What To Look for In Your New Family Vehicle

Whether you’re a new parent or an expectant parent, there is a lot that you need to do to prepare for life with a little one. From child-proofing your home to building a nursery, and from cutting back on Friday-night happy hours to cutting back on the number of hours you work, some changes are to be expected and can be planned for while others you are forced to learn along the way. One change for which you can prepare is the vehicle change.

Yes, in addition to having to give up couples’ game night and impromptu weekends away, you must also give up your two-seater convertible, cute sedan, or heavy-duty off-road rig. Don’t worry though—you don’t have to give it up for a minivan or some other equally undesirable mom car. Today’s vehicle manufacturers design their makes and models with young parents in mind. As a result, there are safe, practical family vehicles that, for all intents and purposes, look like sleek sports utility vehicles. While the make and model you get all depends on your needs, terrain, and budget, there are certain features that most manufacturers agree all family cars need. When getting a new car for parents, consider investing in these must-have kid-friendly features:

Car Seat Support is Key

The LATCH system, or the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children system, provides a newer and safer way for parents to secure car seats in a vehicle. Most newer vehicle makes and models include the appropriate anchors along the backseats, but double check each car you test drive just to be sure. This system is far safer than the belt system and can even be combined with the belt system for utmost security. As your child grows older and you face his or her car seat forward, you can secure the seat in place via the tether system, which utilizes hooks on the roof of the vehicle.

Color Matters

Most people select the color of their vehicle based on personal taste without ever giving thought to the practicalities of their decision, but research suggests that this is a mistake. Autotrader compared two vehicles of nearly the same model in separate colors: white and black. The two vehicles sat in the same place, in direct sun, for the same amount of time. After a few hours, Autotrader read the vehicles’ inside temperatures. According to the results, the white car’s cabin measured 20 degrees cooler than the black car’s. If you want to be able to get into your vehicle and go without sweltering, it might make more sense to get a lighter colored vehicle.

Hands-Full Helpers Provide Convenience

As a parent, you’re going to have to learn to do a lot of things with one hand. That said, why work without that extra limb when you don’t have to? A few manufacturers these days had parents in mind when the designed some of their latest features. For instance, the newest Ford Escape features a foot-activated trunk that makes it easy for you to stow groceries even when you have a baby in hand. Kia Sorrento’s Smart Power Liftgate automatically opens when the presence of the smart key is detected for three seconds behind the car. Of course, there’s the classic minivan door, which slides open with ease at the press of a button.

Electronic Extras To Look Out For

Your little one may not be interested in Barney and Bob the Builder just yet but given it three years and he or she won’t be able to go anywhere without said trusted companions. You can forego the bulky DVD player and behind-the-seat TV when you have a vehicle that has built-in hotspots. If you plan on taking long road trips when your child turns three, four or five, make sure that they’re never out of power and invest in a vehicle that comes complete with charging outlets and USB ports. If you want to be able to converse with your children with ease while on the road, check out Toyota’s Driver Easy Speak feature, a speaker system that allows you to carry on a conversation with those in the backseat without yelling or asking “What?” every few seconds.

After reading this article, you may decide that giving up your convertible isn’t all bad. In addition to being safer for little ones, today’s family vehicles are also just plain fun—so fun, in fact, that you might find yourself sitting in the back seat and enjoying the amenities with your littles while your significant other takes the wheel.