By Mark G. McLaughlin

There are over 1,000 vehicles being shown off on the exhibit floor at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show. While the press and car enthusiasts may wax poetic and drool over the fancy, shiny top tier of sporty, speedy, technologically-advanced and luxury automobiles, most attendees will spend a lot more of their time hovering around cars that meet their family’s needs and budget.  Passenger and cargo space, fuel efficiency, and above all, safety, as well as affordability are their primary concerns.  They may wistfully sigh about driving about in a pricey foreign sports car, but the brochures they tuck in their pockets and links they put in their phones will be for family cars.  Here are just five of the best family cars of the 2017 Chicago Auto Show.

2017 Chicago Auto Show
McCormick Place
2301 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL  60616
(630) 495-2282

Date: February 11—20, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid – The Minivan Re-imagined

Before the SUV craze, minivans were the go-to vehicle of choice for families, especially large families or ones where parents were running carpools for school and after-school events. In its Pacifica, Chrysler has taken all which was good from the famous Dodge Minivan, added in the best features from SUVs and then made it work as a fuel-efficient hybrid. The Pacifica can go over 30 miles on its electric battery alone, and gets 84 MPGe (miles to the gallon in combination gas-electric mode). The Pacific seats seven comfortably,  has front-wheel drive and comes in a standard, non-hybrid version which at $29,000 is only two thirds the price of the $43,000 hybrid.

2018 Chevy Traverse – A Safety-Wise Mid-Size Crossover SUV with Room for Eight

Harkening back to its old slogan from the ’60s about “see the U.S.A. in a Chevrolet,” the designers at this storied American car company came up with a crossover SUV designed for the whole family – and the 2018 Chevy Traverse has room for up to eight members of that family.  The 3.6-liter V6 puts out 305 horses, but perhaps even more important are the 14 safety features built in to the vehicle.  These include forward collision alert, lane keep assist, forward automatic braking, and surround vision, just for starters.  It also offers an impressive entertainment and information package, including Apple CarPlay, Android AUTO, On-Star 4G-LTE Wi-fi and Chevrolet Mylink.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas – The Family SUV That May Restore VW’s Good Name

Volkswagen took it on the chin last year in the infamous diesel-emissions scandal, but while most of the company’s lines were not involved in that monumental screw-up, the negative impact on the brand was tremendous. The new Atlas is one of the models Volkswagen is counting on to restore its good name, and buyers’ faith in the company, and it may just do the trick all on its own. The seven-passenger family vehicle has a roomy third row, nearly 100 cubic feet of cargo space (if the second and third rows are folded down), and nine available driver-assist safety features. There are four driving modes to choose from (Normal, Sport, Eco and Custom) and there is an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display to help keep the kids in the back (or the adults up front)  enjoy the ride.

2017 Jeep Compass – A Safety-First All-Wheel Drive for the Family on the Go

Jeep has long been a trusted brand for families, but for those who want something besides the classic Jeep or the upsized Jeep SUVs, yet still want to stay with the brand, the Compass is ideal. It has all-wheel drive and a 180-horsepower 2.4 liter engine. With models starting at $19,940 it is a happily affordable vehicle that delivers more bang for the buck than many of its competitors. It also has more than 30 safety features, including six advanced design airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and engineered in-crush zones. The new, redesigned Compass is solid, safe, dependable and affordable – in other words, everything Jeep stands for.

2018 Ford EcoSport – A Subcompact Crossover for the World Finally Comes Home  

Ford has been making versions of the EcoSport abroad since 2003, and with the 2018 model is finally bringing the design home. The 2018 EcoSport is the first of the brand to be available in the United States, which means American drivers and families of five or fewer will finally get to know why the world loves this crossover SUV. Smaller than many of its competitors, it is especially friendly for city drivers who have to deal with the challenges of parking spaces, parking garages and crowded streets. Its BLIS cross-traffic alert sensors are another plus for urban drivers.  It also comes with four-wheel drive, which is a big selling point for the suburban and rural market. The EcoSport looks small but it offers a good deal of head and leg room inside, and comes with a choice of either a 1 Liter turbocharged three cylinder or 2 liter four-cylinder engine

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