If safe, roomy and affordable are the characteristics that qualify a vehicle as a family car, then the American family has never had so many choices. While a sea of options is ultimately a good thing, it can also make it more difficult for families to pick a winner. To help ease the pain, every year we put together a list of the Top 10 Family Vehicles, evaluating an ever-lengthening list of eligible vehicles on such factors as resale value, fuel efficiency, capability and kid-friendliness. This year's list features vehicles in a range of sizes and prices, offering something for a wide variety of families -- everything from an SUV that can comfortably accommodate nine passengers to a compact, fuel-efficient wagon capable of taking the road less traveled. Here they are, listed in order of overall passenger/cargo roominess.
2010 Chevy Suburban
Even when carrying nine passengers, the Chevy Suburban still offers a cavernous 45.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. Still not enough? Hook up a trailer and the Suburban can tow up to 9,600 pounds. Beyond sheer size and strength, the Suburban delivers a comfortable ride and plenty of occupant-coddling niceties.
2010 Honda Odyssey
We've always thought an Acura badge would look right at home on the sharply styled, thoroughly refined Honda Odyssey. The most premium-like minivan on the market was also our editors' top pick in a recent segment comparison test, thanks to its ability to package versatility and amenities in a vehicle that is both comfortable and involving to drive.
2010 Chevy Traverse
Boasting more cargo volume than even its Chevy Tahoe stablemate, the Traverse is the biggest crossover on the road -- yet it beats the fuel economy of many smaller three-row vehicles. We like both of the Traverse's siblings -- the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia -- but the Chevrolet's lower starting price makes it our choice for families.
2010 Ford Flex
If we had to pick an overall winner from our Top 10 Family Cars list, the 2010 Ford Flex might get the nod. It drives better than some mid-size sedans, offers comfortable seating for seven and boasts a long list of available interior amenities including an array of infotainment features and even a small refrigerator. Opt for the 355-horsepower twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine and you've got a full-featured family hot rod.
2010 Subaru Outback
The Subaru Outback is a sport wagon with a crossover complex, combining some of the best elements of both. And the all-new 2010 Outback is the longest, widest, most family-friendly yet. Combined with 8.7 inches of ground clearance and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, this rugged wagon can make it to grandma's house in even the toughest conditions.
2010 Chevy Equinox
In the highly populated crossover category, the Chevy Equinox stands out from the crowd as a vehicle that competently embodies function and form. In addition to an upscale interior and bold exterior styling, the Equinox is also able to achieve a class-leading 32 mpg on the highway (in four-cylinder form).
2010 Honda Accord Crosstour
The 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour is everything we like about the Accord Sedan and more. It shares the same V6 engine, passenger room and overall styling with its sedan counterpart, but boasts almost twice the cargo capacity -- a big win for families -- thanks to its hatchback shape.
2010 Ford Taurus
What was once merely a competent full-size sedan has transformed into a visually striking technological tour de force. With features uncommon in its segment, a roomy cabin, cavernous trunk, and nimbleness that belies its size, the redesigned 2010 Ford Taurus is a family car that pleases everyone, including the driver.
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
The Ford Fusion Hybrid isn't just the most fuel-efficient mid-size sedan on the road, it's one of the best. Rated to return up to 41 mpg on the highway, the Fusion Hybrid will not only save you money at the pump on the next family trip, it will also keep everyone entertained with the latest SYNC voice-activated iPod and phone technology.
2010 Hyundai Elantra
Touring Sporting a roomy and flexible cargo area, a slew of safety features, an outstanding warranty and a low starting price, one could make a case for the 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring as the most family-friendly small car out there. It's also easy on gas and not afraid to have a little fun.