If you checked out our home page this morning, then you probably saw that we’ve announced the first annual U.S. News Best Cars for Families awards. The awards, which cover the 2011 model year, aim to help families make smart car buying decisions by highlighting cars, SUVs and vans with the best combination of safety, reliability, comfort, space and value.

To say that all of us here at U.S. News Cars are excited about these awards would be an understatement. We’re all committed to helping consumers navigate a confusing car market. Shopping for a car is hard enough, but when you add in the extra needs and wants of keeping a family happy and on the road (not to mention on budget), shopping for a new car goes from confusing to bewildering. We created the Best Cars for Families awards to help.

Another reason we’re proud of these is because, like everything we do, the Best Cars for Families awards are data-driven. The winners aren’t simply a list of cars that we like. Instead, the winners are cars that objectively perform well on the measures parents care about and come with strong recommendations from the automotive press as a whole. The fact that we were able to apply our awards equation across 20 automotive classes shows that no matter what your budget or lifestyle, there’s a car that will meet your family’s needs.

Check out the Best Cars for Families award winners to find your next family car.