As you consider your next minivan and think about things such as the make and model, the trim level and your budget, we also suggest that you remember another important factor: equipment. We've listed a few key features that you'll want your next family van to have, whether for convenience, comfort or resale value.
Advanced Safety Features
In today's world, it's not uncommon for most new cars to offer features such as a forward-collision warning system, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert, which lets you know if there's a vehicle coming as you back out of a parking space. In our opinion, minivans should have as many of these features as you can get. Driving this type of vehicle often involves dealing with rowdy children or other similar distractions, so you'll want as many systems as possible working on your behalf to help you remain a safe driver.
Features on minivans aren't all about the kids. Make sure your new van has an excellent infotainment system that lets you use music apps and other technology to make life a little more convenient. We also suggest that you make sure your vehicle has a great stereo so that you can enjoy your tunes during those times when your kids aren't in the car. A nice infotainment system will also help with resale value; most buyers are starting to expect this sort of feature in a modern car.
It may sound counterintuitive: Why do you need leather seats on a minivan? Usually known for high-end opulence, leather seats are the last thing you'd think you'd want on a workhorse family vehicle primarily designed to carry children. But leather seats have one major benefit: They're easy to clean. While cloth seats can wear out, show stains or capture crumbs, leather can be wiped down with no hassle. Yes, leather seats can get a little hot in the summer, but the ease of keeping them clean is well worth putting up with the heat.
Minivans are big, and if you're not used to driving one, then you'll want to make sure that you have a wide variety of features that can help you negotiate tight spaces. Rear park assist is a must, but we also suggest opting for front park assist, which is available on many of today's vans. Better yet, make sure that your new van has a backup camera, which can be helpful when driving in a parking garage or when parallel parking on the street. Not only will these features help save you from a costly low-speed scrape, they could help keep your children or pets safe by letting you know if one of them is near the car but outside of your view.
Trust us: You'll want your next van to have power-sliding doors. If you're unfamiliar with this feature, it works exactly how it sounds: Press a button, and the doors slide closed automatically. Not only is it a neat party trick, it has some practical benefits: no more getting your fingers caught in the door and no more dealing with trying to throw open the heavy sliding door in most minivans. Most importantly, you -- the parent -- can control the opening and closing, which means you won't have to worry about your kids opening it when they shouldn't or shutting it before a sibling has the chance to climb inside.
In most modern cars, it's not necessary to have a rear-seat DVD player. That's largely due to the tablet, which has become so popular that most kids and adults prefer it to watching a DVD. But you'll still need some way to mount your tablet, most likely by using a system that fits on the back of the front headrest. We also suggest that you make sure your car has ample USB ports in the back to keep the tablet charged. And if you fear that a tablet won't quite be enough to keep your children occupied, adding a rear-seat DVD player might not be a bad idea.
Tri-zone Climate Control
You've probably heard of dual-zone climate control, which allows the driver and passenger to set different temperatures based on their mood, but you may not have heard of tri-zone climate control, which is even more practical for a family vehicle. The feature allows for three different settings: the driver, the passenger and the rear passengers. That means there's no more fighting over what temperature you should turn the air to; your children and your spouse can pick their own temperature as soon as they climb inside.