During the holiday season, moms kick it into overdrive to create a special time for family and friends. Sure, the big guy with the white beard gets all the credit. But behind Santa's magic are millions of moms who spend weeks decorating, buying and wrapping gifts and opening their homes to entertain guests.
Of course, mom needs help too, and her vehicle plays an important supporting role during the holidays. The right car, truck, minivan or SUV provides the cargo space for a shopping trip, the passenger space for a family road trip and the convenient features that keep mom comfortable. Throw in handsome styling and you've got something mom will be happy to drive all year long.
Kids may prefer a magic sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, but taking care of reindeer is a lot of work. Our top seven cars that help mom this holiday season are hassle-free and accommodating -- just right for the busy mom.
2014 Nissan Rogue
Redesigned for 2014, the Rogue is a compact crossover vehicle that can now seat seven passengers thanks to an available third-row seat. But unlike other 3-row vehicles, the Rogue doesn't require a huge parking space at the back of the lot. Relatively tidy exterior dimensions make it easy to drive and park, and Nissan's available Around View monitor further simplifies low-speed maneuvering. The feature provides the driver with a bird's-eye view of the vehicle, supplementing the view from the standard backup camera. The Nissan Rogue is affordable, too, with a starting price of $22,490 for the front-wheel-drive model or $23,840 with all-wheel drive.
2014 Toyota Sienna
All-wheel drive can certainly be helpful during the holiday season, when wintry weather can make roads slippery and dangerous. Only one minivan is available with the added traction of all-wheel drive: the Toyota Sienna. While the crossover has dethroned the minivan as the queen of family haulers, minivans' space and practicality remain nearly unbeatable. Sienna passengers can get comfortable on all three rows, and its flexible cargo space is vast. Desirable features such as heated leather seats and rear entertainment bring luxury to the segment, too. When the time comes for something new, mom will be pleased by the Toyota's strong resale value.
While minivans are incredibly practical, many moms will suggest that they're just not cool. Well, the Mazda6 is the minivan's opposite: a decidedly cool ride for moms who don't need 7-passenger space. The stylish midsize sedan turns heads like few competitors can, thanks to flowing lines that create a sporty yet elegant look. A spacious back seat and trunk make the Mazda6 comfortable and practical for families, and excellent fuel economy means it's friendly at the fuel pump. A highway fuel economy rating of 38 miles per gallon climbs to 40 mpg when equipped with the available i-ELOOP system. Look for a fuel-sipping diesel version coming soon, too.
2014 Buick Enclave
Luxury, style and practical space converge in the Buick Enclave, the larger of the brand's two crossover vehicles. Enclave buyers can choose all-wheel drive for improved all-weather performance or front-wheel drive for better fuel economy. The thriftier model is rated at 24 mpg hwy -- impressive for a 3-row vehicle of this size. Also impressive are the Enclave's fine interior finishes, which rival its European and Japanese luxury competitors. The quiet cabin is nicely equipped even in base trim, with standard features such as Buick's IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system. And moms who want the latest safety technology can get driver assistance features such as lane departure warning and forward collision warning.
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid
For a greener holiday season, the very economical Honda Accord Hybrid is the perfect choice. Both eco-minded and financially savvy moms will like the Accord Hybrid's 50 mpg city fuel economy rating, especially during the holidays when moms pile on the miles. And while its trunk space is a bit less than the conventionally powered Accord, its rear seat space is ample, which proves moms don't have to choose a tiny car to reduce fuel consumption. The Accord Hybrid is comfortable and safe, too. The standard LaneWatch system, for example, takes any guesswork out of lane changes, showing the driver an image of the passenger-side blind spot.
2014 Chevrolet Silverado
Moms with heavier-duty tasks at hand will love the new-for-2014 Chevy Silverado full-size pickup for its capabilities and comfort. Sure, you can toss a large gift such as a bicycle in the back of an SUV or crossover. But do you really want to put that Christmas tree inside your vehicle? The bed of the Silverado is ideal for tasks like this, while its spacious and quiet cab lets you forget you're in a truck. Get the Silverado 4-door crew cab for 5-passenger seating or plenty of useful, lockable cargo space with the rear seats folded up. Cylinder deactivation helps the V8 Silverado achieve a rating of up to 23 mpg hwy -- a respectable figure for any full-size pickup.
2014 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged
For moms who want it all -- exclusivity, luxury, off-road and all-weather performance and high style -- the Range Rover is tough to beat. Redesigned for the 2013 model year, the Land Rover brand's top model is lighter and more efficient than its predecessor thanks to aluminum construction and, for 2014, a new supercharged V6 replacing the outgoing base V8. The weight loss translates to more agile handling and fewer stops at the gas pump. Inside, expect the finest materials and craftsmanship, with wood and plush leather surrounding occupants. Its cargo space is good, but no third-row seat is available for the Range Rover.
Although they may well deserve such a nice gift, most moms won't receive a new car this holiday season. But some will shop for a new vehicle before the end of the year while dealers are offering big discounts, and others will start the search in 2014. Whether you're looking now or planning to buy or lease a new vehicle later, consider our picks for moms this holiday season. If a particular model makes life easier and less stressful during the holidays, it's sure to be equally helpful throughout the rest of the year, too.