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September 20, 2011  |  Comments
Baby on board

Photo By  Yoshihide Nomura

Creative Commons photo via Flickr.

Baby on board

Okay, it’s confession time: Since I first started writing for the AutoNation blog, the editors have been trying to get me to write an article about buying a family car. You see, on March 30, 2011, my wife and I were blessed with a little girl. So, my experience as a first-time parent should lend itself well to writing an article intended for first-time parents.

But here’s the thing, you can read all you want, I chose this book, but there is not one thing- book or blog- that accurately prepares you for the joys of parenthood. You simply learn as you go. The great advice you learn now, you’ll forget when you’re up at three in the morning, rocking your little one to sleep.

Baby and child car seats

Photo By supafly

Baby car seat installed. Creative Commons photo via Flickr.

Ok, my wife and I really didn’t do a lot of research before we went to the store. We’d find a great deal and then I would scan the barcode with my smartphone and check for recalls and read customer reviews.

For those of you who don’t like to wing it, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a great site full of the latest car seat recalls and child seat laws in your state. If you’re looking for reviews and ratings, you can scan the barcode like I did using an app like RedLaser, or visit the Consumer Reports website.

Once you choose the car seat, you have to install it in the car, which is often problematic for parents. This week is National Child Passenger Week and to celebrate, Safe Kids USA is holding Car Seat Check-Up Events across the country. You can find one in your area by clicking here.

Family-friendly cars

If you’re driving around in a coupe, convertible or three-seat truck, you should probably look into trading the vehicle in for a family-friendly vehicle. Now, if the term family-friendly scares you, don’t worry. Family cars have come a long way from the minivan and station wagons of yesteryear. Nowadays family-friendly means DVD players, coolers for drinks and sunroofs.

Both Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds selected their top family cars for the year. Of their selections, only five appeared on both lists. So, we’re betting these are the best of the best family cars:

Honda Odyssey

 

Honda Odyssey

Photo By Honda

Honda Odyssey

Described by Kelly Blue Book as the “gold standard of minivans,” the Odyssey has a cool box that can keep up to six drinks cold and an available 16-inch rear DVD system that can play two different movies.

Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer

Photo By Ford

2011 Ford Explorer

The 2011 North American Truck of the Year is a technology marvel. The Explorer is the first vehicle to use inflatable rear safety belts to help reduce the risk of injury. And did I mention it also has SYNC and dual headrest DVD players.

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf

Photo By Volkswagen

Volkswagen Golf

The hatchback is the station wagon’s better looking cousin. The VW Golf lets you get the fuel efficiency of a car and the storage space of an SUV. It’s the best of both worlds.

Hyundai Sonata

2011 Hyundai Sonata

Photo By Hyundai

2011 Hyundai Sonata

Who said you can’t have a little style when you’re driving the kids to day care? The Sonata packs a potent combo of sleek looks and intelligent technology into one impressive baby-carrying package.

Kia Sorento

2011 Kia Sorento

Photo By Kia

2011 Kia Sorento

Kelly Blue Book calls the Sorento the favorite vehicle in two-and-a-half-row segment. The car is the size of a standard five seat SUV, but you have the option of turning the cargo area into a third row of seats. Perfect for when you’re hauling an entire soccer team.

Of course there are plenty of other vehicles that are suitable for your family. Make sure you pick the features that matter most to our new family. If something changes, AutoNation offers a three-day money back guarantee, because when it comes to kids, you learn on the go.

About Adam Lopez

Adam Lopez is an advertising specialist at AutoNation's headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
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