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Family-Friendly Crossovers

Rachel Smith
February 23, 2012
Family-Friendly Crossovers
Family-Friendly Crossovers

We spend a lot of time in our vehicles, whether we’re heading to work or running errands. With so much time spent on the road, it’s important to find the perfect crossover for your family that combines utility, affordability and comfort.

Number of Seats

Most crossovers seat five to eight people, and some five-seat crossovers have an available third row. The size of your family will probably dictate the number of seats and amount of cargo space you need. The Chevrolet Equinox has comfortable seating for five and plenty of room for groceries and gear. If you need more passenger space, the Toyota RAV4 and Dodge Journey have an optional third row that adds two seats. However, consider whether third-row seating is worth the extra expense. It costs more and is often too cramped for older kids and adults to use. Midsize crossovers like the Ford Flex, GMC Acadia and Honda Pilot have standard third rows and can seat up to eight comfortably. They may be worth the price jump if you need ample space for teens and adults.


Once you settle on a maximum seating capacity, check out cargo capacities. Always remember to look at the amount of space that’s available with all seats in use, especially if you’ve added an optional third row. You’ll want to make sure you can bring everyone’s stuff along for the ride. For example, the Kia Sorento has 37 cubic feet of cargo room with the optional third row folded down, but only 9.1 cubic feet with all three rows of seats in use.

Interior Storage

The Dodge Journey has optional storage under the front passenger’s seat cushion, which helps boost interior storage space. The larger GMC Acadia, which seats up to eight, has handy features for families on the go: a standard center armrest with interior storage, under-floor cargo storage and an optional center console for the second row.

LATCH Connectors

Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, or (LATCH) connectors, are required by law, and hold child seats in place much better than seatbelts can. If you have young children, pay close attention to the number of LATCH connectors in the crossover model you’re considering. To be sure that car seats and passengers will fit comfortably, bring them to the dealership for a test fit.

After you install the car seats, put the kids in them to ensure they have enough leg space.  Children like to swing their legs and kick the backs of seats, so check that there’s enough space to keep kids from kicking the front seats.

Technology Features

If you can afford to add a few more tech features, consider a rearview camera. It can be hard to see a smaller child behind many crossovers, and a rearview camera could help you avoid an accident. The five-seat GMC Terrain has a standard rearview camera.

Rear-seat DVD systems are usually an optional upgrade on most crossovers, but can be worth the extra money to keep the kids entertained on road trips. The Chevrolet Traverse and Ford Flex have optional DVD systems with dual headrest-mounted screens. DVD systems with optional roof-mounted screens are available on crossovers like the Honda Pilot, Dodge Durango, Mazda CX-9 and Mitsubishi Outlander.  

Safety Features

Look for safety features that can help you avoid accidents. Traction control, anti-roll systems, collision mitigation systems, rearview cameras and blind-spot warning systems can all help keep your family safe. While some of these preventative systems can add to the price of a crossover, they may be worth it. At the very least, make sure your crossover has anti-lock brakes, front and side airbags for the driver and front passenger and side-curtain airbags.

The Ford Explorer has an array of standard and optional safety features. It comes standard with MyKey, a system that helps keeps parents at ease when their teenagers drive alone. It can limit maximum speeds, limit the audio volume and warn the driver when the car reaches 45, 55 or 65 mph. The Explorer offers optional safety features like inflatable rear seat belts, which help protect passengers of all ages, and collision warning with brake support. This system detects slowing traffic ahead and sounds a warning for the driver. It also pre-charges the brakes for a faster response.  

Crossovers for Small Families


Kia Sportage

Toyota RAV4

GMC Terrain





Cargo Capacity

(cubic feet)*


36.4/73 (with two rows)

12.3/37.2/73 (with optional third row)


Notable Standard Interior Features

Center console armrest with storage, compartmentalized under-floor cargo storage, rear armrest with cup holders

Cargo area under-floor storage compartment, dual glove compartments

Standard rearview camera, deep center console

Notable Optional Features

Rearview camera and back-up warning system

50/50 split and stow third-row seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated backup camera monitor  

Power lift gate, cargo management package with cargo net and luggage crossbars

*behind third/second/first-row seats

Crossovers for Large Families


Mazda CX-9

Honda Pilot

Ford Explorer





Maximum Seating




Cargo Capacity (cubic feet)*




Notable Standard Interior Features

Second-row armrest with cup holders, cargo area under-floor storage

Conversation mirror on EX-L and Touring models


Notable Optional Features

Backup  camera, blind spot monitoring system

Rearview camera

Collision warning with brake support, rearview camera, inflatable rear safety belts, active park assist

*behind third/second/first-row seats