(LOS ANGELES, March 20, 2007) — Nine new vehicles have been added to the AAA and Parents magazine Best Cars for Families list for 2007. The 15-vehicle list, now in its fifth year, appears with detailed reviews of each model in the April issue of Parents magazine which hits newsstands today. Three of the "best" cars are also among the most researched by Automobile Club of Southern California members on its web site, www.AAA.com.
By combining the 50-million-member AAA's auto-safety expertise with Parents' understanding of what families want and need, the team of reviewers created a list of sedans, economy cars, vans, SUVs, and crossovers perfect for everything from shuttling the kids to doctors' visits and soccer practice, to weekend getaways and longer road trips.
"Safety, convenience, and lasting value are especially important to parents shopping for a family vehicle," said Dave Cavano, manager of the Auto Club's Car Buying Service. "The vehicles on this year's list provide the whole package — comfort, practicality and performance with options for every family size. The top three vehicles researched online for possible purchase by Auto Club members include the 2007 Toyota Camry, Honda CRV, and Honda Civic, which are also on the Best Cars for Families list for this year."
"We put the vehicles through real-life road tests that include everything from running errands to carpooling, to taking a family vacation," said Sally Lee, Parents editor-in-chief. "With many parents and children spending several hours per week in the car, it's important that it's a safe, happy place for everyone in it."
AAA and Parents test drove hundreds of vehicles, considering everything from air bags and fuel economy to cup holders and cargo space. The reviewers also installed a variety of child safety seats into every car, making sure it can be done easily and securely. Of those vehicles that have been tested, the AAA/Parents picks are among the top performers in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The AAA/Parents 2007 Best Cars for Families are listed below, along with a brief description of why the reviewers chose the vehicle. More complete reviews are available in the April issue of Parents. An asterisk denotes a vehicle's first time on the list.
Honda Accord — This sedan does virtually everything right. An incredibly smooth ride ensures that when your kids conk out, they won't be disturbed. The simple dashboard design lets drivers adjust controls quickly which helps keep their eyes on the road.
Mercury Milan* — This upscale cousin to the Ford Fusion has a quiet steady feel on the road and an impressive package of standard safety and convenience features: antilock brakes, side-curtain air bags, reading lights and cubbyholes for the kids' stuff.
Toyota Camry — Kids will appreciate the spacious back seat, which has a fold-down center armrest to defuse turf wars. Standard features include advanced frontal, side-impact and side-curtain air bags, as well as a driver's knee air bag.
Dodge Caliber* — The kid-friendly options include stain-resistant upholstery and a refrigerated beverage holder that works nicely for formula. Definitely opt for side-impact air bags.
Ford Edge* — The Edge has the rugged feel of an SUV but its cushiony seats and responsive ride make it seem more like a sedan. The sizeable cargo area fits all the soccer gear in your kid's carpool.
Toyota RAV4* — This crossover is quick and nimble like a sedan, yet it's roomier than you'd expect. And the RAV4's standard safety package includes side-curtain air bags and stability control.
Chevy Tahoe* — The supersize Tahoe has room to spare, even if you add the third row of seats. This SUV is maneuverable for its size, and on the highway it's as quiet as a nursery during naptime.
Honda CR-V* — Honda has managed to make this redesigned SUV even better. The rear seats recline which makes it easier for older kids to nap. The CR-V's crisp handling and super-smooth ride remind you where the engineers focused their attention.
Hyundai Santa Fe* — The Santa Fe is packed with safety technology to protect your little ones, but the modest price tag leaves something for their college funds. Nice surprises include second-row A/C vents.
Honda Odyssey — Driving is almost effortless with this minivan. You can outfit the second row with posh captain's chairs or choose three seats. The third-row seat folds flat into the floor and on some trim lines the second row does, too.
Hyundai Entourage* — Three-row, side-curtain air bags, stability control, and antilock brakes are all standard, as are the Entourage's three-zone climate control system and power windows in the sliding doors. Load up on options and you'll still pay less than $30,000.
Toyota Sienna — Load the Sienna with eight passengers and there's still room for groceries, baby gear, and lots more. The second-row seats slide forward for quick access to the back row, and three-row, side-curtain airbags are standard.
Honda Civic — It's the small things that earn this sedan big points, like a compact emergency brake that creates more space up front, rear heat ducts, and scuff-resistant material behind the front seats — where the little ones' feet love to rest.
Mazda 3 — The 3 is simply too much fun to be so practical. The ride screams sports car, yet the big, stable tires and quiet cabin make day trips pleasant too. The hatchback version provides extra storage space for strollers and suitcases.
Volkswagen Rabbit* — Modern features include advanced frontal, side-impact, and side-curtain air bags standard, along with antilock brakes and stability control. The audio system has a jack for MP3 players and the handy hatchback makes for simpler loading.
Child passenger safety tips from AAA's award-winning Seated, Safe & Secure initiative can be found at www.aaa.com/publicaffairs and at www.Parents.com/magazine. For car care information, auto buying tips and more, visit www.AAA.com.
Parents, published monthly by Meredith Corporation, has been America's #1 family magazine for more than 75 years. Since its inception in 1926, it has been a trusted source by every generation of parents. Currently the magazine is a powerful community of 15.6 million readers devoted to supporting the efforts of parents, educators and other citizens who strive to make the world a better place for our children. Parents can be found online at www.parents.com.
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The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest member of the AAA federation of motor clubs, has served members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit by the organization's roadside service, insurance services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and car buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services, and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's Web site at www.AAA.com.