Ready to Upgrade the Family Ride? Here’s What to Consider
When buying your next family vehicle, you don’t have to sacrifice style for functionality. Not only have minivans come a long way (can you say comeback?) both in terms of looks and technology, but family-oriented buyers now have a wide variety of vehicle types and classes to choose from. Here’s how you can narrow down the seemingly endless combination of sizes, trims and features to choose a family car.
Look for key features that will make your car safe — and practical
Space is key when it comes to hauling kids around, along with their sports equipment, musical instruments, strollers and more. From compact cars to wagons, SUVs and trucks, lots of vehicles potentially offer enough space for a family.
What’s the best way to determine if a car is the right size for your crew? Kelly Blue Book (KBB) recommends getting the whole family into the car. Buckling everyone in allows you to play with seating configurations and make sure your car seats, strollers, wheelchairs and any other regularly used gear will fit. You could even take it a step further and ask the dealer to bring the car to your home for a test drive and see how it fits in your garage.
Some additional size considerations:
- Interior measurements. Looking at size measurements can help you compare the spaciousness of different vehicles. Be sure to consider the cubic feet behind each row and in the trunk or cargo area, as well as how many inches of headroom and legroom are available.
- Second-row seating. When possible, opt for a bench seat rather than captain seats. Benches can provide room for more passengers and car seats and are generally safer.
- Third-row seating. A third row needs to have enough space for your passengers, and also be easy enough to get in and out of. Second-row seats that slide forward or fold flat can make this easier.
With a family vehicle, the safety of your passengers is probably your biggest concern. Check for these features before buying:
1. Weather readiness
Make sure your next car is suited for local weather conditions. Are floods a concern in your area? Will you be driving in the snow? Be sure to get the right tires, since they’re instrumental in keeping you safe on the road. You may also need to upgrade trims to get an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
2. Infant and toddler safety
For younger passengers, you’ll want to make sure their car seats and strollers fit without major hassle. Sliding doors and a higher vehicle height can help, but the best way to make sure a car seat fits securely is to take the seat with you to the dealership and find out how difficult it could be to install.
Newer technology can also help you make sure that little ones don’t get left in the car alone, to avoid heat-related fatalities. Rear seat reminder systems, for example, can send a text alert to drivers when a child (or pet) is unattended in a back seat or cargo area.
3. Teen driver safety
Large vehicles, ones that seat seven or more passengers, can be difficult for an inexperienced driver to handle. But teen driver controls and other technology can help protect your young driver.
Notification tools allow parents to set a maximum speed or track a vehicle’s location, among other actions that can help establish safe driving habits. Telematic systems, like Onstar, can also help with roadside assistance — plus they may qualify you for a discount on the roughly 112% premium increase you’ll get for adding a teen driver to your insurance.
4. Safety ratings
One of the easiest ways to learn how safe a vehicle is it to review the following reports on the make, model and year, and even the specific car you’re interested in:
- Vehicle Safety Ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- Top Safety Picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
- Vehicle history reports and NHTSA reports on unresolved recalls
Modern technology, like in-car WiFi, multiple USB ports or third-row entertainment systems, can keep passengers happy, but they might not fit in your budget. If they’re affordable, you might consider these more practical features:
- Onboard vacuum
- Hands-free liftgate
- Power-folding rear seats or stowaway seats
- Cupholders for each passenger
- Built-in trash bag holder
American Families’ Favorite Cars:
- Ford’s Expedition was the most popular model in only four states, all of which were in the Southern half of the country (Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and New Mexico)
- The Subaru Forester was the most popular family car overall, ranking No. 1 across 24 states
- The Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade are practically identical. And even though Palisade was the No. 1 shopped for car in two states, the Telluride was 33% more popular across all state lines.
Data pool represents those who shopped for cars from January to November 2021. Data was then sorted and filtered to determine the most popular model per state. For this analysis, the best family cars were determined using a list created by LendingTree to include the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Kia Telluride, Ford Expedition, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Forester, Hyundai Palisade, Volvo XC90 and Honda Odyssey.
Do you drive the most popular family car in your state? Read below to see
- Alaska: Subaru Forester
- Alabama: Honda Odyssey
- Arkansas: Honda Odyssey
- Arizona: Hyundai Palisade
- California: Subaru Forester
- Colorado: Subaru Forester
- Connecticut: Subaru Forester
- District of Columbia: Subaru Forester
- Delaware: Honda Odyssey
- Florida: Honda Odyssey
- Georgia: Honda Odyssey
- Hawaii: Honda Odyssey
- Iowa: Honda Odyssey
- Idaho: Subaru Forester
- Illinois: Honda Odyssey
- Indiana: Honda Odyssey
- Kansas: Honda Odyssey
- Kentucky: Honda Odyssey
- Louisiana: Ford Expedition
- Massachusetts: Subaru Forester
- Maryland: Honda Odyssey
- Maine: Subaru Forester
- Michigan: Subaru Forester
- Minnesota: Subaru Forester
- Missouri: Honda Odyssey
- Mississippi: Ford Expedition
- Montana: Subaru Forester
- North Carolina: Honda Odyssey
- North Dakota: Subaru Forester
- Nebraska: Hyundai Palisade
- New Hampshire: Subaru Forester
- New Jersey: Subaru Forester
- New Mexico: Ford Expedition
- Nevada: Subaru Forester
- New York: Subaru Forester
- Ohio: Honda Odyssey
- Oklahoma: Honda Odyssey
- Oregon: Subaru Forester
- Pennsylvania: Subaru Forester
- Rhode Island: Subaru Forester
- South Carolina: Honda Odyssey
- South Dakota: Subaru Forester
- Tennessee: Honda Odyssey
- Texas: Ford Expedition
- Utah: Honda Odyssey
- Virginia: Honda Odyssey
- Vermont: Subaru Forester
- Washington: Subaru Forester
- Wisconsin: Honda Odyssey
- West Virginia: Subaru Forester
- Wyoming: Subaru Forester
Here’s how to find (and afford) your new car
Buying a new vehicle can present lots of opportunities to either save big or overspend. You’ll get the best deal when you follow these steps:
1. Set a budget — and stick to it
First, determine how much you can afford to borrow. Before shopping around, set a budget and commit to a car price and monthly payments that fit into your budget. Do this before making the classic mistake of shopping for a vehicle and falling in love with something you can’t afford.
2. Find the best loan
Next, shop around for an affordable loan. You can do this by comparing rates from multiple lenders. Using an online marketplace can help you compare a larger number of offers without impacting your credit.
3. Get a great deal on your next car
When you’re ready to shop for your next car, there are a number of ways to save on both the cost of buying and owning:
- Skip the upgrades and go with the base trim.
- Use KBBs 5-Year Cost to Own estimates to help you find a car with high resale value and low cost to register, maintain, repair and insure.
- Buy a qualifying all-electric or plug-in hybrid and get a federal tax credit up to $7,500.
- Reduce your insurance cost by enrolling your teen in a driver safety course or check to see if they qualify for a good student discount.
- Time your purchase to coincide with an increase in inventory or seasonal promotion.
4. Sell your current vehicle (if applicable)
If you’re selling a vehicle, take some time to get the best offer possible. Consider getting the car detailed and listing it for sale on multiple websites. You may also need to make a plan for how to pay off your current car loan.
This article was
produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.
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Featured Image Credit: FatCamera.