Have a new family or planning to start one? Choosing the right vehicle for your new family or growing brood doesn’t need to be difficult if you have a good idea of what you want and a check-list to get you started off in the right direction.
While sedan’s may seem a practical choice, most families prefer the convenience of SUV’s, crossover vehicles, minivans or even the wagon for their roomier cabins, more storage space and the ability to include more passengers comfortably. In fact, in the last few years, auto makers have really stepped up their game by going above and beyond to better accommodate the needs of growing families.
Once you determine what you need, what features you like best and what options are important to you and your family, you’ll be better equipped to find something you like that fits well within your budget. Below is a handy check-list that could help pave the way to finding the car of your family’s dreams.
Number of Children
If you already have children, you have a good idea of exactly how much room you’ll need. If you’re just starting a family or intend to start one soon, you’ll need to factor in car seats and extra storage space for things you’ll need or want to take with you, such as strollers and diaper bags. If you have school age children and teens, you’ll want room for book bags, laptops, music and sports equipment – and friends!
Other than having enough room to transport family members comfortably, safety features should be your main concern. Be certain there’s a seat belt for everyone and if children are in booster seats or car seats, look for the LATCH feature (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), which usually comes standard in most vehicles. The LATCH feature makes car seats and booster seats more secure. Also note air bags and how many the vehicle has. Most new cars now provide side impact air bags as well as those in the front cabin. Some vehicles also offer an advanced air bag system which is triggered by sensors.
These days, vehicles come with all kinds of options from DVD players to television screens and everything in between, like Sirius Satellite Radio, remote hatchbacks and tailgates, navigation systems, rear-view camera displays and so much more.
Seating and Storage
As mentioned above, when you’re considering a family or already have one, seating is a huge factor in choosing the right vehicle. Make certain you select a vehicle that will accommodate your family nicely with a few extra seats left over for friends and/or extended family members.
With a growing family comes the need for extra storage for things like books, lunchboxes, shopping bags, travel toys, sports and music equipment, laptops and handheld games. Make certain the vehicle you choose provides ample storage space for things you’ll always need on hand as well as any extra items you may wish to take along for a road trip or a ride to Grandma’s house.
The option of a third row fold down seat is always a good idea for things like strollers or larger items. A third row folding seat is a great option to consider if you’ll also be transporting the family pet now and then, too.
Don’t forget many vans offer remote control sliding door operation, while others offer such amenities as tables, swivel chairs, controlled lighting and more. If you purchase a vehicle with a sunroof, get one which also comes with a shade that can be closed during daylight hours. Heated seats are good for colder climates and make children feel warm and toasty, while in the summer individual cooling controls and tinted windows can help combat a heat wave.
Now that we’ve got a good idea what to look for, here are some great family friendly vehicles you may want to consider test driving:
â€¢ Seating: 7
â€¢ Five star rating from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) for all frontal and side impact tests.
â€¢ Named a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
â€¢ Seating: 7
â€¢ Five stars from the NHTSA for frontal and side crash tests.
â€¢ Seating: Up to 8
â€¢ The 2008 Toyota Sienna received four stars out of five for driver protection in frontal impacts and five stars for the front passenger. It also received five stars for side-impact crash protection.
Hyundai Santa Fe
â€¢ Seating: 5
â€¢ Top ratings on frontal and side impact crash tests from NHTSA.
â€¢ Named a “Top Safety Pick” by the IIHS.
â€¢ Seating: 7 (with third row seat option)
â€¢ Received Five stars from NHTSA.
â€¢ Seating: 8
â€¢ Car and Driver named the Honda Pilot Best Large SUV.
â€¢ Seating: 7
â€¢ High ratings with both the NHTSA and IIHS for front and side impact rating and overall safety. Rollover sensors.
Saab 9-3 Sport Combi
â€¢ Main cargo area floor lifts divide the space into two sections; additional storage in recessed sub floor; front-seat active head restraints, split folding seats.
â€¢ The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Saab wagon four out of five stars for frontal-impact protection.