7 Tricks to Choosing the Right Family Car

As a child, I spent a lot of time in our family car with my parents and younger brother. My father was in the military, so nearly every year we loaded up the station wagon and moved to a new town. During the summer, we road-tripped through the western Rockies or traipsed up and down the East Coast. If my dad had to make a phone call, we stopped at a roadside pay phone. If my brother and I were tired, we stretched out on the back seat and slept.

Needless to say, times have changed and automobiles have changed. When I was a child, I could never have imagined an age when we would watch movies from the back seat, charge wallet-sized phones from the front seat, or get directions from a woman’s voice coming through the speakers!

Today’s family vehicles are designed to suit modern, mile-a-minute lifestyles with fancy features, hi-tech add-ons, and automatic everything. We all have personal preferences when it comes to features, colors, makes and models, but there are certain basics every parent should look for in a family car.

 1. Seating. Not just seats for your own family. On-the-go moms need enough room for their own kids, as well as for friends, relatives, carpoolers, and even pets.

 2. Storage. Trunk space, nooks and hooks, cup-holders, drop-down trays — these magic compartments are the key to keeping a car clutter-free. Make sure there is enough cargo space for sports gear and big shopping runs to Costco or the like. Those are the toughies!

3. Simplicity. Life for moms is hectic enough, so using the car should be simple. Look for easy-to-understand controls, “smart” features that adjust automatically, and other things, such as latch anchors for car seats, to help to simplify your daily routines.

4. Tech. It’s crucial for moms to keep their phones charged so they are reachable at all times. For kids, it’s just as important to keep their beloved iPads juiced up! In the digital age, a car needs to have a sufficient number of ports and outlets.

5. Durability. Can the car take real wear and tear? Families max out the capacity and capabilities of a vehicle and every inch gets used. Consider what is likely to break (like retractable window shades which kids love to play with), and how much repairs will cost.

6. Ins & Outs. My family is always late and constantly rushing in and out of the car. Loading and unloading shouldn’t be a struggle, so check the layout and make sure it works for you.

7. Safety. There are a lot more cars on the road these days — and too often, distracted or rushed drivers. Protect your family on busy roads by carefully researching crash tests and the placement of airbags.

For more tips on finding the right ride for your family, surf over to American Family Insurance. The information-packed site offers advice on what to consider before you purchase, and be sure to check out the 3-minute video introduction before you go shopping.

Photo: Getty

*This post is sponsored by American Family Insurance.

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