With the opening of the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show on Friday, the North American car show season is officially underway. And with hundreds of new car models (and technologies) on display ⏤ many ready to hit dealerships in the next few months ⏤ there’s no better place to get an idea of what family cars are coming down the road.
Of course, we hit the show to check out the best new rides for families. Crossovers, of course, are still the name of the game these days, but we also noticed more experimental car designs, electric vehicles, station wagons, and 4x4s flying off of designers’ sketch pads and into real life than ever before. All while high-tech car safety items like blind-spot assist or automatic braking, once reserved for luxury vehicles, have become affordable, standard features.
So, which new vehicles caught our eye? Here are six of the most noteworthy family cars from the L.A. Auto Show if you’ve got kids or car seats.
2019 Subaru Ascent
It may not offer the most cargo space (it has 72.6 cubic feet compared to the Outback’s 73.3 cubic feet), but the Ascent is Subaru’s large vehicle yet and fits eight passengers across three rows. Which could make it a game changer next year, when it hits showrooms for roughly $35,000. Not only that, but this AWD SUV with a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is heavy on the safety features. In addition to adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind spot assist, and a new heads-up display that lets drivers see safety warnings right on the windshield, Subaru also added optional backup braking to prevent accidentally backing over an obstacle if you fail to apply the brakes manually. That’s not even everything: If you have teen drivers, there are remote notifications via app to alert you if your kids drive beyond a geo-fenced area or are going too fast.
Designed to compete with rivals like the Honda HR-V, the Hyundai Kona offers eye-catching features like a gutsier, 1.6-liter turbo with 175HP, Qi wireless phone charging, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay that mirrors your phone on the dashboard. It even comes with ultra-bright LED headlamps, AWD, and blind-spot/lane assist for added safety ⏤ reassuring when you have kids strapped in the back. Best part, Hyundai is including all of this tech, which is usually reserved for premium models, at an insanely reasonable price ⏤ as in just less than $20k.
Volvo is making some of the smartest cars in the world right now, loaded with family-friendly safety features like automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection up to 40mph, and automatic steering in case you drift into another lane. The new XC40 crossover has all of that and more, including a removable trash bin in the center armrest and hatch-floor hooks that hold fast to grocery bags. While you get up to 47 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats folded flat, it’s rear-seat knee room that Volvo really wants to emphasize ⏤ more than three feet makes even lanky second-rowers feel like they’re riding in first class. And yes, since it’s still a crossover and not a wagon, it should be good for winter driving with AWD, eight inches of ground clearance, and a reasonably muscular, 245-HP turbocharged power plant. The XC40 goes on sale early 2018 and starts at $35,200.
Fresh on the wheels of debuting the FT-4X at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, Toyota is back with another sexy crossover for the outdoorsy set. The concept FT-AC (Future Truck-Adventure Concept) is a hair bigger than the present-day RAV-4 and borrows a number of cues from the Tacoma, including body cladding and armor on the front/rear bumpers and visually off-set towing anchors. It also boasts some clever features like a built-in bike rack that pops out of the rear bumper, removable fog lights that second as flashlights and infrared cameras mounted on the side view mirrors, not to mention a safari-style roof rack for all the camping gear.
2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake Wagon
If your idea of a station wagon is more speed (0-60 in 5.3 seconds) than brawn, this 380-HP supercharged V-6 from Jaguar is your play. Of course, it won’t be cheap at $70,450, but it will at least be reasonably practical. It boasts nearly as much cargo room as the aforementioned Subaru Ascent, has a full-width, gesture-controlled panoramic glass roof that opens and closes with the wave of a hand (even with your eyes fixed on the road ahead), and blind-spot sensing on the highway. In fact, if you fail to heed the sensor, the car will steer itself back into its lane so you don’t accidentally merge into another car. Finally, you can even set a height limit of the hatch swing, so it won’t pop up too far and smash into the garage ceiling.
Volkswagen I.D. Crozz
Just because you can’t own the I.D. Crozz until 2020 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start daydreaming today. Initially showcased as a concept SUV, VW’s decided to bring this all-electric (300-mile range), all-wheel-drive, 300-HP crossover to life ⏤ and with a reasonable mid-$30k price tag to boot. Sure, you have to figure the all-glass top won’t survive but most of the features of the I.D. Crozz are doable, especially by 2020. And who knows, maybe Volkswagen will even decide to add a third row of seats.