Unusual Suspect: Ford F-150 Works as Family Car
There are a slew of minivan alternatives out there for large families who don't want to succumb to the rolling stereotype. Three-row crossovers are the most popular choice, but I'm always looking for something unique that can fit families with more than two children.
The Ford F-150 in a SuperCab or SuperCrew configuration is one such unusual suspect. Not only can it handle your family, but it also does a sound job of hiding the truth about your mundane familial existence. It's even a ride with sex appeal.
The F-150 SuperCrew is a full-four-door model with a full-size backseat. The SuperCab has an extended cab, which offers a smaller second row than the SuperCrew, and reverse-hinged rear doors. Technically, the SuperCab and SuperCrew styles are spacious enough for up to six passengers. In reality, this means it easily fits three child-safety seats across the second row and has plenty of legroom back there for longer and shorter legs alike. The front seats are roomy and surprisingly adept at comforting tired parents.
Cargo space is extraordinary because, well you're driving a pickup truck. The F-150 has a bed with 81.3 cubic feet of cargo volume and the ability to haul more than 3,000 pounds of stuff. Even though your family is growing, we're pretty sure you'll never buy 3,000 pounds of groceries, but it's still nice to know the option is there in case you try out for an episode of TLC's "Extreme Couponing." It's more likely you'd use the space for long road trips to haul the family's luggage, coolers, camping gear and what have you.
Inside, there are eight cupholders and a center console that's large enough to hold a laptop and some snacks.
Don't think that because it's a truck it doesn't have high-tech features. An 8-inch LCD screen showcases the F-150's backup camera and navigation system images. The F-150 also has the voice-activated Sync system as well as smartphone integration.
With a rear-wheel-drive F-150, the 302-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 engine gets an EPA-estimated 17/23 mpg city/highway while the 365-hp, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 nets 16/22 mpg. The 360-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 gets 15/21 mpg and the 411-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 takes home 13/18 mpg.
The EcoBoost V-6 is now the most popular choice in the F-150 lineup. The standard V-6 in Ford's Explorer crossover is rated at 17/24 mpg, so you're not giving up a tremendous amount of efficiency to get a full-fledged truck.
The Ford F-150 is also safe. It's been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for the past couple of years, so you know it will do all it can to keep your precious cargo safe. The only other full-size truck to earn Top Safety Pick status is the Toyota Tundra.
It may not be the first vehicle to come to mind when shopping for a family car, but after ticking off all the important marks on a family's checklist, the F-150 seems downright sensible to put on your test-drive list.