8 Best Cars for Carpooling Kids

Looking for a vehicle that can pack in more kids as you return to the back-to-school carpool routine? I hear you. I have 3 kids and often have a few extras tagging along as well. Whether it’s after-school playdates, soccer games, or field trips, us parents often end up driving our kids’ friends places too, sometimes on a very regular basis.

This is why I had a minivan through all of the years that my girls were in car seats, and then we transitioned to a 3-row SUV to accommodate the extra kiddos coming along with us almost everywhere we went.

To help you maximize your space, here are my all-time favourite cars that accommodate six or more passengers—from budget-friendly, to earth-friendly, to luxury and even performance vehicles.

Minivans

I know, I know, you don’t want to be the “minivan mom”, but just hear me out. There are several reasons I adored my Honda Odyssey when my girls were small and child-seat aged. Minivans have the most cargo space of almost any vehicle when the passenger space is all occupied. They also tend to cost less to purchase, insure and fuel up than a 3-row SUV.

Sliding doors are the most convenient thing since sliced bread, I’m not lying. Just ask any parent of a door-slinging child how they feel about narrow parking spaces in between two cars, or even in their own garage. Sliding doors also make it so much easier to lift toddlers, infant car seats and that giant diaper duffle into the car, hands free.

While I truly adore the Honda Odyssey—and not just because I’ve owned two of them, and I love their body style and interior functionality, I’m going to have to also choose these two as my favourites, and I’ll tell you why.

2022 Kia Carnival: The Carnival is a brand new vehicle offered by Kia and it doesn’t look like any other minivan on the market. Kia designed it as a Life Utility Vehicle, and it has so much luxury you don’t feel like you’re inside a minivan.

What I love: Second-row reclining seats with footrests and heated and ventilated seats. Don’t tell me your older kids wouldn’t live for this on a road trip. Plus, Drive Modes for you, including Sport!

Starting Price: $34,795

Seats: Up to 8, depending on trim

Drive: Front-Wheel Drive

Cubic Feet of Rear Cargo Space behind 3rd row: 40.2

Fuel Economy: 11 L/100 KM

2021 Toyota Sienna: For this model year, Toyota introduced a beautiful, more-SUV-looking body style–and even better, all their trims for the Sienna are now Hybrid. This means you’re saving money and saving the planet, what more could you want?

What I love: Lots of console storage up front for your purse, and 16 cup holders throughout to keep everyone happy.

Starting Price: $39,990

Seats: Up to 8 depending on trim

Drive: Front-Wheel Drive with All-Wheel Drive available

Cubic Feet of Rear Cargo Space behind 3rd row: 33.5

Fuel Economy: 6.7 L/100 KM

3-row SUVs

You will find a large variation of passenger and cargo space as well as price points with these 3-row SUVs. Some are meant for occasional extra passengers, and some are more comfortable for everyday 3rd row use. Your choice will depend on budget, of course, but also whether or not you need that third row every day or just occasionally for carpooling.

Mitsubishi Outlander 2022: The Mitsubishi Outlander is not just a great small SUV, it’s also coming soon in a plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV) model. And, it has a standard third row to boot!

The newly redesigned for 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander is chock-full of value. It has so many excellent features for the price, all while looking fantastic.

Starting Price: $31,998

Seats: 7

Drive: All-Wheel Control (AWC) which essentially means All-Wheel Drive

Towing: 1,500 to 3,500 lbs

Cubic Feet of Rear Cargo Space behind 3rd row: 33.5

Fuel Economy: 8.9L/100 KM

Kia Sorento: The Sorento really surprised me with its killer exterior design combined with so many features comparable to its price. If you like this one, a step up in size (and price) would be the Telluride, but it’s difficult to get your hands on one, and the Sorento quite honestly, has the better exterior design.

Top trims include leather, second row captain’s chairs and a panoramic sunroof.

Starting Price: $33,995

Seats: 6 or 7, depending on trim level

Drive: All-Wheel Drive

Towing: 2,800-3,500 lbs

Cubic Feet of Rear Cargo Space behind 3rd row: 12.6

Fuel Economy: 9.7 L/100 KM

Mazda CX-9: The CX-9 looks and feels premium, but it comes with a more moderate price tag than many of its competitors. The top trim even gets you a second-row middle console, and heated seats for your picky passengers.

Starting Price: $40,300

Seats: 6 or 7 depending on trim

Drive: All wheel drive

Towing: 3,500 lbs

Cubic Feet of Rear Cargo Space behind 3rd row: 14.4

Fuel Economy: 9.1L/100 KM

Luxury & Performance

So here’s where you’ll find that fun-to-drive factor and performance, combined with luxury. Of course, the price tags will match your expectations in all cases. But, if your budget can handle it, why not go all out and be the star in the carpool lane.

Volvo XC90 T8 R-Design Plug-in Hybrid: The XC90 combines electric motors and a turbo-charged engine to create a powerful, luxury ride. It even lowers with air ride suspension when you put it in Polestar Engineered Drive Mode, which feels very sporty.

Plus, it’s a plug-in hybrid meaning you can get up to 40 kilometers in pure electric range. That means I could go all week without putting gas in it if I plugged it in at home every night on my normal level 1 plug.

Starting Price: $61,250

Seats: 6 or 7, depending on trim level

Drive: All-Wheel Drive

Towing: 5,000 lbs

Cubic Feet of Rear Cargo Space behind 3rd row: 15.8

Fuel Economy: 9.2 L/100 KM

Tesla Model X: Being a pure electric vehicle means you won’t ever have to stop at the gas station again. The Model X has a third row, and the coolest gull wing doors making it stylish, yet functional.

Starting Price: $124,990

Seats: 5, 6 or 7

Drive: All-Wheel Drive

Towing: 5,000 lbs

Cubic Feet of Rear Cargo Space behind 3rd row: 12.7

Fuel Economy: None!

Mercedes-AMG GLS 63: I’ve tested the Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 and fell in love with the luxury and the space it offers. The AMG version just gets more fun behind the wheel. This beast has 3 rows, seats 7 and performs on the drag strip too (I’m kidding, don’t take your family car to the drag strip). But if you want to, Mission Raceway offers Friday Night Street Legal Racing, and you could test out the 0–100MPH time of 4.2 seconds in this family hauler.

Starting Price: $160,900

Drive: All-Wheel Drive

Towing: 7,700 lbs

Cubic Feet of Rear Cargo Space behind 3rd row: 17.4

Fuel Economy: 15.7L/100 KM

So which of these economical, earth-friendly or performance carpool lane regulars suits you best?

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