Many new parents shudder at the thought of having to trade their current vehicles in for something more family friendly—but a truck, jeep, or even a sedan doesn’t give you the interior room needed for a growing family, and these models aren’t always practical in dangerous weather. When you think of family cars, you probably imagine soccer moms driving minivans and station wagons, but in Colorado, where the weather is unpredictable and the top activities include skiing, running, and hiking, the trend for families has long leaned toward SUVs. It’s easy to see why. These vehicles offer solid handling and safety for peace of mind that you’re transporting your family safely, along with cargo and passenger room to suit the whole clan. If you’re a parent looking for a roomy used vehicle that can handle tough weather conditions, windy mountain roads, AND maintains the “cool” factor, here’s a comprehensive list and review of the most popular options for every budget. You’re likely to find plenty of each of these models to choose from at used car dealerships in Colorado and elsewhere.
2015 Chevrolet Suburban
The Suburban has been in continuous production since 1935 for a reason. Although not as fuel efficient as smaller crossover models (the 2015 model gets 16 miles per gallon city and 23 miles per gallon highway), when it comes to seating and towing, the Suburban can’t be beat. The V-8 engine translates to a lot of power and a fun drive (the 2015 model has 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque), and it has no problems tackling steep mountain inclines. It seats up to nine passengers very comfortably, has ample storage space, and the 4WD model (highly recommended for unpredictable Colorado weather) can tow up to 8000 pounds, making it perfect for a camper or toy hauler for your family adventures.
Safety features such as forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, front-seat center airbag, and vibrating driver’s seat alerts will give parents peace of mind. Creature comforts such as multiple USB ports, power outlets (including a household 110-volt outlet), and a rear-seat DVD/Blu-ray entertainment system make the Suburban the ultimate in luxury for long car trips (if you can handle the hefty price tag at the pump). They’re certainly not for everyone, but if you want a big SUV for a big family to ride in comfort and can afford the average sticker price (around 33-35k depending on condition), nothing else compares to the Suburban
2015 Subaru Outback
While it’s considered a crossover and not a traditional SUV, the Outback is still the most popular SUV in Colorado. Although it doesn’t come with as many bells and whistles as the Suburban, the Outback is a dependable and practical option for families.
With 8.7 inches of ground clearance and all-wheel drive on every model, standard hill descent control and X-Mode system that manages power output and traction control, this vehicle handles like a dream in bad weather conditions and is also a decent off-roader. It gets impressive gas mileage compared to traditional SUVs—the standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine gets up to 33 miles per gallon, and the average price tag (around 17.5k-22k) is also more affordable than traditional SUVs.
The Outback also provides plenty of room for both people and the inevitable cargo that comes with hauling children and toddlers (and all of their equipment) to soccer practice, ski lessons, etc. If more room is needed, the rear seats fold in a 60/40 split to give you an additional 73-plus cubic feet of storage. Child seats are easy to install and access in the back seat, which also reclines.
For a pragmatic Colorado family who wants to experience the best the state has to offer without breaking the bank, its safe to say Subaru is a great option.
2016 Honda CR-V Touring
Another reliable and popular option in Colorado, the loaded CR-V Touring offers a bevy of perks, such as a power liftgate, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, and 6.7-inch ground clearance (which is helpful when you need to lift a heavy toddler in and out of a car seat).
The Touring also boasts a roomy interior, along with rear passenger doors that open wide enough to install and access child seats, ample center row leg room, and 60/40 split folding center seats. A conversation mirror (so the driver can see what’s going on in the back seat) and easy access to cargo space make it a cinch to get a stroller in and out of the back, and the rear seats fold down with the pull of a single tab, making the Touring a comfortable and convenient car for parents.
Safety options abound in the loaded Touring, including the “Honda Sensing” forward-collision warning, collision-mitigation braking, and even a Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS). The LKAS uses the electric steering to actively keep the car centered for as many as 15 seconds at up to 90 miles per hour—a big bonus when you’re distracted by arguments about who’s looking out of whose window in the back seat.
The CR-V Touring also offers decent fuel economy at 26/33 miles per gallon with front-wheel drive and 25/31 miles per gallon with all-wheel drive, and at around 18.5-22k for a 2016 model in good condition, it’s a solid option for any budget.
Having kids is overwhelming all by itself, and the vehicle you drive shouldn’t contribute to your already sky-high stress levels. Your vehicle should seamlessly integrate into your lifestyle, making everyday things easier for you and helping along the way as you get from place to place. If you’re a parent (or even if you just have a lot of small, messy friends), don’t consider yourself confined to the realm of mommy mobiles such as minivans and station wagons—there are plenty of fun-yet-practical SUV options to choose from.