july 2008 217I’ve discovered that what I want now in a car today is drastically different from what I wanted in a car pre-mommy. After I became a mom for the first time at 37 years young (I am a 20 year old trapped in a 41 year old body), it wasn’t just about me and my husband anymore.

In fact, my husband is a serious Volvo fan and won’t ever sell his car. It is 15 years old now and he still loves it as much as the first time he drove it off the lot.

 

I asked why he loved this car so much and he replied promptly and proudly, “miles per gallon, seat warmers, trunk size, stereo sound, and acceleration”. That is great, but when we had a second, and than a third baby, the Volvo had to take a back seat to our main mode of transportation. Enter, Honda Odyssey. When I was single, a safe and affordable car was the solution to traveling back and forth from Columbia, Missouri to Chicago, Illinois. Once I graduated and I was employed, the priorities hadn’t changed except for my personal need for a Toyota Celica.

Life experience and three kids later, I am the proud parent of a Honda Odyssey and I love it! My DH and I joke about how we love our mini-van and still jam out to tunes (most of them are kid songs, but they sound great). My DH still drives the Volvo, but I take our precious cargo (our 3 kids) on many excursions.

If you are thinking about joining the ranks of a “mommy van” there are resources available online to help you find the minivan of your dreams.  According to “Marketing to Women” author Marti Barletta, women seek more advice from an auto authority (57 percent) before buying a new car; they spend more time in the purchasing process than men (17 weeks versus 15) and women shop at an average of three dealerships for best price and treatment. When I was approached to write a blog about what is important to me in a family car, I had a few suggestions of my own. Whether you drive a Ford or a Honda, there are certain things that you just don’t skimp on when it comes to the family cruising vessel. I’d like to include some of mine in this post.  So, here goes:

Gas mileage – With three kids and tuition fees, we need to save money on everything.

Comfortable seats – Our passengers range from kids to grandparents, everybody deserves a comfortable ride.

Cleans easy – Don’t even look and the damage from our road trip, I need something that cleans easy and easy to get in the nooks and crannies full of crumbs and juice box remains

Cup holders – Mommy needs her coffee just as bad as the kiddies need there sippy cups

Built in Car Seats – Is this possible? While were on the topic, how about self-buckling so I don’t have to get back there and do it.

Safety – Overall plus reliable windshield washers (I hate when the window gets very dirty and I have to spray the cleaner constantly to see the road ahead).

Seamless pick-up – A smooth accelerator is critical when changing lanes, especially in Manhattan.

Entertainment – Built in cell phone holders, DVD in the back for the kids, and a CD player that can hold up to 20 (I should probably just upload everything to the IPOD already).

SYNC Technology – I don’t want to be bothered with headsets, dangling ear pieces, and sliding cell phones. Also, I want a built in GPS that will take directions from my mouth rather than pushing buttons.

If you are in the market for a new and larger family vehicle, the experts from AutoTrader.com, the ultimate automotive marketplace, offer a lot information about popular family-friendly models, including minivans, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and sedans. If you still aren’t sure if you if you should buy a larger c are, here are some things to take into considerdation:

  • Size and activity level of a family. Are family members involved in extracurricular activities or sports with equipment that requires more storage space, or will the car primarily be used as a means to get from Point A to Point B? Does the car need to be large enough to fit everyone and everything inside, or will a more economical sedan suffice? These are important factors to think of when looking at different vehicles. 
  • Safety. Parents should take note of important features with which a family car should come equipped, such as electronic stability control, side airbags, anti-lock braking systems and tire pressure monitoring systems. When you’re looking at specific models, if you choose an SUV for your family car, look for responsive mid-size models with excellent crash test ratings, or consider a crossover, which combines the safety of minivans with the sleek features of a traditional SUV.
  • Personal preferences and convenience. Personal preferences such as cargo area size and ease of car seat installation vary for each parent and absolutely important to consider when looking at different cars. Parents may also want to consider factors that make things more convenient when it comes to children, such as dark upholstery (for spills and messes), keyless entry (when you’re juggling kids and other items) and a LATCH system, which makes installing car seats easier and safer.