When you have children, there comes a time when you have to sacrifice style for size when it comes to your vehicles.
Or, do you?
Many of the latest cars, SUVs and vans today are full of state-of-the-art features that won’t make you long after driving around a two-seater sports car. And if you are a savvy used-car shopper, almost all of these larger vehicles can be purchased within reasonable budgets.
With this in mind, I've put together a list of family-friendly vehicles that can seat 7 or more passengers.
I've also included a budget range that you can expect to pay when buying these cars used on Canada’s largest auto classifieds, autotrader.ca.
|Chevrolet Traverse, 2017 (SUV)||$28,120||
|GMC Acadia, 2016 (SUV)||$28,168||
|Honda Pilot, 2016 (SUV)||$27,666||
|Toyota Highlander, 2015 (SUV)||$26,256||
|Ford Expedition, 2014 (Oversized SUV)||$28,073||
|Chevrolet Tahoe, 2013 (Oversized SUV)||$27,891||
|Honda Odyssey, 2016 (Minivan)||$29,175||
|Chrysler Pacifica, 2017 (Minivan)||$28,411||
|Kia Sedona, 2017 (Minivan)||$22,964||
Top rated SUVs
This list of three-row SUVs pack both space and style along with a plethora of safety features.
While there may be newer models available than the ones I’ve featured here, I’ve only included models that can be purchased for under $30,000 either privately or from a used car dealership.
It probably goes without saying, but older models and higher mileage cars will cost significantly less if you’re looking to stay under a $20,000 budget for a large family vehicle.
Chevrolet Traverse, 2017
It touts itself as being as spacious as a minivan, but without the boxy shape.
It is indeed a spacious interior with three rows of seating, leaving enough room for multiple car seats. It has up to an eight person capacity, but also comes with the option of second row captain’s chairs.
The Traverse scores high for safety crash standards and features a rearview camera and parking sensors. Premier models include blind-spot monitors, collision warnings and lane-departure sensors.
There are three trim levels for the Traverse, including the LS, LT and Premier models. On average, a 2017 Chevrolet Traverse will run you around $28,120. The basic models are closer to $25,000 with the premier models running closer to $30,000.
GMC Acadia, 2016
Similar to the Traverse, this three-row SUV can seat up to eight people.
It has enough height and width to be compared to the size of a minivan (minus the sliding doors). However, newer models of the Acadia (2017+) have shrunk in size, which means seating is more roomy for 2016 and older models.
The boxy shape of this SUV is what gives it so much interior space. When the second and third row seats are folded down, you have access to 116 cubic feet of space.
The Acadia sits higher than most crossover vehicles. Considered one of the safest vehicles on the road, safety features such as blind-spot monitors, rearview camera and curtain airbags that reach to the third row are included in all models.
The Acadia offers three types of models including the SLE, SLT and the Denali, which is their luxury model. A 2016 Acadia will cost on average $28,168 used, with the basic models costing closer to $25,000.
Honda Pilot, 2016
The 2016 Pilot got an overhaul from previous years to give you more options.
Previously, captain’s chairs weren’t available for the second row, but now consumers are given the choice between a seven- or eight-passenger vehicle.
The 2016 Pilot is also a lot more curvaceous than its boxy look in past years. The third row could seat two adults, however they may lack some leg and head room.
The ride has been described as very comfortable with very relaxed steering given its size class. The Honda Pilot is also considered one of the most fuel efficient vehicles in its class.
Considered very safe, the Pilot earned a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS as well as five stars from the NHTSA.
The Honda Pilot comes in the LX, EX and Elite model. On average, a 2016 Honda Pilot is priced around $27,666 with the Elite Models typically going for over $30,000.
Toyota Highlander, 2015
The Highlander is considered the more civil alternative to Toyota’s 4Runner and a more sizeable option for those who find the RAV4 simply too short on space and seats for their needs.
The Highlander also offers a fuel-efficient hybrid model (in addition to a base four-cylinder) with the option to choose a V-6 in its mainstream models. Like a minivan, the Highlander can seat up to eight people, and has a sliding second row for easy access to the back seats.
To cover safety from all angles, there are a total of eight airbags and a standard rearview camera. The Highlander has been deemed a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS and earned five overall stars by the NHTSA.
The Highlander is offered in the base LE model, XLE model and Limited offered with the Hybrid model. The 2015 Toyota Highlander is priced on average at $26,256, with the Hybrid options going for far higher.
Plus a travel bonus worth another $150.
Quantities are limited.
Top rated oversized SUVs
If you prefer ample room for all passengers, from the front to the third row, oversized SUVs may be your best bet.
What these large vehicles lack in fuel efficiency, they make up for in power. If you have a boat or trailer to pull, you can feel confident with these mammoth SUVs.
To stay within the $30,000 range, I’ve included a list of older models here since newer, oversized SUVs can run well over $50,000.
Ford Expedition, 2014
If you prefer the look and feel of a pickup truck, this vehicle is the one for you.
Modeled after the underpinnings of a full-size pickup truck, the Ford Expedition does one better as it’s able to seat up to eight people. And if your planning to pull thousands of pounds of cargo (nearly 9,200 lbs) along with your human cargo, the Expedition may be the way to go.
The two editions of the 2014 Expedition differ in length, with the Expedition EL being an additional 14.8 inches longer. The EL’s extended length makes getting out of the third row much easier than other three-row vehicles.
Considering its giant size, driving the Expedition is surprisingly easy due to its light and precise steering. The NHTSA has given the Expedition a four-star rating for frontal crash rollover, as well as a five-star rating for side crash safety.
While more recent year models offer more luxurious features, the average price significantly shoots up to well over $30,000 when it comes to resale value. The 2014 Ford Expedition can currently be purchased on average for $28,073.
Chevrolet Tahoe, 2013
The 2013 version offered a Hybrid model, making the Tahoe a green option considering its mammoth size. The Tahoe Hybrid has EPA ratings of up to 23 mpg and a towing capability that is close to its standard models.
The interior of the Tahoe remains very comfortable with lots of leg and headroom accessible in its front and second rows. However, the third row is less accessible for adults and is more likely just for children.
With that said, the Tahoe is incredibly safe and scores high in frontal and side impact. Side-curtain airbags cover all three rows of the Tahoe.
Considering the rather tall stance and wide rear of the Tahoe, visibility could be a problem while driving. For added safety, opt for parking sensors and a blind-spot monitor when shopping around.
The average price for a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe is $27,891 with the Hybrid model still fetching in the mid-$30,000 range.
Top rated Minivans
We can’t have a discussion about family cars without talking about minivans: the quintessential family mobile.
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What makes minivans such amazing family vehicles? Space, kid-friendly sliding doors and built-in vacuums in certain models sure make them hard to beat.
Here’s a few of the top rated, relatively new and reasonable priced minivans:
Honda Odyssey, 2016
Continually ranked as one of the most family-friendly minivans, the Honda Odyssey is not only spacious, but packs some power, too. It packs 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque from it’s V-6 engine, giving it enough reserve for strong passing with a full load of passengers.
While it will never be mistaken for a sports sedan, the Odyssey handles more like an Accord than a Pilot. The interior of the Odyssey is surprisingly quiet with active noise cancellation and active engine mounts to quell any vibrations.
There is no shortage of storage and organization with cubbies and bins all around, and the center compartment between the front seats means to hold large items like purses and tablets. We also can’t forget the HondaVAC system, only available on the Touring Elite, which is a powerful integrated vacuum cleaner located on the left side of the cargo department.
The seating is highly configurable allowing for a second row split making more room for two adults to sit side-by-side. There are also five LATCH connections in the Odyssey, as well as flexibility in where the child seats can be placed.
The IIHS calls the Odyssey a top safety pick with all the safety-feature bases covered, including a standard rearview camera on all models, along with an Expanded View Driver’s Mirror, a blind-spot warning system, forward-collision and lane-departure warning on the top Touring model.
On average, the 2016 Honda Odyssey will cost you $29,175 with the Touring model costing closer to the mid-$30,000 range.
Chrysler Pacifica, 2017
Chrysler first came out with a minivan in 1983 and while newer iterations have been made, it has been nearly a decade since major upgrades took place to bring about the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. The Pacifica replaces the Town & Country and, in time, will replace the Dodge Grand Caravan.
Rather than adopting its predecessors’ boxy shape, the Pacifica has a more narrow nose giving it more of a sedan look. However, the cabin remains roomier than ever and is considered the largest minivan in almost all dimensions.
There’s plenty of storage in and throughout the cabin. The second row offers a pair of bucket seats that fold flat, as well as a removable third seat. Power buttons move the front seats, as well as the second row, out of the way to access all rows. The third row is spacious enough to seat adults and they can be power-folded into the floor to allow room for more cargo.
The 2017 Pacifica gets five-star ratings overall from the IIHS. Along with a standard rearview camera and parking sensors, luxury models include parallel park assist and lane departure warnings. There is also an integrated vacuum to reach all corners of the minivan to keep things clean and organized.
Standard models with low mileage can be found for less than $25,000, but on average, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica goes for approximately $28,411.
Kia Sedona, 2017
While it’s not exactly a sleek-looking vehicle, this minivan does the job of carting around cargo and people well.
The Kia Sedona has a large, spacious cabin with ample room for up to 8 people, however the third row is a bit of a squeeze for adults. The second row slides and folds to allow easy access to the third row, but does not fold down flat into the floor of the van.
The 2017 Sedona is known for its infotainment upgrades such as Apple CarPlay and rear seat entertainment in the top SXL models. However, it may be more worthwhile to buy a couple ipads for the same money and charge them via the integrated USB chargers.
The 2017 Kia Sedona is one of the top two minivan picks for safety by the IIHS (the Chrysler Pacifica is the only other). To add a fully-loaded safety package, it will cost you close to $4,000 for the upgrades, but all models come with a standard rearview camera.
On average, a 2017 Kia Sedona will run you $22,964 with the SXL model still costing closer to the mid-$30,000 range.
What do you drive?
While the above list is not an exhaustive one of all multi-passenger vehicles, these are some of the most popular and are highly ranked for safety. There are also lots of strategies on how to buy used cars for a great price, but that’s another story for another time.
Finally, purchasing these vehicles in the United States may get you a better deal due to more selection, but be careful about the exchange rate and duties when crossing the border back into Canada.
For now, tell us: What are some of your best tips for buying multi-family vehicles? What type of vehicle do you feel safest in when carting your family around?