Best Cars For Twins … and Beyond
Don’t just think minivans and SUVs. Sedans and wagons are spacious and easier to park. Important stuff when you’re looking for the best cars for twins.
By Liz Kim
Twins! Twice the fun! Double the excitement! Multiples of…stuff. With the prospect of carrying around two car seats (at least), a double-wide stroller, pallets of diapers and handy wipes, and frequent trips to big box stores, that sporty and youthful but utterly impractical coupe you’ve been driving just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
Let’s declare right up front that the best vehicles to carry lots of people and gear are minivans. With their efficient packaging and ingenious solutions, they’re the go-to solutions for families. Of the multitudes of minivans on the market, the Honda Odyssey is our favorite, with its flexibility, comfort, quality and relatively engaging driving dynamics.
Full-size SUVs, such as the Ford Expedition, work well too, but they typically get meager gas mileage and aren’t nearly as easy to drive and maneuver as minivans.
However, as practical as these types of vehicles may be when you’re looking for the best cars for twins, many consumers may shy away from minivans or SUVs, whether they dislike the image they project (Psst – you’re a parent. Get over it.) or because they want something less bulky to squeeze into tight parking spaces.
So we compiled a list of some of our favorite crossovers and sedans that may not be the obvious choice for families, but will work diligently to get your most precious cargo and their belongings to and fro. These models, which all start at less than $35,000 and are listed in alphabetical order, are bigger inside than you’d think, and because protecting your loved ones the best way possible in the event of a collision is now a chief consideration, all are Top Safety Picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for the 2011 model year.
When you’re shopping for a vehicle, it’s a good idea to take your anticipated gear and test out the ease with which you can load and unload them. Find out if the car seats, especially the rear-facing ones, fit well when the front seats are in a comfortable position for the tallest driver. Determine whether it’s easy to stuff a stroller into and out of the trunk. And above all, make sure it can accommodate a trip to Costco.
You might think that this Chevy is just another crossover SUV, but one look at its cargo carrying capability will prove your dismissive leanings misplaced.
Technically an eight-passenger vehicle, the Traverse has a third-row seat that isn’t necessarily comfortable enough for daily use but does come in handy when visitors are in town. Better to keep it folded flat and enjoy access to the Traverse’s impressive 68.8 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats — that’s more than the Chevy Equinox when its second-row seats are folded. The Traverse’s maximum cargo capacity is a cavernous 116.4 cubic-feet, more than the Chevy Tahoe.
Admittedly, the Traverse is longer than the V8-powered Chevy Tahoe, but it sits lower to the ground for easier entry and exit, and its 281-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 quaffs less gas. We’re also impressed that the Traverse receives an overall 5-Star crash-worthiness rating from the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in addition to its Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS.
The Chevrolet Traverse also has some cool technology features, such as an iPhone and Android app that lets you unlock and start the SUV remotely or check major functions of your Traverse from your smartphone. Because you will have those crazy days when you need a little remote help.
Pop the decklid release of this family sedan’s keyless entry fob and behold the ballroom known as the trunk of the Ford Taurus. Offering 20.1 cubic-feet of space, it’s among the most generous of any sedan, and it’s deep enough to hold a full-size stroller lengthwise. You’ll also be impressed by the amount of space in the rear seat, which is enough to keep two cranky toddlers from incessantly poking each other.
In addition to the sheer amount of space, what we love about this full-size sedan are its available features, which include massaging, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and a power rear sunshade for protecting baby’s eyes.
We also appreciate the Taurus’ comprehensive and sophisticated safety systems, including a very helpful blind spot assistance system and a cross-traffic alert system that chimes when it senses an oncoming object as you’re pulling out of a parking space. The Taurus can also be equipped with adaptive cruise control and a collision warning system. And families with older children will be interested in the MyKey system, which allows parents to limit stereo volume and vehicle speed so that inexperienced teens don’t make as many dangerous choices.
The Taurus comes standard with a strong 263-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 that gets 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the open road. But speed demons will not want to ignore the Taurus SHO (yes, this SHO is indeed a descendant of Conan O’Brien’s car and, yes, SHO stands for Super High Output). The all-wheel-drive SHO is equipped with a twin-turbocharged V6 making 365 horsepower. All this added thrust produces only a slight penalty at the pumps, the SHO returning 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway. Every carpool is better when accompanied by the whoosh of turbocharged ponies galloping down the expressway.