The beginning of August also means the beginning of school, and with that, tons of driving for parents. Ferrying children back and forth from practices, recitals and a multitude of other after activities can be exhausting, but car companies are working to make it easier on parents.
Features like pop-down DVD players and three-row side curtain airbags are now standard in almost all minivans and SUVs. However, other features are unique to their brands and oftentimes just a particular model. For example, the now defunct Swivel N’ Go seats on the Chrysler Town & Country.
With that in mind, we set out to discover a family hauler with just the right combination of convenience and safety features in one package, just in time for the first day of class.
- In-car vacuum: The HondaVAC™ on the 2014 Honda Odyssey is stored toward the rear of the cabin, but has a hose that can reach the entire interior.
- Tailgate seating: Both the 2014 Chrysler Town & Country and the 2014 Ford Flex offer third rows that flip 90 degrees, resulting in a backward-facing bench, perfect for watching a soccer game or drive-in movie.
- Seat cushion storage: The 2014 Dodge Journey and 2014 Mazda5 feature storage below the passenger seat cushions, perfect for stashing valuables out of view.
- Inflatable seat belts: The inflatable seat belts on the 2014 Ford Explorer help to lessen the probability of neck and head injuries.
- Rear storage well: The 2014 Nissan Quest features a permanent storage well large enough to hold two suitcases beneath the floor behind the third row.
- Stow ’n Go seating: Both the second and third row seats on the 2014 Chrysler Town & Country fold directly into the floor, creating a completely flat cargo area. When the seats are up, the compartments can be used for dry or wet storage, including a cooler.
- Drink storage: The Cool Box in the front console of the 2014 Honda Odyssey can hold six standard cans or four 24-ounce bottles. The 2014 Ford Flex features a cooler in the second row console.
- Tray tables: The front seatbacks on the 2014 Mazda5 have airplane-style tray tables that are perfect for kids.