Last weekend I attended the Chicago Auto Show, after a nearly 15 year hiatus from the show. Basically, what I am saying is that I had not been to the show since high school. This year I was particularly interested because I wanted to provide mamas with the inside scoop on what to look for when purchasing a vehicle for a large family. Let me give you a fair warning, I am by no means proficient in giving information about what is under the hood of cars BUT I will share with you some tips on things to consider when you are shopping for car's comfortability and practicality for your family. When shopping around for a vehicle for your large family (three children or more), typically space in the cabin is what is desired and trunk space.
Comfortability - When you are tugging a large family around in a vehicle, its desirable to load into a vehicle that is comfortable and easily accommodates everyone. Although there are many SUVs and Vans that have a third row of seats, some feel like clown cars in the back row. The occupants of that third row need to be toddlers or children no older than 7-9 years old. Here is why, its UNCOMFORTABLE! The leg room does not adequately accommodate teenagers or adults.
Logistically Ergonomic - When you are loading into the vehicle with children, the goal is to make it happen as easily as possible. This is especially true when you have toddlers. Although having that third row of seats is great, you don't want to do a lot of tugging and pulling to get those seats down so that children can fit into the back seat. Ideally, having children load in without you having to do anything besides buckle the seat belts is ideal. I recommend the SUVs that have the two captain seats in the second row and the bench as the third row. This allows children/occupants to walk to their seats with ease, without you tugging and pulling down the second row seats.
Storage - Most vehicles that have a third row of seats lack trunk space. I don't want you to feel all hope is lost with those vehicles. I recommend having a cargo rack installed. This gives you the option to purchase cargo carriers for road trips. We had a cargo rack installed and purchased the cargo carrier and it was tremendously helpful, The rack allowed us to keep the items we needed inside while stowing away all other items. However, there are vehicles that accommodate this kind of cargo space inside and those vehicles are the larger SUV XL, EL etc. models. GMC Yukon XL, Expedition Platinum Max & Cadillac Escalade / Escalade ESV are some of the vehicles that have the large trunk space available in addition to accommodating 7-8 passengers.
Amenities - If you have children, you NEED to keep them occupied to alleviate the amount of tantrums, crys and complaints while you are driving. Vehicles that come equipped with DVD players, audio input and outputs, extra cup holders, WiFi, window shades, power sources, bluetooth and separate heating and cooling systems from the front of the cabin is a necessity (for me). Car rides can be long, even one hour for children can feel like an eternity!
For my minivan mamas or mamas that desire one, do yourself a favor and just do it. I remember being one of those women that were completely against being spotted in a minivan. What a morale kill to your youth right? Well wrong! What it did was give me a peace of mind and comfort. Minivans provide you with the entertainment and space you need. IF you are a stroller tugging mother, a minivan is all about comfortability! I recommend the a Honda Odyssey and the Chrysler Pacifica. IF you want to ride in even more luxury the Mercedes Metris is for you.
Wheelchair Conversion Vehicles
When we were shopping around for vehicles that were wheelchair accessible, I wanted a Mercedes Sprinter. No lie. The Metris wasn't an option because it hadn't hit the market yet, but my husband and I wanted the Sprinter. Unfortunately, due to the hefty price tag of adding the conversion cost to to the sticker price of the Sprinter, we had to pump the brakes on that thought. However, the Honda Odyssey was always our next love! Below is a list of Vans that conversions can be added to make it fit your family that is wheelchair bound.
THERE ARE MORE
I hope these tidbits have given you some perspective as you hit the car lots! I can't wait to see those new cars mamas!