6. Volkswagen Routan

You might be surprised to learn that this “German-engineered” minivan – through a partnership with Chrysler – is actually a Dodge Grand Caravan with a few important tweaks.

This is great news if you’re looking for a minivan with moves because VW re-tuned the suspension for a sportier ride. They also simplified the amount of options and made many helpful features standard.  Dual power-sliding doors are standard on all but the base trim level, for instance.

You get the best of both worlds with the Routan: many years of minivan know-how from Chrysler and crisp styling and handling from Volkswagen. And though the Routan may cost more than it’s counterpart from Dodge, you’ll get Volkswagen’s complimentary “CareFree Maintenance” plan which more than makes up for the price difference with free scheduled maintenance for the first three years of ownership.

7. Dodge Grand Caravan

The Grand Caravan was one of the very first minivans to hit the market when the modern segment was born in the 1980’s and Dodge has continued to innovate since then.

One of the most popular features is the standard “Stow ‘n Go” seating which allows the middle seats to be folded underneath the floor to make room for cargo.  When the seats are up, their storage cubbies can be used to hide valuables.  An optional “Swivel ‘n Go” seat allows the middle seats to face backward so that kids can play games together on long trips.

If you’re looking to save some money for the kid’s college fund, you’ll also appreciate that the Grand Caravan is the most affordable of all the full-size minivans.

8. Chrysler Town & Country

If there’s such thing as a luxury minivan, this is it.  The Town & Country can be had with leather seats, a navigation system, power-adjustable pedals, three-zone automatic climate control, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Owners tell us that they were won over by the many multimedia options available to keep their kids happy (and quiet).  This Chrysler has an optional DVD system, 3G-based wi-fi internet, and even a mobile television service that plays Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network.  Where was all this stuff when we were kids?

9. Ford Flex
Sometimes taking the road less traveled is a very good thing.  Ford challenged its designers to come up with a vehicle that was as practical as it was stylish and the result is the Flex.  It’s boxy, it’s family-friendly, and it most definitely stands out.  One owner bragged that her Flex “gets many questions and positive comments.”

Beyond the unique rectilinear look, the Flex earned its place in the top ten thanks to an enormous and very upscale interior.  There’s a multi-panel Vista Roof option that bathes the cabin in natural light and Ford’s excellent SYNC system to manage your media and phone calls with ease.  Kids will have plenty of space to stretch out in back and enjoy the DVD player.

If you’ve got older teenagers in the house, you’ll also love the MyKey safety system which allows you to set limits on the top speed and maximum volume for the audio system before you send Junior out on the road.
10. BMW X5

Coming in at the number ten spot is BMW’s spirited X5.  It may cost a pretty penny – starting price is around $47k and can quickly balloon past $60k with options – but this Bimmer can haul your family and carve corners with equal ease.

The parents who chose this BMW love the composed handling and aggressive looks.  One reviewer explained that the X5 “makes you feel good. It's cool and savvy. It exudes confidence.”

Due to a tight third-row seat, the X5 falls a bit short on family duty.  But if you’ve got a small family and only need to use the third row occasionally, this BMW’s taut moves and undeniable curb appeal will win you over.

Matt Cragin
Matt Cragin manages the community on car website Honk.com, enabling him to keep his finger on the pulse of automotive world. Always ready to chat cars, Matt can be found on Twitter and Car Blog.

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