2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Best Cars for New Parents

4 vehicles that make life easier for growing families

BYNina Russin
Having a baby changes everything, including the car you drive.
New parents quickly discover they need more room to haul the baby stuff. Having good rear seat access is even more important because it can be real pain getting the infant carrier through the door opening and into the backseat. Child-seat-friendly interiors with abundant storage space and safety technology designed to protect small children also can improve quality of life for busy parents. Below are our four favorite vehicles for growing families.
Minivan: Chrysler Pacifica
Don’t let its crossover appearance fool you; the all-new Pacifica is a minivan at heart. Sliding side doors open wide in tight parking spots so parents can install child seats. Child-friendly handles enable children to open and close the doors on their own, while the hands-free liftgate helps mom stash the jogging stroller in back. Easy tilt second-row seats improve access to the third row without removing child seats. Available safety features include parallel and perpendicular park assist, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and a rearview camera.
Hybrid: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Eco-focused parents will appreciate a new gasoline/electric version of the RAV4 compact crossover with standard all-wheel drive and 33 mile-per-gallon fuel economy. Reclining second-row seats keep kids comfortable on long trips, while active safety features protect them outside the car. Toyota Safety Sense automatically brings the vehicle to a complete stop if it senses a pedestrian in its path. A bird’s eye camera available on the Limited trim level provides a 360-degree perimeter view, eliminating all blind spots.
Four-Wheel Drive: Ford Explorer
The seven-passenger Explorer is budget friendly with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine that averages 25 mpg on the highway. Inflatable rear seatbelts protect the chest areas of small children who might sustain injuries from traditional belts during a collision. A hands-free liftgate opens up with a kicking motion under the rear bumper. Safety features include parallel and perpendicular park assist, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and tethered side curtain airbags that prevent occupants from sliding between the airbags and windows.
Value: Nissan Rogue
Priced from $23,290 with available third-row seating, the Nissan Rogue gives parents on a budget a versatile option. Available safety features on the advanced trim levels include forward emergency braking, around-view monitor with moving object detection, and blind-spot monitoring. A Divide-N-Hide cargo system available on two-row models makes optimum use of the cargo area with 18 configurations and a lower deck for tall items.
NINA RUSSIN specializes in reviewing vehicles for buyers with active lifestyles and owns a Jeep Wrangler because, like her, it likes to spend time off the grid.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Ford Explorer
Ford Explorer
Nissan Rogue
Nissan Rogue
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