If you are having a baby soon, or have a new baby, and are also looking for a new vehicle, you need to choose one that is going to be suitable for families. This means that you can’t just go out and pick out any vehicle. You need to sit down and really think about all of the little details that make a vehicle safe for babies and children, as well as being convenient for parents. Stop thinking make, model, color, add-ons, etc., and start thinking safety ratings, interior design, and cargo space instead in your search for the ideal family vehicle.
Your first consideration when it comes to choosing a new family vehicle is safety ratings. You need to know that your vehicle is going to be safe for your entire family in the event of an accident. There are two ways that you can get crash-test information about any vehicle that you are interested in:
- NHTSA – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates the safety of vehicles based on the results from crash-test studies as well as rollover resistance testing. This organization gives scores between one and five gold stars, with one being the lowest and five being the highest.
- IIHS – The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does crash tests as well, and their standards are often even more rigorous than those of the NHTSA. They award safe vehicles with the Top Safety Pick rating, as long as they receive the absolute highest scores in frontal, side, and rear-impact collision tests. They must also pass testing for small overlap frontal-impact, which shows how much a vehicle protects occupants in the event of a collision.
You may also want to consider vehicles that have telematics systems that you can subscribe to or smartphone applications, such as OnStar (General Motors) and Sync (Ford). These services will automatically call 911 if the airbags deploy and send emergency assistance.
The next big consideration is the interior of the vehicle. It is imperative that you have a rear-facing child safety seat, and that the seat is installed with the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) safety restraints. Your vehicle will need to have seats that offer more clearance, because this type of seat installation requires more space. Make sure that the seat is connected tightly so that there is no movement (or as little as possible).
Once you find a trusted local car dealer, you can start asking about various add-ons that will make your vehicle even more family-friendly. Here are a couple of the best add-ons to ask about:
- Parabolic Mirror – This is a nice add-on that lets you check on your baby from the front seat without having to get out of the vehicle.
- Sunlight Protection – Look for a vehicle that has rear privacy glass with a dark tint, or that has rear side window shades.
If you are like most other parents, you are going to be traveling daily with pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. This is going to be your vehicle for shopping, transporting children to and from school, sports, etc., and you are going to be hauling around a lot of stuff. You need to make sure that your new vehicle has plenty of cargo space. One of the main issues people have is that the trunks of their cars aren’t roomy enough for large strollers. Before buying any vehicle, make sure that there is going to be plenty of room for any stroller, and then some. That way, you can also have groceries, baby supplies, and other items in there as well.