So how does one go about whittling down the plethora of vehicles on the market today to pick the best vehicle for your family?
Parents partnered up with Edmunds.com and placed its highest priority on safety as well as reliability. Fourteen of the 15 vehicles on the Parents list are rated as Top Safety Picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Other qualities taken into consideration were performance, interior and exterior styling and features along with how family-friendly the vehicles are. The vehicles were analyzed and test-driven while also being held up to side-by-side comparison on pricing and features.
Kelley Blue Book recently released its list of Best Family Vehicles and there were a few differences over the choices made by Parents. Kbb.com had the ultimate family truckster – the Chevy Suburban – on its list but Parents did not. Also absent from Parents’ choices was any Subaru.
U.S. News presented its choices of 17 top family rides that included several domestic models not found on the other lists.
So which vehicle is right for your family? What are you going to purchase or rent for the ultimate summer vacation? Are you merely driving your family to the airport or heading out on that once-in-a-lifetime cross-country trip your kids will tell their children about?
Safety is premium of course but take into consideration your destination and what unexpected changes in road conditions and climate may have on your travel plans. How much gear can you SAFELY pack into the vehicle? Can you easily get to the spare tire and jack on the side of the road following a blowout? Do you have room to carry extra supplies like water, food and safety equipment?
Once again the time-honored motto of the Boy Scouts of America rings true when planning that ultimate summer getaway – Be Prepared. Take into consideration the “what ifs” (without worrying yourself out of the vacation of course).
For me, I like the Subaru lineup as they all (except for the new BRZ sports coupe) feature All-Wheel Drive. Heading to the mountains? Consider one of the new four-door Jeep models such as Grand Cherokee or Wrangler Unlimited.
Rediscovering Route 66 or heading up (down) Pacific Coast Highway? While these are more “mid-life crisis” road trips they can make for enjoyable family outings as well and what better way than in a convertible. Sure, most convertibles are not family friendly but for young families whose children are post-car seat, vehicles like the drop-top Ford Mustang will accommodate a couple of youngsters in the rear seat area.
If the convertible is out of the question consider a vehicle with one of the new panorama-style sunroofs so rear seat passengers can enjoy what is overhead like the giant trees out west or towering canyon walls or even soaring eagles.
Features such as navigation along with hands-free infotainment functions are almost a must before heading out on the road. Rear seat entertainment may also be a priority to occupy the kids’ time when “I spy” and “car bingo” grow weary and you’ve already sang multiple choruses of “99 bottles of beer on the wall.”
Satellite radio will keep you from having to find new radio stations and technology such as Sirius Travel Link will help you find the closest (and cheapest) gas stations while also giving you a look at the radar on the road ahead.
Whichever vehicle is the top pick for your family, remember to consider ALL of your families’ needs (including pets and the elderly) along with potential uses and destinations. A cool sports car may not do well on one of those beaches you can drive on while a fullsize SUV or pickup may drink so much fuel it depletes your “fun money” account.
Choose wisely and choose well and if all else fails choose leasing or renting for your summer trip. Most importantly, have fun.