Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Family-Friendly Hybrids

The best vehicles for fuel-conscious drivers with kids

BYNina Russin
For families with busy schedules and tight budgets, minimizing trips to the gas station and stretching fuel economy often are top priorities when shopping for a new vehicle. Auto manufacturers are racing to provide more hybrid options for drivers with children, building vehicles that not only offer unrivaled fuel efficiency, but also provide the safety features and space families need. Following is a sampling of the newest gasoline-electric options with a family-friendly focus.
 
1. Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Base price: $41,995
Chrysler’s new Pacifica Hybrid minivan goes up to 30 miles in pure electric range — the average commute distance for most drivers — and gets 84 MPGe when using both electricity and gas. Its smartphone app enables owners to monitor charge status and schedule charging for off-peak hours. Buyers can opt for a surround-view camera and parallel and perpendicular park assist, making it easier to park on city streets. A spacious interior provides seating for eight passengers. Because of the battery pack, the Stow ‘n’ Go feature that tumbles second-row seats into floor bins is not available for the hybrid model, but second-row seats are removable. A hands-free liftgate makes it easier to load cargo. Power comes from a V-6 engine and electric motors that deliver a total driving range of 566 miles.
 
2. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Base price: $29,030
Twenty years after its introduction, Toyota’s Recreational Active Vehicle remains one of the most popular compact crossovers on the market. The hybrid model seats five passengers and comes in three grades — XLE, sporty SE, and upscale Limited — with standard all-wheel drive, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and emergency braking, hill start assist, and a rearview camera. Average fuel economy is 32 MPG. A 4-cylinder gasoline engine and electric motors produce exceptional acceleration, from zero to 60 in 8.1 seconds.
 
3. Nissan Rogue Hybrid
Base price: $26,240
Nissan’s Rogue Hybrid crossover includes both front- and all-wheel drive options, room for five, and a spacious cargo area. The Rogue Hybrid averages 34 MPG for the front-wheel drive model and 33 MPG for all-wheel drive. Available safety features include active trace control to improve cornering, blind-spot monitoring, around-view monitor, and intelligent cruise control with pedestrian detection and emergency braking. 
 
4. Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Base price: $36,270
Toyota’s midsize hybrid crossover has three rows of seating for up to eight passengers, with two new entry-level grades — LE and XLE — and the upscale Limited grade for 2017. A V-6 engine and two electric motors deliver plenty of power, with 3,500-pound towing capability. The Highlander’s “Easy Speak” feature enables drivers to use a built-in microphone to talk with passengers in the third row. Active safety features include pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure alert with steering assist, and dynamic radar cruise control. The Limited model gets a standard bird’s-eye view camera with perimeter scan. All-wheel drive is standard on all models, and the vehicle delivers 28 MPG fuel economy.
 
5. Lexus NX 300h
Base price: $39,720
The hybrid version of Lexus’ five-passenger compact luxury crossover features a new Scout® GPS Link, which connects your smartphone to the vehicle’s multimedia display, enabling drivers to download turn-by-turn directions and real-time traffic info on the go. All-wheel drive is standard, as are a host of active safety features including Lexus Enform Safety Connect with an emergency assistance button, daytime running lamps, and rearview camera. A 4-cylinder engine and two electric motors deliver 194 net horsepower, with 31 MPG average fuel economy.
NINA RUSSIN has been writing about the car industry for 25 years and specializes in reviewing active-lifestyle vehicles.
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