These models get the best fuel economy, provide the most cargo space, and are top-rated for safety.

True, this is an enthusiast-oriented website that emphasizes vehicular thrills and sheer emotional appeal over absolute utility. But sometimes life puts us in a position to choose function over form and we're forced to seek out the most practical ride we can afford. By our standards that means picking a model that performs well, is sufficiently roomy, gets good fuel economy, and earns top marks for safety. To that end we scoured assorted databases to highlight cars, minivans, and crossover SUVs for the 2017 model year that meet all of the above criteria. We’re featuring them in the accompanying slideshow.

Each gets above-average fuel economy in its respective class as rated by the Environmental Protection Agency, delivers among the largest cargo volumes, and is designated as a Top Safety Pick (or better) by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That means they’ve received top marks in the IIHS’ the driver-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint crash tests, and received “good” or “acceptable” ratings for headlight performance. Each also offers a frontal auto-braking system that can help motorists avoid a crash or reduce speeds by at least 5 mph in either of two tests conducted at 12 and 25 mph.

To help level the proverbial playing field, we’ve stuck with conventionally powered vehicles, all from the 2018 model year, which means no hybrid, electric, or diesel-powered rides are represented. Suffice it to say, where offered in a given model line those versions will deliver improved fuel economy, but at higher prices. Unless otherwise noted, all MSRPs (manufacturer’s suggested retail prices) are for base versions without options, and include the automaker’s destination charge.

Read also