It is hard to believe that it is time that we need to start looking for Bill to get a new vehicle. We spent a ton of time at the auto show this year and I’ve been looking at Kelley Blue Book’s 12 Best Family Cars of 2017. I know this is a great list, because KBB.com’s editorial staff includes several parents with children spanning a full range of ages from toddler to beyond college. The editors enlisted the help of their families to put this year’s contenders to the real-world test. I love that real people are putting these cars through their paces. A single guy isn’t going to put the wear and tear on a vehicle as my two kids are. Since we are close to 200,000 miles, we are are now looking for something new for our family before something breaks on his car. Both Kelley Blue Book and I agree on what you should be looking for in a new family vehicle:
- Safety. Who doesn’t want to keep their family safe? I know I do which is why you should check that the vehicles you are looking at have the the 5-Star Overall Safety Rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Value. By considering a vehicle’s Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price, the 5-year residual value, insurance, fuel and maintenance costs, the 5-Year Cost to Own figures make it easy to compare actual vehicle costs . Quite often, spending a little more on the right car can save you thousands in the long run over going for the big rebate on another car. I love how they make this easy to compare apple to apples.
- Reputation. You want to make sure your vehicles have earned strong reputations for durability, reliability and simply treating their owners right. You want your vehicle to last as long as you need it.
- Car Seats. This is important for so many reasons. First, if you have multiple children, you need to make sure all the car seats fit! I cannot tell you how many stories I’ve heard with parents having a 3rd child and not realizing that they can’t get 3 car seats in the backseat of their vehicle. Is there enough distance between the front seat and the back seat to accommodate both the seat and the child? Are the LATCH mounting points easy to access? Can you access the third row when two car seats are mounted? Do the vehicle’s seat height and door opening make it easy to buckle the child in and lift them out? (Child car safety seats were very important in the consideration of the list of winners. KBB.com editors have an accompanying car seat guide with useful tips and specific details for readers.)
- Price. Before we ever buy a car, we check Kelley Blue Book (since they have been around 90 years and are the information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry plus, KBB.com serves the typical everyday car buyer and content is written to provide every bit of information necessary to make an intelligent car-purchase decision) to make sure we are getting the right price. We also shop around at our local dealers, because we have had different prices given to us at different dealers. (If you are looking at the Kelley Blue Book list, starting prices for this year’s winners range from about $20,000 to the low $30,000 range, with only one vehicle exceeding a $40,000 starting price.) Knowing the price when you walk in the door makes negotiating so much easier.
- Comfort. For us, this is huge. Bill is over 6 feet tall. I cannot tell you how many times he’s gotten in a car, and he’s too tall for it or if he puts the seat back, the poor passenger in the back has zero leg room. He also drives a ton, so he wants vehicles with lumbar support.
- Technology. Bluetooth phone connectivity and USB ports are almost standard while rearview cameras and keyless entry and push button start are heading in that direction. Features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assists are both helpful and comforting in town and on the highway, while backup cameras/sensors and rear cross-traffic alerts greatly enhance parking-lot navigation. You have to figure out if you need that. We didn’t think we did till we test drove a vehicle with it. The difference was staggering especially for someone who is on the road a lot.
What do you look for when searching for your next vehicle?