By Mark G. McLaughlin
The stars of the 2018 Chicago Auto Show may be the technologically futuristic concept cars, the flashy sports coupes and the insanely expensive luxury sedans, but the cars that people spend the most time looking at are the ones they are actually going to buy. For most visitors, that means family cars. Safe, economical, affordable and reliable automobiles that will meet the day-to-day chores, routines and needs of the average family. Here are just five of the best family cars to check out at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.
2018 Chicago Auto Show
2301 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60616
Date: February 10 – 19
Time: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. every day except the last (8 p.m. on Feb. 19)
The five-passenger Chevy Equinox gets 28 MPG city and 39 MPG on the highway, which is about the most economical per-passenger ride on the market. It is also a very customizable vehicle, with four main configurations (L, LS, LT and Premier), a choice of engines that can put out up to 250 HP, and it comes with a lot of safety and comfort features standard – with many options and add-ons available. The Equinox has a solid reputation as a family SUV, and the newest model is sure to build on that.
Despite the popularity of SUVs, for many large families, a mini-van offers the best option to meet their needs. Dodge pioneered and perfected the family mini-van decades ago, and Chrysler took that as a model for their Pacifica. It seats seven and comes in a standard V6 or a V6 hybrid, which gets an incredible 84 MPG. The hybrid is about half again the cost of the standard engine model, which is priced at under $30,000.
When it comes to full-size SUVs the Ford Expedition is top of the line. It has three roomy rows of seats, delivers 375 HP and still manages to get 17 MPG city and 24 highway – and with a 28 gallon tank that means a long way between fill-ups. Edmunds rates it 5 out of 5 on their scale and U.S. News gives the Expedition a 9.1 out of 10 – and those are not the only experts to hail the Expedition for its fuel economy, transmission and safety. It is a bit pricey, with the least expensive of its six configurations starting at $51,000, but the Expedition is known to last and to hold its value.
Not every family needs or wants an SUV or minivan. For many, a standard sedan is more than enough to meet their requirements. The Honda Accord has a strong following among buyers in that market, and is a true full-size sedan, as it seats five comfortably. The Accord has three 4-cylinder engine models to choose from (two traditional, one electric combination) and gets a very economical 30 MPG city and 38 highway (more for the combination electric engine). It is also priced to make families smile, with the standard model available for just over $23,000.
Few family cars stay on the road and retain their value better than the Toyota Camry. Kelley Blue Book gives the Camry its rare 10 out of 10 rating. Toyota, however, is not resting on its well-earned reputation, as it has completely redesigned its popular four-door sedan with an eight-speed transmission for its updated 2.5-liter 4 cylinder. There is also a V6 and a hybrid model, and a total of seven basic configurations ranging from a very affordable $23,000 to a still affordable top-of-the-line model for under $35,000.