It’s madness: We test eight vehicles from four segments in our search for the best family car
Let’s do an experiment: Open up Google and search for “best family car.” It’s a safe bet you got a lengthy list of cars, minivans, SUVs, and even trucks, but nothing actually telling you which was best.
In America, with more than 310 models of vehicles in dealer showrooms, we’re spoiled for selection. We just as easily could’ve been born in a country where your choice of transport was limited to “The Car” of the Proletariat or your own two feet. Too much choice is a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem.
MotorTrend’s Bracket Mayhem is here! Join us as we search for the best family car.
So we’re going to attempt to answer the so far unanswerable question: What’s the best family car? And to level the playing field, we’re going to take inspiration from a collegiate basketball tournament happening right now.
Similarly to said tournament, we have created a one-and-done bracket, pitting eight vehicles in four different categories in an attempt to figure out not only which body style makes the best family car but also which vehicle is the best family car to handle your starting five (parents, two kids, and your mascot). Represented are midsize sedans, midsize crossovers, minivans, and full-size crossovers. Some are known players, while others are scrappy new kids fighting for a seat at the table.
The traditional powers—midsize sedans—are represented by the 2019 Nissan Altima SR and 2019 Toyota Camry XLE. From the mid-majors, ahem, midsize crossovers, we have the new 2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS and 2019 Honda Passport Elite. Flying the colors for minivans are the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica S and 2019 Honda Odyssey Elite. And representing the big-money power conferences, aka three-row crossovers, are the 2019 Chevrolet Traverse RS and 2019 Subaru Ascent Touring.
Because these sorts of things are more fun when each team brings its A game, we asked for fully optioned variants of each vehicle. Yes, price/value enters into the equation, but only as a grading, not as a disqualifying factor.
Just as collegiate basketball teams forgo their home arenas for stadiums, ostensibly at neutral sites, we’ll do the same for our testing—putting each vehicle through its paces at the Honda Proving Center in Cantil, California, home to our SUV of the Year testing, and in Tehachapi, California, home to our tried-and-true Of The Year loop. (Yes, we know, the Honda Odyssey and Passport being tested at the Honda Proving Ground might give them an edge, but Duke somehow always plays its first-round game in Charlotte. Logistics are logistics.) The winner of this crucible, at least for this year, will be crowned the champion family vehicle.