Being a parent comes with a unique set of responsibilities…and a looooooooong list of challenges. Suddenly having more mouths to feeds and more people to care for will change your life in more ways than one way. Welcoming children into your life will also change the way you look at new cars.
Features that you simply glanced over while reading the brochure years before now sit at the top of your priority list, right where “V8” and “devilishly fast” used to be. *Sigh, oh to be young.
Now it’s all about convenience, safety and other family friendly features, and it’s totally worth it, because they’re your family, your own personal entourage of mini-yous, and you love them more than any number of cylinders.
Here are the top five car features for parents:
5 – Sunshades
As an adult, you can easily twist your head to get out of the sun’s way so you’re not blinded. Worse-case scenario, you put on a pair of sunglasses. Kids don’t have that luxury, however, and if they get blasted by direct sunlight, you will be hearing about it. Trust us.
Having a vehicle with integrated sunshades will make the little ones more comfortable, and they’re almost always better than the generic aftermarket versions, which rarely seem to fit the windows properly. They also retract into the doors, meaning you won’t lose them under the seats, and some cars even have a power rear blind. Available on: Sienna, Sequoia.
4 – Driver Easy Speak
The Sienna can seat up to eight people over three rows. This is great for hauling your tribe around, but the fact that the minivan’s interior is so huge brings about a new problem. To talk with the kids at the back, you need to speak loud enough to go over the second row, so you end up shouting most of the time. Easy Speak fits a microphone near the driver and projects it through the vehicle’s sound system. At the touch of a button, your voice will reach your entire, noisy audience. Available on: Sienna.
3 – Power Rear Hatch
You know the situation. You’re walking from the store with an armful of shopping bags. You get to your car and begin the awkward dance of juggling between your stuff, fishing the keys out of your purse/pockets, and simultaneously making sure the kids aren’t running into the parking lot. With a powered rear hatch, this scenario changes. Now all you have to do is simply push a button and the lift gate goes up, enabling you to load your stuff into the car easily. Is there a similar button for dinner tonight, because Available on: Sienna, RAV4, Highlander, Sequoia.
2 – Rear Entertainment
Children, by nature, aren’t really all that patient. And if they’re stuck in the car for too long, they will complain, argue with each other and generally make your life miserable. The solution to this? Keep them entertained. With a DVD system, you can simply plug the latest Disney movie (“Disney, babysitting your kids since 1923”) into the system, put the headphones over their ears and enjoy an hour or two of blissful silence. Sweet, blissful silence. Available on: Sequoia, Sienna.
1- Safety Ratings
Keeping your brood safe on the road is your number one priority, absolutely, no questions asked. Whether you are in the market for a small compact car or a decked-out people hauler, you want to make sure the lives of those you love are protected from every angle. This is why Toyota insists on making their cars as safe as possible. All of their vehicles score very well in the NHTSA’s crash tests; in some case like the Avalon, the Camry, the Corolla, the Highlander and the Prius, their vehicle scored the top mark in their segment. For a family, this argument alone is enough to put Toyota at the top of their shopping list. Available on: all models.