Purchasing a new family vehicle is no small undertaking. It’s a significant investment and one that impacts your family’s quality of life. This year, automobile manufacturers brought their A-game to the family table with a variety of cars, trucks, and SUVs designed to make family time on the road safer and parents’ lives easier. Many of the new 2017/2018 models come loaded with life-saving features and technology designed to help Mom and Dad so everyone can enjoy the ride.

The following are some of the features you should know about before buying your next automobile.

Safety features

Safety is at the top of every parent’s list. These features – some old and some new – have the ability stop a collision or minimize the impact when one occurs.

Airbag weight sensors

Airbags are the first thing most parents think of when it comes to automobile safety, but they pose a risk for young children. The weight sensors solve this conundrum by determining the size and age of the front passenger seat’s occupant. It only deploys the airbag if an adult is riding shotgun during a collision.

Blind spot monitors and cross-traffic alert

There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than changing lanes in traffic with a car full of kids. The blind spot monitor detects vehicles approaching or positioned in the adjacent lanes and warns the driver so they can maneuver with confidence.

Lane departure alert

Tired or distracted drivers receive an alert when they begin to leave their lane without using the turn signal in advance. Some versions of this feature will apply corrective steering.

Braking technology and collision alert

Any feature that helps minimize the chances of getting in a wreck is a bonus, but did you know that some vehicles can stop themselves when they sense an impending collision? Low-speed forward automatic braking and brake assist technology automatically apply the brakes when it detects imminent impact.

Another feature that gives you a chance to act is forward collision alert, which provides audible and visual signals to let you know that a collision may be approaching.

Safety alert seat

While most kids are angels in the car, there is the occasional screaming or crying fit that takes place. If you’re unable to hear your alerts or too distracted to see the visual aid, a safety alert seat comes in handy. These seats provide haptic feedback when activated so you can feel the alert.

Post-collision braking system

Designed on the premise that a collision consists of a series of events that follow the initial impact, automatic post-collision braking applies the brakes when it detects the first impact. This reduces the energy and damage that takes place after.

Park assist features

From parallel parking to backing in and out of perpendicular parking spaces, park assist features make bringing your ride to a stop easy. With young kids aboard, sometimes you need to get out of the car fast!

Front and rear park assist activates at speeds below five miles per hour. It uses ultrasonic sensors mounted on the front and rear bumpers to detect nearby objects (up to four feet from the front bumper and up to eight feet from the rear). It delivers distance-to-object alerts on the dashboard monitor via seat pulses and with a beeping sound.

When nearing an object, the bars in front or back of a small car icon on the monitor illuminate and change from yellow to amber to red to indicate distance (red being the least distance). The system also delivers seat pulses and beeps when the vehicle is in the “close zone,” which is one foot from the front and two feet from the back.

Park assist with rear vision camera

When equipped with both park assist and a rear vision camera, a warning triangle appears on the vehicle’s screen revealing the object’s location and distance.

Rear seat reminder

Weary parents get forgetful, and that’s why the rear seat reminder is an ideal feature in every family’s vehicle. Never forget a bag of groceries or car seat again. This reminder creates an audible and visible alert that reads “Rear Seat Reminder/Look in Rear Seat,” encouraging the driver to look back.

seeking freelance writers to submit work about families, parenting and kids

Make-life-easier features

Safety always comes first when it comes to making big purchases, but every parent deserves a little help. The following features make life easier for Mom and Dad in the driveway and on the road.

Keyless unlock

While this may not be one of the newest features on the market, for most parents it’s a must. Whether you are hauling groceries, clothes, or kids from the car to the house or vice versa, chances are your hands aren’t free. Keyless unlock via exterior door handles with extended range remote keyless entry means you won’t need to set stuff down or take extra trips to get into or secure your vehicle.

Push button start

No more digging in your purse, man bag, or pockets for the key, just push a button and go. Simple but wonderful – it’s the little things that count.

App-connect

Use your phone to lock and unlock your automobile, start the engine, check your tire pressure, and perform diagnostics from anywhere. This feature is a dream come true for multi-taskers. That’s right, some new models come with the ability to stay connected to your mobile device via an app – a convenience that also offers peace of mind.

Entertainment packages

While keeping the kids unplugged as much as possible is a goal that most parents try to meet, long rides and road trips are the perfect excuses for some screen time and great tunes. Many of the newest automobiles come equipped with entertainment packages that have everything from rear seat DVD/Blu-Ray players to wireless headphones so your kids can watch their favorite flick while you enjoy singing along to your favorite band.

4G Wi-Fi hotspot

In the case of emergency or when on-call at work, it’s nice to know you’re connected. Lots of new vehicles come with a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot so you never have to worry about missing that important message.

OnStar (or similar net-connected services)

This feature offers parents all kinds of peace of mind. Many new automobiles come with the OnStar button, giving drivers instant access to a suite of services including 24/7 emergency response, security, turn-by-turn navigation, Wi-Fi, and diagnostics.

Choose your ride

Vehicles have come a long way and now you know some of the life-saving (and life-enhancing) features to look for when shopping for your next automobile. The following are some of the newest wheels to hit the road. While each is different from the other, they’re all designed with families in mind. Discover the one fits your unique needs the best.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2017 Chrysler Pacifica (Hybrid)

If your clan has grown in numbers or is into activities that demand travel and hauling gear, this minivan is your dream come true. It is the only plug-in hybrid minivan on the market, so you can feel good about your time on the road. The Pacifica’s spacious interior gives everyone room to relax and the fixed glass pane over the third-row seating area means even the back passengers stay comfortable for long periods of time.

Additionally, the Pacifica comes with the following features:|

  • Park assist with camera
  • Cruise control with stop and hold to maintain the distance from other vehicles and bring itself to a controlled stop in set circumstances
  • Forward collision warning
  • Brake assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • U-Connect theater entertainment system
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Remote start

The Chrysler Hybrid Pacifica starts at $41,995.

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir

This vehicle doesn’t go on sale until the fall, but it’s worth the wait. Buick pulled out all of the stops in an effort to exceed the needs of the modern family with this mid-sized SUV. The three rows of seating mean you can haul your kids and their friends around town. A packed vehicle doesn’t have to mean stale air as this ride comes equipped with an ionizer that cleans the air by attracting airborne contaminants and reducing bacteria, viruses, dust, pollen, and more, without filters or maintenance!

The Enclave’s athletic appearance is only one of its many exceptional features. It will keep your family safe and relaxed with the following:

  • Blind spot cross traffic alert
  • Safety alert seat
  • Brake assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Park assist
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • OnStar
  • 4G Wi-Fi hotspot

Pricing for the Buick Enclave Avenir will be announced later this year.

2017_golf_alltrack_6321

2017 VW Golf Alltrack

The family wagon just got rugged. The Alltrack is deceptively sleek-looking and designed to navigate rough terrains and all types of weather conditions. If your family likes the outdoors, they’ll love this ride. With a five-person capacity, plenty of cargo room, and a roof rack, you can take your family on the adventures they’ve been dreaming of. Regardless of where your passengers sit, no one misses a thing with the panoramic sunroof that tilts and slides. Road trips don’t just look better in the Alltrack, they feel better with these additional features:

  • Forward collision alert
  • Brake assist
  • Park assist with camera
  • Lane departure warning
  • Automatic crash notification system (automatically notifies an operator)
  • Post-collision braking system
  • App-connect
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Discover Media navigation

The VW Golf Alltrack starts at $25,850.

2017_Lexus_GX_460_Sport_Design_Package_005_C8D6CB3B2827FF7A198C65C59AFE26FF6B88EC98

2017 Lexus GX 460

The Lexus GX is an SUV designed with families in mind. Its chiseled looking exterior matches the thoughtful approach to the interior design and seating arrangement. This ride comes with second-row captain’s seats, which means each of the kids (or teens) have their own space and zero reasons to complain about one another. With three rows available, this is a spacious ride packed with features including:

  • Airbag weight sensors
  • Lexus Enform Safety Connect (for roadside emergency assistance)
  • Blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert
  • Brake assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Park assist
  • Collision alert (*This vehicle also has a driver attention monitor which warns you when it detects an obstacle if you are facing away from the road)
  • Dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system
  • Navigation
  • App-connect
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Added bonus feature: subscription-free weather and traffic

The Lexus GX 460 starts at $51,680.

Sierra Denali

2017 GMC Sierra Denali

Who says trucks aren’t family vehicles? The Sierra Denali is proof to the contrary and demonstrates how this type of automobile can accommodate everyone in your crew while taking care of your more rugged work and play needs. The bold-looking Sierra seats six comfortably and its spacious cab makes passengers forget that they aren’t in a car or SUV.

With a large cargo area to boot, there is plenty of room for luggage, gear, or anything at all you might want to bring along. The 2017 Sierra comes with:

  • Forward collision alert
  • Front and rear park assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Safety alert seat
  • Brake assist
  • Rear seat reminder
  • Airbag weight sensing
  • Rear seat entertainment
  • Navigation
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Remote start
  • OnStar
  • 4G Wi-Fi and built-in hotspot

The GMC Sierra Denali start as $52,605.