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    Best Cars for Families With School-Age Kids

    These are the cars and SUVs that can keep your children happy

    back to school GettyImages-606728050

    Parents who shuttle their kids to and from school need a vehicle that's up to the task. To help them, we've created a list of cars and SUVs using our School-Age Score, which addresses some key areas of parental concern.

    First, we started with models that CR recommends, meaning that they did well in our road tests, have key safety features, scored well in our exclusive member surveys of reliability and satisfaction, and scored well in crash tests (if they were done).

    Next, our experts considered access an important factor in deciding what car to drive. For this category, we specifically screened for vehicles with rear seats that were easy to get into.

    Another consideration: As older kids go without a booster seat, it can be harder for them to see out the rear windows. To give them a better view of the outside world, we looked for cars with low beltlines—the point where the car’s body ends and the windows begin.

    Kids, Cars, and School

    Three-row vehicles can also be a big help if you have kids, because play dates and carpooling are common. And cargo capacity is more important than ever for runs to the big-box store or hauling bicycles and musical instruments.

    “Travel can be a chore for the little ones,” says Emily Thomas, Ph.D., an automotive safety engineer who conducts rear seat safety evaluations of CR’s test vehicles. “The best cars for families balance safety and comfort for the kids with convenience and functionality for the parents. That can make the difference between happy campers and sour experiences for everyone involved.”

    Below are options for cars, two-row SUVs, and three-row SUVs that meet our criteria well. For each, we've created a School-Age Score and listed an Overall Score and other key information.

    Best Cars to Carry School-Aged Children

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    We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.