The 10 Best Family Cars Canada Has to Offer

By Heidi Unrau | Published on 26 Oct 2023

Best family cars Canada

    The best family cars in Canada strike a balance between comfort, safety, and budget. As a busy working mom, I know that transitioning from a compact car to a family-friendly vehicle is a significant financial decision. You need to carefully consider the long-term costs, insurance premiums, and fuel efficiency. As your family grows and needs change, things like vacations, school drop-offs, and daily errands require a reliable car that won’t break the bank. Here, we explore the top 10 best family cars Canada has to offer, tailored to meet various needs while supporting your long-term financial health.

    At a Glance: Best Family Cars in Canada

    Family Cars
    Best For
    Tight Budgets
    Safety Ratings
    Insurance Premiums
    Large Families
    Luxury & Comfort
    Young Children

    A Deep Dive into the Best Family Cars in Canada

    Our approach to making this list was simple – find the 10 best family cars in Canada based on 10 different categories. The result is a list that’ll help you find the best family car for your needs at a price you can afford. Let’s take a closer look to see what features make each car stand out from the rest of the market.

    1. Hyundai Tucson: Best Car for Families on a Budget

    Best Family Car in Canada for tight budgets

    Starting Price: $28,499
    Insurance: ~$226/month
    Fuel Efficiency: 8.5L/100km
    Highlights: Affordable starting price, decent ongoing costs.
    Financial Tip: Its low starting price and solid insurance rates make it a smart choice for families looking to balance upfront costs and monthly expenses.

    It was a close battle between the Hyundai Tucson and Honda’s 2024 model of the Civic Sedan, with the Tucson coming out on top in starting price by about $300. Couple that with solid insurance rates of approximately $226 per month on average and mileage of 8.5 litres per 100km and you have a car that combines its low starting price with affordable ongoing costs.

    Technically classed as a “compact SUV,” the car is roomy enough for most families. Performance is solid, too, with the base engine managing 187 brake horsepower (bhp). Granted, that’s not the strongest in the SUV class, but it’s good enough to make the car an enjoyable family runabout.

    2. Toyota Camry SE: Best Family Car for Mileage

    Best family car in Canada for fuel efficiency & reliable performance.

    Starting Price: $33,804.50
    Fuel Efficiency: 7.4L/100km
    Highlights: Top-tier fuel efficiency, reliable performance.
    Financial Tip: The long-term savings in fuel costs make this a financially savvy choice for families who prioritize fuel economy.

    The biggest selling point for the Camry SE? A nifty combined 7.4 litres per 100km. It was a close-run race in this category, with both the Honda Civic Sedan and Nissan Altima achieving sub-8 litre numbers, but the Camry SE comes out on top.

    It has decent power, too, with the standard engine packing 203bhp, and safety isn’t an issue as the vehicle comes packed with 10 airbags as standard. It may not be the most fun to drive, but it’s a safe and reliable car that keeps one of your biggest ongoing costs low.

    3. Jeep Wrangler 4-Door Sport S: Best Family Car for Engine Power

    Starting Price: $51,090
    Fuel Efficiency: 9.9L – 13.8L fuel / 100 km
    Highlights: Strong performance, adventure-ready.
    Financial Tip: Ideal for families who have a larger budget and seek power, though it may not be the most economical choice in the long run.

    Living up to its reputation of creating great off-road vehicles, Jeep delivers the 4-Door Sport S with a strong 285bhp while maintaining enough features to make it a decent family car. We say “decent” because even the four-door model comes with a fairly small interior. It may not be the best choice for families using car seats, but there’s enough space if you have older kids who love adventures.

    You pay for the power the Sport S offers, though. If you’re not ready to spend more than $50,000 on a family car, the Sport S is more of a niche offering that won’t fit your budget.

    4. Honda CR-V: Best Family Car for Safety

    Best family car in Canada for safety ratings

    Starting Price: $36,373.50
    Fuel Efficiency: Up to 9.1 L/100km
    Highlights: Top safety pick by IIHS, family-friendly design.
    Financial Tip: Investing in safety pays off in peace of mind, making this a wise choice for long-term family well-being.

    The fact that the IIHS made the Honda CR-V one of its “Top Safety Picks” for 2023 tells you that you’re getting one of the best family cars Canada has for protecting your little ones. It scores “Good” ratings almost across the board, though only manages an “Acceptable” for LATCH compatibility.

    It’s a looker, too, with its sleek curves and nice honeycomb grille ensuring it’ll stand out when you’re dropping the kids off at school. Just don’t expect stellar performance. Its 190bhp engine is solid, but it’s not going to roar into action when you put your foot down.

    5. Subaru Forester: Best Family Car for Insurance Premiums

    Best family car in Canada for cheaper insurance premiums

    Starting Price: $33,291
    Fuel Efficiency: Up to 9.0 L/100 km
    Insurance: Starting at $198/month
    Highlights: Affordable insurance & reliable safety features.
    Financial Tip: Low insurance costs contribute to lower monthly costs and long-term savings, especially beneficial for budget-conscious families.

    We’ve touched on insurance being a factor already, and the Forester comes out on top in that department. Assuming a 36-year-old driver who has 10 years of experience, a clean insurance record, and who drives the Canadian average of 15,200 kilometres per year, the Forester would cost approximately $198 per month to insure.

    It’s a safe car, too, matching the Honda CR-V as one of the IIHS’s top safety picks of 2023. It can be a little bare-bones, especially if you pick the base model. But you won’t be complaining when you’re saving hundreds of dollars a year to insure the thing.

    6. Ford Expedition: Best for Large Families

    Best family car in Canada for large families

    Starting Price: $74,785
    Fuel Efficiency: Up to 14.1 L/100km
    Highlights: Spacious interior, strong towing capacity.
    Financial Tip: While pricier, its capacity to accommodate larger families can justify the investment, ensuring comfort and practicality.

    Three rows in the Ford Expedition means seven passengers – perfect for larger families or those who want to cart pets around as well as kids. Its massive size also means it’s good for towing, which is ideal for vacations when you want to bring camping equipment or drag a boat to a harbour.

    The price might be a downside because it starts at a whopping $74,785 and only goes up from there if you opt for a flashier model. We’d also like to see slightly better steering (it can feel a little floaty), so it’s perhaps not the best choice for precision driving.

    7. Jeep Grand Wagoneer: Best for Pure Luxury

    Starting Price: $107,290
    Fuel Efficiency: Up to 15.6 L / 100km
    Highlights: Luxurious interior, top-tier entertainment options.
    Financial Tip: A significant investment, suitable for families with a higher budget prioritizing luxury and comfort.

    Combine a huge interior with beautiful trim (wood accents abound) and you have a car that looks as luxurious as it feels to drive. The huge 12-inch dash display is a particular highlight, but every inch of the Grand Wagoneer screams “quality.”

    There are sacrifices to make to sit in the lap of luxury, though, with the base model being the only car on this list to make it into six-figure pricing territory. But with its host of entertainment options (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included as standard) and a booming McIntosh stereo, you can see where that money goes. The entertainment features make this car ideal for families who spend a lot of time on the road.

    8. Chevrolet Malibu LT: Best for Families with Young Children

    Best family car in Canada for small children

    Starting Price: $29,779
    Fuel Efficiency: 6.8L/100km on highways
    Highlights: Affordable, LATCH-compatible seating.
    Financial Tip: An economical choice that doesn’t compromise on essentials, making it ideal for new families with small children.

    With up to 445 litres of cargo space, LATCH-compatible seating, and a very favourable price, the Malibu LT is a great choice for new families. On the monetary side, it boasts solid fuel economy (a superb 6.8 litres per 100km on highways) and costs less than $30,000. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hotspot are also available with the car.

    Still, you have to expect some downsides for such a low price, and those come in the fact that the car is just a little boring for some. It’s competent, safe, and great for the kids. But Mom and Dad may feel like it looks (and feels) a little stale.

    9. Subaru Crosstrek: Best Hybrid Family Car

    Starting Price: $27,291
    Fuel Efficiency: Up to 10.5 L/100km
    Safety: Five-star NHTSA rating
    Highlights: Budget-friendly, hybrid efficiency.
    Financial Tip: Its hybrid nature and low starting price offer long-term savings, though the driving experience might be more subdued.

    Being a hybrid car, the Crosstrek could easily be the best pick for families on a budget, too, thanks to its low starting price. But it didn’t make that list for the sole reason that it’s a bit lacklustre to drive. Acceleration is among the worst on the list and it’s not great off-road, even if it looks like a compact SUV.

    But that’s also something we love about it. The Crosstrek feels more like a car than it does an SUV, which is ideal for parents who aren’t fans of the difficult handling that comes with SUVs. And as a hybrid, it’s going to save you a lot of money while keeping the kids safe (it has a five-star NHTSA rating).

    10. Honda Odyssey Touring: Best Family Car for Entertainment

    Starting Price: $60,303.50
    Fuel Efficiency: 10.6L/100km combined
    Highlights: Advanced rear entertainment system, family-friendly features.
    Financial Tip: A pricier choice, but the extensive entertainment options can be a worthwhile investment for long journeys, especially for young children who get bored easily.

    Why do we love this family car? Four words – “Advanced Rear Entertainment System.” That’s what you get with the Touring variation of the Honda Odyssey, with that system featuring a Blu-ray/DVD player built into its stack. Audio and video streaming come from both the HondaLink system and the available Wi-Fi hotspot. Plus, the “How Much Farther” app gives your kids a visual way to get the answer to a question that you’re probably sick of hearing.

    Those entertainment options cost money, though, and the more than $60,000 price tag may be a touch too far for some families.

    Features You Want in a Family Car

    When it comes to purchasing the right car for your family, there are some features that are just non-negotiable. The best family cars in Canada typically have what parents prioritize most, including top-notch safety ratings, reliable performance, and family-friendly features. Here are some key features to look for that meet the demands of family life and ensure a stress-free driving experience:

    Safety Ratings & Features: Your Peace of Mind on the Road

    Choosing a family car with top-notch safety ratings and features is non-negotiable for most parents. Because nothing is more precious than the safety of your children. Vehicles that have excelled in crash tests and boast high safety ratings from reputable organizations provide an added layer of reassurance.

    Look for advanced airbag systems for optimal protection in the event of a collision, and electronic stability control, which helps maintain the vehicle’s balance on slippery roads or during abrupt maneuvers.

    Additionally, features like anti-lock brakes prevent wheel lock-up during emergency braking. This offers better control and shorter stopping distances. Advanced driver-assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control and lane assist features act as an extra set of eyes on the road, minimizing the risk of accidents and protecting your most precious cargo.

    Reliability: For Smooth & Headache-Free Journeys

    A reliable family car translates to fewer unexpected breakdowns and mechanical issues, which helps ensure your family’s daily routine and long road trips go smoothly. Look for brands and models known for their longevity and dependability, and check reliability ratings from automotive experts.

    A reliable car also means less time and money spent on repairs. This is crucial for busy parents who need to focus on their families rather than on car troubles.

    Car Seat Compatibility: Safe & Secure Rides for Little Ones

    With young children in tow, it’s critical your vehicle is compatible with modern car seats. This cannot be overlooked. Look for cars that provide easy access to LATCH anchors to make the installation of child safety seats straightforward and secure. This not only guarantees the safety of your little ones but also provides parents with peace of mind. An easy latch system ensures your children are safely buckled in and protected on every journey.

    Space & Comfort: Room for Everyone & Everything

    Adequate legroom and comfortable seating are essential for keeping everyone happy on the road, especially during longer trips. Ensure that the car has enough space to accommodate all family members, leaving room for growth. Additionally, ample trunk space is crucial for fitting strollers, groceries, sports equipment, and luggage.

    Optional Features for Convenience & Comfort

    Look for additional features that enhance the overall driving experience and add an extra layer of convenience. Features like rear-view cameras make parking and reversing safer and easier. Built-in entertainment systems keep children entertained, making “Are we there yet?” a question of the past.

    While not a must-have, vehicles with climate control keep a comfortable temperature for all passengers, regardless of the weather outside. This can help kids cope better if they need to spend a lot of time in the car.

    Costs to Consider When Choosing the Best Family Car For Your Budget

    Finding the best family car in Canada for YOU demands a thorough examination of various cost-related factors. It’s crucial to ensure the vehicle aligns with your long-term financial wellness. To make a truly informed and financially savvy decision, you need to understand the implications of initial costs, depreciation, insurance rates, loan terms, and maintenance expenses. Here’s what to consider before signing on the dotted line:

    Initial Cost & Depreciation

    Purchase Price: Look for vehicles within your budget, keeping in mind that the most expensive option isn’t always the best for your financial health.

    Depreciation: Cars lose value over time, but some depreciate faster than others. Research which cars hold their value better to get a better return when you sell or trade it in.

    Financing & Loan Terms

    Interest Rates: Shop around for the best car loan interest rates and consider getting pre-approved to strengthen your negotiating position.

    Loan Terms: Opt for the shortest loan term with payments you can afford to reduce the amount paid in interest. This also helps pay the car off faster, preventing you from being “underwater” – when you owe more than what the vehicle is worth.

    Insurance Costs

    Family cars are often some of the cheapest cars to insure, but rates can vary widely. Get quotes from multiple providers and consider the long-term cost of insurance in your decision.

    Fuel Efficiency

    Choosing a fuel-efficient vehicle can save you significant money on gas over the life of the car, especially important given fluctuating fuel prices. Look for cars that consume fewer litres of gas per 100 km driven.

    Maintenance & Repair Costs

    Research the average maintenance and repair costs for the models you’re considering. Some vehicles are cheaper to maintain and have a reputation for reliability. Others may have known issues or more expensive parts to replace over time with wear and tear.

    Resale Value

    Look into the car’s resale value. Brands and models with a strong reputation for reliability and performance tend to have higher resale values. This is important if you plan to trade in or sell the vehicle.

    Warranty & Dealer Support

    A good warranty can save you money on repairs. Check the length and coverage of the warranty and consider extended warranty options if it makes financial sense. Beware of buying an extended warranty from the dealer at the time of purchase. Often, you can find cheaper extended warranties elsewhere, and closer to when the manufacturer’s warranty expires.

    Total Cost of Ownership

    Use online tools and calculators to estimate the total cost of ownership for the models you’re considering, including depreciation, fuel, maintenance, insurance, and car loan interest.

    Future Needs & Car Longevity

    Consider how long you plan to keep the car and whether it will still suit your needs in the future. Will you need to upsize if your family grows or children enrol in extracurricular activities like sports? Do you plan to downsize when small children are no longer in bulky car seats or need strollers? Ideally, you want a car that adequately meets your changing needs over time.

    Financing Offers & Incentives

    Look for manufacturer financing deals or rebates, especially during clearance sales at the end of the model year. But beware of marketing gimmicks that may cost you more money in the long run, like zero percent financing offers, for example.

    The Best Family Cars in Canada: The Takeaway

    There you have it: 10 family cars that offer each offer something different. From safety to economy, and entertainment to pure, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.

    Your needs are what will determine your selection. Read the list and think about the factors that go into choosing a family car to whittle your shortlist down until you have the perfect vehicle for your family.

    FAQs About The Best Family Cars in Canada

    Which SUV car is best for a family?

    When it comes to the best family cars Canada offers in the SUV category, you can determine which is the best from several factors. For instance, the Ford Expedition is a three-row SUV, making it great for large families but a little too much for one- or two-child families. If budget is more of a concern, the Subaru Forester keeps your insurance bills down. It really depends on what you need out of your SUV.

    Are Jeep Wranglers good family cars?

    Power is the name of the game with the Jeep Wrangler, and its Sport S variant has 285bhp. It’s a good offroad choice, too, making it ideal for family adventures that are more “trek into the forest” than “drive on down the highway.” But it’s expensive (over $50,000 for the Sport S) and may not offer the fuel efficiency you want from a family runaround car.

    Is the 4Runner a good family car?

    If you’re looking for something with a lot of power, the Toyota 4Runner’s standard 270bhp is nearly as good as it gets for family cars. Note, we said “nearly.” And you pay for that higher power, too, as the car has poor mileage output of about 13 litres per 100km. So, it’s one for people who have money to burn rather than the budget-conscious family.

    Is the Subaru Crosstrek a good family car?

    The Subaru Crosstrek is an excellent family car, to the point where it made the list as the ideal choice for anybody who wants a hybrid option.

    How soon after birth can a baby travel by car?

    Technically, a baby can travel in a car immediately after birth, given that you’ll need to transport your little one from the hospital. As for longer trips, advice varies, though many baby websites suggest waiting for two to three months to allow your baby’s immune system to develop.

    Heidi Unrau is a senior finance journalist at Hardbacon. She studied Economics at the University of Winnipeg, where she fell in love with all-things-finance. At 25, she kicked-off her financial career in retail banking as a teller. She quickly progressed to become a Credit Analyst and then Private Lender. This hands-on industry experience uniquely positions her to provide expert insight on loans, credit scores, credit cards, debt, and banking services. She has been featured in publications such as WealthRocket, Scary Mommy, Credello, and Plooto. When she's not chasing after her two little boys, you'll find her hiding in the car listening to the Freakonomics podcast, or binge-watching financial crime documentaries with a bowl of ice cream. Fun Fact: Heidi has lived in five different provinces across Canada and her blood type is coffee.