Best Family Car of 2023

By Editors

February 7, 2023

What’s eligible: Any 2023 model vehicle regardless of when it was introduced or last updated providing we’ve evaluated it since major changes.

Criteria: Along with crash tests, safety features and accommodation of family members and their gear, we consider family-friendly features, car-seat fitment and overall excellence.

Winner: 2023 Kia Carnival

  • Price range: $34,465-$47,565 (all prices include destination charge)
  • Estimated combined fuel economy range: 22 mpg
  • Number of seats: Seven or eight

Parents usually have a few tricks up their sleeves when it comes to carting kids around, and the 2023 Kia Carnival adds a few more much-needed comfort and convenience goodies that make parenting less of a chore. The minivan stands out for its combination of competent road manners, ample safety features and focus on value. Debuting for model-year 2022 as the redesigned version of Kia’s outgoing Sedona minivan, the sole powertrain is a 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission; it’s a punchy and responsive powertrain, even when loaded with people and stuff. For 2023, it returns with a few changes, including more standard and optional tech and safety features for the mid-level SX trim.

Inside, the Carnival’s clever features won over parents on our Editorial team. The Slide-Flex seating system makes the second row’s middle seat more flexible, allowing it to slide forward so the front passenger can more easily access a child riding in the middle seat. There’s also a rear-passenger-view camera that allows first-row occupants to keep an eye on the kids in the back through an in-cabin camera system. Also, an available dual-screen entertainment system features wireless screen mirroring for Apple and Android devices.

And while it sounds like the Carnival is all about fun and games, it doesn’t joke around when it comes to safety, value and cargo room.

The 2022 Carnival has excellent crashworthiness scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and high grades in our Car Seat Check thanks to easy-access Latch anchors and ample legroom; we don’t expect the changes for 2023 to impact these scores. In our own cargo testing, we measured more room in the Carnival than competing minivans and three-row SUVs.

And even in such a family-friendly segment, the Carnival’s range of standard active-safety features is impressive, offering extras other minivans don’t. One favorite is the available blind spot monitor that displays a view of the adjacent lane in the driver’s instrument panel once the turn signal is engaged. Another is the rear-seat alert system that detects movement in the second and third rows after the doors have been locked; if movement is detected, the system sounds the horn and illuminates the hazard lamps.

Lastly, the Carnival is a deal, costing less than competitors, but coming with more features. The van’s blend of utility, features and value helped it earn our Best Family Car of 2023 award.

Shop the 2023 Kia Carnival near you

2023 Kia Carnival LX Seat Package
8,865 mi.
2023 Kia Carnival LX
16,943 mi.

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kia telluride x pro 2023 02 exterior front angle scaled jpg 2023 Kia Telluride | photo by Aaron Bragman

2023 Kia Telluride: Finalist

  • Price range: $37,255-$54,350
  • Estimated combined fuel economy range: 21-23 mpg
  • Number of seats: Seven or eight

Family cars are usually boring, right? Not this one. The 2023 Kia Telluride is anything but, and our roster of editor-parents found a lot to like with it. The family-hauling SUV pleases people big and small by delivering ample occupant space, competitive cargo room, a laundry list of kid-approved creature comforts and parent-approved road manners.

Launched for the 2020 model year, the Telluride is available with seven or eight seats across three rows. Updates during the last couple of model years include a fresh face and new off-road-oriented X-Line and X-Pro variants for 2023 that have kept it competitive in a growing class of family-focused three-row SUVs. The sole powertrain is a 291-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 and an eight-speed automatic transmission that work well together with front- or all-wheel drive. The Telluride is stable and composed for long-trip-comfortable road manners, and its 5,500-pound maximum towing capacity should also come in handy if that trip involves pulling extra toys.

From ample cargo room and plenty of passenger comfort to easy car-seat fitment and a focus on family-friendly features, the 2023 Telluride brings it all home — and it does so with an eye on value. All of this impressed’s Editorial staff, earning it a nomination for Best Family Car of 2023.

Shop the 2023 Kia Telluride near you

2023 Kia Telluride SX Prestige X-Pro
9,390 mi.
$48,600 $888 price drop
2023 Kia Telluride LX
15,152 mi.

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subaru outback 2023 001 exterior front angle suv white jpg 2023 Subaru Outback | Manufacturer photo

2023 Subaru Outback: Finalist

  • Price range: $29,620-$43,520
  • Estimated combined fuel economy range: 23-28 mpg
  • Number of seats: Five

For families with a bit of a wild side, the 2023 Subaru Outback is a companion for life’s adventures with enough room for a smaller family, as well as a unique blend of impressive off-roadability, comfortable on-road ability and top safety ratings.

Model-year 2023 brings a light styling update, upgraded multimedia and more features to Subaru’s already-impressive EyeSight safety system. EyeSight’s performance — along with crashworthiness ratings — give it top safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It again comes with a choice of two engines: a standard 182-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a 260-hp, turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder that pair with standard all-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission. Both engines are refined and capable, with the turbo adding a little extra grunt. There’s also the off-road-oriented Wilderness trim that shines when you leave the pavement.

The Outback’s huge vertically oriented touchscreen for multimedia and controls has been updated. It’s a highlight of the cabin for 2023 with its responsive screen and straightforward, customizable menus that now include commonly used features like heated seats easily accessible from the home screen. In the roomy backseat, the Outback has plenty of space for two car seats, and even adults will be comfortable. Behind the seats, the ample cargo area makes room for all the gear an adventure requires — even the messy stuff (shout out to the Outback’s available all-weather floormats).

For families prone to wandering off the beaten path, the Outback delivers, making it a finalist for our Best Family Car of 2023 award.

Shop the 2023 Subaru Outback near you

2023 Subaru Outback Touring
12,951 mi.
2023 Subaru Outback
10,552 mi.
$28,998 $1,000 price drop

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