Thinking Of The Kids

By Chelle Cordero

August 20, 2010 5 min read

Roomy interiors with plenty of seats, cargo space and built-in entertainment systems appeal to family-minded car buyers. Driving your family around town involves more than just available seating in an oversize vehicle; safety features that will work to keep your kids safe can make you feel better while you drive. From SUVs to family sedans and compact wagons, the choices for a soccer mom or dad are plentiful. Before you go shopping, take time to jot down exactly what you want your car for. Also, keep in mind how many kids you have, and know your budget. If you are going to be using your car for long family road trips, then be sure to look for cargo room to carry luggage and, if need be, strollers and playpens. If the car is just for use around town and your family isn't too large, a midsize sedan might be just the vehicle for you. Larger cars no longer mean insane fuel bills; many auto companies have worked on innovative technology that can make even a large vehicle economical. If you don't see the number displayed, ask about the crash safety rating, which is given after rugged industry tests; the higher the number the safer the car. If your children are still in car seats, take them with you to make sure they fit and you have comfortable space (door openings and leg room) to install them securely. Check the seat belt locking mechanisms to make sure that the car seats are secure. Larger families and parents who take turns carpooling Little League teams need adequate seating, and many cars offer five to eight seats, as well as good looks and fashion. Cars with wide flat-bottom seats are great for car seats, and some, such as the Honda Odyssey, offer pop-up seats between the second-row captain's chairs, making it possible to carry an additional child safely. You can get more information from about which cars work well with your child's car seat. Ford Motor Co. has prioritized child-friendly safety features, such as an inflatable seat belt from which a small tubular-shaped inflatable bag can deploy in the event of a crash. "In our development of the inflatable belt, we've insisted on taking great pains to test possible side effects of the belt system vis-?-vis the forces involved in a crash," explains Steve Rouhana, senior technical leader for passive safety at Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. Ford also has emphasized safety features for new, teen drivers, such as Ford-exclusive MyKey, which allows parents to preset limits on vehicle speed and audio system volume levels. MyKey prevents deactivation of dynamic control systems, such as AdvanceTrac, and enables parents to set speed warnings. Features such as MyKey and seat belt warning alarms for the driver's seat and for front and rear seat passengers will help to reassure parents that their precious teen drivers are buckled up and kept from unnecessary distractions while driving. Of course, Ford isn't the only automaker concerned about children's safety. General Motors' website says: "GM's child safety initiatives lead the industry in child passenger safety. From rear seat child comfort guides to the retrofit trunk anti-entrapment system, child passenger safety has been critical in product development." More than a decade ago, GM partnered with Safe Kids USA to bring vehicle safety messages to children and families through community events, auto dealer partnerships and activities at GM facilities. The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox received the highest possible rollover protection rating, "good," in the first Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rollover tests for midsize SUVs. The Equinox has standard four-wheel disc brakes, traction control, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, rollover mitigation, dual front air bags, head curtain side air bags, seat-mounted side air bags and enough room to fit three child seats across the second row. The Volvo V70 is a good choice for busy parents who yearn for the old-fashioned station wagon. Definitely sleeker and more fashionable, this smaller wagon features a reinforced passenger compartment, an energy-absorbing frontal structure, seat belts with pretensioners and dual two-stage integrated booster seats with adaptive seat belts, which fold into the rear seat cushions when they aren't needed. The V70 also comes with a spacious 33-cubic-foot cargo bay, which makes it easier to lug along strollers and toys.COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM

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