There are a lot of factors to consider when looking for a new family car. Rather than something flashy and small, a lot of your choices will be big, bulky and boring. Fortunately, there are quite a few options available to steer you away from the minivan crows and make it more fun to own a family vehicle.

One of the biggest factors in regards to a family car is safety. Seatbelts and airbags are just some of the safety features that you need to be aware of. Size is another issue. You need enough room not only for your passengers but for all of the cargo that comes with a family.

These days cost is also a big issue. While you don’t want to have to pay an arm and a leg for a family car, you also want to purchase a quality vehicle. Considerations that went into this list are safety, child-friendliness, comfort, cost of ownership and consumer ratings.

Listing of 2012’s Top Family Cars

1.    Toyota Prius V

The Prius from Toyota has been a popular car in the past for its wallet friendly fuel economy. The Prius, however, is a smaller car and not usually big enough for a family. Thankfully, along came the Prius V, which is considered to be a compact SUV. The Prius V has four doors and seating for five; the rear seats both recline and slide. There are six standard airbags, child door locks, traction control, and an engine immobilizer. Even better, the Prius V gets 40/44 MPG with a MSRP of around $26,000.

2.    Ford Flex

The Ford Flex is a nice choice if you want the room of a small SUV or minivan but a different look, which is boxy and long. It contains three rows of seats and can fit 7 people. The Flex has side airbags in all three rows, traction control, electronic stability and roll stability control.

The Ford Flex offers heated seats in the front, a driver’s seat that can move 10 ways, air conditioning in the front and back, and a CD player that is MP3 compatible. Optional features include a rearview camera, all wheel drive, remote start, a DVD entertainment system in the back, a parallel parking aid, and a refrigerator in the rear console. Fuel efficiency is rated as 17/24 MPG and MSRP is around $30,000.

3.    Honda CR-V

The CR-V from Honda has always been a popular vehicle in the crossover class. The 2012 model looks more contemporary and it offers better gas mileage than the 2011 model. The CR-V seats five and is a standard front wheel drive with all wheel drive as an option.

The Honda CR-V is also easy to drive and the 2012 version has even better driving characteristics. It has a steering system that helps you maintain control while driving on uneven or slippery roads. The vehicle now has a rear bench that is split 60/40 to make more room for cargo. The mpg for city and highway driving is 23 and 31. Base model MSRP starts at around $23,100.

4.    Subaru Outback

The 2012 Outback from Subaru is a great choice for both on and off the road. Along with having all wheel drive and a high clearance, the Outback also gets good fuel economy, has lots of cargo room, and fits five people. The inside is roomy, with an extra four inches for your legroom and three for your head.

Time for a roadtrip? In the rear of the Outback there is cargo storage under the floor to help you fit more luggage. It also has rear seats that are split 60/40 and can fold down.

The 2012 Outback has six airbags and a rollover sensor. The reinforced frame further protects passengers in the event of a collision. Along with anti lock brakes, the Subaru Outback has an Electronic Brake-force Distribution to help balance your braking. The mpg is 27 on the highway and 19 in the city, and the MSRP is a little over $23,000.

5.    Volkswagen Passat

For a European car at an American price, the new Passat from Volkswagen is a good choice. It is manufactured in Tennessee and is cheaper than the 2011 model while allowing for more room. The Passat is enjoyable to drive on the road and is also a practical family choice.

The Passat base model comes with dual climate control, keyless entry, Bluetooth, audio controls on the steering wheel, and automatic headlights standard. The rear seats come with more legroom than the 2011 model. The Passat it gets 32 mpg on the highway and 22 in the city. The MSRP is a bit under $21,000.

6.    Chrysler 300

If you prefer a full size sedan, the 2012 Chrysler 300 is a good family choice. It has style while offering great standard premium features and comfort. Its mpg in the city is 18 and 27 on the highway. Although the 300 is considered to be a luxury vehicle, the base price is around $28,000.

The Chrylser 300 can fit five people and is child-friendly. It is also the vehicle for you if safety is a big concern- the 300 earned a 5 star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

7.    Honda Civic

If you do not have a huge family or need a lot of space the 2012 Honda Civic is a great choice. It can seat up to five comfortably, and its mpg in the city is 28 and 36 on the highway. The MSRP is around $20,000.

The Honda Civic has a number of standard safety features such as vehicle stability assist, anti lock brakes and a tire pressure monitoring system. It contains front and side airbags and is structured so that if you have a collision in the front the energy is evenly distributed throughout the vehicle. All of these contributed to the Civic being a top safety pick in 2011 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

8.    Chevrolet Suburban 1500

An obvious choice for a family vehicle with lots of cargo room is an SUV. The Suburban from Chevrolet fits that bill. It can fit up to nine people, has a large towing capacity, and is comfortable for travel. There is climate control for both the front and the back passengers and there is a DVD entertainment system for both the second and third row with remote controls and wireless headphones and surround sound.

In terms of safety, the Suburban has engineering characteristics and electronic systems to help prevent collisions. There is a stability and traction control system, anti lock brakes, proactive roll avoidance, six air bags, and OnStar Crash Response. What you gain in comfort and safety you lose in fuel economy- the mpg for city driving is 10 and on the highway it is 16. The MSRP starts at around $41,000 for the base model.

9.    Kia Sorento

The 2012 Sorento from Kia delivers good fuel economy and three rows of seating for passengers as well as a low price tag. Starting at around $24,000, the Sorento can get up to 26 mpg on the highway and 20 in the city.

The 2012 Sorento was named by Consumer Digest as a Best Buy. This Kia also received a 5 Star crash rating from the NHTSA and was a 2012 Safety Pick by IIHS. Some standard features include Bluetooth, XM Radio, USB input jacks, and an arm rest in the second row that contains a cup holder.

10.    Honda Odyssey

For a family friendly minivan, check out the 2012 Odyssey from Honda. It can seat up to eight people, has power sliding doors, a power tailgate, and front and rear parking sensors. It also has a modern look to it, with a low slung, aerodynamic profile. With lower anchors and tethered seating positions, the Odyssey makes it easy to transport babies and kids of different sizes.

Safety features include front head restraints to prevent whiplash, electronic brake distribution, and stability and traction control. The Odyssey also has a tire pressure monitoring device, an advanced body structure, and seats belts that contain an automatic tensioning system. It has received the 5 Star Safety overall rating from NHTSA. The mpg is 18 in the city and 24 on the highway and the base price is about $29,000.

What is the Best Family Car to buy?

This will depend on your unique needs but any of the cars listed above should be a serious contender for your next family car. Of course, if you feel like having a mid-life crisis and just want to break down to buy a Porsche 911 we understand that also!