Load Up The Kids And The Dog For These Best Family Vehicles Over The Years

The term “family car” has a different meaning for everyone. For some people, it’s a big minivan with a blocky nose and juice stains in the middle row of seats. For others, it’s a classic-looking wood-paneled station wagon. In more recent times, it has evolved from a full-blown SUV to a crossover with better fuel efficiency and improved design.

There are a lot of great vehicles out there that can transport your family in comfort and style. In this article, we will highlight some great family cars over the decades that have stood the test of time.

Chevrolet Suburban

Chevrolet Suburban 1937 .
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

The Chevrolet Suburban has been one of the most profitable vehicles produced by General Motors. It was first introduced in 1936, and is the longest-lived car in automobile history. In the early days, this car featured a windowed body, which was similar to a station wagon and was used to get away from the city with more passengers.

The Suburban has entered the modern age as an extended truck-based SUV that continues to appeal to big families. Back in the day, the original starting price of the Chevrolet Suburban was set at $685.

Jeep Cherokee

Jeep Cherokee
National Motor Museum via Getty Images
National Motor Museum via Getty Images

Since its production started in 1974, the Jeep Cherokee has been introduced as a full-size SUV, one of the first compact SUVs, and now as a crossover SUV. This vehicle is not only suitable for daily driving, but it also has the capability to go off-road.

In later years, the Cherokee featured more cargo and passenger space, thanks to its evolution from the Jeep Wagoneer. Although the Wagoneer was a large vehicle, the Jeep Cherokee (1984 to 2001) was the right size and came with a convenient package that offered more room for families and a better view for drivers. All in all, the Jeep Cherokee is a better option than most wagons out there. In the initial years, the Jeep Cherokee was priced at $4,161.

Volkswagen Transporter

Volkswagen Transporter
Yavuz Arslan/ Getty Images
Yavuz Arslan/ Getty Images

Whether you and your family spent your summers in a Vanagon Westfalia or a VW bus, the Volkswagen has been manufactured and marketed for nearly 70 years now. It has done its best to provide a home on the road for families.

Also known as Type 2, the Transporter has sold around 12 million units worldwide, and it still remains one of the best-selling family vehicles. Additionally, it comprises a range of variations, including minibuses, vans, campervans, minivans, and pickups. Competitors of the Transporter include cars like the Toyota Hiace, Ford Transit, and Mercedes-Benz Vito. When it comes to pricing, the original starting price of the Volkswagen Transporter was $2,200 in its early days of production.

Chrysler Town & Country

Two women admire a 1947 Chrysler Town & Country convertible car
Maurice Ambler/Getty Images
Maurice Ambler/Getty Images

The Chrysler Town & Country was produced from 1941 to 2016. The first-ever “woodie” produced by Chrysler was made with actual wooden side panels and doors. By 1968, the Town & Country had evolved into a 19-foot chromed out station wagon that featured a rear washer and tailgate.

The 1970s and 1980s ushered in a truncated “K-car” version of this car, boasting fake wood paneling all over. However, by 1990, it had been converted into a wood-paneled minivan that served families of all sizes and lifestyles. The original starting price of the Chrysler Town & Country was $2,950.

Honda Odyssey

Honda Odyssey
May Tse/ Getty Images
May Tse/ Getty Images

The Honda Odyssey has been in production since 1994, and it continues to impress with its exceptional performance, sophisticated cabin, and overall spaciousness. In the initial years, the Odyssey didn’t have a good reputation as a minivan — it had no sliding doors, and it featured a four-cylinder that could hardly carry its own weight.

However, in 1999, the Odyssey received a massive makeover, and ever since then, it has been ranked among the top family minivans. Its multipurpose and spacious cabin seats nearly up to eight people and it also boasts a removable center console, which incorporates a “cool box” beverage cooler and a useful flip-up trash bag holder. The original starting price of the Honda Odyssey was set at $24,995.

Toyota Previa

Toyota Previa
Rick Eglinton/Previa Photo via Getty Images
Rick Eglinton/Previa Photo via Getty Images

Also known as the Toyota Estima, the Toyota Previa was a multi-purpose vehicle that was sold in the United States from 1991 to 1997. It was the first minivan in the U.S. to pass all safety standards. What made Previa unique was its mid-engine placement and occasionally used turbocharged diesel and supercharged gasoline engines.

Apart from that, the Previa came standard with third brake-light, driver’s side airbag, and a passenger airbag. While Toyota ended the production of Previa, it opened the path for family vehicles and modern minivans, and you can still find some unique features of this car in the Toyota Sienna. Back in the day, this vehicle was priced at $13,998.

Volvo V70

Volvo V70
National Motor Museum/Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Getty Images

The Volvo V70 was marketed and produced by Volvo Cars from model years 1996 to 2016. Throughout the years of its production, the family-friendly V70 received many updates, including seatbelt pretensioners, robust engine options, side-impact protection, multiple airbags, whiplash-absorbing seat-back hinges, and added all-wheel drive.

Other features of the third generation V70 included automatic parking brake, self-opening tailgate, automatic windshield wipers, auto climate control, heated seats, and rear and front parking sensors. The Volvo V70 ended its production in North America in 2012. The original starting price was set at $28,285.

Subaru Legacy

41289492955_2a8585966b_oSubaru Legacy
Guillaume Vachey/Flickr
Guillaume Vachey/Flickr

The Subaru Legacy is a midsize vehicle that started out as a competitor to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. When it came to fuel efficiency, space, and technology, the Legacy was a step behind. However, later in 1996, Legacy came up with a better ground clearance, offering a comfortable ride.

The 1996 variant became known as the Legacy Outback, and its standard all-wheel drive and body design proved to be a sales success among buyers with families. The original starting price of the Subaru Legacy was set at $11,299.

Toyota 4Runner

2016 Toyota TRD Pro 4Runner
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The family-friendly Toyota 4Runner was introduced as a pickup with a shell over the bed, and then later, it was converted into a mid-size sport utility vehicle. This vehicle has been sold all across the world from 1984 to the present. The 4Runner received a solid body in 1989, but it was not until the mid-90s that it started resembling a modern SUV.

Getting inspiration from its top-of-the-line Land Cruiser, Toyota added exclusive interior features like sound systems and controls to the 4Runner. The current generation includes more standard features and appeals to those who love a rugged off-roader. In the initial years of production, the original starting price of the 4Runner was $20,130.

Dodge Caravan

Caravan on the street
JLaw45/Flickr
JLaw45/Flickr

The Dodge Caravan is a lineup of minivans that have been built by Chrysler ever since the model year 1984. Currently in its fifth generation of production, the Caravan is marketed as the Dodge edition of the Chrysler minivans.

Even after Chrysler introduced SUVs, it never gave up on the Caravan. They kept adding several features to it such as airbags, the rear “Stow N Go” seats that fold into the floor, the coveted second sliding door, and various other safety features. Today, the Caravan competes with other popular vehicles such as the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and more modern Chrysler Pacifica. The original starting price for the Caravan was $9,105.

Pontiac Safari

Safari at show
mradamlang/Pinterest
mradamlang/Pinterest

The Pontiac Safari was produced from 1958 through 1991 as a two-door full-size station wagon. The Pontiac model had several variants, including Grand Ville, the Star Chief, 6000, Astre, Tempest, Parisienne, Bonneville, Executive, and Cataline. However, out of them, the Grand Safari, which was built on the Grand Ville and Bonneville body, was the most impressive and appealing to families.

The Safari had 5.5 feet of interior space, was 19-feet long, and weighed almost around 5,300 pounds. Also, it boasted a glide-away tailgate that slid down the roof and an automated rear glass that could push up into the roof. Overall, the Pontiac Safari was a classic delight that offered a fun driving experience.

Buick Roadmaster

Roadmaster
EliYourCarGuy/YouTube
EliYourCarGuy/YouTube

In 1991, minivans were already well-established in the U.S. market, and sports utility vehicles were slowly making their way to achieve market dominance. This was when General Motors decided to give it one last shot and enter the wagon market with its resurrected Buick Roadmaster (originally built from 1936 to 1958). This vehicle shared the same platform as Cadillac and was equipped with a V8 5.7-liter Corvette engine that produced up to 300 horsepower and could pull out a maximum of 7,000 pounds.

Additionally, with other features like wood grain side panels, a second-row sunroof, an optional rear-facing third row of seats, and automatic climate control, the Roadmaster became a popular wagon in the United States. The original starting price of the Roadmaster was set at $21,445.

Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Ford Explorer was not the first utility vehicle, but it started off on the right track and gradually became one of the best selling SUVs in the United States. Introduced as an off-roader, the Explorer continually added refined ride quality and features, and it came to be known as a family car.

Later, Firestone tire failures and increased competition took a hit on sales. However, the Explorer kept improving, and now current versions have led the Explorer into a new era. The initial variants of the Ford Explorer were priced around $14,000.

Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester on display
Geoff Robins/Subaru Photo via Getty Images
Geoff Robins/Subaru Photo via Getty Images

The Subaru Forester is a popular compact sports utility that has been in production since 1997. This vehicle is built on a similar platform as the Impreza, and it has received several updates over the years. In 1999, more torque was added to the vehicle, which improved shifting, and then later in 2000, fascia was added to the front and rear. For the model year 2003, the Subaru underwent a complete makeover, with improved exterior and interior, new standard and available features, and an updated chassis.

Today, the current generation Forester is one of the top compact SUVs available on the market, boasting excellent fuel economy and a spacious cabin. In the early years of production, the starting price of the Subaru was $18,695.

Honda Accord

Honda Accord
National Motor Museum/Honda Accord Photo via Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Honda Accord Photo via Getty Images

The Accord is a lineup of vehicles manufactured by Honda since 1976. In the United States, the Accord is best known for its best-selling sedan variant since 1989. Other than that, the Honda Accord is sold worldwide as station wagons, coupes, crossover, and hatchbacks.

The reason the Accord remains one of the best-sellers in the U.S. is that it does not require much maintenance or gas to operate. It also provides families with ample space and features, keeping them satisfied. On the whole, the Honda is an excellent car with potent engine options and sporty handling. In the initial years of production, the Accord was priced at $3,995.

Land Rover Discovery Series II

Land Rover Discovery Series II
Michael/Flickr
Michael/Flickr

The Land Rover Discovery Series II was launched as a hardcore off-roader. However, because of its family orientation and popularity, it became much more like a sports utility vehicle, perfect for day to day driving.

This vehicle was equipped with a V8 engine and was available as five-seat and seven-seat versions in the United States. Additionally, the Series II featured a traction control system and a Hill Descent Control feature, making the SUV as advanced as any other premium modern vehicle.

Honda Civic

Honda Civic
Tim Boyle/Honda Civic Photo via Getty Images
Tim Boyle/Honda Civic Photo via Getty Images

The first generation Honda Civic was introduced back in 1972 and was available as a three- and five-door hatchback, two- and four-door fastback sedan, and a five-door station wagon. The 1973 version of the car was capable of reaching 40 miles per gallon. This figure is more than what most non-hybrid cars can get today.

Now, ten generations later, the Honda Civic is way more than an econobox. It comes packed with several entertainment and safety features and remains one of the top-selling vehicles in the United States. In the early years, the original price of the Honda Civic started at $2,150.

Chevrolet Impala

Impala
Leonard Ortiz/ Getty Images
Leonard Ortiz/ Getty Images

The Chevrolet Impala is a full-size vehicle built by Chevrolet from 1958 to the present. This car is as practical as a sedan, as attractive as a convertible, and as serviceable as a wagon, and it has spent almost 50 years as one of Chevrolet’s best-selling vehicles.

With robust V8 engines, high-performance, enormous bodies, and super-sport packages, the Impala was specially designed for families that loved going on road trips. The current generation Impala is more massive than previous generations and is equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual and sport shifting modes. Overall, the Chevrolet Impala continues to impress with its sleek looks and performance. The original starting price of the Chevrolet Impala was set at $1,735.

Ford Escape

Ford Escape
Carl D. Walsh/Ford Escape Photo via Getty Images
Carl D. Walsh/Ford Escape Photo via Getty Images

Escape is a compact crossover that has been sold by Ford for over four generations, since 2000. This compact SUV competes with popular car manufacturers like Honda and Toyota. The Ford Escape became an absolute favorite in North America, and ever since its introduction, it has only seen an increase in sales from 150,000 in 2002 to more than 270,000 in 2018.

The current generation Ford Escape gets excellent fuel economy, is roomier and more comfortable, and offers several infotainment and safety features. This is a very popular family vehicle.

Volvo 850

Volvo 850
National Motor Museum/Volvo 850 Photo via Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Volvo 850 Photo via Getty Images

With the introduction of the 850, Volvo started streamlining its looks, rounding its corners, and adding more safety features like self-adjusting seat belts and side-impact protection. However, other features such as daytime running lights, taillights running past the rear of the wagon, and the all-wheel-drive option made the Volvo 850 popular among car buyers back in the day.

It also featured a five-cylinder engine that allowed drivers to reach 150 miles per hour. The original starting price was set at $24,100.

Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback
Guillaume Vachey/Flickr
Guillaume Vachey/Flickr

The first Subaru Outback started out as a trim package for Subaru’s second-generation Legacy. Later, in 2000, the Outback became its own entity. Also, it received a few changes — its length increased from 15.5 inches to 16 inches.

The Subaru Outback is still a good wagon that soccer parents love. It comes with excellent ground clearance and all-wheel drive, making it practical for families living in harsh weather conditions. Not only that, but the current generation Outback offers plenty of cargo and passenger space and an upscale cabin. Initially, the Subaru Outback was priced at $20,095.

Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V
National Motor Museum/Honda CR-V 2.0i Photo via Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Honda CR-V 2.0i Photo via Getty Images

In the late ’90s, the introduction of Honda CR-V changed everything for families. It offered more space and an impressive mileage close to the Honda Civic. After getting a CR-V, families realized they no longer required a huge SUV to fulfill their requirements, especially when it comes to more space.

As a result, the amenities and ample cargo space of the CR-V always kept it in the front of the crossover pack. Also, in the 2000s, it became a must-have for families as much as wagons and minivans were for other generations. At the time of its introduction, the starting price of the Honda CR-V was set at $19,300.

AMC Hornet

AMC Hornet Sportabout wagon
Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The AMC Hornet was a compact vehicle that was produced and marketed by AMC (American Motors Corporation) from 1970 to 1977. This car was one of the best cars ever produced, and it was also the first-ever hatchback made in the U.S.

The Hornet had a lot to offer, including a 232 cubic-feet V8 engine, rubber floor mats, vinyl seats, and a lot more. The higher trim of the car incorporated luxurious features like carpeting and cloth interior, and a 360 cubic-inch V8 engine. You could even add reclining bucket seats, air-conditioning, vinyl roof, disc brakes, and automatic transmission to the car. The AMC Hornet was indeed a sensation back in the ’70s.

Dodge Coronet

1966 Dodge Coronet 500 Two-Door Hardtop
Bettmann/Contributor
Bettmann/Contributor

No other muscle car produced by Dodge matched the sales of the Coronet. This beast was marketed by Dodge in the 1950s, and within no time, this car gained popularity among American car buyers. The Coronet was packed with robust V8 engines, incorporating a 7.2-liner 440-cubic-inch magnum and a 7-liter Hemi engine.

Designers of the Dodge Coronet kept in mind that even families deserved a muscle car that produced plenty of power. Soon after the oil-crisis, Dodge ended the production of the Coronet as oversized, and wood-paneled wagons started overpowering sedans. The original starting price of the Dodge Coronet was set at $1,945.

Cadillac Escalade GMT800

Cadillac Escalade GMT800
Cadillac Escalade/Wikimedia Commons
Cadillac Escalade/Wikimedia Commons

Cadillac Escalade proved to be one of the family favorites in the early 2000s. Even though it was a massive SUV, it drove satisfyingly well on the highways. Not only that, this vehicle was roomy, safe, and had a lot of seats. The four-wheel-drive trim of the car produced up to 380 pound-feet of torque and 345 horsepower.

In 2004, the Platinum version of Escalade was introduced at a starting price of $71,025. This edition featured plenty of features, including heated and cooled seats, shale leather upholstery, 20-inch chrome wheels, heated and cooled cupholders, and more. Overall, the GMT800 offers a perfect combination of comfort and performance.

Toyota Sienna

Toyota Sienna van
Luis Sinco/Toyota Sienna Photo via Getty Images
Luis Sinco/Toyota Sienna Photo via Getty Images

The Toyota Sienna has been around for more than a decade now, and it still remains popular amongst American families. Over the years, Sienna has received many updates like an increase in overall volume and cargo space, the installation of flat-folding seats, the addition of a second sliding door, and an optional all-wheel drive.

With other features like keyless entry, backup cameras, power liftgate in the back, and more, the Toyota Sienna has always stayed updated. Overall, Sienna is a great vehicle when it comes to modernity and comfort. At the time of its introduction, the original starting price of this minivan was $21,140.

Toyota RAV4

Toyota RAV4
Patrick Pleul/Getty Images
Patrick Pleul/Getty Images

For many years, the Toyota RAV4 was known as “the vehicle with the wheel on the back.” Today, however, it is one of the most reliable and top-selling vehicles in the United States that does not boast a pickup bed.

Over the past few years, this car did not get a drastic redesign, but it stands out among other rivals when it comes to its features like heated front seats, fold-flat rear seats, ample cargo space, and advanced safety features. Other than that, this compact SUV offers stable handling, excellent fuel economy, and a solid predicted reliability rating — making it perfect for families. The original starting price of the Toyota RAV4 was set at $15,998.

Honda Pilot

Honda Pilot display
Bill Pugliano/Honda Pilot SUV Photo via Getty Images
Bill Pugliano/Honda Pilot SUV Photo via Getty Images

The introduction of the Honda Pilot demonstrates exactly how the era of minivans ended. This vehicle shared the same platform as the Honda Odyssey, but it was built as a three-row spacious SUV for people who did not like the idea of getting a minivan.

However, it boasted several features of a minivan, including a moonroof, DVD player, and a rear row of seats folded flat. Even recent updates of the Pilot like a gauge cluster, hands-free tailgate, and infotainment are taken from the Odyssey, making it the perfect family vehicle. In the initial years of its production, the original starting price of the Pilot was set at $24,995.

Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius display
David Cooper/Toyota Prius Photo via Getty Images
David Cooper/Toyota Prius Photo via Getty Images

The Toyota Prius was introduced in the United States in 2001. This hybrid electric automobile immediately became popular in America because of its eco-friendly nature, helping Toyota turn into an industry leader in hybrid technology.

In 2007, the EPA (the United States Environmental Protection Agency) declared Prius as one of the cleanest vehicles sold in the U.S. Additionally, in the model year 2018, the Toyota Prius was reported to be the second most fuel-efficient vehicle in the United States, following the Hyundai Ioniq. So if your family is looking for a practical hybrid and an efficient car, then the Toyota Prius is hard to beat.

Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen Passat Variant station wagon
Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images
Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

The Passat is a popular family car that has been marketed and produced by Volkswagen in the United States since 1973. Previously known as Quantum, Dasher, and CC, the Passat is now manufactured as a full-size vehicle in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The main reason for Passat’s success is the combination of versatility and roominess it provides. The Passat received a complete makeover for the model year 2020, making it a capable car with a robust engine and well-cushioned ride. The original starting price of the Volkswagen Passat was set at $4,100.

Chevrolet Tahoe

Chevrolet Tahoe at a dealership
Tim Boyl/Chevrolet Tahoe Photo via Getty Images
Tim Boyl/Chevrolet Tahoe Photo via Getty Images

When we talk about full-sized SUVs, the Chevy Tahoe earns the top spot in the market. It was introduced back in 1995, and it still continues to be popular among car buyers. The Tahoe is 204 inches in length, which makes it extremely spacious. Also, its fold-flat second and third-row feature comes in handy.

Over the years of its productions, the Tahoe has improved drastically when it comes to convenience and technology. It offers storage places, plenty of cup holders, and a multitude of charging ports inside. Not only that, but its overall ride quality has also been enhanced in the past few years, making it highly appealing to families.

Mitsubishi Outlander

Go Ultra Low Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on charge on a London driveway
Miles Willis/Getty Images for Go Ultra Low
Miles Willis/Getty Images for Go Ultra Low

In recent years, Mitsubishi went astray, and it became hard for them to keep up with the growing competition. However, with the introduction of the second generation Outlander, it got back on track. This family-friendly SUV had a lot to offer, including car-like handling, three-row seating, and an affordable price that attracted many buyers.

Also, it featured a high-end leather interior and a V6 engine that produced up to 220 horsepower. All in all, the Mitsubishi Outlander turned out to be a perfect family vehicle, especially for those looking for versatility and dependability.

Oldsmobile Silhouette

Oldsmobile Silhouette
Darren McCollester/Getty Images
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

In earlier days, the Oldsmobile Silhouette was an exclusive brand that came loaded with high-end features. This was one of the first vehicles to feature remote-controlled power sliding doors, plastic body panels, and LCD screens in the back seats. It also came standard with a V6 engine that produced plenty of power.

Furthermore, it boasted comfortable seating that held up to seven people and other entertaining features that made trips more fun. Overall, the Silhouette proved to be a decent family vehicle with excellent safety and entertainment features. The original starting price of this car was set at $17,195.

Mazda CX-7

Mazda CX-7 on display
Visual China Group/Mazda CX-7 Photo via Getty Images
Visual China Group/Mazda CX-7 Photo via Getty Images

When Mazda CX-7 was launched, it looked nothing like an SUV both inside and out. In fact, it was more like a combination of sports-focused SUV and a hot-hatch. This car was powered by a four-cylinder 2.3-liter turbocharged engine that produced up to 244 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. In addition, it accelerated from zero to 0 mph in just 7.7 seconds.

Besides, it featured an excellent equipment package, including power accessories, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, air-conditioning, and more. Not just that, but the CX-7 incorporated several safety features, including front-seat side airbags, stability control, and side curtain airbags. Overall, the Mazda CX-7 was a magnificent and well-rounded family car.

Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla is displayed at the New York International Auto Show
Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

When it first arrived in the United States in 1969, the Toyota Corolla was introduced as a wagon and a tiny sedan. By 1974, it became the best-selling car in the world. The Corolla might be relatively inexpensive, small, and efficient, but what impresses the most are its tech features, ample trunk space, and plenty of other additional features that offer comfort and convenience.

The present 12th generation Toyota Corolla pretty much keeps the tradition alive, but this time around, it comes packed with character, which some felt was lacking in the previous generations. Originally, the Corolla was priced at $1,816.

Ford Taurus

Ford Taurus
David Cooper via Getty Images
David Cooper via Getty Images

When the full-size Ford LTD was getting outsold by vehicles like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, Ford redesigned the Taurus, giving it an oval shape with front-wheel drive. Additionally, Ford tried to improve the fuel efficiency of the car by equipping it with V8 and V6 engine options. This version didn’t last that long.

When the 1990s came to an end, Ford Taurus was given a more streamlined design and cheaper features. By 2007, the midsize version of the vehicle was dead, and a full-size edition was introduced, which lasted only a few years. In 2018, Ford declared its plans to discontinue the Taurus in North America entirely.

Toyota Camry

parked Camry
Guillaume Vachey/Toyota Camry Photo via Flickr
Guillaume Vachey/Toyota Camry Photo via Flickr

The Toyota Camry has been around in the United States for more than 35 years, and it still continues to be one of the top-selling vehicles. Since its introduction, the Toyota Camry has been known for its longevity, reliability, and the best family car.

No matter how you use the car, the Toyota Camry will always remain fuel-efficient and roomy. Overall, the Camry has improved its safety features and appearance over the years and has become one of the most useful and reliable vehicles. The original starting price of the Camry was set at $9,698.