15 top family SUVs ready for vacation this summer

Back in 1978, Bruce Springsteen once sang that summer was for “racing in the street”. But here in 2019, summertime most likely means getting ready for a cross-country roadtrip on a family vacation.

We have picked out 15 SUVs that could be perfect choices to ensure you can enjoy your time away to the maximum. After all, nobody wants to be worrying about storage space or how to keep the kids entertained when they are on the road.

2019 Chevrolet Blazer

Starting MSRP: $29,995

One of the newest SUVs on this list, the reborn Blazer has returned to the Chevy range after an absence of 15 years. It is now firmly a crossover SUV, but that doesn’t dampen the family-friendly abilities of the 2019 Blazer, which offers up to 64.2-cubic feet of luggage space with the rear seats folded flat.

Bold styling means it will certainly stand out in the hotel parking lot, whilst HID headlamps and LED tail lights are also standard on all models. Engine choices are a 193 horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline unit, or a more powerful 3.8-liter V-6 with 308 horsepower.

A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard on all versions, and four-wheel drive can be specified on V-6 Blazers. All models come with an 8-inch multimedia touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, and smartphone connectivity. Upgrade to RS trim, from $41,795 for sportier looks and 20-inch wheels.

2019 Volkswagen Atlas

Starting MSRP: $30,985

It may have a German badge on the hood, but the three-row Atlas is proudly built at Volkswagen’s factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Aimed squarely at American families, VW has produced more than 100,000 examples of the seven-seater SUV since 2017.

There are seventeen cup holders throughout the spacious Atlas, meaning everyone should have access to their favorite beverages. Three child seats can be fitted across the second row of seats, and total luggage space peaks at 96.8-cubic feet with the back seats folded.

Base models feature a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, whilst fancier versions use a 3.6-liter V-6 unit instead. All come with an eight-speed automatic transmission, with VW’s 4Motion four-wheel drive system optional. The Atlas also comes with a six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

2020 Ford Explorer

Starting MSRP: $36,675

Ford sold more than 250,000 Explorers during 2018, cementing its position as the best-selling SUV in America. It might seem like an obvious choice, but the Explorer proves popular with families for a good reason.

Seating seven across three rows, the Explorer is ready for family action. The Cargo Management System in the trunk includes clever pockets to store small items, along with a reversible load mat. Explorers with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine can tow 5,300 lb, whilst those with the 3.0-liter unit can haul a considerable 5,600 lb.

All versions have LED headlights with auto high beam, tri-zone climate control, privacy glass, and a power tailgate. USB charging points are fitted in the second row of seats, and an 8-inch multimedia touchscreen is also standard. Pick the ST model with 365 horsepower if you want to reach your vacation destination even faster.

2020 Kia Telluride

Starting MSRP: $31,690

The popular Ford Explorer has become the mid-size SUV benchmark, and Kia has paid close attention when designing the Telluride in Irvine, California. With up to eight seats across three rows available, it beats the Ford on passenger numbers and undercuts it on price.

At present there is just one engine for the Telluride, a 3.8-liter V-6 producing 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, with an optional on-demand all-wheel drive system on offer. Cargo volume peaks at 87-cubic feet with those rear seats folded flat.

The Telluride also beats the Explorer on USB charging sockets, boasting five instead of the Ford’s five. An 8-inch touchscreen brings Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Sirius Satellite radio, and voice recognition. Two smartphones can connect via Bluetooth at once, helping reduce arguments over who chooses the tunes.

2019 Dodge Durango SRT

Starting MSRP: $63,245

Driving a family SUV doesn’t mean you have to give up on enjoying performance. The Durango SRT is America’s most-powerful three-row SUV, with the ability to scare most sports cars at stop lights.

A 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 produces 475 horsepower, and is capable of firing the Durango SRT from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds! Standard all-wheel drive helps traction off the line, whilst an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission also helps. Brembo performance brakes and Bilstein suspension with active-damping help it stop and steer.

All that power does make the Durango SRT practical, letting it tow up to a maximum of 8,700 lb. Add in those seven seats and cargo capacity of up to 85.1-cubic feet, and you really could convince yourself that this is the best way to spend your vacation.

2019 Honda Passport

Starting MSRP: $31,990

The third-generation Honda Passport was revealed earlier this year, with the five-seater SUV built at Honda’s factory in Lincoln, Alabama. With rugged looks and a practical interior, the new Passport brings plenty to the party.

Honda’s 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6 engine is standard, producing 280 horsepower and connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is optional, with standard cars offering front-wheel drive. Towing capacity of up to 5,000 lb, and best-in-class interior storage space, certainly help on the usability front.

Three-zone climate control, LED headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels, and keyless start come fitted from the factory. Upgrade to EX-L trim for leather seats, and an 8-inch multimedia screen. The range-topping Elite includes torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and wireless smartphone charging.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Starting MSRP: $33,545

OK, we may be cheating slightly here, with the Gladiator being a pickup truck. But it combines the abilities of the Wrangler SUV with a dose of extra practicality from the lengthy load bed. The attention the Gladiator has gained makes it hard to ignore.

It offers a leftfield choice for those seeking the ultimate vacation vehicle, given the endless customization offered by the Gladiator. Remove the doors, lose the roof, and stick whatever lifestyle accessories you need in the load bed. Standard four-wheel drive will let you take the adventure almost anywhere.

Power comes from Chrysler’s Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine, making 280 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with an eight-speed automatic optional. Towing ability is rated at up to 7,650 lb.

2019 GMC Terrain Denali

Starting MSRP: $37,800

Sharing a platform with the Chevrolet Equinox and Buick Envision, GMC’s Terrain adds an extra dose of luxury in Denali specification. Whilst it may be classed as a compact SUV, the Terrain Denali still packs road trip ability.

The five-seater Terrain offers up to 81-cubic feet of luggage space with the back seats down, and can tow up to 3,500 lb. Only one engine is offered, a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder gasoline unit, producing 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive adding an extra $1,700.

Denali trim means adaptive cruise control, an HD rear-view camera, 19-inch alloy wheels, and a fancy satin chrome front grille. Heated leather seats can be found inside, along with dual-zone climate control, satellite navigation, and a Bose seven-speaker audio system.i

2020 Hyundai Palisade

Starting MSRP: $31,550

Replacing the Santa Fe XL in the Hyundai range is the brand-new flagship eight-seater Palisade. Sharing a platform with the Kia Telluride, the Palisade offers similar abilities and equipment but with a big Hyundai grille up front.

As with the Kia, power comes from a 291 horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 gasoline engine, connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission. HTRAC all-wheel drive can be added as an option, with the Palisade able to tow up to 5,000 lb.

Standard equipment includes an 8-inch touchscreen, rear view camera, smart cruise control, and connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. High-spec Limited versions even gain Driver Talk intercom, letting the driver interrupt all audio devices to make important announcements. Perfect for a summer road trip with teenagers.

2020 Cadillac XT6

Starting MSRP: $53,690

Family vacation motoring can still be luxurious, and the new Cadillac XT6 offers an upmarket option. It still offers seven seats to bring along as many relatives as you need, and has up to 78.7-cubic feet of room for luggage.

Cadillac promises that passengers in the third row will have class-leading head room, and everyone gets leather seating as standard. A 3.6-liter V-6 engine is the only unit on offer, but it does have 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. Fitted with a nine-speed automatic gearbox, buyers can choose between front- or all-wheel drive.

Premium Luxury trim means shiny brightwork on the outside, along with unique 20-inch alloy wheels and wood trim inside. Opting for Sport takes the starting price to $58,090, but this includes all-wheel drive as standard, gloss black exterior trim, and carbon fiber detailing for the interior. 

2019 BMW X7

Starting MSRP: $73,900

The biggest BMW ever certainly grabs attention with its huge front grille. Controversial looks aside, the X7 is still a three-row SUV with room for seven, and luxurious features like self-leveling air suspension and four-zone climate control.

Buyers have a choice between two gasoline engines. There is a 335 horsepower 3.0-liter six-cylinder unit, or a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 producing 456 horsepower. Four-wheel drive is standard, as is an eight-speed automatic transmission. Fold all the seats flat, and the X7 will hold up to 90.4-cubic feet of luggage space.

Passengers can be kept happy with a 10-speaker audio system, a panoramic moonroof, and wireless charging for smartphones. Other standard features include a pair of 12.3-inch digital displays, Apple CarPlay connectivity, and dynamic cruise control.

2019 Subaru Ascent Limited

Starting MSRP: $31,195

Available in seven- and eight-seater configurations, Subaru’s largest SUV is built in Lafayette, Indiana and is ready for everything family life can throw at it. A turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder boxer engine brings 260 horsepower, whilst Subaru’s trademark symmetrical all-wheel drive is standard.

Along with being the largest Subaru, the Ascent also has the greatest towing capacity, with the ability to haul up to 5,000 lb. Fold all the seats flat, and the Ascent will offer room for up to 86.5-cubic feet of space for vacation luggage.

Three-zone automatic climate control, a 6.5-inch multimedia touchscreen, 18-inch alloy wheels, and an incredible 19 cup holders are standard on base trim. Premium adds power seats and a WiFi hotspot, whilst Limited includes LED headlights. Range-topping Touring trim includes leather seats in Java Brown, along with luxurious woodgrain trim. 

2020 Infiniti QX60

Starting MSRP: $46,350

Infiniti’s first three-row SUV has been in production since 2013, but still has plenty to offer buyers getting set for a vacation with the family. All versions use Infiniti’s 3.5-liter V-6 engine, producing 295 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque.

Standard QX60s come with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive can be added as an option. Fold all the seats flat and there is space for up to 76.2-cubic feet of luggage. All rows of seating get USB-C chargers, whilst optional headrest-mounted 8-inch screens can be added to keep rear passengers entertained.

Keyless entry and start, tri-zone climate control, and an 8-inch multimedia touchscreen are included with Pure trim. Moving up to Luxe specification gives buyers a 13-speaker Bose audio system, remote engine start, and roof rails for a $1,800 premium.

2019 Buick Enclave

Starting MSRP: $40,495

Launched in 2017, the second-generation Buick Enclave is another option for families who need space, but still want to travel in luxurious surroundings. Seating up to seven, the Enclave features a SmartSlide system to make accessing the third row easier.

The familiar GM 3.6-liter V-6 engine with 310 horsepower is the only option, connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is the default drivetrain, with all-wheel drive available on Essence trim models. Fold all the seats flat and the Enclave will swallow 97.6-cubic feet of cargo.

Every Enclave comes with tri-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, a hands-free power tailgate, and an 8-inch multimedia touchscreen. Those wanting maximum vacation luxury can opt for Avenir trim, including heated and ventilated leather seats, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a bespoke mesh front grille.

Volvo XC90

Starting MSRP: $48,345

Volvo’s ever-popular XC90 SUV will bring your summer vacation a sense of Scandinavian calm, even if you are heading to a theme park in Florida. The seven-seater big Swede delivers a true premium experience. 

Engines all make use of a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline unit, but T6 versions bolt on a supercharger, whilst the T8 hybrid further adds an electric motor to deliver up to 400 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard on all models, as is an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Entry-level Momentum XC90s come with an 8-inch digital dashboard, LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a rear-view camera. At the other end of the scale, choosing the $105,545 Excellence specification means 21-inch alloy wheels, an 1,100-watt Bowers and Wilkins sound system, and even a gear shift lever made from actual crystal.

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