10 Best Family Cars Of 2012

Jason Notte

It doesn't have to take the kids to school, soccer practice, rehearsals or to relatives' houses for the holidays, but in many ways summer can be the most punishing season for the beloved family vehicle. The heat makes the interior feel twice as small while the road trips can get considerably longer. The comfort, fuel economy and reliability are tested every day a family's on vacation. One failure or slip-up and the family car is relegated to the mechanic while its charges drive off in a loaner or, worse, a rental.

Vehicle ratings services such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book know just how crucial the lazy days of summer can be for the family car, which is why both recently compiled lists of the vehicles they believe are the best available to American families today. We took a look at those lists and compiled the 10 best offerings from each. The following are the vehicles most likely to turn a chorus of "are we there yet" into a ride nobody's in any rush to end:

10. 2012 Toyota(:TM) Prius v

MSRP: $26,550

The space of a wagon with the fuel efficiency of a subcompact? Yes, please. The Prius v's "V" stands for versatile and nowhere is that more evident than in its 67.3 cubic feet of cargo space. That's considerably larger than the original-recipe Prius' 39.6 cubic feet and is closer to that of compact SUVs such as Toyota's RAV4. Its combined 42 miles per gallon is impressive, but still is substantial step down from the regular Prius' 50. Still, that combination of space and fuel efficiency is a family shuttle driver's dream.