Top Family Cars

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Judging from the incredible response I had from the last post, you parents really care about safety. So I'm giving you more tips for the road. This time I went to'??s Senior Editor and '??chief mother'?, Kristin Varela.

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Varela and her team of mom reviewers aim to help moms and moms-to-be find the right vehicle for her family, offers top vehicle picks based on real-life mom experience. All reviews take into account ease of entrance and exit for all passengers, LATCH connector usability, ease of seat belt use for kids in boosters and other relevant family-friendly features. recommends the following 2008 vehicles:

Minivan: 2008 Chrysler Town & Country
SUV/Crossover (three rows): 2008 Hyundai Veracruz
SUV/Crossover (two rows): 2008 Mazda CX-7
Wagon/Hatch: 2008 Volvo XC70
Sedan: 2008 Chevy Malibu
Hybrid: 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

And here are Kristin's Rules of the Road:

Rule No. 1: Don'??t put a lot of stuff in your car in the first place. This sounds simple, but that'??s only because it is. Items that go in your car should be necessities. Ask yourself if your kid really needs to bring along his 1,000-piece puzzle, juice box, gummy fruits, pull toys and swim floatie on a trip to the grocery store. We understand that snacks and beverages have to be taken in the car for any number of reasons, and even toys can be a necessity, just be sure to think it through. Try to select water instead of juice, and easily vacuumed snacks instead of sticky, gooey ones.

Rule No. 2 (if you simply must bend Rule No. 1): Keep a small basket or organizer in your cargo area to house items like first-aid kits, sunscreen, wipes and diapers, plus anything else you like to keep in there. Look for a trunk organizer with Velcro, hooks or mounts so you can avoid having it slide all over the place. If your car came with a cargo net, use it! While ones that hang on the back of a seat look practical and helpful, Mother Proof tends to avoid anything like that. What'??s more destructively tempting to a 4-year-old than a nice, tidy organizer full of toys, tissues, pencils and paper within kicking distance?

Rule No. 3: Don'??t buy CD holders, sunglass clips or anything else that attaches to the sun visor. They almost never work as promised, and usually wind up looking junky and messy. If you can'??t find proper space for a few CDs and their cases, it'??s time to tidy the rest of the car (jump back to Rule No. 1).

Rule No. 4: Hit the car wash regularly. One of the best things to happen to your new found car-cleanliness habit is the neighborhood drive-through car wash. For around $3, you get a handy super-sized wet-wipe, a drive through the wash and unlimited use of the vacuum. Kids love the car wash, and they love to help vacuum up their areas in the back. They also like to put the vacuum on their leg and watch it try to suck up their pants. If you want to spend more for a better wash, you can do that, too. Most drive-through car washes have a really fancy wash that includes undercarriage cleaning and entertainingly colored foamy soap.

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