Choosing the perfect family car is all about finding the right features. Buying a car is a big decision, especially when you consider just how much time you and your spouse spend on the road with the kids. Consider your needs as a family, keeping the most important qualities and amenities in mind as you shop around.


The Highest Safety Rating

Safety trumps everything when it comes to transporting your little ones. It doesn't matter if the car is the ugliest thing you've ever seen, as long as it's properly equipped to protect the family. Focus on models with a 5-star safety rating and high performance in crash tests. Ask dealers about other features designed specifically with kids in mind. This is one case where more is better, and it's hard to go overboard, so don't settle for anything less than the best.


A Lot of Space

Whether you're transporting a brood of excited young soccer players or packing up for a family day trip, you need a vehicle with enough seating for everyone to travel in safety and comfort. If you have young children, make sure there's room to install more than one car seat or booster seat without overcrowding. For families with pets, more space means it's easier to bring Fido along when you head to the park. Vehicles with multiple rows of seating and the option to rearrange the interior provide the most flexibility.


Storage for Everything

"Stow and go" seating is still popular in many hatchbacks and SUVs, and it's the perfect way to get groceries, diaper bags, sports equipment and anything else you need for the day in the car while still leaving space for the kids. Look for a big trunk and rear seats designed to fold flat to expand the storage area. This feature also comes in handy when you take the family on vacation and find yourself needing to pack half the house just to spend a few days away.


Airbags Galore

As with other safety features, you can't go wrong with more airbags. A full car means you and your spouse are in the front seat and the kids are in the back, and you want to be sure everyone is protected in the event of an accident. Driver and passenger airbags come standard, but look for side and side curtain airbags to cover the rest of the vehicle. Make sure the side curtain airbags expand to protect every row of seats.


Built-In Sunshades

Kids get a lot of unprotected sun exposure while riding in the car, and commercial stick-on sunshades often aren't large enough to cover the rear passenger windows. Some new cars come equipped with sunshades as part of the design, so you can pull them down to protect the kids on bright days. Sunshades are also perfect for when the whole brood is fussy after a long shopping trip and could do with a little uninterrupted shut-eye.


Remote Keyless Entry

A standard feature on most cars, the ability to lock and unlock doors at the touch of a button is invaluable when driving the family around on errands or taking your child's team to a game. You don't have enough hands to hold on to your youngest, carry groceries, text your spouse to say you'll be late, and get the car open all at the same time. Loading and unloading sports equipment is also much easier when the trunk springs open on command.


Bluetooth Connectivity

This may sound like a luxury, but as a busy parent, you need a system giving you the capability to pay attention to your phone without having to look at it while driving. It's illegal to use a mobile device while behind the wheel in most states, so many car manufacturers are integrating systems to allow drivers to take calls, navigate, choose music, have text messages read out to them or dictate text replies using verbal commands or an intuitive touch screen.


Reliable Backup Camera

Remember the time you backed over your son's favorite toy truck, leaving nothing but a sad twist of metal in the driveway? A backup camera saves you from similarly embarrassing episodes and protects against more serious accidents. Using a screen on the dashboard console, you can keep an eye on what's going on behind you at all times. Parking becomes easier, runaway shopping carts are no longer a problem and you'll always know where kids and pets are as you pull out of the driveway.


Power Doors

Going for size and space means a car with at least four doors, all of which are heavy and hard for kids to maneuver by themselves. Power doors slide open on their own and won't close if something blocks their path. This makes it safer and easier to get the family in and out of the car. Some power options include the ability to close doors you discover are still open only after you've settled down behind the wheel.


Back Seat Extras

When you take the kids out of the house, a collection of toys, games, snacks and electronics tends to come along. Backseat cup holders and pockets keep everything organized and within reach so that the kids can entertain themselves on long drives. USB connectivity gives teens a place to charge up their mobile devices and stay connected. Of course, there's nothing wrong with getting everyone singing a round of "The Wheels on the Bus" to enjoy a little old-fashioned fun.


Take the time to assess different makes and models as you shop for a family car. Browse dealership websites and ask questions, always keeping your family in mind. When you go to look at vehicles in person, bring your spouse and the kids along. Try out each vehicle to determine the best option for daily transportation, and choose the one with the right combination of features to meet everyone's needs.

If you think you need these features in a family car, you might consider the Mazda CX-9. Check it out and give us a shout if you have any questions.

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