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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]

Economy Cars
The New Subcompacts

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree with #13 that #9 is full of shiite. I'm not gonna sit here and bash Toyota because it can't seem to comprehend how to make a good sports-car, you know, something that car guys want (a V-8 in a 2+2 coupe). I'm not going to mention all of the recalls Honda and Toyota have had recently.

      But I do fell like it is absolutely necessary to point out that GM, Ford, and Chrysler still have 400% more of their workforce in America than does all of the Japanese companies combined (I don't have an actual link to substantiate those claims, I just read it on Autoblog about 9 months ago). People rave about an import's quality, but Buick, Mercury, Cadillac, and others have been recently extremely high on J.D. Power lists.
      • 8 Years Ago
      You can tell that it is "Parents" Magazine and not "Parents Who Know Anything About Cars" Magazine. How do the Caliber and RAV4 wind up classified asd crossovers, but the CR-V as an SUV? Did the CR-V have a spare tire mounted on the tailgate, like they used to? Idiots.

      Speaking of idiots - Timmy - the 2007 F-150 got 5 stars in front and rollover tests from NHTSA and "Good" ratings across the board from the hacks at the IIHS. Whatever you thought was wrong with the crashworthiness of the F-150, it looks like Ford corrected it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #18 dodge and chrysler minivans are so disgusting, they make me want to hurl everytime i see one!
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Dodge Caravan is still the best all around family vehicle in my book.
      • 8 Years Ago
      They should stick to parenting and leave cars to the car experts. I would have arrived at the same list of the top of my head, but would have realized that the CR-V and Rav4, for example are direct competitors and should therefore be in the same grouping... And when did the Milan become a more favorable vehicle then the Mazda6 or the Jetta. What a load of crap...
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hey 23#, not every Ford is a Windcrap that you love to mention in every sentence.I own a 1988 Ford Mustang LX, 5.0 engine I work on with my son. Outside of routine tune-ups and parts replacements due to age, the 5.0 has been a soldier. A very strong powerplant. The last generation Ford Taurus, the guy I carpool to work with owned one, pickup was great, smooth ride and never had a problem with it. I'm from New England so the weather changes are like day and night. So you see a lot of Ford pickups and suv's around due to the random weather. Alot of F-250's. Why are they so popular. RELIABLE, powerful and a great workhorse that can handle the New England weather. Me personally, I drive a Subaru ( I agree with alot of you, why its not on the list). I don't have any use for a truck, so why waste the money. The subie offers everything i need for where I live, 4-wheel drive, excellent track record of being reliable, quick on the on ramps, and mpg isnt too bad either. What the point I'm trying to make is that you just wasted a lot of time typing that post. You should think about the point you're about to make before you make a senseless sweeping generalization like that.
      Jim Gilliland
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just curious Adam #21... do you now or have you ever owned any minivan?

      Most people still consider the Chrysle/Dodge minivans the best looking of all the minivans, at least exterior looks.

      Maybe you just don't like minivans in general or maybe just just have the minority opinion about the looks of the Chrysler/Dodge minivan.

      Combining the sales of the Chrysler/Dodge minivans places them 3rd in sales annually, behind the Ford F-150 and the Chevy Silverado...

      I can't imagine a vehicle selling that many if its' looks make people, as you say, hurl...

      I suspect you just don't like minivans in general...
      • 8 Years Ago
      Fools buy Ford. Three reasons why you should not buy a Ford:

      Of all the manufacturers in the world and in the history of mankind, Ford hides recalls the most. They also deny defects the most. They also have the record of deaths due to defects by their vehicles and they also will sue till the sun sets rather than admit there is a defect. Such as fires, weak roofs, seat belts.....

      Of all the domestic manufacturers, Ford has the lowest resale value in 4 years on their typical product. So you lose the most money in the long run

      Of all the manufacturers, Ford is the laziest to innovate, laziest to bring a technology to market, and the laziest to make sound business decisions.

      Do you want to support mediocrity with your hard earned dollars?
      • 8 Years Ago
      No Mazda5? Best bang for the buck van with best mpg, 3rd row, price, 5 star crash ratings, etc. Maybe this list is for rich families, or families that have money to burn on gas?

      Ford Edge? A $30k family vehicle? Milan over Fusion? Wow, this is like a 'push the more expensive vehicles' list.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #33 Patrick
      Sorry about that. I recall my aunt had a 1998 Malibu with the 3.1 engine and hers had 155hp so I thought mine was the same. I checked the specs on wikipedia and it indeed had 170hp.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm with #20. Whrere's the Subaru? Loads of families in the northeast swear by them and anyone that I have ever met does too. Great cars, super reliable and can go the distance in just about any weather - again, from what i've been told.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Were's the Pinto?
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