Safer for Families

When you're looking for a car for your family, you've got a lot of considerations. While it's obvious a sports car isn't your best bet, whittling down your choices takes some time. Consumer Reports has just done a lot of the work for you — evaluating more than 180 vehicles to find ones that offer the most for the whole family.

"Why don't we just take a look."

The Warsak family is looking for a new car. But everyone has different priorities.

"Basically safe for my family, reliable."

"I like the automatic door, where you just hit a button and it opens."

"I like the DVD player."

Consumer Reports testers, many of whom are parents, evaluate vehicles keeping both kids and parents in mind.

Keeping your children safe is a top priority. So cars with rear-view cameras to help prevent back over accidents earn extra points in the ratings. Auto Test Director David Champion says power windows are another important safety consideration.

"Some power window switches can be inadvertently operated by a child and if the child's head is out of the window, it can strangle them very easily."

Cars with a pull-up lever switch like this are much safer. These switches make it virtually impossible to close the window accidentally.

And for parents with little ones — car seats are a concern. Testers found with some vehicles it's tough to get seats in properly. So something else they assess is how easy it is to get child seats installed correctly.

"You should really look for a safe car first. But there are a number of other features that make it very easy to live with a car with a family."

Many of these features are found in minivans and SUVs. For example, they offer plenty of storage for things like sports equipment. And a third row of seats is great for carrying lots of people.

"Many of these minivans and SUVs come with DVD players, lots of cup holders, plenty of spaces to put things, 12-volt plugs to run portable CD players, things like that."

In the end, Consumer Reports rated the Toyota Sienna — like this one the Warsaks are considering — the best vehicle for families with kids under 16.

Consumer Reports says that when your kids hit 16, the ideal car changes. For families with new drivers, the best option is a car that handles well in emergencies. That's why sedans are your best choice. For a full list of family-friendly vehicles, check out Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue, on sale now.

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