Family Friendly Car Features
by Jessica Howell
This year more than ever, a new slew of bells and whistles have begun appearing in and on the most coveted family caravans. From endless cup holders to heated and cooled coasters, and DVD screens to satellite TV — today's automakers are striving to rid the world of the fabled "Are we there yet?" cry.
From the looks of it, they may be getting close. Take a look below and check out ROAD & TRAVEL's picks for this year's coolest family-friendly features...
2008 Chrysler Town & Country
This minivan has long been the "go-to" for moms across the country. Equipped with the latest in kid-friendly gizmos, this year's model debuts an entirely new concept dubbed Swivel 'n' Go seating by Chrysler.
It is what it sounds like too. Undo a latch on the second row seat and it will spin to face the third row, a handy tool that makes it easy for kids to interact on long (or short) drives.
When the games have been put away, backseat passengers can settle down for a bit of TV — yes, TV — until they reach their destination. With Chrysler's SIRIUS Backseat TV, kids will get their pick of channels like Disney, Nickelodian, and Cartoon Network. (If you already subscribe to SIRIUS, the Backseat TV package will cost you an additional $7 per month after the first year.)
2008 Dodge Grand Caravan
Sibling of the Town & Country, Dodge's Caravan minivan also offers a dose of family thinking in its design that parents are sure to love.
Interior fabric is YES brand, making it easy to wipe down in case of spills and splatters, and a convenient "conversation" mirror (located above the rearview mirror) allows the driver to keep an eye on the backseat without craning her neck or turning around.
2007 Dodge Caliber
This funky crossover vehicle serves up plenty of fun features new to the market. First, we have ChillZone, a cooled glovebox that holds four 20-ounce bottles or cans and keeps 'em cold during the drive. If you're privy to sip before you stop, rest assured that kids won't drop and spill with the help of light-ringed cup holders that glow blue-green.
A 110-volt power outlet is also located inside the small SUV, making it easy to juice your iPod or Gameboy when the batteries run low. [RTM's review of Dodge Caliber]
2007 Hyundai Veracruz
A fun-to-drive SUV, this seven-passenger vehicle touts all the standard pleasers plus dual-zone climate control with smartly-located adjustable air vents on the B-pillars. No more freezing feet whines from the back.
In addition, the Veracruz touts Hyundai's Hideaway third-row seat, ample cargo space and the safety of a back-up warning system. Some models offer a conversation mirror for drivers to monitor kids without turning around.
[RTM's review of Hyundai Veracruz]
2007 Mazda CX-9
This crossover is as sleek as they come — I know because I've had the opportunity to test it plenty of times. Besides three-zone climate control, a 115-volt power outlet and stellar backseat entertainment pack-age, there's one feature that stands out.
Focused on safety, the CX-9 adds an option that includes a back-up camera displayed in the rear-view mirror, making your pull out of the driveway more cautious for all. [RTM's review of Mazda CX-9]
2007 Nissan Quest
A minivan favorite, Nissan's Quest features skylights that run the length of the roof, allowing sunlight to shine into the backseats, a must for avid backseat readers. And fold-down trays on the back of first-row seats create an ideal space for a coloring book or set of crayons.
A backseat DVD entertainment package, roof-mounted air vents and individual seat lighting is also available to make passengers as comfy as possible.