The experience of starting a family can and should change how you view car shopping. Children will force you to reconsider features you once ignored. Here are six important factors to consider when choosing your next family SUV:
Easy-to-reach LATCH Tether Points
There are fixed brackets called LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) to which a child seat is attached, making proper car-seat installation easy and less prone to error. With 59 percent of child seats installed incorrectly, that’s the advantage you want.
Clean Upholstery with Ease
Do you think you’ll be able to keep your car(s) clean with kids around? Maybe not. Like diapers and wet wipes, kids and messes go together. Fabric upholstery in your SUV is a magnet for stains, vulnerable to tears, and will very quickly smell like stale cookies. Vinyl is the best choice if you don’t want to deal with leather since it cleans up with a wet sponge and is durable and long-lasting. Smooth surfaces are better-perforations, seams, and stitching all collect dirt.
A 360-degree camera that detects pedestrians
U.S.-market cars must have backup cameras, primarily to prevent the worst kind of tragedy a parent can imagine. However, a family SUV’s high nose may make it difficult to see objects (or small children) immediately ahead of the bumper. New SUVs come with pedestrian detection that will detect objects (or people) and automatically apply the brakes. Investing in a 360-degree all-around camera, which stitches together a bird’s-eye view of the car, is also advisable: The camera will help you spot smaller objects (such as kid’s toys) that the collision sensor might otherwise miss.
The Right Height
It can be difficult to lift infants into car seats if your SUV sits too high, and it may cause backache if it rides too low. Bring your baby (or, if you’re expecting, a 10-pound dumbbell and the infant seat) to the dealership so they can see how high or low the SUV is for you to position something heavy easily. When you’re there, take note of how wide the doors open, as you’ll want enough space to let the kiddo in and out.
Telematics is an emergency
New SUVs feature emergency telematics systems that can detect a crash, contact your car to check on you, and notify emergency services if necessary. Cell phones are used by some systems (good), while others use built-in phones (better since multiple networks can be used to place the call). In addition to luxury brands, these systems have also become available on blue-collar models. Subscriptions are required for many systems, but they are worth it for safety, protection, and peace of mind.
Racks on roofs
You will run out of space sooner or later when you have a big family and a long vacation. You can go vertical and free up cabin space for those long adventures with a roof rack. Many family SUVs have roof racks that include rails but not cross-members, necessary to pack safely.