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10 Best Family Cars of 2012

Tickers in this article: F GM HMC TM
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- The family car doesn't get a summer vacation.

It doesn't have to take the kids to school, soccer practice, rehearsals or to relatives' houses for the holidays, but in many ways summer can be the most punishing season for the beloved family vehicle. The heat makes the interior feel twice as small while the road trips can get considerably longer. The comfort, fuel economy and reliability are tested every day a family's on vacation. One failure or slip-up and the family car is relegated to the mechanic while its charges drive off in a loaner or, worse, a rental.

Vehicle ratings services such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book know just how crucial the lazy days of summer can be for the family car, which is why both recently compiled lists of the vehicles they believe are the best available to American families today. We took a look at those lists and compiled the 10 best offerings from each. The following are the vehicles most likely to turn a chorus of "are we there yet" into a ride nobody's in any rush to end:

10. 2012 Toyota(TM) Prius v
MSRP: $26,550

The space of a wagon with the fuel efficiency of a subcompact? Yes, please. The Prius v's "V" stands for versatile and nowhere is that more evident than in its 67.3 cubic feet of cargo space. That's considerably larger than the original-recipe Prius' 39.6 cubic feet and is closer to that of compact SUVs such as Toyota's RAV4. Its combined 42 miles per gallon is impressive, but still is substantial step down from the regular Prius' 50. Still, that combination of space and fuel efficiency is a family shuttle driver's dream.

9. 2012 Chrysler 300
MSRP: $28,670

It's a full-sized sedan without the full-sized cost. Even the bare-bones rear-wheel-drive model comes with a 3.6-liter, 292-horsepower V6 engine, eight-speed automatic transmission, touchscreen communications and entertainment console and one year of Sirius-XM(SIRI) satellite radio. That's all great for the driver, but a cavernous interior, 16 cubic feet of trunk space and a 60/40 folding rear seat and mileage that tops out at 31 miles per gallon on the highway is great for the whole brood.

8. 2012 Honda(HMC) Civic
MSRP: $15,955

It's a bit snug for a family car, but the Civic's combined 33 miles per gallon and nearly 40 miles per gallon on the highway make it tempting for households on a tight budget. It seats five with a surprising amount of space left over, is coated in airbags to keep everyone safe and has a new display that shows fuel efficiency, music info and even family photos.

7. 2012 Chevrolet(GM) Suburban 1500
MSRP: $42,220