The Most Practical Cars And Crossovers For 2017 – Forbes

Posted: Friday, February 03, 2017

The Chrysler Pacifica is arguably the most practical vehicle in the U.S. for 2017, with top safety ratings, decent fuel economy – it’s exceptional with the plug-in hybrid version – and the most available cargo room this side of a commercial delivery truck.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Though many motorists would love to throw caution to the proverbial wind and pilot a hot-blooded muscle car or a low-slung roadster on a daily basis, real life and common sense usually intervenes, and most of us are forced to make more rational vehicular buying decisions. At its best, new-car shopping involves a series of deftly negotiated tradeoffs within one’s particular price range and preferred model segment made for the sake of sheer practicality.

By our standards that means picking a model that’s affordable, performs well, is sufficiently roomy, gets good fuel economy, and gets top marks for safety. If it can outrun our neighbor’s car from a stoplight or attract attention from the opposite sex at the supermarket parking lot, so much the better.

To that end we scoured assorted databases to highlight 15 of the most practical cars, crossovers, and minivans for the 2017 model year that meet all of the above criteria. We’re featuring each of them with specs and other pertinent information in the accompanying slideshow and video.

Each gets among the best fuel economy and affords the greatest cargo volumes within their respective vehicle classes, and all have been named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That means they’ve received top marks in all of the IIHS’ crashworthiness tests, received “good” or “acceptable” ratings for headlight performance, and offer standard or optional frontal auto-braking systems that enable each model to avoid a crash or reduce speeds by at least 5 mph in either of two tests conducted at 12 and 25 mph.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the models in our list are hatchbacks or crossover SUVs, given that their tall-roofed designs and rear tailgates inherently afford expansive cargo capacity and easy loading and unloading. We skipped over pickup trucks and full-size SUVs in that they’re all essentially practical but their fuel economy is hardly worth noting. Small cars, and most midsize sedans for that matter, failed to make the cut given their comparatively limited cargo room, though the stellar fuel economy of the Honda Accord Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid models raised their profile considerably in terms of their overall practicality.

But the clear winner in our survey, the vehicle we’d nominate as being the most practical ride on the road for 2017 is the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Though the segment still carries the insidious “soccer mom” stigma, minivans have long been the most sensible choices for growing families. They feature expansive interiors, flexible seating, family-minded features, and slide-open rear doors that makes belting children into their car seats in crowded parking far less of a chore. The Pacifica in particular affords a whopping maximum 140 cubic feet of cargo space thanks to Chrysler’s handy Stow ‘n’ Go seats in which both the second and third rows fold into the floor to create an enormous load floor (it’s probably large enough to fit a Smart fortwo microcar, should the need ever arise). The Pacifica is also offered in a fuel frugal plug-in hybrid model that can travel for the first 33 miles on a charge solely on battery power, though it’s far costlier at $41,995 versus starting at $28,595 for the standard V6-powered version.


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