Your days of reckless sport cars and sexy convertibles are over. As a parent you seek safety, security, easy access and lots and lots of room. Or if you are expecting children but are in denial that you will eventually need a family car, read on. This list is for you.
When I was pregnant and in the market for a new car I remember checking facts and stats and choosing to purchase the safest rated car on the road. But that was nine years ago, things have changed since then. Now family cars have cool perks and safety features that didn’t exist back then. I was recently a passenger in my besties new family car for a girl’s night out on the town (No kids!).
As she cautiously backs up in an underground parking garage I suddenly hear an ear piercing danger alert go off – Beep! Beep! Beep! The dashboard starts flashing to coincide with the beeping – our very own concert! The car is looking out for our safety and beeping at us because we are too close to another car. Brilliant! I love this beeping machine of danger! I later learn it’s called a back up blind spot detection system (Or reverse parking camera).
In search of other criteria that parents look for in a family car I polled numerous friends, acquaintances and parents in baby groups, many with two or three kids, some with four.
With this information I compiled a list of the top ten things many parents consider before purchasing a new family car. Here you go!
Space, space and more space
Overall car space was extremely important to every parent I asked. Seven-seater SUV’s or Vans were extremely popular and many families wanted three rows of seats. One mom specifically stated the need to walk through the second row to get to the very back, explaining it’s important to have easy access to the third row to personally climb in and buckle up her kids! With all this space your family dog will have lots of room to stretch out for those drives to the park.
Folding down back seats and a large trunk
For those buying in bulk at COSTO – perhaps without kids in the car – folding down back seats are vital. Many others mentioned they need to easily fit their large heavy-duty double stroller in the trunk, as well as groceries for the week. Some cool moms called it “Stow and Go”. Mini vans and SUV’s will also be able to hold sports equipment like hockey (ah, so Canadian), camping or skiing gear and luggage for those family drives up North in the summer.
Ability to fit in multiple car seats and booster seats safely
Multiple car seats and booster seats need to fit securely and safely in the car and this is not negotiable. Many parents, in addition to their own adorable little rug-rats, carpool other kids to school and every child has their own booster or car seat. Car seats need anchors and some parents specifically searched for their exact placement in the vehicle before purchasing their family car. Fitting an extra car seat safely in the middle row is crucial for many parents and so is the seatbelt system for that particular vehicle.
Side air bags
Some parents mentioned they wanted side air bags in their family car, however this seems to be an ongoing controversial issue with multiple opinions. Perhaps it would be beneficial to purchase a car that has the ability to turn off the airbag device so everyone is happy. More information on air bag safety in Canada is available on the Canada Safety Council website.
Overall safety rating and safety features
Some parents will only consider a family car with a five star safety rating. While others look at issues including crash tests, rollover statistics, and specific child safety issues such as side air bags (mentioned above). I am going to file the blind spot detection system under safety too!
IIHS names the 2015 Toyota Highlander a TOP SAFETY PICK+ winner in mid-size SUV
Number of doors and sliding automatic doors for easy entry
All the parents wanted four doors and many people wanted them to close automatically. You know, for those times when you are buckled in and about to leave and notice little Timmy’s door is still open – with this convenient feature you don’t have to get up! Many vans now have this luxurious element.
Automatic Car Starter / Keyless Entry
You have a squirming toddler in your arms – maybe two if you have twins! Or you are carrying four heavy bags of groceries and balancing a baby on your hip. With the remote keyless system you can push a button and presto! You car is unlocked without physical contact! Other parents professed they loved starting up the engine with the automatic car starter in the winter while still inside their warm house – ah the luxuries of modern technology.
Bluetooth in car phone system
It is illegal and extremely dangerous to text and drive or hold your cell phone while driving in this country. Just another reason why many parents are choosing family cars with built in Bluetooth systems that wirelessly connect your cell phone to the car’s audio system. Some models even read your text messages and respond to them while you drive. This makes it easier and safer to schedule Timmy’s playdates.
Who wouldn’t want their kids to quietly watch Frozen in the back seat during the long drive to Grandma’s house? (Of course when Let It Go comes on expect all children to sing loudly). DVD players, CD changers, and satellite radios all play a part in deciding which family car to purchase.
Kid friendly special features
These of course vary according to personal taste, but many parents want cup holders in the back, separate vent controls for kids, power sockets for teenagers and their electronic gadgets, and built in window shades for toddler nap time (because the suction cup shades, well, they suck)
So enjoy your new SUV, mini-van, lavish family bus or whatever you decide to call it, there are lots of great ones out there that meet all your individual needs. And don’t worry, in about 18 years you can trade in your family car for the little sports car you used to have. However by then, you probably won’t want to anymore.
Here are our picks for Top 5 Best SUVs at the Canadian International Auto Show