2014 Ford Flex
MSRP: $29,910

Basically a minivan in a crossover's body, the Flex has room for seven, 44 inches of legroom in the second row and a power folding mechanism for getting into the third row. A surprising amount of headroom makes it easy to transport a large crew or throw some gear in the back and take a long trip all while giving them enough room to maneuver regardless of height.

Options such as sliding second-row captain's seats, Microsoft Sync phone, entertainment and navigation systems in its MyFord Touch screen, DVD entertainment center for the back, a multipanel sunroof and second-row fridge console for road sodas compensate somewhat for its roughly 22 combined miles per gallon. Potential buyers may be turned off by its looks, but that standout frame and spacious 80 cubic feet of cargo room make it a pretty ideal family hauler.

2014 Honda Odyssey
Starting price: $28,825

For families in the know, the minivan category isn't just some '90s throwback. It's an absolute essential that inspires pickup-style loyalty.

Hardliners swear by their Toyota Siennas, Nissan Quests and Dodge Grand Caravans. But the Odyssey can carry up to eight people with enough room behind them for a small grill. More importantly, it can carry five family members, collapse the third row and have 93.1 cubic feet for more storage.

It doesn't matter if it's cool. Second-row seats can be configured to fit three child seats. The Odyssey's removable center console has a flip-up and a "cool box" beverage cooler for sandwiches and drinks. The optional 16.2-inch split-screen entertainment system that lets passengers watch two programs once was once considered this van's killer app; now the addition of the HondaVac to this year's Odyssey Touring Elite gives shuttle-driving a helping hand when the Shop-Vac is miles away in the garage and the backseat is filled with beheaded animal crackers.

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