Toyota Highlander with child image by John Goreham
John Goreham's picture

Shopping For A New Car As A Parent - One Thing You Must Remember

As you shop for your next vehicle, remember your first role as a parent.
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Car shopping is an exciting time. We'd all love to be driving sporty coupes with a convertible top. But as parents, our needs take priority over our wants in many ways, and car shopping is just one example. Sure, you are buying a four-door, likely a crossover, and safety is on your list of priorities. But here's a wakeup call. That new car you are shopping for could very well be your child's first car. You're not just shopping for what your family needs now, but what your family will need in five, ten, or even fifteen years.
boy driving car image by John Goreham
Shopping As A Parent - Think Ahead
Since we parents all grew up driving in a time when cars were mostly devoid of driver assistance technologies, we are sometimes jaded about new safety tech. That does not mean the technology doesn't work or isn't helpful. Safety technology does work and it is helpful. Particularly for younger drivers who grew up differently. Staring at phones and screens. Since most young drivers begin driving in their parents old car, the technology you buy today when you shop is the technology that will help your son or daughter when they begin driving.
IIHS graph
Related Story: How To Research A Used Vehicle For Safety When Shopping - Honda CR-V vs. Toyota RAV4

What To Look For In A New Vehicle As A Parent
Size matters. For the most part, physics is hard to cheat. Everyone involved in vehicle safety knows that midsize crossovers are the safest vehicles in the real world. But did you know that all-wheel drive is also a proven safety advantage? Multiple studies point to AWD as a safety benefit.

Just like we would not recommend anyone buy any vehicle without wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, we can't in good conscious leave out rear cross-traffic alert and forward collision warning and automatic braking on a list of technologies parents should insist on in any new vehicle.

Researching Vehicle Models As A Parent
In every car class, there are standouts for safety. Even certain small cars have much better real-world safety records than other models in that same segment. IIHS is a good resource. Check out the scores of the models you consider on its list of Top Safety Picks and then go one step further. Look at how well that model has done in the real world.
teen washing car image by John Goreham
The rug rats you are buckling into car seats and the soccer players you are shuttling around are going to be standing in your kitchen with their hand out asking for the car keys in the blink of an eye. Is the model you are going to put them in safe? Now is the time to plan for that day.

John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

Images by John Goreham. Re-use with permission only. Graph courtesy of IIHS.


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