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Best New Family Cars From the 2018 New York Auto Show

The New York Auto Show should be a yawner. It takes place in April, a full eight months after auto show season begins, and you wouldn’t expect carmakers to spend it sweating cool concepts or ridiculous reveals. But they do. And when it comes to family rides, this year was no different. We saw bigger, more luxurious SUVs (designed to compete with minivans), some usual-suspect crossovers, a host of family-haulers that don’t skimp on the luxuries, and even a few sedans, too ⏤ because not everyone wants to drive a crossover. And, luckily, some of them begin hitting showrooms as early as this summer. Here are seven of the most notable vehicles we saw.

Honda Insight

A blunt way to measure hybrids is by fuel economy. But that ignores two other important factors — comfort and practicality? And while the new Honda Insight might gets slightly worse gas mileage at 55 city/50 combined than its competitors (the Toyota Prius gets 54/52 combined; Hyundai Ioniq gets 55/54 combined), it’s got both more backseat space and rear seats that fold entirely flat. Honda’s also chasing safety, so all versions of the Insight are equipped with forward collision mitigation (it can sense an imminent crash and apply the brakes if you fail to), a lane-departure warning, a system that steers the car to prevent the driver from veering off the road, and low-speed cruise control that lets you drive the car in stop-and-go traffic with minimal input. It also comes with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity and options like dual-zone climate control. The price hasn’t been announced yet, but judging from the competition, expect around $23,000 — or about $2,000 less than the larger Accord Hybrid.

Toyota Corolla Hatchback

A cheap hatchback is usually loud inside and not fun to drive. Toyota’s promising the 2019 Corolla will not be a cheap hatchback. Not only is the new model 60 percent stiffer (and with a more rigid platform comes a smoother ride), but the company is promising both a quieter and roomier interior — since the Corolla has grown both longer and wider in size.

In addition, Toyota’s added a ton of standard safety including both a day/night vehicle detection, pedestrian detection, cyclist detection, and forward collision detection. So, yes, a lot of detections. It’s also got full speed dynamic cruise control that will slow the car and keep pace with traffic, lane departure warning/correction, and automatic high-beam activation and dimming. Neither the price, horsepower, or fuel economy have been announced yet, but all cars will come with Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, Wi-Fi, Siri Eyes Free, and voice recognition. They’ll also be a six-speed manual option.

Lincoln Aviator

Three-row crossovers are washing up at car dealerships these days like flotsam. Beautiful ones, however? Well, they’re a lot rarer. The Lincoln Aviator (rival to maybe only the Volvo XC60) is one such vehicle. And when it hits the road early next year, it should be offered as a plug-in hybrid and scratch just under $50,000. The Aviator marks the debut of a rear-wheel-drive-biasing AWD system on a unibody (not truck) platform. That should equal both far better performance with sportier handling, and a smoother ride compared to previous Lincoln SUVs (and the Ford trucks they’ve been based on). Finally, the switch to a more carlike platform also means that third row of seats will offer a lot more comfort for the kids in the back than those seats in the longer, truck-based Navigator.

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Volvo V60

Sure, you can get a car with just about the same amount of passenger and cargo space (think: Subaru XV Crosstrek) for a lot less than the expected $42,000-$50,000 price of the V60 wagon. But Volvos are increasingly beautiful vehicles both inside and out, and the carmaker is pioneering safety technology that it claims can prevent almost every type of accident ⏤ including a unique braking system that prevents steering into oncoming traffic or into traffic turning into your lane. The V60 will also feature safety tech to prevent drivers from backing into pedestrians, children, and passing cars, as well as one of the best higher-speed lane-keeping/active cruise control systems we’ve ever tested. Lest you think it’s all about safety, the V60’s all-wheel drive is mated to a 316-HP turbocharged, supercharged engine and offers plenty of hustle.

Nissan Altima

Not only did the new Altima get larger and quieter (at least according to Nissan), but it also packs a ton of tech, safety features, and serious horsepower. Even better, it has optional AWD. Which is great if you want a car rather than an SUV, but still need winter traction. The star, however, is the Altima’s engine: the world’s first variable compression unit, it harnesses the benefits of high compression for efficient cruising, and of low compression without fuel loss during acceleration, to produce a very impressive 248HP from a two-liter, four-cylinder displacement.

As for extras, Nissan makes connectivity, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, standard and includes trick functions that let you unlock and even start the car via an Android Wear/Apple Watch ⏤ pretty great if you want to work out without bringing your phone or car keys. The Altima also got safer with standard forward-collision warning and emergency braking, as well as added pedestrian-detection, rear crossing-traffic warning, lane-departure warning, and even a degree of steering correction during highway driving.

VW Atlas Cross Sport Concept

The only concept vehicle on the list but one that should be a reality in 2019. VW’s Atlas is already manufactured in Volkswagen’s Tennessee factory so the facilities are ready to go. The Cross Concept is interesting because it’s designed to run as an EV for up to 26 miles, and could do so off road, too. And in hybrid mode, the gas V-6 only juices the front wheels, while electric power runs the rear axle as needed. Our bet is that VW will modify the powertrain to run as a slow-speed hybrid (using both motor and engine) and high-speed gas model, which is the most efficient setup, but that won’t be known until late this year. And yes, if you think this spells the end of the Tiguan in North America, it may very well.

Subaru Forester

The Forester is like the best multitool in your backpack — it morphs enough to do every job you need. And the 2019 model preserves everything owners love (eight inches of ground clearance and AWD, while adding many of the updates they’ve asked for. That list starts with standard LED headlamps, which are brighter and more direct than stock HIDs from past Foresters. It also includes Android Auto/Apple CarPlay and a bevy of safety features including emergency braking and rear-brake assist ⏤ especially pertinent for parents, as it will stop the car in reverse if you fail to see an obstacle or person. Not only that, but it also has a facial-recognition camera that stores personal settings based on who sits in the driver’s seat, including seat position, climate control, and entertainment settings. Last, but not least, the new Forester is quite spacious inside, swallowing more baby carriages and groceries than most of the competition in its class.