What to Look for When Choosing a Family-Friendly Vehicle
Having a baby changes everything – for many families, that includes the type of vehicle they use. Those sporty little two-door cars become a thing of the past as you begin to make room for your little one, their car seat, diaper bag, stroller …and maybe even future children.
Family-friendly vehicles are available in many makes, models, and sizes so there’s something for everyone. Doing a little research on what you want and aligning that with what’s actually available is crucial to making the best choice. Let’s talk about all the options to consider when choosing the best family-friendly vehicle to buy for your family.
Safety Ratings and Features
With little ones in tow, safety will be your top priority. You’ll want to take a look at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Safety Ratings, as well as Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash ratings for any vehicle you’re considering.
It’s also important to evaluate whether the vehicle has features that might help you avoid a crash in the first place. Many automobiles are equipped with electronic aids that make them safer, including the following:
Forward-Collision Warning (FCW) and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
Both of these features can warn you and/or begin automatic braking if the vehicle's laser, radar, or cameras detect an imminent crash.
If your vehicle senses another automobile in the lane next to your vehicle’s blind spot, a light will illuminate on your side mirror. Some provide an audible warning, as well.
Each year, thousands of children are killed or seriously injured because a person driving in reverse did not see them. This number has declined in recent years, thanks in part to vehicles fitted with rear-view cameras. If someone or something is in your path, the sensors on the camera alert you, and you can see what’s behind you in the camera.
Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
Vehicles equipped with LDW alert the driver if they drift out of their lane. This feature was created to warn a driver with noise or vibration to take corrective action immediately, which can prevent crashes and off-road accidents.
Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH)
Using LATCH systems is a way to secure a child safety seat – rear-facing or forward-facing – to a vehicle without the vehicle's seat belts. Most child safety seats and vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2002 are required to have LATCH systems.
Feel the freedom to go anywhere with Nuna PIPA Lite RX Infant Car Seat. Packed with all the features you need to make life with baby easier, yet lightweight enough to tote while doing your shopping—just 6.9 lb! Versatile enough to take from the taxi to the family car, thanks to the option of belt path or base installation.
Families tend to drive quite a bit – work, school, doctor visits, after-school activities, and vacations. It’s wise to select an automobile that offers good fuel economy. Note the estimated gas mileage of the various vehicles you see and keep these in mind as you make a decision.
Connectivity and Screens
Basic connectivity features that connect your vehicle with a smartphone, tablet, or other devices via USB ports and Bluetooth are fairly common in most vehicles today. Built-in video display systems are also handy when it comes to keeping little ones entertained on a long road trip. GPS systems, too, have become more standard. Many offer traffic updates and alternate route data in addition to giving directions.
Cloth upholstery and carpeted flooring are standard on many automobiles. While these are washable, you may want options that are easier to clean (kids are really messy). Look for options like rubber flooring and vinyl or leather upholstery.
Keep your vehicle neat and organized with the Diono Travel-Pal Car Seat Organizer XL. It’s even bigger and better than the original with 12 multi-use pockets in total and dividable storage so you can share space between your little ones.
Your Family Size
If you’ve just welcomed your first child and are expecting to have more, consider buying a vehicle a bit bigger than you currently need. Not only will your child(ren) get older and bigger, you might add new family members or pets. Will you need room for multiple car seats? Will your older children have room to stretch their growing legs? You’ll probably own the vehicle for several years, and your family could experience big changes during that time.
A family that regularly drives over dirt and gravel roads may need a vehicle with rugged tires and additional ground clearance, whereas a city driver may not. Do you drive in a lot of snow or rain? A four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicle might be a good investment. Will the vehicle fit in your driveway or garage? Be sure the vehicle you choose is equipped to handle its environment.
Keep in mind your vehicle needs to be lifestyle-friendly, too. Will you be carpooling or taking family road trips? Does your family like to take drives in the mountains or tow boats out to the lake? You’ll need a vehicle that can accommodate those activities.
Do you value practicality and functionality or luxury and distinction? There’s nothing wrong with wanting something fancy. Nowadays, however, there are plenty of non-luxury options when it comes to automobiles that offer high-quality amenities, features, and security.
Understanding exactly what is doable for your family’s needs is crucial to your financial health. Have a clear understanding of exactly how much you can comfortably spend before you even walk into a dealership. Take into account your income, your savings, and your future earning potential as you deliberate your vehicle choice. Remember, investing in and driving a vehicle for an extended period is typically more cost-effective than purchasing a new vehicle every few years.
Do Your Homework
While choosing a family-friendly vehicle may seem like a daunting task, it’s doable. Don’t just wander into a dealership, look at one car, and sign the papers. Take some time and start your research online. Review a site like kbb.com to read professional and customer reviews on current vehicles, cost-to-own and transaction price data, and estimates of your current car's value. This information can help you better calculate how much you should expect to pay.
Remember, there’s no hurry (even though the car dealer may try to convince you otherwise). You’ll want to select the right family-friendly vehicle that keeps you and your loved ones safe and comfortable together on the road for years to come.
With a vast array of options available, finding the right car seat might seem a bit overwhelming. Luckily, with all the options we have to offer, you will certainly find the perfect car seat for your family at ANB Baby.
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