15 Best Family Cars of 2015

There is no shortage of 3-row crossover SUVs yearning to be the transportation of choice for today's busy families, but the 2015 Toyota Highlander rises above the rest in its segment. In this family hauler, it's the little things that add up to make it a winner.

Right Size, Convenient Layout

To begin with, there's the Highlander's size. Not too big, not too small, this midsize Toyota SUV has a Goldilocks feel that makes it easy to maneuver in tight spots yet spacious enough inside to offer comfortable seating for up to eight. For families who can get by with seating for seven, a pair of comfortable captain's chairs can be had in the second row in lieu of the standard 3-passenger bench. That particular setup is so nice that it may just be incentive for getting the kids out the door sooner.

Whichever seating configuration you choose, it's easy for the driver to see what's taking place in back thanks to the Highlander's "conversation mirror." Tucked beneath the rearview mirror, this smaller one pops out to give Mom or Dad a discreet way to see what the kids are up to.

The Highlander also gets high marks for its utility and storage capacity, and again it's the details that count. Up front is an in-dash shelf that is the perfect spot for keys, cellphone and any other small items that tend to wander. The oversize center console, meanwhile, can happily swallow larger items like a purse. For items larger and longer than that -- say lumber from the home-improvement store or a surfboard -- the rear seats fold in numerous ways to accommodate, while the flip-up hatch window is convenient for throwing stuff in back without having to open the entire tailgate section.

A Good Driver, Too

On the road we found the Highlander relatively quiet, as noted in our full review of the 2015 Highlander, where we also recommend the smooth and strong V6 engine over the 4-cylinder that's reserved for base models. For families seeking higher efficiency, the Highlander Hybrid offers fuel economy of up to 28 mpg and the most power to boot.

Add in stylish looks, high resale value and a history of reliability, and it's easy to see why the Toyota Highlander is such a recommendable family car.

More Midsize SUVs

Build and price your own 2015 Toyota Highlander, read our full review or check out our Midsize SUV Buyer's Guide for a quick overview of all your options in this popular segment for families.

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