By Joe Tralongo
With more lesbian and gay couples raising families, the community’s car-buying habits have altered radically. The safety-conscious kid hauler is quickly replacing the flashy sports car. Below is a small sampling of some family-friendly vehicles assembled by the good folks at Gaywheels.com. Each carries at least six-passengers, is priced within reach of most middle-class households and is built by a gay-friendly company (gay-friendly status is determined by whether or not a company offers domestic partner benefits to both its corporate and factory employees here in the United States).
From both a social and utilitarian standpoint, Subaru has served the lesbian and gay community extremely well. Their newest offering, the Tribeca, is a crossover SUV built from a car-like platform and capable of seating up to seven passengers. Although this description fits any number of crossover vehicles, the Tribeca’s artful interior, numerous standard features and standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive make it somewhat unique. It should be noted that the Tribeca’s optional third-row seat is best utilized by pre-teen-sized occupants, and when in place eats up a substantial chunk of the cargo bay. And although priced at the higher end of the crossover spectrum, the Tribeca’s strong safety rating, good resale values and excellent repair history make it a smart investment.
Price Range (includes destination): $30,640-$37,000
Engine: 3.6-liter boxer engine, 256 horsepower, 247 lb.-ft. of torque
EPA Fuel Economy: 16 city/21 highway
Read a full review of the Subaru Tribeca here
Find a Subaru Dealer Near You
Toyota offers two family hauling vehicles, the Sienna minivan and the all-new Highlander crossover SUV. We like the Highlander for a number of reasons, the most obvious being the removal of the “minivan mom” stigma. Like the Tribeca, the Highlander provides three-row seating and all-wheel drive. Unlike the Tribeca, the Highlander’s standard front-wheel drive allows for a significantly lower starting price. Toyota also offers a hybrid gas-electric version. Cool features, such as a removable second-row center section that permits easy access to the third-row seat, help keep the Highlander near the top of our recommended list.
Price Range (includes destination): $27,985-$42,000
Engine: 3.5-liter V6, 270 horsepower, 248 lb.-ft. of torque
EPA Fuel Economy: 18 city/24 highway (2WD), 17 city/23 highway (4WD)
Get more detailed information on the Toyota Highlander in our New Car Section
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Ford Taurus X
Formerly known as the Freestyle, Ford’s Taurus X crossover SUV gains more than just a new name. It receives a number of upgrades aimed at quieting the interior and improving ride and handling as well as a more powerful V6 engine. Despite its rental-car name, the Taurus X’s offers conservative yet handsome styling, a commanding view from the driver’s seat and a reasonably good cargo area behind the third-row seat. One of our favorite features is the optional remote keypad locking/unlocking system, which is ideal for those times when it’s not convenient to carry a key fob. Another plus in the Taurus X’s favor, both the Department of Transportation (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) give the Taurus X high marks for its crash test worthiness and excellent safety ratings.
Price Range (includes destination): $27,365-$38,000
Engine: 3.5-liter V6, 263 horsepower, 247 lb.-ft of torque
EPA Fuel Economy: 16 city/24 highway (FWD), 15 city/22 highway (AWD)
Get more detailed information on the Ford Taurus X in our New Car Section
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GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook/Buick Enclave
The GMC Acadia (and its sister vehicles the Saturn Outlook and Buick Enclave) represents a huge leap forward for GM. About the size of an Acura MDX, the Acadia demonstrates an attention to design not seen in an American vehicle in quite some time. Interior space is excellent, with an adult-accommodating third-row seat, big cargo hold and a full compliment of safety and security features. Fit and finish is first rate and the materials used to create the interior could easily have come from a high-end luxury model. As with the Tribeca, Highlander and Taurus X, the Acadia offers such must have features as all-wheel drive, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, GPS navigation and premium audio. Those uncomfortable with high-tech gadgetry will appreciate the optional Turn-by-turn navigation. After giving your intended destination to an OnStar operator, directions are uploaded to the vehicle’s voice navigation system which then talks you through the route. The Acadia’s V6 engine also offers the most horsepower, most torque and the best fuel economy of the bunch.
Price Range (includes destination): $29,845-$43,000
Engine: 3.6-liter V6, 275 horsepower, 251 lb.-ft. of torque
EPA Fuel Economy: 16 city/24 highway (FWD), 16 city/ 22 highway (AWD)
Read a full review of the Saturn Outlook here
Read a full review of the Buick Enclave here
Find a Saturn, Buick or GMC Dealer Near You
Volvo’s well-known reputation for safety is why we’d be remiss if we didn’t include the XC90 in our picks. While a nicely loaded V8 model pushes well past $50,000 the front-wheel-drive XC90 3.2 V6 model starts in the mid-$30,000 range and comes nicely equipped. Fuel economy for both the V6 and V8 is far from impressive and, as with others in this grouping, the third-row seat in place leaves little cargo space. But if it’s just you, the spouse and two passengers, the XC90 makes a fine family hauler. And unlike most crossovers, you can actually take the XC90 across some serious off-road obstacles, which makes it ideal for those who prefer family vacations far from civilization.
Price Range (includes destination): $36,955-$60,000
Engine: 3.2-liter V6, 235 horsepower, 236 lb.-ft of torque or 4.4-liter V8, 311 horsepower, 325 lb.-ft. of torque
EPA Fuel Economy: 14 city/20 highway or 13 city/19 highway (V8)
Get more detailed information on the Volvo XC90 in our New Car Section
Find a Volvo Dealer Near You
Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Caravan
Let’s face it. Despite the image it projects, the minivan still proves the most logical choice for a family on the go. Chrysler makes the obvious a bit less painful with its full-size Town and Country/Dodge Grand Caravan twins. Completely new from the ground up, the largest Chrysler vans to date offer a cavernous passenger cabin and a host of useful features not found in any crossover SUV. One such item is the “Swivel ‘n Go” seating, which allows the second-row captain’s chairs to swivel a full 180 degrees to face the third-row seat. A folding table also pops in place to create a portable dinning area. Other features such as the MyGiG audio system with built in 20-gigabyte hard drive for storing music and photos, one-touch power-folding third-row seat and SIRIUS Backseat TV put a modicum of cool back into owning a minivan.
Price Range (includes destination): $22,470 – $42,000
Engine: 3.3-liter V6, 175 horsepower, 205 lb.-ft of torque
EPA Fuel Economy: 19 city/26 highway
Engine: 3.8-liter V6, 197 horsepower, 230 lb.-ft. of torque
EPA Fuel Economy: 16 city/23 highway
Engine: 4.0-liter V6, 240 horsepower, 253 lb.-ft. of torque
EPA Fuel Economy: 16 city/23 highway
Get more detailed information on the Dodge and Chrysler Minivans in our New Car Section
Find a Dodge or Chrysler Dealer Near You
Big things sometimes come in small packages. Take, for example, the Mitsubishi Outlander. Sitting somewhere between a compact and mid-size SUV, the little Outlander offers a plethora of features, has a small but usable third-row seat and starts in the low $20,000 range. With sporty good looks, a clever split-folding rear hatch door and fuel-efficient, yet potent 220-horsepower V6 engine, it’s hard to argue against the Outlander. Such options as Bluetooth connectivity, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and FASTKEY keyless entry system (with fob in pocket, you need only touch the door handle to unlock the car) rounds off an impressive list that makes the Outlander an unbeatable combination of features, looks and affordability.
MSRP (includes destination): $22,000-$33,000
Engine: 3.0-liter V6, 220 horsepower, 204 lb.-ft of torque
EPA Fuel Economy: 17 city/25 highway (FWD), 17 city/23 highway (4WD)
Read a full review here
Find a Mitsubishi Dealer Near You
Chevrolet Suburban/Chevrolet Tahoe
OK, the Chevrolet Suburban (and its slightly shorter sibling the Chevrolet Tahoe) is one of the biggest beasts on the road. Employing such earth-friendly advances as Active Fuel Management (designed to cut fuel to four of the eight cylinders when not needed) and FlexFuel E85 capability somewhat helps to reduce operating costs. The big Chevy is not without its detractors, yet for many the Suburban a necessary and invaluable tool. With seating for up to eight passengers, a cavernous cargo hold and a 9,700-pound tow rating (2500 model with 2WD), the Suburban remains the ultimate family hauler. Features such as StabiliTrak electronic stability control have made great inroads toward bettering safety by adding stability and accident avoidance capabilities once considered the Achilles’ heel of the large SUV. Three-row side-curtain airbags should also add a measure of comfort, which you’ll probably need once you see the bill to fill the Suburban’s 31-gallon fuel tanks (39-gallons in the 2500).
MSRP (includes destination): $38,185-$60,000
Engine: 5.3-liter V8, 320 horsepower, 335 lb.-ft. of torque
EPA Fuel Economy: 14 city/20 highway (2WD), 11 city/15 highway (2WD, E85), 14 city/19 highway (4WD), 11 city/14 highway (4WD, E85)
Engine: 6.0-liter V8, 352 horsepower, 383 lb.-ft. of torque
EPA Fuel Economy: 12 city/17 highway (2WD),
Read a full review here
Find a Chevrolet Dealer Near You