Mother’s Day is a time for moms to take a look back and reflect on the rewards and pleasures that come with being matriarch of a family. It’s also a time for them to gaze to the future and make plans to improve and streamline family life.
Vehicles play crucial roles in many households. We rely on them for transportation and entertainment, and in many ways, they’re part of our families. Certain automotive features are very family-friendly and make life a lot easier for moms. If you’re a mother who’s in the market for a new or used vehicle this Mother’s Day, the six automotive features listed below deserve to be on your radar.
Teen Driver System
Available on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and several Ford vehicles, this feature helps moms exert some guidance on the behavior of their teen drivers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the fatal crash rate for 16-19 year olds in this country is nearly triple that of drivers who are 20 and over. If a teen is a new driver, parents will have a lot of concern during those times when their child is driving unsupervised. Vehicles with teen driver systems mute the radio until the front occupants are buckled in and provide a warning when the teen exceeds a certain speed.
Ford’s teen driver system (MyKey) prevents distracted driving by allowing moms to block incoming phone calls and hold text messages while the teen is behind the wheel, provided the youngster’s phone has been paired with Ford’s Sync system. With the Malibu’s Teen Driver system, moms are provided with a report card after each trip showing data such as distance driven, maximum speed and the amount of times that over-speed warnings were issued.
Built-In Vacuum Cleaner
One thing true of kids everywhere is they love to make a mess. For moms with younger kids, keeping a family vehicle clean and tidy can be a major chore. The Honda Odyssey minivan makes this task a lot easier by providing a built-in vacuum cleaner to quickly and effectively tackle messes and spills. Known as the HondaVac, this vacuum cleaner is located in the rear of the minivan and features two attachments and a hose long enough to access the entire cabin. It was introduced with the 2014 Odyssey and is offered on the top Touring Elite trim level.
Though some kids would beg to differ, moms don’t have eyes in the backs of their heads. This makes it difficult for mothers to monitor kids in the back seat when they’re behind the wheel. Enter the conversation mirror. Mounted in the roof high above the center console, this feature is a mirror offering a wide view of the vehicle’s back seat. A conversation mirror makes it easy for moms to safely see what’s happening with kids seated in the rear, since it allows them to keep watch without having to turn around. This useful feature is offered in vehicles such as the Toyota Sienna, Honda CR-V, Nissan Quest, Kia Sedona and Toyota Highlander.
If you’re a mom who’s ever tried to communicate with your children in the back while driving, you know it’s not easy yelling above the din of road noise and misbehaving kids. A built-in microphone simplifies this task, amplifying your voice so you can get your message across to your kids in a way that’s loud and clear. Available in the Toyota Sienna, this feature is called Driver Easy Speak, and it’s a useful tool in a mother’s arsenal.
Hands-Free Power Liftgate
You’re in the grocery store parking lot, and you’ve got your 2-year-old in one arm and a bag of groceries in the other. Your SUV’s liftgate is closed and you have no free arms left with which to open it. What to do? You wouldn’t have this problem if your vehicle had a hands-free power liftgate. As its name suggests, this feature allows you to open your liftgate with no hands. If the vehicle’s key fob is in your pocket or purse, all you need to do is wave your foot at the liftgate and it will automatically open to accommodate your groceries or cargo. Vehicles with a hands-free power liftgate include the Ford Escape, Ford Edge and Range Rover Evoque. With some systems, you don’t even need to wave your foot. If you choose the Kia Sorento, for example, all you need to do is stand near the liftgate with your key fob to open the rear hatch.
Chilled Storage Compartment
Kids sometimes get a bit crazy without a nice cold beverage to calm them down. A chilled storage bin makes it possible for moms to have access to this soothing treat even when they’re on the road. These compartments tend to be on the small side, but they offer enough room for a few boxes of juice, and that makes them more than worth the price of admission. The cooling capacity of these compartments varies from model to model. The Ford Flex has one of the most powerful systems available, offering an in-cabin refrigerator capable of cooling beverages to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. The Flex’s chilled storage bin also comes with a freezer mode that drops the temperature to 23 degrees. Other vehicles with chilled storage compartments include the Honda Odyssey, Volkswagen GTI, Volkswagen Passat and Kia Optima.
Kids and cars aren’t always an easy fit, but these six features make the combination a much less stressful experience. Keep these helpful amenities in mind as you make your next vehicle purchase.