Young athletes today compete year-round in a variety of clubs and travel to tournaments, usually with staggering amounts of equipment. Vehicle support is often key, and to that end, Edmunds has collected its picks for the best cars, trucks and SUVs for families with active young athletes.
Space for passengers and cargo is paramount in this decision, especially if you’ll also be shuttling some of your child’s teammates. We’ve also considered comfort, fuel economy and safety features into our recommendations. Whether it’s hockey, travel baseball or amateur motocross, one of our five vehicles should be suited to your needs.
Note that we’ve listed a recommended trim level for each vehicle as well as its listed manufacturer suggested retail pricing (MSRP), which includes destination fees. Other current discounts or incentives might also be available in your area. All of the vehicles here would work well as a 2- or 3-year-old used vehicle.
2019 HONDA ODYSSEY
Forget that minivans may project some notion of automotive uncoolness. For active youth sports families, few vehicles are more practical than the Odyssey. Eight-passenger seating means you can ferry your whole crew to weekend tournaments and still have 38 cubic feet of luggage space for gear — more than double the trunk space of most sedans. A low floor and sliding doors make it easy for even your smallest goal-scorers to hop in and out. And with its strong V6 engine that returns an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in combined city/highway driving, the Odyssey is built for long hauls. It’s also Edmunds’ top-ranked minivan.
Odyssey EX starting MSRP: $35,205
2019 CHEVROLET TRAVERSE
Can’t bring yourself to pilot a minivan? We get it. The next best thing is a three-row crossover SUV. The Chevrolet Traverse offers a roomy cabin and the largest cargo space in its class. Three kids or teens can sit in the spacious second row. And by folding down the third row, you’ve got 58 cubic feet of space for gear and equipment bags. The Traverse is a big SUV and feels like it behind the wheel, but its V6 engine is up to the task of getting you and your crew up to speed. It also gets 21 mpg in combined driving.
Traverse FWD LT Cloth starting MSRP: $36,595
2019 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF SPORTWAGEN
There are smaller alternatives if you don’t want a minivan or an SUV. The VW Golf SportWagen strikes a good balance between big-car utility and small-car practicality. The SportWagen’s 30 cubic feet of cargo space offers plenty of room for gear, and its rear-seat pass-through allows you to carry long objects — think hockey or lacrosse sticks — lengthwise while still keeping the rear seats upright for two passengers. The SportWagen won’t dazzle you with power from its four-cylinder engine, but it does sip gas to the tune of 31 mpg combined. Golf SportWagen SE starting MSRP: $30,980
If your kids race bikes or karts, ride bulls or horses, or surf waves at the crack of dawn, you’ll want a Ram 1500. It rides almost as serenely as a sedan thanks to a unique suspension design, and its quiet cabin offers plenty of space for passengers and multiple storage nooks (under the seat, for example). The Ram, one of the most capable towing rigs around, is available with a variety of engine, cab and bed length configurations. It’s no surprise that the Ram 1500 is Edmunds’ top-ranked light-duty pickup.
What happens when your requirements exceed what all of the above vehicles are capable of supporting? You go big. The Ford Transit can carry up to 15 passengers, making it easy to scoop up the whole softball team. Alternately, you can take out a couple of rows of seating and have a huge cargo area at your disposal. Other advantages include an optional high roof, which allows even lanky teens to stand up inside, and Ford’s sophisticated Sync 3 infotainment system that can make long treks to distant tournaments more enjoyable.
Transit XL starting MSRP: $37,335
EDMUNDS SAYS: With today’s youth sports requiring ever more space for gear and distances to travel for competition, families have several good options for driving their young athletes.
Dan Frio is a reviews editor at Edmunds. This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds.