Larger CUVs have replaced minivans as the transport of choice for most families. Gone are the days of sliding doors in exchange for more ground clearance and all-wheel drive. Some of the family CUVs have three rows of seating while others can only seat five.
Refreshed for the 2016 model year, the Ford Explorer has a meaner, more truck-like mug. Despite the recent refresh, the Explorer still has SYNC with MyFord Touch, which is slow and unresponsive compared to the latest SYNC3 infotainment system. I find this very odd, as the smaller and more affordable Escape has SYNC3, whereas you pay more for the Explorer and get a worse system.
The Honda Pilot was all-new for 2016 with sleeker styling that I find attractive. Unfortunately, the interior is a mess. The gauge cluster has analog gauges for the tachometer, coolant temperature and fuel levels, but the speedometer is digital and monochromatic. The infotainment system resembles the cheaper HR-V and doesn't have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support like the Accord either.
Hyundai refreshed the Santa Fe Sport for 2017 with minor alterations to the exterior styling. The new black wheels look amazing to me. The best addition to the refreshed Santa Fe Sport is support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It was the only car entered into the family class to support the phone connectivity features.
You can't have a competition that involves dirt and mud without including Jeep, so a Grand Cherokee 75th Anniversary Edition joined the festivities. I'm a big fan of Jeeps for its off-road prowess, and the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is my ultimate dream car if I had $80k to drop on a fun and practical family car. The Jeep Grand Cherokee was the only family-class entry to go through an extreme off-road course, including donuts in the water feature, which gave it a leg up against the soft-roaders.
I've spent a lot of time in the Kia Sorento's and typically recommend it to those searching for a larger CUV with or without three rows of seating. It's a good looking CUV with plenty of room and high quality interior materials. Kia offers the interior in merlot red, too, and I'm a major sucker for red interiors.
Mitsubishi refreshed the Outlander's previous frumpy styling with a more dynamic face for the 2016 model year. The new face sports plenty of chrome all around, which I'm not a fan of, because I despise chrome. Nevertheless, the Outlander has three rows of seating and the cheapest vehicle entered into the family class.