By Jennifer Jensen
Buying a car can be daunting — there are just so many different types of vehicles to choose from these days. When choosing a car, you need to determine what the most important features are for your family. Do you want the safest car? One with the latest technology? One that gets the best gas mileage? To help you navigate through the many car dealerships you may venture out to, we combed through several “Best of” lists to compile our own top picks for family-friendly vehicles.
Compact SUV: Honda CR-V
Named Kelley Blue Book’s Compact SUV Best Buy of 2018, The CR-V offers plenty of interior access features, including a trunk hatch that opens wide, allowing for lots of room to store groceries in the rear. forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking; lane-departure warning; lane-keeping assist; and blind spot monitoring. For the tech savvy family, the CR-V comes with an infotainment system featuring a high-resolution 7-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. More convenient and innovative technology abounds in this compact SUV such as a parking reminder function that allows you to locate your CR-V in a crowded lot.
Midsize SUV: Toyota Highlander
One of Kelley Blue Book’s finalists for Best Buy SUV, families wanting a little more space should look at the Toyota Highlander. With enough interior space for up to eight and five USB charging ports, you will have plenty of room in the Highlander and enough USB ports to keep your little one’s tablets charged on long road trips. Furthermore, the Highlander comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense – P, which includes pedestrian and vehicle detection combined with automatic braking, lane departure alert with steering assist, blind spot monitoring and a bird’s eye view reverse camera. The latest car technology, innovative features and roomy interior make the Highlander the perfect SUV for a growing family!
Large SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe
Named J.D Power’s Most Dependable SUV, the Tahoe seats seven to nine passengers, depending on the version you select. All models come with tri-zone climate control, an 8-inch center touch screen equipped with Chevy MyLink, available 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus plenty of USB and power points to ensure that everyone is plugged in and happy. You can also opt for a rear-seat entertainment system and hands-free power lift gate, both of which are great for families with little ones. One innovative feature is a rear seat reminder that prompts drivers to check to see if a small child or pet is left in the rear seat when the vehicle is parked.
Another great feature on the Tahoe for parents of teenagers is the Teen Driver technology that tracks and sends updates on your teen’s driving habits. With this feature turned on, the audio system is disabled until the front passengers are buckled up. Other safety features included are limiting sound volume while driving, front end collision alert and driver seat safety alert.
Luxury SUV: Audi Q5
The Audi Q5 was completely redesigned for the 2018 model with a quick acceleration, large cabin and long list of standard features. The Q5 features Audi’s “Virtual Cockpit,” a 12.3-inch display that can show a traditional gauge set or a full-width map. Also on offer is a full-color head-up display that keeps key info in the driver’s line of sight without being intrusive. Audi connect allows you to get weather info, stream Internet radio, and helps if you need roadside assistance. On the entertainment side, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard.
One of Audi’s key safety features is their Audi Pre-Sense, which can determine if there is an impending collision and prepare the vehicle by beginning to close the windows and sunroof, pretensioning safety belts, and preparing the brake system. Additionally, Pre-Sense will detect cornering and stationary vehicles as well as pedestrians.
Minivan: Toyota Sienna
The first striking feature of the Toyota Sienna is that it is the only minivan sold in the U.S. that gives the option of all-wheel drive, a great feature in these rainy Florida summers to give you extra traction on slick roads and keep your family safe! Additionally, for a large family who needs space, the Toyota Sienna comfortably seats eight people. The Sienna’s features include powered-sliding doors, powered seats, and additional sets of heating and air-conditioning controls for those riding in the back!
The 2018 Toyota Sienna model features 296 horsepower and a new eight-speed automatic transmission, to help you efficiently get your little ones to all their activities. Just like the Toyota Highlander, the Toyota Sienna comes with the Toyota Safety Sense – P. The Toyota Sienna’s standard entertainment package includes the Entune 3.0 infotainment system, navigation, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, five USB ports and a 360-degree bird’s-eye-view. With all this funtainment, getting your kiddos’ attention could be difficult but Toyota has created a solution: Driver Easy Speak, which amplifies the driver’s voice through the rear speakers. One of the newest and more innovative features is the on-board vacuum to help clean up the mess your little ones leave behind!
Eco-Friendly: Chevrolet Bolt EV
The Chevrolet Bolt EV is an affordable, all electric car than can travel up to 238 miles on a single charge. Compared to a standard MPG gauge, the Bolt EV gets 128 miles per gallon in the city and 110 on the highway and get a 90 minute charge in 30 minutes. Family cars are already filled with the sounds of children, so the Chevy Bolt EV has a welcome near-silent cabin that minimizes the extra sounds of a car to lessen driving distractions. To help entertain your kids so you can focus on driving safely, the base model is equipped with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot that enables you to connect up to seven devices at once.
A huge feature for families of teenagers (or kids approaching their driving years) is the Teen Driver feature. With this feature, you can configure a key fob specifically for your teen that disables certain features and functions, automatically enables certain safety features, and sends a “driving report card” to you when they exit the car.