Our top picks of family-oriented vehicles feature an expanded amount of advanced safety, such as adaptive headlights and rear cross-traffic alert, driver-assist features, and modern connectivity and entertainment technology. Many of these features, once exclusively available on luxury models, are now offered in vehicles that come with a Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price less than $30,000. Among the SUVs and minivans on the list, several offer intelligent cruise control and automatic emergency braking. Other standout features include teen-driver monitoring, wireless phone charging, and an exit warning that alerts you if there's a bicycle approaching. And exactly two, the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica minivans offer built-in vacuum cleaners.
But impressive tech is just the start. To earn a spot on our annual list of Best Family Cars, there are many qualities and characteristics we considered when naming this year's family favourites. Keep reading below to see which elements we considered. But first, in alphabetical order, let's start with the 10 Best Family Cars of 2020.
Best 2-Row SUVs for Families
2020 Honda CR-V
Honda's well-rounded $30,636 CDN CR-V is safe, reliable, and practical — it's the complete package. The 5-passenger Honda CR-V isn't just among the best smaller SUVs for families; it's one of the best SUVs in its class. The CR-V is a complete package. It is safe, reliable, practical and, thanks to strong resale values, a smart financial choice. Inside it is roomy and technologically sophisticated. Both of its 4-cylinder gas engine choices are peppy and efficient, plus a new gas-electric Hybrid arrives this year. Add it all up, and it's easy to understand why the Honda CR-V is one of the most popular vehicles in Canada, in a segment it helped create over two decades ago.
2020 Hyundai Santa Fe
Totally redesigned for the 2019 model year, the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe is larger than a typical compact SUV. Spacious and quiet, the interior is user-friendly and loaded with features. Bigger is better. At least that's the takeaway with the $29,249 CDN Santa Fe, the 2-row SUV replacement for the previous Santa Fe Sport. The new Santa Fe straddles the space between conventional compact crossovers and their larger mid-size siblings.
2020 Subaru Forester
All-new last year, the $28,695 CDN 2020 Subaru Forester is a comfortable way to explore the outdoors — or get to your neighbourhood coffee house. Everybody knows at least a few families who chose a Forester, and not all of them live in Whistler, B.C. Our country's Subaru obsession may have started in the mountains, but it has certainly come down off the slopes and trails. With the Forester's strong initial value, exceptional resale value, and legendary all-wheel-drive, fulfilled families all over Canada have been driving one of the most capable family vehicles on the market.
Best 3-Row SUVs for Families
2020 Chevrolet Traverse
Roomy, versatile and comfortable, the $36,098 CDN Chevrolet Traverse is the modern-day version of the family station wagon. The Traverse, now in its third year following a major redesign for 2018, continues to garner honours as a roomy and well-equipped family hauler. The Traverse comes with available all-wheel drive and seating for up to eight, plus handy conveniences such as six USB ports and 10 cupholders. The folding 3-seat rear bench may not face rearward (as they did in some wagons of yore), but it's more spacious than you might expect back there, with enough room for teenagers and easy third-row access from the curbside.
2020 Honda Pilot
Loaded with thoughtful features and clever storage solutions, the $43,236 CDN Honda Pilot is nearly as versatile as a minivan. Three-row SUVs are the popular members of today's class of family haulers, and the Pilot is a role-model student among them. It might just be the valedictorian. Like its little sibling, the CR-V, the Pilot is so well-rounded that it's almost astonishing. Honda's 3-row SUV is brimming with safety features, has ample room for up to eight passengers, boasts the latest technology, and holds its value for years to come. Under the hood is a standard V6 engine, plus an all-wheel-drive system with a surprising penchant for adventure, and of course, Honda's well-regarded reliability.
2020 Subaru Ascent
Introduced for 2019, the 2020 Subaru Ascent is the Japanese automaker's latest foray into the 3-row midsize SUV segment, offering the practicality, space and features a family wants while retaining Subaru's distinctive character and spirit. One of the latecomers to the midsize SUV segment is also one of the strongest entries. Considering Subaru's long-time reputation for safety, expanding that to a 3-row SUV was the logical next step. As the company's largest vehicle, the $36,695 CDN Ascent is designed to cater to big families. It is filled with everything people like about Subarus, but on a bigger scale, loaded with safety features, a comfortable interior,plenty of family-friendly features and thoughtful storage solutions.
2020 Toyota Highlander
The $39,990 CDN Toyota Highlander is all-new for 2020, marking the 4th-generation of the brand's 3-row mid-size SUV. The Highlander is slightly larger than the outgoing model, has more interior room, improved technology, and Toyota's latest suite of safety systems. The revamped Highlander doesn't necessarily break new ground. Still, it does come standard with a strong V6 engine and a fuel-sipping gas-electric Hybrid model, well-integrated and easy-to-use amenities, and useful space for growing families and active individuals.
Best Full-Size SUV for Families
2020 Ford Expedition
The Ford Expedition was fully redesigned for 2018, and the current 2020 version still has the best third row, the best interior, and the best driving manners in the segment. Ford's big family hauler is available in the standard-length $62,500 CDN Expedition or as a $78,175 CDN Expedition Max. The Max is about a foot longer overall and comes with 78 percent more cargo space behind the third row. As a traditional full-size SUV, the Expedition is built on a sturdy steel frame related to that of the company's F-150. Like that best-selling pickup truck, the Expedition uses aluminum body panels, which help trim some 136 kilograms of weight from the vehicle.
2020 Chrysler Pacifica
It's been 35 years since Chrysler first introduced the minivan to the North American market, and it hasn't looked back since. The $37,795 CDN Chrysler Pacifica continues to look forward, provenby offering class-leading technology in the form of the first, and only, plug-in hybrid for the segment. The only old-school aspect of the Windsor, Ontario-assembled Chrysler Pacifica is its adherence to the basic minivan mission of providing comfortable, safe and efficient transportation for the entire family. In fulfilling that role, Chrysler has brought a lot of resources to bear from the basic robustness of the mechanical package to the latest in infotainment and connectivity.
2020 Honda Odyssey
Still the benchmark among minivans, you can count on the $38,236 CDN Honda Odyssey minivan to make our list of Best Family Cars. Why is it just so good? When it comes to mixing maximum family-friendliness with pleasant driving experience, it doesn't get any better. From its cool (well, cool for a minivan) design and highly functional interior to its impressive list of safety features, the Odyssey has the game figured out. Whether you go with a base model that has seating for seven, or a higher trim with seating for eight and the nifty Magic Slide second-row seats that allow easy pass-through access, you'll get a well-rounded minivan that has a powerful yet efficient V6 engine, comfortable road manners, and a ton of versatility.