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Family friendly features to look for in your new car

Posted February 1
Updated May 19

This story was written for our sponsor, LeithCars.com.

In different stages of life, our needs and priorities for a vehicle can change dramatically.

When we're young, we probably just want a vehicle that is fast and stylish. As we enter young adulthood, we may become more practical and look for something affordable with good gas mileage for our commutes.

Then, after we have children, we have very different priorities. We start to think more about safety, dependability and space. We just want something practical that will make the hard job of parenting just a little bit easier.

When looking for a family friendly car, nothing is more important than the safety of your family.

"When my wife and I were expecting our first child, I was driving a sub-compact to and from work. As for safety, it had a couple of airbags in it, I think," commented Mark Arsen, social media coordinator for LeithCars.com. "After our son was born, we were at the dealership to trade my compact for a newer, larger, mid-size sport wagon that had 10 air bags. Safety comes first."

Vehicles are given a barrage of testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is how consumers and the auto industry usually measure safety. If they receive a five-star rating, you can be assured the vehicle has state-of-the-art safety features that have stood up to extensive testing.

Crash and rollover tests measure whether the airbags, seatbelts and other features do their jobs. It’s wise to look at these ratings and only consider vehicles that have excelled in these areas.

Other considerations may be price, style, amenities, reliability and space. Here are some options that may be good for your family to consider.

Priorities for vehicles change when building a family

Minivans

While in the past, the minivan was not seen as the coolest vehicle to transport your children in, the modern minivan has been greatly improved in style and function. Now it’s almost a surprise teenagers aren’t demanding minivans to drive their friends around in.

Car and Driver lists the Chrysler Pacifica and the Toyota Sienna as their two "Editor's Choice" picks for 2017 minivans. The Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona and Nissan Quest were also lauded.

The Chrysler Pacifica has more than 100 safety features, a V6 engine and even a vacuum built in for parents to quickly clean up crushed cereal, dirt or any other child-induced mess. It's also the first minivan in America with an available hybrid engine option for improved fuel economy.

The Toyota Sienna, the other Editor's Choice, also has a powerful V6 engine. For those long trips, the Sienna also has a Blu-ray entertainment system and an intercom for parent's to more efficiently tell kids in the third row to knock it off.

Another feature families look for is affordability, and all six of these vehicles can be had for less than $30,000.

"For vehicles that offer the latest safety advances, room to haul a four-by-eight sheet of plywood or a family of seven, have car-like handling and maneuverability, it's easy to see why minivans remain competitive today," Arsen pointed out.

He added, "While the all-new Pacifica has breathed new life into the category, let's not forget about the Ford Flex. Ford's offering isn't a minivan but it does have the room and cargo space of one, just without the sliding doors and starts at just over $30,000."

SUVs

Minivans are not for everyone though. There is an increasing number of families who instead opt for America's favorite vehicle -- the SUV.

Many of the benefits of the minivan are also present in SUVs -- they have ample space and seating, great storage capacity and are made to be a bit more rugged. An SUV is also a great option for those who may not like the style of a minivan, but still need the practical benefits.

When talking about the SUV, one cannot ignore the popularity of the Honda CRV; the top selling sports utility in the country.

"The new 2017 Honda CRV is a fantastic vehicle for families," said Porter Good, sales and leasing consultant for Leith Honda. "It provides excellent space for our busy lives and has a multitude of safety functions to keep everyone safe."

Good pointed out that not only does the CRV have numerous airbags, its body design is meant to protect the passengers and most trims come with the Sensing Package.

"This Honda safety technology provides lane keeping assistance and will even steer the vehicle back when it crosses lines in the road, and has Blind Spot Monitoring too for an extra set of eyes around the vehicle," Good said. "With a spectacular 28 city/34 highway mpg, 190 horsepower for getting into traffic, and features such as Apple Carplay, Android Auto and a touchscreen display, the 2017 CRV is a fit for everyone.”

Car and Driver awarded the 2017 Honda CRV with the "Editor's Choice" award.

This story was written for our sponsor, LeithCars.com.

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