It shouldn't surprise anybody that the Ford Explorer, a nameplate that revolutionized family transportation, keeps earning plaudits year after year. When it first debuted for the 1991 model year the public was hungry for a family car that wasn't a minivan or a wagon. The modern SUV was born, and today the Ford Explorer has modernized that vision with prices for any budget, and the lowest cost to own in its class.
The 2014 Ford Explorer no longer offers the off-road capability it once did, but it trades that for the carlike driving experience that buyers demand. With three engine choices, ranging from a turbocharged four-cylinder that offers up 28 mpg highway to a 365-hp twin-turbocharged V6, the 2014 Ford Explorer also comes with all the family friendly features today's buyers demand.
Capable of seating up to seven, the Explorer still offers exceptional cargo space even with all of its seats occupied, thanks to a deep cargo well. There are gadgets galore, including an available rear-seat entertainment system, and available MyFord Touch with Sync, which offers up colorful displays on the dash and center console for everything from climate control, to navigation, to radio controls.
The Explorer is bigger than many of its rivals, and thus is more cumbersome in the ever tightening parking lots of American suburbia. However, the Explorer's backup camera and huge side mirrors help, and on the road the Explorer's available blind spot and lane departure warnings make navigating traffic a snap. So not only is the Explorer's packaging flexible enough for today's modern family, its low cost of ownership means its owners have more flexibility with their personal finances.
With the Ford Explorer taking the top spot, it's no surprise that its fashion-forward cousin, the Ford Flex, would be on the list as well.
The biggest advantage the Chevrolet Traverse has is its 8-passenger capacity. That extra seat is pure gold when you need it.