Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A red 2024 Chevy Traverse is shown parked in a driveway after visiting a used car dealership.

Everything You Need in Your Next Family SUV

One of the first things you realize when shopping for a vehicle (as somebody with kids versus someone without) is that your needs change rather drastically. The more members you add to your family, the more people you have to appeal to. This is important to remember when checking out a used car dealership for your next vehicle because what works for one may not work for everyone.

The auto market is a bit like a buffet, providing an assortment of vehicle options to choose from. From driver assistance tech to entertainment and comfort, the list of family-friendly features to consider is as diverse as families themselves. For many, the right vehicle is more than just a means of transportation; it is the cornerstone of their lives because this is where memories are made and life is lived—and with such an important role to play, every feature matters.

Connectivity & Entertainment

Whether you have little ones who need to be occupied on long drives or older ones who spend their lives on social media, finding a vehicle with connectivity features and entertainment systems can completely turn a road trip around. A common feature found on most vehicles produced in the last so many years is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; available as both wired and wireless, these integration systems let you and your occupants connect compatible smart devices to your vehicle.

To keep those compatible devices charged up, some SUVs come with a wireless phone charging pad conveniently located in the front center console for easy access. Built-in Wi-Fi hotspot capability is another great feature to look for; this comes in handy when running errands or hitting the road for a fun-filled family vacation. Being able to operate tablets, game systems, and other forms of entertainment can convert an unbearable drive into a period of peace and pleasure.

Another feature to consider is one that’s been around for a while (but most people have taken it for granted): SiriusXM. Often simply thrown in as an incentive, many may not realize the true potential of this app. With a vast number and diversity of channels, there is truly something for everybody and every occasion. Road trips can go from boring to memory-making moments with the Disney music channel or throwback stations for different eras, allowing us to sing our hearts out to our favorite tunes.

SiriusXM is also a great option for holiday beats, surrounding you with seasonal magic; imagine crisp cold nights, weaving in and out of a drive-thru light show, and filling your car with the sweet sounds of Christmas. Streaming apps like SiriusXM offer so much more than entertainment; they offer opportunities to write a soundtrack to your life.

If you really want to up your entertainment levels and keep the littles happy, consider getting an SUV with a rear-seat media set-up. Some options offer a screen in the back of each front-row seat’s headrest for rear occupants to access entertainment via streaming services or plugged-in devices. The opportunity to stream two separate shows or movies helps minimize rear-seat squabbling, guaranteeing a calm and stress-free drive for everybody.

A person is shown walking away from a red 2024 Chevy Equinox parked on a city curb.

Smart Safety Features

One of the absolute most essential concerns in choosing your next family SUV is safety. Not only do you want a vehicle with stellar safety ratings, but you will probably want one with extra features, too. The variety and refinement of safety features over the years have grown extensively, providing more confidence to everyday driving—and with such a wide assortment of safety tech, there is a tool for nearly every occasion.

Most vehicles manufactured in the last ten, fifteen, or even twenty years are well-equipped for road safety. Many SUVs you will find will be decked out with a tech suite ranging from lane-changing systems to rearview cameras. Since many of these features are ubiquitous nowadays, it is the extra features that really stand out and elevate an SUV to a family-tailored carryall.

Teen Driver is one of these fantastic safety features, ideal for families with older children who are excitedly learning to drive. Teen Driver mode encourages positive driving habits and keeps parents and guardians informed when their young drivers take the wheel. Setting certain restrictions (like on top speed or stereo volume) and receiving a detailed after-drive report card are two of the main features of this awesome program.

Trailering tech is another safety category where families can benefit from extra goodies. This is especially true when living in an area where water activities and outdoor fun are around every corner, with several hundred miles of paved, multi-use rec trails and prime places to enjoy Mother Nature. Whether you plan on making it a family day or just need some time to blow off some steam, taking your SUV out for fun in the sun is a great time to be had by all.

Look for the “max trailering packages” on your SUV for the best outfitting for such extracurriculars. With a trailering package, you can hook up your boat and head out for a day of family fishing; just remember to get your license should you need one! Stay safe during the drive with blind spot monitoring and load up with ease via trailering assistance features.

Comfort & Convenience

Comfort will always rank high on the must-haves list for families. Not only do you want enough room for everyone to spread out, but you want that space to be comfy and cozy. Look for SUVs that provide adjustable seating for rear guests as much as front occupants; tilting rear rows, power-adjustable front seats, and even lumbar adjustments can make a world of difference.

Part of comfort is climate control—making sure everyone gets their ideal level of hot or cold. Vehicles with dual climate control (or, even better, tri-zone climate control) make it easier to keep everyone happy. Even heated and ventilated seats are something to consider, especially when faced with weather extremes; the changing seasons can take the climate from hot and muggy to icy cold, so why not find a vehicle that can keep you comfortable year-round?

There are also convenience features that make life nicer. Easy-to-clean upholstery is one such feature that might not be at the top of your list, but it should be; if you have little ones, spills and messes are almost guaranteed to happen. Choosing an SUV that can be quickly cleaned will save you from headaches down the road.

Keyless entry and push button start are a few convenience features worth looking into, reducing your need to dig through your purse on a rainy day or pat your pockets before loading up for school drop-off. You could choose an SUV with memory features; once you are inside, your vehicle will detect your key fob and automatically adjust the position of your seat, mirrors, and steering wheel accordingly.

A close-up on the grille of a silver 2022 Chevy Suburban Z71 is shown.

The Family SUV

SUVs come in all shapes and sizes, providing endless options for families—and they don’t all need to be new. The used vehicle market grows every day, with high-quality, reliable vehicles providing a solution for the busy family.

Life is complex, so who wouldn’t choose a vehicle that simplifies it? With features that improve your safety, comfort, convenience, connectivity, and entertainment, your next family vehicle is everything you and your family could want—as long as you know what to look for.