It’s an American rite of passage: The family road trip.
But not many people relish the time spent in the car. But the type of car you choose can help ease that discomfort.
Large sedans or minivans are best for families with younger children, because the windows sit lower and make it easier for kids to look out, says David Champion, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.
Here are some new or recently redesigned cars and SUVs that are ideal for road trips because of their family-friendly features or great gas mileage.
Toyota Prius V — If fuel economy is your main concern, consider the Prius V hybrid wagon, which went on sale last fall. The five-seat Prius V gets an estimated 42 miles per gallon in city and highway driving. It’s also roomier than a standard Prius.
The Prius V starts at $26,550. A well-equipped version, with a runroof and a hands-free parallel parking system that parks the car by itself, will set you back $30,140.
Honda CR-V —
The CR-V starts at $22,495.
It seats six, with second-row captain’s chairs that can recline or fold down for easier access to the third row. It’s not as roomy as its rivals, and its four-cylinder engine has less power than their V6s. But it also gets better fuel economy: 28 miles per gallon, compared with 24 on the Toyota Sienna. It starts at $19,625.
Ford Flex — Champion’s hands-down favorite for a road trip is the Ford Flex, a seven-passenger wagon redesigned for the 2013 model year. According to Ford, the Flex has the most second- and third-floor leg room of any large utility vehicle, and there’s 43 cubic feet of cargo space if the third row is folded down.
It also has one feature exclusive to Ford: inflatable seat belts in the rear that give extra protection to kids in a crash. The Flex gets 23 miles per gallon.
It starts at $30,885, but many features cost extra.
The ultimate family feature — a refrigerated center console in the back seat that can chill seven cans — is a $795 option in the $42,000 Flex Limited.