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Best new cars for summer family road trips

March 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Many people are making plans for summer vacation and some are planning family road trips but which vehicles are the best when hitting the road?

For a number of years, there's been a five passenger SUV from Hyundai called the Santa Fe. This year, the vehicle has been redesigned and is now called the Santa Fe Sport.

But there's also a new larger three-row 2013 Hyundai SUV called the Santa Fe ($28,350 base price). It's a bit confusing but Hyundai doesn't think so.

"The reason we chose this methodology was to make it less confusing so customers know Santa Fe means crossover," Hyundai spokesman Mike O'Brien said.

And now it also means is different sizes under one well-known model name.

Three-row, mid-size crossover SUV's are what lots of families see as a perfect choice for carrying people and things in something that's not too big on the outside.

There are lots of good choices in the category including the 2013 Mazda's CX-9 ($29,785 base price). The basic design has been around for a long time, but Mazda gave it a bit of a visual makeover this year. New styling touches have been added inside and outside to keep it competitive in the segment.

And Kia has completely redesigned its Sorento, even though the design looks almost identical to the previous one. The 2014 Kia Sorento ($24,900 base price) offers an option for three rows of seating and new technology.

But be careful in assuming all three-row vehicles are created equal. The rear-most seat in the Sorento is pretty small and doesn't leave much luggage space behind it. It's best to bring the family for a test-fit.

For a lot of families, these mid-size three-row crossover SUV's really hit the sweet spot with just enough seating and cargo flexibility to work in a lot of situations. But for households that are just a bit smaller, another popular choice has been redesigned this year.

The 2014 Subaru Forester ($21,995 base price) is one of the brand's most enduring models. The vehicle has always had the basics covered but now goes a little further. It offers a new transmission for better fuel economy, an optional turbo engine for lots of power, and for the first time the option of a power liftgate.

For some, two rows of seats are enough but families that find they need more room do gravitate toward the ones with three rows.

Hyundai says that's okay with them. They've got their bases covered either way.

"Now we have a product lineup that covers all three vital life stages: pre-family, core family and post family," O'Brien said.

The term core family referring to parents who would appreciate the all the vehicle's seats.


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