The Top 4 SUVs for Growing Families

interiorLet’s face it. Here in America, a car is not a luxury, it’s a basic necessity. With our wide-reaching cities and the harried schedule of our modern lives, the comfort, flexibility and privacy offered by the modern automobile is both an essential part of life, and a little slice of heavenly peace to brighten each day.

As a teenager, you fell in love with your first taste of four-wheeled freedom. As you moved through college and adulthood, you surely upgraded to models a little more befitting of your status. So now here you are in your late 20s, with a blossoming career and car to go with it. Whether it’s an Audi or BMW, Lexus or Infiniti, your ride tells the world who you are: your taste, your status, and your individuality.

Until that magic moment when all of this flies out the window: you have a baby on the way!

Suddenly, there’s more to be concerned about that simply style and performance. You’ll need to accommodate car seats, soccer balls, and strollers. You’ll need to load shopping bags from the mall into the back with a wriggling child or two in each arm. Family life means driving on snow and dirt, and hauling your trailers and toys. And above all, you’ll need the safest vehicle to protect your new precious cargo. This means 4-wheel-drive and superior crash protection.

In short, if the diagnosis is pregnancy, the prescription is SUV.

Luckily we’re on the job for you here at Mr. Money Mustache. I collected the best SUVs on the American market and compared them side-by-side to pick a winner.

2014 Toyota Sequoia Platinum

toyotaWith seating for 8, the $60,795 Sequoia does it all. Featuring a fully boxed load frame, a responsive 381 horsepower 5.7L V-8 engine, and a 5750lb curb weight, this family hauler is nimble, capable, and luxurious. With fuel economy of 13MPG around town and as high as 18MPG on the highway, it can help your family’s dollar stretch just a bit further, and who doesn’t need that these days?

2014 Ford Expedition Limited EL

excursionSure, it’s big, and it’s fast, with specs rivaling the Sequoia at the budget friendly price of $51,695. But what really sets the Expedition apart is the perforated heated and cooled front leather seats! What could be a better respite from a pounding day of errands than a cushion of climate-controlled air that soothes you back to sanity? Fuel efficiency is just as good at 13/18 for the 4WD model. Also sold as the Lincoln Navigator, with an even more distinctive selection of luxury appointments.

2014 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ

suburbanIt’s everything you’ve come to expect from a large SUV and so much more. High intensity headlamps and foglamps, Front Park Assist, 12-way seats, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Assist, all powered by an EcoTec 5.3L V-8 with the ability to tow 8,000 pounds. Eco-Tec means you’re actually helping the environment as you cruise your way through each 33.5 gallon (126 litre) tank of fuel! But if all that tech-talk makes your eyes glaze over, let’s just put it this way: A very sweet ride that will be the envy of your block, with 16 cupholders for only $62,595! Also sold as the Cadillac Escalade with a more prestigious front grille for only a few thousand more.

2014 BMW X5 50i

bmwFor those with smaller families and a higher demand for performance, the venerable X5 may fit the bill. Featuring a 4.4 liter twin turbo V-8 that pours 450 horsepower into this SUV’s lightweight 4950 pound figure, the X5 will scream from 0-60 in about five seconds, smoking all four of its 19″ performance tires in the process. But with heated leather seating for 7 and available personal video screens for each passenger, your lucky children might not even notice what you’re up to.

Starting at under $70,000 with the Mocha Interior Design Package and the Executive Package, the X5 gets my personal vote for the best vehicle to prepare for baby. If cash is a little tight, BMW’s financing and lease packages can have one of these safe and roomy vehicles in your driveway for as little as $789 per month.

Although having your first baby is a challenging experience that will require many costly purchases, I hope I’ve at least helped with the most critical decision of all: what to drive.*





*Oh, and happy April Fool’s Day. The best family vehicle is a pair of bikes for the parents, each pulling a bike trailer. Second choice is a good small car (you can get kid seats that fit 3-across even in compact cars). And if you REALLY need something to carry a lot of people, get yourself a 2007 Mazda5 with a 4-cylinder engine and a 5-speed manual transmission. It comfortably carries 6 adults (tested it myself), burns a reasonable amount of gas, and is not a gigantic Douchewagon that will get you punched in the face by passing Mustachians. Just don’t buy one and then use the damned thing for single-person commuting!

  • Dennis April 7, 2014, 11:18 am

    Ha, ha. Good one. When will we see a diesel hybrid? Should see mpg’s north of 50 with those and would likely make for a good bridging vehicle until the technology and affordability of electric cars improves.

  • Pengepugeren April 19, 2014, 3:49 pm

    Wow, cars are cheap in the US. You can’t even get a Ford Mondeo for $70,000 over here.

  • Charlene May 13, 2014, 11:51 pm

    Reading my way through all of your articles.. I have to say, I actually do own a Suburban! 2008, bought in cash for $18000. I have 6 kids and hoping for another in the next 2-3 years, so when we grew out of our 7-seater minivan it seemed to make more sense to go with a 9-seater Suburban rather than an 8-seater minivan that we would again outgrow in a matter of years. MMM, what’s your perspective on that?

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 14, 2014, 6:32 am

      That’s a tricky one.. there is only one somewhat fuel-efficient large vehicle in the US market – the Mercedes/Dodge Sprinter van. Some of the used ones come outfitted with seating anywhere from 9-15 people(!) and they carry major cargo. People use them for mini-RVs as well. The cool thing is that this truck uses a 2.7L diesel engine that gets over 25MPG. But it is a very big, tall machine.

      Another strategy would just be TWO efficient 5-passenger cars. After all, how often do 9 people all need to drive somewhere at exactly the same time, only one of them with a driver’s license? T

      his depends on lifestyle, of course. In my family, the 3 of us could easily live with no car at all and just rent one when needed. But the benefit of two small cars instead of one large truck is that it is much easier to handle and burns less than half the fuel.

  • Blake June 24, 2014, 1:50 pm

    Thanks again for the frequent encouragement/butt-kicking you provide. Your car article was greatly helpfuly in my last car purchase and am loving the Pontiac Vibe we have. Our second car is about to kick the bucket. I’d LOVE to see a similar article that focused on some good options for more cargo/family space. I’ve heard really mixed things about used Mazada 5s. All anectodal though so I don’t know. How about some options? Minivan? Is there a good wagon? Thanks.

  • Matthew October 3, 2014, 9:43 pm

    Need some help. I am looking at the 2013 Mazda 5. One is $14,000 with 30,000 miles and the other is $16,000 with 9,500 miles. Which would be the better deal?

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 5, 2014, 5:38 pm

      They are about equal (I use 10c/mile when depreciating cars). The cheaper one is probably a better buy unless you drive an incredible count, just because you are tying up less cash. Such a new car will still last decades.

  • Amanda M. November 24, 2014, 5:44 pm

    Reading this long after posting led me to miss that it was from April 1st. I was wondering from the title with the face punch would enter. Happy April Fools day indeed.

  • vijay February 12, 2015, 12:42 pm

    haha, good one, i read all the blog and it was serious heart ache till the April Fool part.

  • Budgetnazi September 6, 2015, 11:08 am

    I’m slightly nauseated after reading this. Thanks

  • Lando Hitman October 15, 2015, 2:57 pm

    I read this whole article using a sarcastic version of MMM’s voice inside my head, all the while snickering and chortling until the very end! Hilarious!

  • EarningAndLearning June 16, 2017, 6:19 pm

    “…and with 16 cupholders for only $62,595!”
    Oh MMM you crack me up!
    PS I had no idea SUV’s cost that much!

  • David June 15, 2018, 8:59 am


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