There are so many nuances to buying a car for your family that I never had to think about when it was just me. I upgraded from my little compact car to my first “mom car” (a Honda Pilot) when Blaire was a month old. All I saw was more trunk space for the stroller. I also loved that it felt safer than my little car. It was higher off the ground and had AWD, which is important here for the midwest winters.
We had that car for about 2.5 years before changing to a newer/different make and model of SUV. When buying the next SUV (our current one) we felt we had learned more about what we would need is a vechile as parents, ya know, since we had only been parents for a month when we bought the first one. Haha! In this vechile we really, really wanted captains chairs in the middle and needed to have air vents in the ceiling to reach babies in car seats. We also wanted (but didn’t HAVE to have) a DVD player.
1| mini van or suv?
(For now) I’m an SUV mom. I was sure I’d never go to team mini van. But when I see the trunk space in a mini van and a mom who can effortlessly get her kids in and out of those sliding doors, it’s enough to make me reconsider.
2| third row or no third row?
So if you’re an SUV mom with a family of 5 or less, you need to decide whether or not you want the third seat. Typically if you have a third row you’re going to have less trunk space. We have a third row and small cargo area. But I can work around it by having just one of the third row seats folded down (so I still have 2) back there.
3| captain’s chairs or bench seat?
Captain’s chairs make it easier to access the back seat, and really if you have two kids in car seats, it’s a really tight squeeze for a person to sit in-between them. I also find captain’s chairs to be more comfortable, so if we have an extra adult, I like to move Blaire’s carseat to the third row and let them (or me!) have the captain’s chair rather.
4| air vent placement in the back seat.
This is a game changer whether you live somewhere with extreme hot or cold temps. Our first SUV had air vents that came out of the center console. This meant a sweaty, angry rear-facing baby during the hot summer. We learned and a requirement for our next SUV was air vents in the ceiling, so the air will reach your kiddos whether they’re rear-facing or forward-facing.
5| in-car wifi
Obviously not 100% necessary but definitely a lifesaver if you’re a family that spends a lot of time in the car. The package offered for our vehicle is unlimited for $20 each month. You can cancel at any time. There are also packages for just one day of wifi vs. buying for an entire month.
6| is there an app?
I love the app that works with our SUV. I can remote start, unlock or lock from anywhere, which is nice because my key fob doesn’t always work from inside a store… and when it’s 105° or -25°, I want to be able to have had the car running before I put my kids inside. It also gives me diagnostics for my car. It tells me the air pressure for each tire, how much longer I have for oil life, lets me request roadside assistance, etc.
7| safety features
Back up camera, exterior sensors, driving display, lane departure, etc. The list is endless. There are so many options that help make the time you spend on the road as safe as possible. I have to have a backup camera, it makes me feel so much more comfortable knowing I am constantly around small children. Driving display is super nice
Are there multiple USB ports? A power outlet? DVD player? Are there headphones that work with the DVD player so you don’t have to listen to the DVD that’s playing (unless you want to! lol).
9| leather seats
Two words: spilled. milk. Leather is much easier to clean than fabric (since you can just use a dry cloth to wipe up spills) and it is also more resistant to tears.
While this list could go on and on, I’m no car expert. These are just the things I have found are important for my family when selecting our car. Lucky for you, Kelley Blue Book is the car expert. The Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2019 have just been released. If you aren’t familiar, this is the fifth year for these awards. Experts at KBB spend the year testing out makes/models and ranking them in 15 categories.
Whether it’s compiling consumer reviews and ratings, or the super helpful 5-Year Cost to Own data (which includes depreciation, insurance, maintenance, financing, fuel, fees and taxes for new cars – seriously, the best information!), KBB does the tough work for you!
Going through KBB’s list of 2019 winners I am torn between two, although they are both Hondas. The Honda Pilot was an amazing vehicle for us and had much better gas mileage than the one I have now and updated safety features, like adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and automatic braking. I would have no problem going back to one. And the other is the Honda Odyssey! Yes… a mini van! But I told you, when I see the trunk space in a mini van and a mom who can effortlessly get her kids in and out of those sliding doors, it makes me so jealous.
Did I forget anything on my list? What’s important to you in your family’s vehicle?