When you take the time to think about, it seems that what was once a secular or relatively universal thing, suddenly becomes broken up into many different offshoots and varieties. Take coffee, for example. 25 years ago, people associated the word coffee with brown liquid in a mug.
Nowadays, we have every possible variety, flavor, size, and means of consumptions imaginable, and people seem to love it, and I don’t blame them, for variety is good, and through healthy competition, the best products usually rise toward the top.
Another example of things that have branched out over the years is the truck, or as was later dubbed the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), and boy did it arrive with a roar. Finally, a means of transportation for personal use that was stylish, could hold everything your family could throw at it; safe and most importantly, not a minivan.
However, it seems that automobile manufacturers weren’t happy about the umbrella term of SUV, and from it has sprouted a venerable plethora of options, styles and sizes, enough so that it’s hard to imagine an SUV that you couldn’t match with even the most unique family.
While sleek, comfortable interiors, state of the art options and features that seem to anticipate your every move are all nice things to have, when it comes to the family vehicle, safety should always be a number-one priority.
Luckily, I have a lot of time on my hands, and have decided to sift through the 2016 lineup of crossovers, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, luxury SUVs and every other possible thing on four wheels with a little elevation that you could imagine.
All of come with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, seal of approval, and, some pretty spectacular features and designs that will make you incredibly happy you don't have to sacrifice any of the fun stuff for peace of mind.
11 Buick Encore
Good things come in small packages, and sometimes so can great things. There was a time not long ago when Buick’s were considered ‘an old man’s car', and if you’ve ever seen one, then you know it to be true. However, in the last decade, Buick all in all has made strides to reach younger demographics, and its Encore is a perfect example.
Stylish, fuel efficient, and enough for a couple of strollers(or golf bags), with enough room left over to actually bring the kids the strollers are for. With a warm interior and multitude of options, this is a great car for a new family, or as a second vehicle for a large one.
10 Nissan Rogue
Although Nissan considers this to be a ‘crossover’, I think it fits just fine in the Small SUV category. The Rogue has come a long way from the first generation, and it seems to have been a steady uphill climb from there. That could partly have to do with their re-tuned and highly responsive transmission and suspension.
It also comes equipped with some the most desirable of features from heated seats to navigation, and like many of the cars on this list, they are available with Front Crash Prevention options that actually take the liberty of help you stop by providing the driver with a warning if it detects a potential front collision.
All of this and it comes at a very reasonable price, definitely something to look into for the growing family.
9 Mitsubishi Outlander
Mitsubishi made a name for itself in the rally car circuit many years ago, and since then has continued to dominate it. Mitsubishi has taken the same care of protecting its drivers in some of the most inhospitable places in the world, and packaged it nicely for the consumer for whatever adventures they may have in store.
Much like the Rogue, this too is considered a crossover, but comes in at a slightly lower price point with similar options abound. When it comes to warranties, which is very important with new cars, few manufacturers have Mitsubishi beat.
8 Kia Sorento
If you were to ask me if a Kia ever were to be on this list several years ago, I probably would have laughed. I think it was their stupid commercials that made me biased. Anyways, this Korean manufacturer certainly has pulled a lot of tricks out of its hat over the last few years, and that's not just referring to its SUV models.
The Sorento, in particular, is a wonderful midsize that leaves one wanting for nothing, and a little something in the bank. From the inside, you’d think you were in a German import, but this fuel-efficient underdog certainly stands up to competition on all fronts. Oh, and did I mention it seats 7!
7 GMC Terrain
If your family spends a lot of time in the car, on road trips, hockey practices, or ballet, this is the SUV for you. Not only has GMC outdone themselves with the bold lines of this truck, it also comes equipped with state of the 4G WiFi so everybody in the car can stay connected, and hopefully quiet.
I also really like that the Terrain is a bit higher up in terms of point of view, which is a big selling factor for me when it comes to SUVs.
6 Toyota Highlander
What initially started (in my opinion) as a haphazard attempt to fill a vehicle size gap between the Rav4 and 4Runner, the first few of the Highlander were lackluster to say the least. However, much like many of Toyota’s cars, it seems their flagships often change, and the Highlander has really come into its own.
Coming in at one of the largest of the midsize SUV category, the Highlander comes equipped with adjustable power lift gate, for all the times you have to open the back, but might find yourself in the underground garage or tight space. The 2016 model also comes with a more user-friendly and updated dash that really adds to the interior appeal of the vehicle.
5 Honda Pilot
I have always been a fan of the Honda Pilot, as it was one of the first import SUVs to really stand up amongst the domestics. While it’s early models were very boxy in design, the 2016 comes with beautiful rounded edges, great lines, and a comfortable interior.
It also comes equipped with plenty of seating, storage and an entertainment system, because nobody likes a backseat driver, even if they are your kids. Although the price tag is a little higher on this one, it does come with its perks, include Honda LaneWatch, which gives the driver a more comprehensive view of the road when they drive, thanks to side mounted cameras.
4 Volvo XC
It would be impossible to have a list about safe automobiles and not have at least one Volvo on it. This Swedish import is nothing new to most consumers, and its name truly is synonymous with safety. Volvo has a rich history that goes well past its cars, which might explain the tragic design flaws most older models seemed to suffer from.
Thankfully that is all behind them , because the new line-up of Volvo’s especially the XC90 is sure to delight even the most discriminate of tastes. When it comes to safety, few brands have accumulated as many awards as Volvo, so rest assured that your family will be as safe as it is comfortable and stylish in one. And judging from the interior, you might have a hard time getting them out.
3 Mercedes GLE-Class
It is thanks to the Mercedes that we have the term SUV, for it was this model, 18 years ago that seemingly started this class section. Known for its luxury, this Mercedes certainly doesn't disappoint, with a plush, comfortable interior, that makes driving so much more enjoyable.
The GLE also comes with Collision Prevention Assist, which actually helps you break to avoid an oncoming collision. With a variety of engine options from traditional, to diesel, to hybrid, you and and family are sure to find yourself at home in one of these fine German exports.
2 Infiniti QX
Few brands can compete with the big boys of luxury auto like Infiniti and still keep it at a somewhat reasonable price point. QX60 is a perfect example of this, and it seems that the fine folks at Infiniti have done just that keeping the driver, and passengers all in the forefront when it comes to comfort and safety.
From flat screen's in the back for the kids, to a 360 digital view around the vehicle, so you know what is going on at all times, this car has everything, and is a lot bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. I’ve personally taken one of these out for a drive, and if you have the time, I would suggest you do too.
1 Audi Q
Winner of Car and Driver Magazines Chariots For Dads competition, this SUV is for the large family that needs to go where it's going. With one of the most powerful engines on the market, all-wheel drive, and a traction-control system that begs to be tested off-road, the Q7 is guaranteed to keep everyone in the family happy, especially Dad.