Fuel economy: 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway
Smaller families might want to opt for a vehicle with less of a footprint than a crossover or minivan. The 2011 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited fits that bill.
A number of factors separate Outback 2.5i Limited from others on this list. It is the least pricey, seats a maximum of five, gets the best fuel economy, has a four-cylinder engine and has all-wheel drive.
Not just a summer road-trip car, the all-wheel-drive qualifies Outback for winter excursions as well.
A 2.5 liter, horizontally opposed, four-cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower that is hustled to all four wheels by a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Sporting the least interior space among vehicles on this list, Outback's rear-seat legroom is 37.8 inches, and cargo space behind the second-row seat is 34.3 cubic feet.
Notable among its safety features are six air bags and stability control. The Outback also scored well in crash tests.
Standard features include full power accessories; cruise control; tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; heated front seats; trip computer; dual-zone, automatic climate control; and a nine-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system with a subwoofer, six-CD changer and an auxiliary input jack.