If you’re in the market for a new car, you probably want to find a vehicle that’s safe and accommodating for your children, whether they’re little tikes or in elementary school. There are tons of cars that are advertised as “kid-friendly,” but what auto features truly make for the perfect family vehicle? Here are 5 features to look for in a kid-friendly car.
1. Entertainment features
This is probably the most “optional” feature on this list. If you’re good at entertaining your kids during long road trips, or if your kids have electronic devices to keep them occupied, you might not need built-in entertainment features in your vehicle to keep them from spouting “are we there yet?” every 5 seconds.
But if your kids tend to get a little antsy in the backseat, then you should consider getting a vehicle that has built-in DVD players or support for your smart devices (or you could buy a portable DVD player for car rides). On long car rides, antsy children can be a safety hazard because they might distract you from the road.
Unfortunately, many accidents occur when parents have to look or reach into the backseats to tend to their children. Having built-in entertainment features is one of the most effective travel solutions to antsy children. Use them to keep your kids calm so that you can focus on safe driving.
2. Size and roominess
The most kid-friendly vehicles are large and roomy. Large vehicles, for obvious reasons, tend to be safer in collisions because they’re less likely to get overturned or suffer catastrophic structural damage. So long as you’re driving safely, large vehicles can offer more protection for you and your family.
Roominess matters, too, especially if you have young children. Roomy vehicles give you more space to strap in a rear-facing car seat, which is a very important piece of safety equipment if you have little ones. Unfortunately, large vehicles do not always have roomy interiors, so be sure to do some measurements before you purchase.
SUVs are usually considered the most family-friendly vehicles due to their size and roominess. Some parents—perhaps even you—feel disdain at the thought of purchasing an SUV, especially if you’re enjoy driving a two-door vehicle that’s got a little more style and a couple fewer amenities.
But nowadays there are plenty of modern SUVs that are incredibly fun to drive and surprisingly affordable. For example, you can find used Volkswagens for sale that offer both roomy interiors and luxury driving features. In 2019 it’s possible to get the best of both worlds.
3. Lane departure warning/blind spot sensors
If you want to keep yourself and your kids safe when you’re driving, then look for a vehicle that has lane departure warnings and blind-spot sensors.
Lane departure warnings sound an audible alert when you accidentally drift into another lane. It’s a simple and very effective feature that can prevent an accident in case you get distracted from the road or are getting sleepy at the wheel (always be aware of the dangers of driver fatigue).
Blind-spot sensors sound an audible alert when you’re going to change lanes and there’s another vehicle in your blind spot. It’s all-too-easy to forget about drivers in your blind spot, especially if you’re tending to your kids, so consider blind spot sensors a must-have for your vehicle. Thankfully, this technology is being incorporated in most modern vehicles.
In addition, stock up on “just in case of emergency” supplies to get back on the road as soon as possible if an accident were to occur. Some items to include in this kit are jumper cables, tire inflator 120v, small tool kit, paper and pen, first aid items, and roadside flares.
4. Backup camera
If you have children, a backup camera is another must-have feature in your new vehicle. A backup camera is most important not for parallel parking or backing out of a parking space, but for backing out of a driveway.
It’s every parent’s nightmare to accidentally hit their child while pulling out of the home driveway, but it’s happened. A backup camera is a sure-fire way to prevent those sorts of accidents at home.
5. Advanced climate control
You probably know now that not all climate control is built equally. Make sure you buy a vehicle that has adjustable air conditioning and heating for both the front and back seats.
If you live in a very cold climate, get a vehicle that has heated seats and a heated steering wheel. Alternatively, if you live in a hot climate, get a vehicle that has very strong A/C.
Kids often can’t deal with temperature extremes as well as adults can, and very hot or very cold cabin temperatures could pose a health risk to infants and small children.
Your children are your most prized possessions, so when you’re shopping for a kid-friendly vehicle don’t hesitate to be picky or shell out a little bit more money for extra safety features.