Shopping for a new car as a parent is a whole new ball game. The features I valued in my ride as a single lady now take a back seat to things that make traveling with kids in tow easier to handle. Now that I’m a mom, these are the features I really look for in a new car.
1. Big back seats
Those two-door coupes with bucket seats are a thing of the past. Now I want space for multiple car seats and leg room to keep tiny feet from digging into my back as I drive down the road. Backseat dance parties take up a lot of space, you know?
2. LATCH hooks
Installing car seats is the stuff nightmares are made of. LATCH hooks make it so much easier, and anyone who has hooked up a car seat without them knows they’re a necessity. I look for hooks that are exposed, not the ones I have to dig for.
3. Trunk space
Strollers, diaper bags, lawn chairs and giant bags of soccer balls are only a few of the things you can expect to tote around when you have kids. Not to mention the giant hauls that are now your grocery excursions. I need room for all this stuff.
4. Folding third row
Image: The Wirecutter
Moms love that extra seating room, either for large families or days when you have the car pool. However, it’s tough to give up the storage space if you don’t need third-row seating all the time. A third row that folds flat gives you seating when you need it, and doesn’t affect the storage space when you don’t.
5. Backup cameras
If you’ve ever backed out of a driveway when the kids are outside, or eased your way out of a busy playground parking spot, you know why these are important. They give you peace of mind when little bodies might dart behind your vehicle at any moment. Oh, and they’re great for parking, too.
6. Built-in shades
Kids and babies get very cranky when the sun is in their eyes, and no matter how many pairs of tiny sunglasses I have, I can’t ever find them when I need them. Pull-down shades are a quick solution to the glaring sun, and they fit much better than the after-market varieties.
7. Power sliding doors
“Don’t slam that door.” You’ll never hear yourself saying those words again when you have doors that close automatically (and slowly). Also, kids can release themselves from the car with just a push of a button — which is great when your hands are full or you’re in a rush.
8. Cup holders
We’re not just talking about a place for me to put my morning coffee. Moms want cup holders for everyone in the car — bonus if there are extra holders to handle snacks.
OK, we know you don’t like to use the TV as a babysitter at home, but having a TV in the car is a must if you’re in the car for long periods of time. They’re the only way to get quiet car rides or silent waits in the pickup line, especially if you have a kid that gets motion sickness when reading in the car. I don’t even mind driving to the cartoon soundtracks when it means I’m not listening to fighting kids. Invest in some headphones for the kids and you can actually listen to the radio in peace and quiet.
10. Remote starter
With little ones, I hate the thought of putting them into a cold car in the winter. And don’t even get me started on the whining if you expect them to climb into a hot car over the summer months. Save yourself the trouble and get a car you can start from inside the house.
I’m driving with precious cargo. I don’t take chances by handling my phone while I drive. Find a car with a Bluetooth feature. One with talk-to-text is even better — that way you never have to take your hands off the wheel.
This post was brought to you by Autotrader.