2022 CarBuzz Awards Finalists: Family Fun

2022 CarBuzz Awards / 7 Comments

Don't be selfish. Get a car the whole family can enjoy.

This is the least selfish of the various CarBuzz Awards categories. The Track Weapon, Affordable Fun, and Off-Road Warrior categories are all about how a car feels and interacts with the driver, but to win this award, a vehicle needs to be fun for the entire family.

We also have some basic rules for this category. A car needs to fit at least four people and their luggage. Above and beyond that, it needs to turn mundane commutes into fun events and have the spirit of adventure baked in. Our 2021 winner is a prime example. The 2022 Kia Carnival does a splendid job of being a spacious, comfortable, and economical minivan. It also has cool features like reclining second-row seats, built-in Netflix, and the ability to connect a modern console like Nintendo Switch to the rear-seat entertainment system.

It was a challenging year in this segment. To give you some idea of how difficult it was to whittle the list down to three, here's a list of the cars that didn't make it: Kia Sorento Hybrid, Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe, and the Subaru Forester Wilderness. In no particular order, here are the top three finalists.


2023 Mazda CX-50

Miata is always the answer, right? As it turns out, Mazda builds another car that is also the answer in the compact crossover segment.

At its core, the Mazda CX-50 is an elongated CX-5 with a 110.8-inch wheelbase instead of the latter's 106.2 inches. The additional length results in more legroom and a larger cargo area. Rear passengers don't get a fancy entertainment system, but there are charging ports for smartphones, and kids don't need more than that these days.

The CX-50's real trick is its multiple layers, accessed via the driving modes. Stick it in Normal Mode, and it does the mundane stuff quietly and efficiently. More fun is available in the Off-Road and Sport driving modes. Mazda's all-wheel-drive system can transfer weight electronically. While it may sound like a dumb artificial nanny, it works beautifully.

The rugged exterior and lifted chassis make it a proper adventure vehicle, letting you take the family on camping trips in the great unknown. When left to your own devices, you can engage Sport mode, and it becomes one of the best driver's SUVs around.

No wonder Mazda is struggling to keep up with demand.

2023 Mazda CX-50 Front View CarBuzz 2023 Mazda CX-50 Rear View CarBuzz 2023 Mazda CX-50 Rear Passenger Seats Mazda 2023 Mazda CX-50 Dashboard Mazda
2023 Mazda CX-50 Front View
2023 Mazda CX-50 Rear View
2023 Mazda CX-50 Rear Passenger Seats
2023 Mazda CX-50 Dashboard

2023 Hyundai Palisade

The previous incarnation of the Palisade won the inaugural Family Fun Award. It's a prime example of making motoring fun for the entire family. It has a handsome exterior, a 3.8-liter naturally aspirated V6 engine that produces a perfectly adequate 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, and a generous list of standard features.

But the Palisade's real secret is Hyundai's understanding of what luxury means. The interior feels like it was made by Genesis, and you get a few features pulled straight out of the luxury catalog. On the top-spec Calligraphy, all three rows are heated, and the driver gets an Ergo Motion massage function. The second row of some trims is even ventilated, something not even the BMW X7 can boast.

Luxury is about more than that, however. It's about space, air, and light. All three rows are large enough for adults, which is something we rarely see in the automotive world. The windows are large, allowing light to flow in from all directions. The Palisade has a general sense of well-being, on par with expensive SUVs like the BMW X7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS.

CarBuzz 2023 Hyundai Palisade Rear Angle View CarBuzz 2023 Hyundai Palisade Forward View CarBuzz 2023 Hyundai Palisade Dashboard CarBuzz
2023 Hyundai Palisade Rear Angle View
2023 Hyundai Palisade Forward View
2023 Hyundai Palisade Dashboard

2023 Toyota Sequoia

Difficult to spell, easy to live with. The 2023 Sequoia launched earlier this year sporting a somewhat controversial face, but everything else is sublime.

The Sequoia is everything the adventurous family needs. It's rugged in whatever trim you choose; if you opt for a 4x4, very little can stand in its way. All models are powered by 3.4-liter twin-turbocharged V6 mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission that also houses a motor generator. The combined output is 437 hp and 583 lb-ft, more than any of its direct competitors. As a result, it can tow up to 9,520 pounds. Choose whatever adventure you like; the Sequoia can tow all of the goodies that go with it.

While the Sequoia is still a body-on-frame design, Toyota went to great lengths to improve the ride quality. All models are equipped with a multi-link rear suspension, which makes a huge difference compared to the old model.

The quality of materials is good, and all modern gadgets are present and accounted for, including a new infotainment system that ranks among the best. No more Land Cruiser? No problem.

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