Best Family Cars of 2003
(ARA) - Many of us remember being crammed into the back of
a crowded, hot station wagon when we were kids. Penned in
by suitcases or grocery bags, you had to crouch down to avoid
bumping your head, and often the only entertainment available
was kicking your brother or counting the signs on the highway.
The family car has come a long way since
then. Today’s kids ride in comfort, with personal headphones
for their music, and videos to keep them amused. There are
so many options and so many kinds of vehicles available now,
that it’s difficult to know what’s best for your
There is help. MotorWeek, the critically
acclaimed PBS weekly automotive magazine series, has some
suggestions to help families evaluate cars on the market today.
The annual MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards are presented
to the best vehicles in 12 categories selected by a team of
10 judges, including writers, producers and crew members from
“Our team test drives more than 150
cars and trucks annually, and their decisions are based on
superior performance, technology, practicality, style and
dollar value,” says John Davis, executive producer and
host of MotorWeek.
Here’s a preview of the 2003 winners,
which will be featured online at www.pbs.org/motorweek:
Best Family Sedan: Saab 9-3
“This new Saab is yet another example
of how mainline European manufacturers are discovering that
they can build sedans that meet the needs of American families
yet are still inspiring to drive,” says Davis. The car
is more expensive than its domestic and Japanese competitors,
but it comes with premium items such as leather upholstery,
a power driver’s seat, traction control and a huge trunk.
Best Family Sport-Utility Vehicle: Ford
The team called this second generation Expedition
“the new benchmark for full-size sport-utility vehicles.”
This is the first SUV to offer an all-independent suspension
system, which provides a smooth ride and easy cornering that
is superior to most cars. It is also the first to have features
like a power, folding third seat, side curtain airbags that
can deploy in a rollover situation, and a stability system.
“The Expedition is clearly the new king of big sport-utes,”
Best Mid-size Sport-Utility Vehicle: Kia
This vehicle is comparable in size to the
best selling SUVs; it has a strong V-6 engine, and is available
with an effortless-to-operate, on-demand, four-wheel-drive
system. Most desirable features like air conditioning and
power windows are standard. The best news is the Kia costs
about 30 percent less than a comparable SUV.
Best Small Sport-Utility Vehicle: Honda
“By thinking totally outside the proverbial
SUV box, and clearly targeting young, active adults, Honda
has delivered the most versatile little vehicle we’ve
ever seen,” says Davis. The Element has clamshell side
doors, a washable floor, and seats that fold down for sleeping
and up for cargo. The team called this car “a motorized
box for just about any need.” Adds Davis “This
has got to be the sports enthusiast vehicle of the decade.
The only problem is that some not-so-young adults will want
Best Pickup Truck: Dodge Ram
The experts found that American products
are still “king” in the big truck categories.
For the family that needs some hauling power, the Dodge Ram
Heavy Duty offers the most powerful motor available in a big
pickup truck. It also has a wide cab body, a well-designed
interior, and attractive styling.
Best Eco-Friendly: Honda Civic
“If one of your requirements for a
family car is being environmentally friendly, there is none
greener than the Honda Civic,” says Davis. In a practical,
spacious four-door sedan format, Honda offers two alternative
fuel options: the Civic GX which runs on compressed natural
gas, or the gasoline-electric powered Civic Hybrid. Even the
gasoline-powered Civics are among the cleanest running cars
on the planet, without compromising reliability or performance.
Best Small Car: Mini Cooper
MotorWeek experts found that the Mini Cooper
is more fun to drive than most sports cars. Built by BMW,
it can seat 6-footers comfortably, and for less than $20,000
can be outfitted with the most advanced safety features in
the automotive world. “This little vehicle is not only
packed with technology, it’s also hard to ignore ‘the
cute factor,’” says Davis.
For more details and the complete list of
Drivers’ Choice Award winners, visit www.pbs.org/motorweek.
Airing on PBS and the Speed Channel, the weekly automotive
magazine covers all aspects of the automotive industry and
offers consumers unbiased, cutting-edge news and features
covering new vehicle trends, current safety information, and
the results of practical road tests. MotorWeek is nationally
underwritten by eBay Motors and Pep Boys.
Courtesy of ARA Content
EDITOR'S NOTE: Since 1981, MotorWeek has
been the trusted source for unbiased information, providing
the first and last word on the automotive world. Hosted by
John Davis, television's original automotive magazine offers
comprehensive, cutting-edge news and features for consumers
and enthusiasts alike.