2018 Acura MDX

Ranking The Best Family SUV Models From 2018

Searching for best family SUV I compiled a list of almost 40 different SUVs and crossovers which can be considered to have deep family ties. After all, every one of them had third-row seating option (yes, we have that many 7+ passenger SUV/crossover options). However, I picked only 15 of them which may enter the “Best Family SUV” arena.

They are roomie, they are efficient, they are not extremely expensive (well, not all of them at least), and they sell like hotcakes. In fact, they are successfully blurring the line between MPVs and SUVs/Crossovers.

The Best Family SUV? It has to be affordable, practical and efficient.

2018 Honda Pilot

The 2018 Honda Pilot Is One Of The Best Family SUV Models Of The Year

Cargo capacity: 46.8 cu. ft./16.5 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: Standard
EPA Fuel economy (city/highway): 19/27
Crash test rating: Top Safety Pick
AWD option: Yes
Starting price: $30,900 for the 2018 Honda Pilot LX

Dramatically redesigned and modernized in 2015, the Honda Pilot grew out of the boxy design world and courageously entered family city SUV environment. It was an “over-the night” transformation which brought in new buyers. After all, in only three years, Honda managed to flip more than 300,000 units.

With third seating row as standard, Honda Sensing Safety suit, up to five USB ports and entertainment system with a 9-inch screen for the back, the Pilot seems to be the perfect family hauling machine.

2016 Honda Pilot Interior

FYI that Honda Sensing Safety Suit I mentioned includes:

  • Collision Mitigation Braking System,
  • Road Departure Mitigation System,
  • Adaptive Cruise Control,
  • Lane Keeping Assist system.

The Honda Pilot is available with 3.5-liter V6 with 280hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. One can have it with a six-speed automatic, 2WD or i-VTM4™ AWD System ($1,900 option)

Chevrolet Traverse

2018 Chevrolet Traverse

Cargo capacity: up to 98.2 cu. ft. (best in class)
Seven-seat option: 8 passenger seating
EPA Fuel economy (city/highway): 18/27
Crash test rating: No information at IIHS
AWD option: Not available for the entry-level car
Starting Price: $29,930 for the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse L

With the debut of the all-new model in summer 2017, I can consider the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse an all-new car. As a full-size family SUV, the Traverse did replace a number of older SUVs/crossovers in Chevrolet line-up, but it is actually based on the same underpinnings as its blood brothers like the Acadia and the Enclave. Nevertheless, as an eight-seater (optionally, seven-seater) the Chevrolet Traverse takes family SUV philosophy to extremes. Chevrolet basically offered a massive SUV and equipped it with fuel-efficient motors – 310hp 3.6-liter V6 for now, but one can expect even a small two-liter turbocharged motor in 2018.

As expected, the car does share all the major tech gear with its GM siblings. These do include features such as the Apple CarPlay and Android connectivity, keyless access, power-folding rear bench and advanced version of the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment systems.
Four wheel drive? Sure, for the higher-grade models!

2018 Chevrolet Traverse Interior
As for the safety, Chevy equipped its probably best family SUV with features such as:

  • Forward Collision Alert,
  • Front Pedestrian Braking,
  • Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking,
  • Lane Keep Assist,
  • Forward Automatic Braking and more.

Best bit?

  • It has hidden storage compartment behind the center 8-inch display on the dashboard. “The compartment can be locked by entering a four-digit PIN.” It’s fantastic. All cars should have it.

Buick Enclave

2018 Buick Enclave

Cargo capacity: 97.6 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: 7 passenger seating
EPA Fuel economy (city/highway): 18/26
Crash test rating: No information at IIHS
AWD option: Intelligent All-Wheel Drive
Starting Price: $39,995

Although using the same tech as the Traverse, the Buick Enclave is a premium-grade offering in GM line-up. Obviously, it does have much the same exterior dimensions as the family Traverse, it is plusher on the inside and seems more refined on the outside. The engine, however, is the same as in its $10 grand lesser brother – the 3.6-liter V6 with 310hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. Luckily, added luxury did not cramp practicality. Seats, although much nicer than in the Traverse can be luxuriously arranged with two in the second row.

2018 Buick Enclave Interior

The 2018 Buick Enclave is available with five different trim levels – Enclave, Essence, Premium and Avenir. The later one features unique interior and exterior touches, wireless charging space, special Infotainment with navigation, and all the advanced ticks of the lesser trims such as the premium sound system, high-end safety systems and other.

Ford Expedition

2018 Ford Expedition

Cargo capacity: 121.5 cu. ft. (Expedition MAX)
Seven-seat option: up to 8 passengers option
EPA Fuel economy (city/highway): 17/24
Crash test rating: No information at IIHS
AWD option: Yes
Starting Price: $51,695

As far as massive SUVs go, the Ford Expedition now can compete with the likes of the Suburbans and Yukons. Its largest version – the Expedition MAX measures 221.9 inches in length after all.

2018 Ford Expedition Interior

Nevertheless, this may be the newest model on this list as it did reach the showrooms only in October 2017. The latest generation of the Ford Expedition is not a cheap car by any measure. However, it does offer seating for up to eight passengers and all the luxury convenience one may imagine. And it can tow. A lot. Ford Expedition has a best-in-class 9,300 lbs. maximum towing capability. Load it up with stuff, with eight passengers and tow your boat. Ford markets it with “living large” philosophy and you can see why.

Managing all that is the 3.5-liter EcoBoost available in two versions – with 375hp and 400hp. It sources its power to 4×2 or 4×4 drivetrain via 10-speed SelectShift Automatic.

Mazda CX-9

2018 Mazda CX-9

Cargo capacity: up to 71.2 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: standard
EPA Fuel economy (city/highway): 22/28
Crash test rating: Top Safety Pick+
AWD option: I-Active AWD Available
Starting Price: $32,130

Although largest among the Mazda family SUVs, the Mazda CX-9 tends to blur the line between sporty character and family practicality. The car inherited some of the most notable sporty features characterized by smaller models, thus being as close to engaging and exciting SUV as possible. For a price, of course.

2018 Mazda CX-9 Interior

Regardless, Mazda equipped it with seven seats, offered it with FWD or AWD option and integrated all the imaginable safety equipment. As part of the i-ACTIVSENSE package, Mazda CX-9 handles:

  • Pre-Collision Safety Technology,
  • Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS),
  • Smart City Brake Support,
  • Adaptive Front-lighting System,
  • Lane Keep Assist,
  • Lane Departure Warning,
  • High Beam Control,
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking and other.

CX-9 uses 2.5-liter turbocharged engine developing 227hp (with 87 octane fuel). Invest a bit more in premium fuel and you’ll get 250hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. It is that easy.

Volkswagen Atlas

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Cargo capacity: 96.8 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: seven passengers
EPA Fuel economy (city/highway): 22/26
Crash test rating: Top Safety Pick
AWD option: 4MOTION with Active Control
Starting Price: $30,750

With the latest Atlas, Volkswagen entered the group of fantastic family SUVs. It is large, seats seven, practical, has a lot of tech onboard (including digital instrument cluster and a lot of USB ports) and it does not look half bad. However, I am not sure I can call it the best family SUV. You should decide on that.

What I can tell you is that the Volkswagen Atlas can tow up to 5,000 lbs, it is offered with a small two-liter turbocharged motor with 235hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and 3.6-liter V6 with 276hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. Both linked with fine 4Motion AWD system via eight-speed automatic Tiptronic.

Sport mode? Yes (but I guess it is just a gimmick).

4Motion with different settings? Yes (Active Control lets you choose between four different modes).

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Interior


  • Front Assist,
  • Blind Spot Monitoring,
  • Rear Traffic Alert,
  • Lane Assist,
  • Park Assist,
  • Adaptive Cruise Control,
  • Park Pilot,
  • Area View,
  • Light Assist and more.

Mitsubishi Outlander

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander

Cargo capacity:  63.3 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: standard seven seat
EPA Fuel economy (city/highway): 25/30
Crash test rating: Top Safety Pick
AWD option: available All-Wheel Control
Starting Price: $23,945

As one of the least expensive entries on the list, the Mitsubishi Outlander still tends to be a quite capable family SUV. Sure, it is one of the “oldest” cars on the list. After all, it is based on the machine that entered production more than five years ago. Regardless, a massive facelift in 2015 did give us new looks, new equipment, more refined ride, better suspension setup and a plug-in hybrid option.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Interior

Nevertheless, Mitsubishi offers five different trim options – ES, SE, LE, SEL, and GT. The GT offers three-liter V6 (224hp/215 lb-ft) with AWC as standard. 2.4-liter motor (166hp/162 lb-ft) is a standard one with all other trim options.

Despite being based on an old platform; the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander takes modern tech seriously. One can equip it with almost any modern gizmo. And it is safe. Like “Top Safety Pick” safe.

Kia Sorento

2018 Kia Sorento

Cargo capacity: 73.5 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: seven seats available
EPA Fuel economy (city/highway): 21/28
Crash test rating: Top Safety Pick
AWD option: available Dynamax™ All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) system
Starting Price: $25,900

Kia tends to offer a tad more compared to Hyundai. They are (successfully) step in between the conventionality and upper car segments. While the Kia Stinger shows the “upper” in spades, the 2018 Kia Sorento most certainly does something similar in the family SUV arena.

It is available with seven seats, AWD, all imaginable modern digital gear and it earned Top Safety Pick mark at IIHS. However, it seems the car can be had in two different forms – sort of a Frankenstein moment in Kia world really.

2018 Kia Sorento Interior

The least expensive one takes the show with cheap 2.4-liter petrol unit and 185hp. In its L trim, it is not even available with the AWD system. However, that “upper segment” I talked about starts with the new 240hp two-liter turbocharged engine and ends with a fine 290hp 3.3-liter V6. In its top spec trim SX Limited Kia Sorento starts at $44,500. Seriously close to premium.

Considering all the premium high-end equipment, exceptional safety marks and the power of its highest-powered engine, it seems the Kia Sorento can pull off the price. In short, you can have it in standard affordable family SUV guise, or as a higher-grade machine. No, I cannot use word premium for it yet.

Hyundai Santa Fe

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe

Cargo capacity: 80 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: Standard
EPA Fuel economy (city/highway): 17/21
Crash test rating: Top Safety Pick +
AWD option: Yes
Starting Price: $29,350

Two versions available – five-seat Santa Fe Sport and seven-seat Santa Fe. Of course, for the Best Family SUVs list, I picked a long-wheelbase Santa Fe with seven seats. It is 8 grand more expensive in its entry trim compared to the five-seater, but it offers far more. Seven seater takes that Sorento 3.3-liter V6 with 290hp. It is the only motor available for the Santa Fe LWB.

Hyundai offers the car in three trim levels – SE, SE Ultimate, and Limited Ultimate. All three versions available with FWD or AWD drivetrain and with a towing capacity of 5,000 lbs.

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Interior

Hyundai Santa Fe earned Top Safety Pick + mark thanks to a generous list of safety equipment which does include all modern gizmos you can imagine. Some of it includes (many of these only optionally):

  • Blind Spot Detection,
  • Rear Cross-traffic Alert,
  • Lane change assist,
  • Smart Cruise Control,
  • Lane Departure Warning,
  • Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and much more.

Toyota Sequoia

2018 Toyota Sequoia

Cargo capacity: 120.1 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: Yes
EPA Fuel economy (city/highway): 13/17
Crash test rating: Not tested by IIHS
AWD option: Optional
Starting Price: $48,400

This is a massive SUV with long-time ties with families of, of course, well-heeled individuals who can afford to buy and drive it. Redesigned for the 2018 model year, the Toyota Sequoia continues with a massive V8. In this case 5.7-liter i-Force with 381hp and 401 lb.-ft. of torque. Sequoia is the only family SUV on the Best Family SUVs list that still rolls body on frame architecture thus giving the driver a bit more freedom to tackle serious off-road courses. The latest iteration of the Sequoia took luxury a bit more seriously than before. Complementing fantastic infotainment system with standard 8-speaker Entune Audio Plus in SR5 trim is a “long roster of standard amenities including front and rear sonar parking assist; tilt/telescoping steering wheel with integrated audio and Bluetooth hands-free phone controls; engine immobilizer with alarm; tri-zone automatic climate control with separate rear-seat controls; power tilt/slide moonroof; towing package; 8-way power driver’s seat; fog lamps; roof rack; running boards and more.”

2018 Toyota Sequoia Interior

Sequoia is available with four different trims – SR5, TRD Sport, Limited, and Platinum. Apart from leather everywhere, Platinum includes rear load-leveling air suspension, a power seat memory package and second-row heated seats. One can choose RWD or AWD models. Seven seats are standard, and Toyota highlighted that third row is human-sized.

Land Rover Discovery

2018 Land Rover Discovery

Cargo capacity: 77 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: Yes
EPA Fuel economy (combined): 18 mpg
Crash test rating: No information at IIHS
AWD: Standard
Starting Price: $52,090

Latest Land Rover Discovery isn’t that of a hardcore off-road monster it once was. Brits made it a bit plusher, much nicer on the inside and rather luxurious. Now, it is the type of a car that will grant your kids access to the Internet, all kinds of multimedia stuff and spoil them (parents as well) with all the luxury amenities imaginable. As the first discovery with unibody chassis and aluminum panels and architecture, the latest lost 1,000 lbs of weight compared with the previous model.

2018 Land Rover Discovery Interior

This dramatically improved comfort and refinement. Nevertheless, seven seats are inside, all of them in leather and looking quite awesome. It is a luxury SUV really. Do not think for a minute that all the nice stuff made the Discovery soft. It can wade through deeper water than before and it can tow a lot – 8,201 lbs.

Storage spaces inside are plentiful as well as convenient options – such as gesture powered tailgate and multitude of safety equipment. Land Rover offers Discovery with a three-liter diesel engine (254hp/443 lb-ft) or petrol engine (340hp/332 lb-ft).

GMC Acadia

2018 GMC Acadia

Cargo capacity: 79 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: Optional
EPA Fuel economy (city/highway): 21/26
Crash test rating: Top Safety Pick
AWD: Optional
Starting Price: $29,000

Measuring just under 194 inches in length, GMC Acadia is a representative of mid-size SUV family. It was considerably shortened and dramatically lightened for its latest iteration thus sporting shorter wheelbase compared with the Traverse with whom it shares the platform.

2018 GMC Acadia Interior

Nevertheless, the car can comfortably seat up to seven passengers (previously it could accept eight). Nevertheless, being more in line with SUV offerings of today is far more important than having an inch or two more in length. The 2018 GMC Acadia can be quite a luxurious SUV. In its top Acadia Denali trim, the SUV sports 3.6 liter V6 with 310hp and all the imaginable equipment GMC has to offer. Entry level motor, however, is a 2.5-liter with 193hp. Interestingly enough, all the trim levels are available with two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive options.

Yes, one more piece of important information – tow rating at 4,000 lbs. It has excellent cargo room, fantastic passenger space, and it can tow a lot. Is this the king of midsize SUVs?

Ford Edge

2018 Ford Edge

Cargo capacity: 73.4 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: No
EPA Fuel economy: 21/29
Crash test rating: Top Safety Pick
AWD: Optional
Starting Price: $29,220

Not as big as most of the other family SUVs on the list, but worth mentioning nevertheless. The Ford Edge is a mid-size SUV offering seating for five. Although that is less compared with almost all other entries on the list, the fact is that Ford tried to offer an SUV with sporty character. No wonder that they revealed a 335hp Ford Edge ST version only weeks ago. Do not let the size of the Edge trick you. See, Ford rigged it with a multitude of advanced technologies making it, more or less, in line with any other higher-grade model in this price range.

Adaptive Steering? Check! Cross-Traffic Alert? Check! Front camera? Check! Lane Keeping assistant? Check! Active Park Assist? Check! Adaptive Cruise Control? Check!

See, this car can handle modern-world challenges without any issues.

2018 Ford Edge Interior

As noted before, apart from the trim levels SE, SEL, Titanium, and Sport, Ford offers an ST version as well (all with the sporty good looking bits on the outside).

Ford offer three engine options – two-liter EcoBoost (245hp/275 lb-ft), 2.7-liter EcoBoost (315hp/350 lb-ft) and 3.5-liter Ti-VCT (280hp/250lb-ft).

Acura MDX

2018 Acura MDX

Cargo capacity: 90 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: Standard
EPA Fuel economy (combined): 27 mpg
Crash test rating: Top Safety Pick
AWD: Yes
Starting Price: $44,200

With the new Acura MDX, Honda luxury car division embarked on a path of giving us machines with updated drivetrains, more luxury on the inside and far more practicality. In that regard, this may be the most luxurious car on the list. However, apart from seven-seat layout, standard 3.5-liter V6, and all the advanced infotainment gear, the latest Acura MDX features awesome hybrid drive. Based around three-liter V6 and two additional electric motors, the Acura MDX has an awesome fuel efficiency of 27 mpg combined. This only makes it one of the most efficient machines on the list. With 321hp, the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD isn’t slow either.

2018 Acura MDX Interior

As for luxury, note this:

  • Wood inside,
  • Leather seats,
  • Power Moonroof,
  • Tri-Zone Climate Control,
  • Heated Steering wheel and much more.

Toyota Highlander

2018 Toyota Highlander

Cargo capacity: 83.7 cu. ft.
Seven-seat option: Yes
EPA Fuel economy (city/highway): 20/27
Crash test rating: Top Safety Pick
AWD option: Available
Starting Price: $31,030

Back in 2013 when Toyota revealed the third generation Highlander, they praised, now an obviously a mid-sized family SUV, with the plush interior loaded up with soft-touch materials, advanced tech and a lot of safety stuff. Back then, Highlander safety features included:

  • lane-departure warning,
  • pre-collision warning,
  • and blind spot monitoring systems.

New version revealed in 2016 additionally build up on that. Again, better tech inside, better safety features and fantastic infotainment system which does include eight-inch touchscreen system and Toyota’s Entune app suite with 12 JBL speakers.

2018 Toyota Highlander Interior

However, Toyota focused on improving efficiency. Thus, the 3.5-liter V6 was improved to 290hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. This is practically better than the entry-level car with a 185hp 2.7-liter with 20 mpg city/24 mpg highway.

Bonus List Of Luxury SUVs For Families!

I had to add a bonus list of five premium family SUVs. Enjoy this one as well. No standard cargo capacity and seven-seat option stuff here. After all, if you have enough money and a bit of spirit, you care about being a kid.

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid eAWD Momentum

0-60mph: 5.3 seconds
Price: $64,950

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid eAWD Momentum

I thought for about two minutes if I should list Volvo on the list and I said decided I will. You know why? Because they are trying really, really hard to offer adequate alternatives to the heavyweights from Germany and Japan. The latest Volvo XC90 in T8 guise looks like a futuristic machine and it is fast thanks to 400hp hybrid setup.

Audi Q7

0-60mph: 5.7 seconds
Price: $65,400

2018 Audi Q7

Some did call it the best new SUV on the market. It does look sleek, it is less ostentatious compared with the old one and it features the best Volkswagen Group technology. And yes, it is available with seven seats.

As a premium SUV, the new Audi Q7 comes with an option with the modern two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and exceptional three-liter turbocharged V6 with 333hp. I think you know which one you should go for. Let me just tickle your mind a bit – the Europeans have a V8 diesel with 435 hp and a 0-62 time in 4.8 seconds.

Mercedes-AMG GLS63

0-60mph: 4.5 seconds
Price: $125,300

2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63

As the biggest Mercedes SUV, the GLS comes in a number of different iterations, however, for this Bonus list of the best family SUVs I picked the most expensive AMG version. 5.5-liter V8 and 577hp. Great for a family SUV. Especially with all other AMG go-faster bits.

Lincoln Navigator

0-60mph: 5.3 seconds
Price: $72,055

2018 Lincoln Navigator

The famous nameplate is kicking up hard today. The Navigator still is rather hot especially with all the latest tech available. As for the engine, you are looking here at 3.5-liter 450hp six cylinders! Care to guess which one?

Cadillac Escalade

Price: $74,695

2018 Cadillac Escalade

We simply had to have the Escalade here. Cadillac Escalade may be GMs golden boy and a type of car you’d expect your local drug dealer to buy in ten years’ time. However, this is a fine SUV. In its latest iteration with a 420hp 6.2-liter V8.

If you’re looking for a new car but want to invest on something more current, check out this list of the best 2020 SUVs for more up to date information!