The first day that you drive away from the hospital with your new, precious baby strapped securely in his or her car seat is a day that you will always remember. From that day forward, your car will forever take you and your growing family from one destination to another, making memories along the way. Yes, there will be screaming, and there will be mountains of goldfish crackers and empty juice boxes strewn in the back seat; but there will also be singing and giggling, long conversations and hand holding, road trips and ice cream runs.

In this article, we will look at a few features that every modern-day family needs in a car, and then, we will list the top vehicles that meet those criteria.

Safety Features

  • Back-up camera
  • Blind-spot warning system
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Rear-cross traffic alert
  • Forward-collision alert
  • Front-pedestrian alert
  • Teen driver technology (not necessary, but definitely nice)
  • Bluetooth – this will allow you to take emergency calls while still keeping both hands on the wheel.

Seating

If you are looking to invest in a vehicle that will grow with your family, then you may want to purchase a car that has a third-row option. Even if you don’t think that you need it right now, you will totally need it later.

Built-in Tech

  • Built-in Blu-ray or DVD player
  • Power-sliding doors (found in minivans)
  • Wireless charging station.
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto Integration
  • Hands-free liftgate

Cargo Room

Even if you spring for the third-row seating option, most new vehicles enable you to fold that third row down when you don’t need it. This will give you even more space in the back for groceries, sports, camping gear, instruments, and the list goes on.

Fuel Economy

Running kids around takes a surprising amount of gas. When looking at a family car, especially an SUV or minivan, you need to look at the miles per gallon (mpg) that the vehicle gets. Sedans can get up to 40 mpg, but if they are just too small for your family, then the new Toyota Highlander, which is equipped with three-row seating, for example, can get up to 25 mpg on the highway.

Taken from Edmunds, US News and World Report, and Parents.com, here are the top vehicles in each category. The “starts at” language connected to the price of the vehicle represents what the base model of the car will cost. There are standard safety and efficiency features in base models, but if you want the very best in all categories listed above, you will need to upgrade:

Midsize Sedan

  • Honda Civic; starts at $19,475; 34 mpg/highway
  • Chevy Malibu; starts at $23,000; 37 mpg/highway
  • Kia Optima; starts at $22,990; 39 mpg/highway
  • Hyundai Sonata; starts at $22,500; 38 mpg/highway

Wagon

Hatchback

  • Mazda 3; starts at $19,380; 41 mpg/highway

SUV

  • Subcompact = Honda HR-V; starts at $20,000; 35 mpg/highway
  • Compact = Honda CR-V; starts at $24,000; 33 mpg/highway
  • Two-row = Nissan Murano; starts at $30,500; 28 mpg/highway
  • Crossover = Hyundai Tucson; starts at $23,595; 33 mpg/highway
  • Third-row =
    • Honda Pilot; starts at $31,045; 26 mpg/highway
    • Toyota Highlander; starts at $30,490; 25 mpg/highway
    • Nissan Pathfinder; starts at $30,860; 27 mpg/highway
  • Large =
    • GMC Yukon; starts at $$49,000; 23 mpg/highway
    • Chevy Tahoe; starts at $48,000; 23 mp/highway
  • Hybrid = Toyota Highlander Hybrid; starts $47,870, 28 mpg/highway

Minivan

  • Honda Odyssey; starts at $30,000; 28 mpg/highway
  • Toyota Sienna; starts at $29,750; 25 mpg/highway
  • Kia Sedona; starts at $27,295; 24 mpg/highway

Your family is the most important thing in your life, so it makes total sense that the car that you choose to transport them in should be one that will be reliable and safe, and have the features that your family needs to survive the daily carpool and trips to the grocery store, as well as weekend getaways and Saturday morning soccer games. Don’t let anyone, especially a salesperson, talk you into a vehicle that you’re not personally in love with and that you know won’t work for family’s needs.

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Rick Delgado

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