’re bullish on EVs. And Mercedes is set to unveil a fistful of electric vehicles dropping in late 2022. But if you’re a performance car fan and have the means to buy a sports car that happens to be a family-toting wagon, this is the one for you.

So what’s the sporty part of this wagon? Well, it rides on an air suspension that makes it corner like nothing this side of a Ferrari. And thanks to a 603 horsepower engine, it can race to 60 mph in under four seconds.

Yes, the AMG E 63 S Wagon has incredible handling, speed, and power, but it also checks all the other important family car boxes. For one, it earned IIHS Top Safety Pick+ status and comes crammed with advanced safety features. There’s the adaptive cruise control with automated following, steering assistance, evasive steering assist (which helps you veer around dangerous situations), and standard features you’d expect at this $130k sphere.

One feature that’s quite incredible is an airbag that inflates prior to a side impact. This pushes the passengers inward, so that the force of the accident is absorbed by the car and not your body. Another system detects if your car got hit, even “gently,” while parked, and sends push notifications to your phone. Hell, Mercedes even captures if another Mercedes has struck a pothole, then beams that data to all Benzes’ navigation systems and warns the driver of impending road divots.

Tech and speed aside, this is an exceedingly luxurious car, with heated, cooled, and massaging front seats, plus three climate zones (one for each front passenger as well as one for the second row).

And what about the sporty part of this sports wagon? It can race to 60 mph in under four seconds. Try that with any other car that also features 35.1 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row and 64 behind the first row of seats. OK, yes the Subaru Outback has more total cargo volume and you could have four of those for this one Benz. But we’d take the Benz in a drag race.

Toyota Sienna Hybrid XSE

Price: $44,000
EPA: 36 mpg combined fuel economy
Capacity: Eight passengers
Max Cargo Space: 101 cubic feet
Cool Family Feature: Driver easy speak lets you talk via the hands-free phone microphone to whoever’s in the second and third rows. No more craning your neck (or taking your eyes off the road).

The battle of the hybrid minivans comes down to the Sienna Hybrid and the Chrysler Pacifica. In our eyes, the Sienna wins. Why? Not only is it a smoother and more fuel-efficient model (36 mpg combined), but it also comes with more standard safety tech. There’s automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. It’s also an IIHS Top Safety Pick+; the Pacifica simply doesn’t score as highly, getting good, rather than exceptional, marks.

The Sienna seats up to eight, and can be equipped with AWD (which we recommend). It comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 suite and such safe-keeping goodies as automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic warning, blind-spot warning, lane keeping assistance, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control as well as automatic high beams are all included.

Have three kids? Mazel tov! Know then that the Sienna will happily accommodate three child seats across the second row or a combo of child seats and boosters.

In terms of build-outs, we dig the $44,000 XSE edition, because you get second row captain’s chairs, navigation, and AWD, 120 volt power outlets, and seven USB ports. The incorporation of hard buttons for the climate controls, as well as for audio volume and tuning, and the fact that second row passengers get their own set of climate controls is also nice. Oh, and even that way-back third row isn’t cramped. That’s almost never true, which means most adults can ride back there in a pinch and not find themselves miserable.

Kia Carnival LXS

Price: $35,275
EPA: 22 mpg combined fuel economy
Capacity: Seven passengers
Max Cargo Space: 145 cubic feet
Cool Family Feature: Even once you’ve parked, cameras “read” the road and prevent a child from hopping out of the sliding doors by keeping them locked if a car is approaching.

The Kia Carnival is a minivan, sure. But it’s the most un-minivan-like minivan we’ve ever tested. It’s taut, if not sporting, and you’ll never feel like you’re being penalized because you have to drive it.

The bang-for-your-buck value play of the Carnival is also hard to beat. Yes, the Carnival LXS only comes with a gas motor, but it also starts $2,000 cheaper than the Sienna Hybrid. In fact, the lowest-priced version starts at $32,100. So, if you’d rather not pay all that much for a big family hauler, it’s a great choice.

Lower price doesn’t mean it skimps on niceties, either. There are standard USB ports on the rear of the front seats, and those second-row denizens get on-door stowage and lots of cubbies for juice boxes, phones, you name it. Kia also lets you opt for a camera/intercom system that allows you to talk between driver and passengers.

Want a cushier trip for your passengers? Opt for the second row captain’s chairs that recline, like business-class airline seats, complete with footrests. This is what thoughtful backseat thinking is all about, and we applaud the engineers who we have little doubt have kids themselves — and know that a little comfort in the back pays dividends for miles and miles in a family car.

Even though we dig those captain’s chairs, that edition is $47,000. If that’s too much, choose the $35,275 LXS model. It’s still crammed with six USBs, three 12-volt power points, heated front seats, auto-dimming LED headlamps, parking sensors, blind spot alerts, emergency forward braking, lane keeping, lane departure warning, a fatigue monitor for the driver, and an alert sensor for backing up. And there are standard, side, and curtain airbags for all passengers. Oh, and it’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick, too.

Genesis GV80 2.5 AWD

Price: $55,000
EPA: 22 mpg combined fuel economy
Capacity: Seven passengers
Max Cargo Space: 84 cubic feet
Cool Family Feature: Second-row passengers get integrated sun shades, so your teenage kids can act like rock stars hiding from the paparazzi.

The three-row, seven-passenger Genesis GV80 likely features better styling than most home interiors. The SUV’s seats are upholstered in contrasting stitching and there’s real wood complemented by chrome everywhere. The dash is softly padded, and the entire decor is redolent of what you’d find in a Bentley. You know that when your fingers adjust controls on the wheel and at the center instrument panel and you feel all that chunky knurling — like the crown of a Rolex. Even the dashboard vents have a heft that speaks of craft and care.

But this isn’t all about looks. Driving the GV80 is a serene experience. It’s ultra-quiet, with what you might call sporty cornering, which is exceptional given the fact that there’s room aboard for seven passengers, and a total cargo capacity of 84 cubic feet. It’s big, but it doesn’t move that way. Front passengers get heated and ventilated seats, and the driver gets 12-way adjustments and 4x lumbar support. There’s also a full, panoramic glass roof, so the whole cabin is brighter.

Extra tech includes a smartphone app that lets you remotely start the car or lock and unlock the doors. Genesis trinketed its rig with multiple USBs in each row, and wireless charging under the center stack in the first row. Genesis even created a stowage space for the retractable cargo cover that lives over the storage space in the hatch. It’s also easy to fit three car seats across in the second row.

The Genesis is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, and also packs almost every safety feature you’d want, standard, including forward collision warning/automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane keeping, lane departure warning, and blind-spot warning. You could get the more potent V-6, but the 2.5-liter four boils out 300 horsepower, and that’s good enough to race to 60 mph in six seconds, so you’re not likely to want more propulsion. At $55k, our pick would be the 2.5 AWD. Either one is a work of art.

Volvo XC90 Recharge

Price: $63,450
EPA: 27 mpg combined fuel economy
Capacity: Seven passengers
Max Cargo Space: 85 cubic feet
Cool Family Feature: A second row that splits 40/20/40 allows you to pack for road trips more easily, poking longer items between two kids.

Don’t just look at the EPA fuel economy of the XC90 Recharge. A “mere” 27 mpg already bests nearly every full-sized SUV. Know that it can also travel 18 miles on a plug-in charge alone, and that’s the round-trip of a lot of grocery/school/work relays. Also, though that sticker isn’t cheap, you should qualify for a $5,419 tax credit. So you’re getting an ultra-luxurious three-row SUV that a lot of the time functions as an EV and the rest of the time won’t anchor you with range anxiety about where to plug in. That’s a Goldilocks family car deal if ever there was one.

On the inside, the XC90 packs plenty of fun for the parents with goodies from a textile seating surface that’s just plain smart (combining wool and synthetic material, so that it’s warmer in winter and cooler in summer), and the sweet sound of a Bowers + Wilkins audio system, Volvo nails interior design like, apparently, only the Swedes can do.

For the kids, safety is paramount. The company includes standard features like pedestrian, bike, and even animal detection, lane keeping, detection if you veer off road (the system steers you back), and advanced cruise control. It’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, and the only carmaker to design its own line of child seats, both engineered to fit in its cars and rated by child weight, so unlike a generic seat, you’re sure what you’re buying will fit and won’t be too big or too small to offer them comfort and safety.

We should add that the T8 hybrid is also no performance slouch. It’s not super sporty, true, but it’s profoundly easy to drive, and that’s whether you’re pushing the pace (0 to 60 mph in under six seconds) or driving conservatively. Day to day life, then, isn’t the struggle it can be with some ponderous land beasts, and that’s just as it should be.