Buyers guides always tend to be controversial, mainly because the selection criteria might not coincide with your own. Therefore, you have to take the target audience into account when viewing any kind of recommendations. We'll remind you heading in that this was Parents magazine doing this particular list. They teamed up with Triple-A to pick the top three vehicles for families from each of five categories. Not to generalize about families because we were part of one ourselves at one time, but things like economy of operation, safety and reliability tend to take precedent over acceleration, handling and styling in this market segment.

So for the fifth year in a row, Parents has made their selections based mainly on safety. They chose according to performance on government and industry crash tests, and whether or not the vehicles offer the latest safety technologies. They also road-tested their picks looking for a "perfect mix of performance, reliability, comfort, and bang for the buck." Also factored in were how easily car seats fit and how much room there was for all that stuff parents find themselves hauling around on a daily basis.

The five categories are crossovers, SUVs, minivans, sedans and economy cars, with bonus mentions for the top three generally-too-small-for-families-but-affordable-and-cool subcompacts. They even spent some time discussing hybrids and dealer pricing strategies. Pretty good, albeit safe choices in each category. Nothing should come as much of a surprise and none are offensive selections. Follow the jump for the list then click the read link to see a lengthy discussion of each choice.

[Source: Parents]


Crossovers
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Dodge Caliber
  • Ford Edge
SUVs
  • Honda CR-V
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
Minivans
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Hyundai Entourage
Sedans
  • Toyota Camry
  • Honda Accord
  • Mercury Milan
Economy Cars
  • Honda Civic
  • Volkswagen Rabbit
  • Mazda 3
The New Subcompacts
  • Nissan Versa
  • Toyota Yaris
  • Honda Fit