The dog, the cat, the goldfish—and, your kids. Getting them all across the state on a summer road trip is not easy, let alone mapping out whether there’s a Chipotle en route. These high-tech vehicles will help.
We’ve called out a few of the most important features that will make Timmy and Sally happy (not to mention Fido) when you make a long haul.
1. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
You’ve seen the Jim Gaffigan commercials. But what is the deal with the new Pacifica? One of the biggest surprises you’ll find is that the cargo area under the floorboards near the second row seats can fit an Xbox One, the cat food, and a few bottles of root beer. There’s a vacuum cleaner that works while you drive.
The 10.1-inch screens facing the passengers have built-in games the kids can play (or you can connect that Xbox One and let them play Destiny). There’s a lot there to keep the tikes in the back happy.
2. 2016 Honda Pilot
This spacious family car can seat eight passengers comfortably at the upper trim level. Honda even makes a tent that attaches to the rear, available as a dealer accessory. There are five USB ports; with the third-row seats in use, you can still fit an 82-quart cooler. My favorite feature? Even though it’s massive, the V6 version of this SUV has plenty of acceleration, which is a nice surprise.
3. 2017 Subaru Outback
One of the main reasons to consider the Subaru Outback is related to hauling your gear. The roof rack has retractable crossbars to customize what you can carry. There’s 73.3 cubic feet of cargo space inside, which is surprising given it is definitely not a minivan. (In my tests, I’ve easily stowed a couple of bikes with the second row seats folded down.)
4. 2017 Toyota Sienna
The kids already rule your family, might as well let them sit like kings and queens. The new Sienna has “lounge” seating in the Limited version—the living-room quality seats are comfy and have foot rests. This minivan also has a cool tech feature—Driver Easy Speak, which lets you talk to everyone in the car through the built-in speakers with the push of a button.
5. 2017 GMC Acadia
Available in a five-six, or seven-seat capacity, the redesigned Acadia has several hidden surprises. There’s a rear storage drawer, and all three rows have USB charge ports. For the driver, there’s a unique chime that plays as a reminder to look back and see if everyone has exited the vehicle. Like many GM vehicles, the Acadia supports 4G wireless access.
6. 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe
Three words will help you understand what makes the Sante Fe unique: It has a long wheel base of 110.2 inches. That means more room for passengers and cargo. There’s an AWD version available as well, and Hyundai has done a great job with their smartphone apps, even providing a way to run up to 40 smartphone apps for music, weather, and news.
7. Nissan Pathfinder
The styling of the Pathfinder is trim and rugged, more like a Subaru than a minivan. The latest version has a 284-horsepower engine and plenty of torque. Yet, it’s designed for transporting families. The passenger seats move forward for entry with a click, even if you’re using a car seat. To retrieve your gear, just move your foot under the rear bumper to activate the liftgate.
8. 2017 Ford Escape
One of the most high-tech family cars on the road, the Escape now has a “fatigue detector” that knows when you are veering from side to side in your lane and can pop up a warning. Helpful! When you arrive Yellowstone or Disneyworld, the car can parallel or perpendicular park on its own with one button press. A bonus is that it gets a nice 29-miles-per gallon on the highway.