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Go Back to School in Style With These Mom-Friendly SUVs and Minivans

Summer is winding down around the country, which is apparent not by the weather (which is so miserably hot you’d think it was the middle of July) but by Facebook notifications popping up left and right from your friends announcing their kids’ first day of school. As any seasoned mom knows all too well, a new school year can be both exciting and overwhelming — time to get adjusted to new schedules, new teachers and new things for your children to argue about during morning drop off. But instead of letting them drive you crazy, you can dream of driving through the carpool line in a sleek new SUV or minivan … and we’ve got the perfect one for just about every mom in the neighborhood.

Expectant Mom: 2019 Buick Enclave

Most mamas-to-be spend at least a little bit of time thinking about trading in their current ride for something that’ll accommodate their growing family, whether the new car seat in back will be their first or their fourth. If you can swing an upgrade, we highly recommend the 2019 Buick Enclave. Starting at around $41,000, the new Enclave offers seating for seven with second-row captain’s seats that glide forward with the pull of a handle — even with a child safety seat in place — enabling easy access to the third row. That’s huge for parents with multiple kids or a grandparent who rides along frequently. If a plush interior is important to you, you’ll want to look for the fancy Avenir version. And a hands-free power liftgate comes standard on all models, complete with an LED logo that projects onto the ground, showing you exactly where to kick to activate the liftgate. Talk about handy.

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Sporty Mom: 2018 Mazda CX-5

We all know that mom who hustles through morning carpool so she can make it to Barre by 8. She’s decked in Lulu Lemon with enviable biceps and boundless energy. She needs a sporty ride to match her sporty personality, and the 2018 Mazda CX-5 would be a perfect fit. Starting at around $25,000, the CX-5 is fun to drive, easy on the eyes and filled with lots of standard safety tech like blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Our recommendation is the Touring model ($27,000) with the optional Preferred Equipment package ($1,200), which will give you all the comfort and safety features — like heated seats, navigation, power liftgate and power moonroof, among others — that you and your family will need.

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Activities Mom: 2018 Honda Odyssey

Juggling after-school activities is one thing most moms don’t miss during summer break. Navigating lessons, games, practices and play dates requires some serious calendar maintenance … and a car that can handle a constantly revolving door of kids and equipment. Now, while the doors of the 2018 Honda Odyssey don’t actually revolve, they do slide open, making it super easy for kids to jump in and out for their various activities. Completely redesigned for 2018 and starting around $30,000, the Odyssey is a parent’s dream, with loads of safety tech and cool features that come standard on all but the base version. You can seat up to eight in this versatile van with second-row magic slide seats (there’s a removable middle portion), plus there’s Apple CarPlay, heated front seats, second-row sunshades and so much more. Mom might miss soccer practice because she’s just so comfortable behind the wheel of the Odyssey.

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Room Mom: 2018 Toyota Highlander

For some moms, the start of the new school year is packed with PTO meetings and volunteer opportunities. That means mama will be spending lots of time at school with her kiddos and really just needs a safe and reliable SUV — preferably one with plenty of cargo space for hauling supplies to and from the big school fundraiser. We’d recommend the 2018 Toyota Highlander in this case. Starting at around $31,000, the Highlander may not be the newest SUV on the block, but it’s a solid choice with its powerful, efficient engine and standard accident-avoidance technology — plus, you get Toyota’s renowned reliability and resale value. Cargo space is plentiful and the kids will love being able to charge their electronics in one of the Highlander’s five USB ports.

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Professional Mom: 2018 BMW X3

Many moms head straight to the office after morning drop off, often feeling like they’ve run a marathon before they even sit down at their desk to check emails. A working mom needs a ride that’s business in the front and party (or just family-friendly) in the back in order to manage these two important facets of her life — something like the 2018 BMW X3. The recently redesigned X3 is pretty roomy for a compact SUV, with a spacious back seat (that reclines!) and cargo area. The X3’s exterior has always looked good, and now it has an interior to match, with lots of storage for smaller items (perfect for hiding kid paraphernalia when you’re driving the team to lunch) and top-notch tech. The 2018 X3 starts around $43,000.

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Tech Mom: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Technology is changing every day, and our kids are exposed to a lot of it in school, so keeping up with the latest and greatest is key for a lot of moms out there. From Fortnite to 5G, if your mama M.O. is to be one step ahead of the emerging trends, you’ll want a car to match your tech-y temperament. In this case, we’d recommend the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Starting at around $40,000, the Pacifica Hybrid is actually a plug-in hybrid, which means it can go an estimated 33 miles on electricity alone before becoming a regular hybrid. The Pacifica Hybrid also offers a ton of standard tech features, including an 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen interface (which is incredibly intuitive), Apple CarPlay, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, among other things. There’s even an optional dual-screen rear entertainment system available — tech-tastic!

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Whether one, several or all of these categories describe you, it’s clear there’s no shortage of awesome new SUVs and minivans on the market to make mom’s back-to-school dreams come true. Now if only these cars came with homework-help technology…

Tara Trompeter
Tara Trompeter
Tara Trompeter is an author specializing in automotive lifestyle content. Tara's background in fashion and lifestyle programming for Turner Broadcasting made the transition to automotive pretty seamless… cars are the ultimate accessories, right?

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