Best Crossovers for Families

US News

We spend a lot of time in our vehicles going to school and work and running errands in them. With so much time spent on the road, it’s important to find the perfect crossover for your family that provides a combination of utility, affordability and comfort.

Number of Seats

With the exception of the Mini Cooper Countryman, which seats four, most crossovers seat five people, but many allow you to choose an optional third row. First, decide how many seats and how much cargo space you need. The Honda CR-V is a good example of a utilitarian crossover with comfortable seating for five. If you need more space, there are models that allow you to add a third row. However, consider whether third row seating is worth it -- it costs more and isn’t always comfortable for adults. The Toyota RAV4, for example, has standard seating for five, but you can add a third row.  The problem is that it’s not very comfortable. Midsize crossovers like the Ford Flex, GMC Acadia and Honda Pilot can seat up to eight in comfort.

Rear Cargo

Once you settle on a maximum seating capacity, check out cargo capacities. Always remember to look at the amount of space that’s available with all seats in use, especially if you’ve added an optional third row. You’ll want to make sure you can bring everyone’s stuff along for the ride.

Interior Storage

When you head to the dealership, climb into the driver and passenger seats and the rear rows, and count the number of nooks and crannies that can hold books, snacks, drinks and other items your family will use on the go.

Although it seats just five, the Honda CR-V is one of the most utilitarian crossovers on the market. It has upper and lower glove compartments, a conversation mirror that allows the driver to check on kids in the backseat without turning around, an under seat storage bin and a retractable tray table. The larger Ford Flex has handy features for families on the go. It has a standard center arm rest with interior storage, grocery bag hooks, a rear pull-out drawer with cup holders and an optional refrigerated console.

LATCH Connectors

Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) connectors are required by law, and hold car seats in place much better than seatbelts can. If you have young children, pay close attention to the number of LATCH connectors in the model you’re considering. To be sure that car seats and passengers will fit comfortably, bring car seats to the dealership and install them.

After you install the car seats, put the kids in them to ensure they have enough leg space -- keep in mind that many children like to swing their legs and kick the back of chairs. This can get annoying, so make sure there’s enough space to keep kids from kicking the front seats.

Optional Technology Features

Most basic crossovers come with a standard audio system, an auxiliary input jack, a USB port, and if you’re lucky, Bluetooth. If you can afford to add a few more tech features, you should consider a rear view camera. It can be hard to see a smaller adult or child behind many crossovers, and a rearview camera could help you avoid an accident.

Safety Features

While it’s important to have plenty of airbags, look for safety features that can help you avoid accidents in the first place. Electronic stability control, traction control, anti-roll systems, collision mitigation systems, anti-lock brakes, rearview cameras and blind spot warning systems can all help keep your family safe. While they can add to the price of a crossover, they may be worth it.  At the very least, make sure your crossover has anti-lock brakes and stability control.

The Ford Explorer and Ford Flex have an array of standard and optional safety features. Both models come standard with MyKey, a system that keeps parents at ease when their teenagers drive alone. It limits maximum speeds, controls the volume and warns the driver when he or she reaches 45, 55 or 65 mph. The Explorer offers additional optional safety features. You can get inflatable rear safety belts that help protect passengers of all ages and collision warning with brake support. This system detects slowing traffic ahead and sounds a warning for the driver. It also pre-charges the brakes for a faster response.  

Best Crossovers for Families of Five


Honda CR-V

Kia Sportage

Toyota RAV4





Cargo Capacity









1 standard, 2 optional



Standard Interior Features

Upper and lower glove compartments, 8 cup holders, under-seat storage bin, center retractable tray table, conversation mirror with sunglasses holder, cargo area tie-down anchors

Center console with arm rest and storage, fold-away rear-center arm rest with dual cup holders

Multi-function center console with cup holders, cell phone pocket, and covered center console, dual glove box, cargo area under-floor storage compartment

Optional Interior Features

Dual deck storage shelf

Cooling glove compartment, cargo cover

Cargo cover, 120V AC power outlet

Optional Technology features




Unique Safety Features


Rearview camera

*Backup warning system, rearview camera

Rearview camera

Optional Exterior Features

Short roof box, roof rack, skateboard, ski, surfboard, bike and kayak attachment

Roof rails


Towing (lbs.)



3,500 (with V6 models)

Best Crossovers for Families of Seven or Eight


Ford Flex

Honda Pilot

Ford Explorer





Maximum Seating




Cargo Capacity











2 first row, 1 second row, 1 cargo area

Standard Interior Features

Center arm rest with storage, rear pull-out drawer with cup holders and storage, 10 cup holders, cargo area grocery bag hooks, overhead console with sunglasses holder, 50/50 third-row fold-flat bench seat

10 cup holders, cargo area tie-down anchors, cargo area bag hooks

Cargo hooks, first-row center floor console with arm rest and storage bin, overhead console with sunglasses holder

Unique Safety Features


MyKey, *rearview camera

*rearview camera

*Collision Warning with Brake Support, *rearview camera, Ford MyKey, *inflatable rear safety belts

Optional Technology Features

Active Park Assist, navigation

Navigation, USB audio interface, rear view camera

Terrain Management System, Active Park Assist, navigation

Optional interior utility features

Refrigerated second-row console, 40/40 second-row reclining seats with power folding release feature

Conversation mirror with sunglasses holder, cargo divides, cargo cover, interior bike attachment

Cargo cover

Optional exterior features

Roof racks and carriers, power liftgate

Roof rack, ski, snowboard, surfboard, bike kayak attachments, soft roof cargo bag, hitch mountain bike attachment, power liftgate with life-up glass hatch

Roof rail crossbars

Towing (lbs.)


3,500 (two-wheel drive)

4,500 (all-wheel drive)


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