The best big cars for big, active families

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For parents of active kids, driving can feel like a second job. Between sports practices, tournaments and away games, families may find themselves spending more time on the road than on the field.

Some vehicles may not cut it when it comes to the amount of space your family needs and the number of miles you’re logging. But before buying a car that can lug an entire cheer squad across the country, take some time to consider the features that will matter most for you and your young athletes, whether it’s game time or off-season.

new car
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Take these six considerations into account when purchasing a car

Not every car is built for an active family. Before shopping, consider how you’ll use your vehicle throughout the year. You may want eight seats and room for bulky athletic gear during hockey season but need a more commuter-friendly car for the rest of the year.

Consider these features when determining your top priorities for your next car.

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Buying a new car
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1. Space

You’ll need enough space for passengers and equipment, but you don’t necessarily need an SUV or truck. One of the best ways to compare vehicle space is by looking at interior measurements, including:

  • Inches of headroom and legroom
  • Cubic feet behind each row
  • Cubic feet of cargo space

The height, length and width of the vehicle can also be important measurements for vehicle owners who need to park in tight spaces like a small garage.

Not sure how much space you’ll need? Edmunds recommends buckling in the whole family and taking a test drive before buying anything new.

Autotrader also offers more helpful tips on comparing specs and measurements across vehicles.

Winter Driving
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2. Versatility

What you need from a vehicle can vary greatly between on and off seasons. For a car that works year round, look for flexible and versatile features. These options can be a big help:

  • Seats that split, fold down, rotate or can be removed for more storage space
  • Rear seats that slide backwards
  • Waterproof cargo space with a drainable floor
  • Hidden compartments in the cargo floor
  • Overhead storage
Man filling gas tank at gas station
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3. Fuel efficiency

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), transportation is now the second most costly budget item for U.S. households, second only to housing. With inflation at historical highs, fuel prices are a concern for every car buyer. Gas rewards cards can be part of the solution, along with the right fuel economy.

Buyers no longer have to search for subcompact cars to cut down on gas costs. In fact, the best fuel economy now comes from new full electric cars and SUVs. Some gas-powered minivans and small station wagons can also be amongst the most budget friendly choices.

Before buying, compare city, highway and combined fuel economy estimates across vehicles. You can find that information, along with annual fuel cost estimates and information on federal tax credits for electric and hybrid vehicles, in the DOE’s 2022 Fuel Economy Guide.

Woman with a broken down car
tommaso79 / istockphoto

4. Durability

Between long drives, hauling bulky equipment and eating meals in the car, sports families can be pretty hard on a vehicle. If you’re looking for a car your family can use for the long-haul, consider a vehicle that’s built to last. Here are some things to look for:

  • Reliability rankings for different car types
  • Total cost to own, including lifetime repairs and resale value estimates
  • Availability and price of an extended manufacturer’s warranty or a tailored warrant

With low inventory and inflationary pressures, some dealerships have been inflating sales prices above MSRP. If your dealership quotes a high price, try negotiating to include an extended warranty or other special features in the cost.

Car accident
kadmy / istockphoto

5. Safety

Newer vehicles can offer excellent safety features, like stability control, emergency braking and blind spot monitoring, but your budget may be restrictive. A good rule of thumb is to buy as much safety as you can afford.

If budget allows, a driver who’s navigating to sporting events away from home may want telematics, which can track your location and keep you connected to a central dispatch. Smartphone integration also allows drivers to connect map apps and respond to calls and texts by voice instead of looking down at their phones.

To best learn how safe a vehicle is, review safety ratings specific to the make, model, and year of the car you’re interested in buying.

Having trouble fitting the safety features you want into your budget? One way to make car-buying more budget-friendly is to take on a loan with a longer repayment term, which means lower monthly payments. Just note that this will mean paying a lot more in interest over time.

radio
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6. Entertainment

On long drives, restless passengers can lead to distracted drivers. While top-notch entertainment isn’t a necessity, it’s worth considering.

If nice-to-haves are in your budget, consider newer features that keep back-seat riders connected and entertained, like smartphone charging, in-car Wi-Fi, video screens and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Subaru Forester
yocamon/ istockphoto

The Subaru Forester reigns supreme

According to research by LendingTree, the Subaru Forester was the most popular car for sports parents in 29 states. It was roughly 20% more popular than the second placed car, the Chrysler Pacifica. The Ford Expedition also took a top position, but the Volvo V90 was the least popular car. At the national level, it was just 0.5% as popular as the Subaru Forester.

Here are the most popular cars by state.

Subaru
iStock / Mark Lee

Alaska

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Ford Expedition
Ford.com

Alabama

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Ford Expedition

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Arkansas

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Arizona

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Subaru Forester
Subaru

California

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Colorado

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Connecticut

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

District of Columbia

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Delaware

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Florida

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Ford Expedition 2020
Ford

Georgia

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Ford Expedition

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Hawaii

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Iowa

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Idaho

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Illinois

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Indiana

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Kansas

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Kentucky

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Ford Expedition 2020
Ford

Louisiana

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Ford Expedition

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Massachusetts

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Maryland

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Maine

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Michigan

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Minnesota

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Missouri

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Ford Expedition
Ford

Mississippi

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Ford Expedition

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Montana

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

North Carolina

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
yocamon/ istockphoto

North Dakota

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Nebraska

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Subaru Forester
Subaru

New Hampshire

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

New Jersey

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Ford Expedition
Ford

New Mexico

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Ford Expedition

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Nevada

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

New York

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Ohio

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Ford Expedition
Ford

Oklahoma

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Ford Expedition

The Forester is a perfect example of that evolution
Subaru

Oregon

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Pennsylvania

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: ubaru ForesterS

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Rhode Island

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

South Carolina

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Subaru Forester
Subaru

South Dakota

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Tennessee

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Ford Expedition
Ford

Texas

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Ford Expedition

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Utah

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru
iStock / Mark Lee

Virginia

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Vermont

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Washington

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler

Wisconsin

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Chrysler Pacifica

Subaru Forester
Subaru

West Virginia

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester
Subaru

Wyoming

Most shopped-for car for sports parents: Subaru Forester

Family in car
Solovyova / istockphoto

Methodology

Data pool represents those who shopped-for cars from January to December 2021. Data was then sorted and filtered to determine the most popular model per state. For this analysis, the best sport parent cars were determined using a list created by LendingTree to include the Mercedes-Benz GLS, Ford Expedition, Audi Q7, Volvo V90, Honda HR-V, Subaru Forester, Toyota Avalon and Mazda CX-9.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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