Tuesday, January 30, 2018

My Top Five Tech Car Features for Parents

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Cars.com. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sadly, this was not my high school car
During my recent visit to the New England Auto Show I was reminded of my very first car: a used Ford Festiva. I named her Frieda and although she was tiny, she was mine. 

Now as mom, there are certain things I've found are so important in selecting a vehicle having now driven two crossovers with two children. My recent car is a 2016 Mazda CX-9 and having driven a 2009 model prior to this, it really has improved its features. My current CX-9 is my first new car, and I was stunned at how far technology has come since my Festiva.

Here are my top 5 favorite tech features I've found helpful as a parent:

1) Active Driving Display - this "Heads Up" feature does exactly that: helps keep your head facing forward by projecting crucial information such as GPS directions, speed and approaching vehicle notifications directly on the screen. Prior to getting my CX9, my husband had rented cars for business that had this feature and when he explained it to me I initially thought it would be distracting, but it actually isn't. Now, nearly two years later, I don't know how I got by without it. Driving with kids can be very distracting and I really appreciate having this feature. 

2) Retractable Window Shades - I didn't even know this existed, but essentially all it does is clip onto the window and easily slide down into the inner part of the door. It's much more reliable than the adhesive and suction cup versions. And while we did have an incident where my 3 year old son colored the shade, my local detailing company was able to scrub it out. 

3) USB Ports Galore - we have 5 in our car including 2 in the middle console for the children and on long car rides this makes a big difference in helping the kids stay connected to their tablets. We don't use the 3rd row that often but I can see how helpful it could be to even have them back there for guests. 

With my new 2016 CX9 right after I picked it up

4) Satellite Radio - I didn't realize that CD players in cars are now a thing of the past. It definitely took me some getting used to when I realized I couldn't play my throwback mix CDs I used to enjoy playing in our old car. Of course I can convert them digitally, but that would take precious time I don't have! In the meantime, we've come to really enjoy satellite radio, and there are a few kids' stations too that my family loves. My daughter has even called in live on the air! 

5) Active Safety Technology - In my CX-9 this is called "i-Activsense," which essentially utilizes front and rear cameras to detect my car's position, lane position and even auto-brake for me. It's activated before keeping me from a scary accident and I have to say, while it definitely rattled me to feel the car break for me, I was so thankful that I didn't crash. 

When searching for your next car on https://www.cars.com keep these features in mind - they really do make driving with kids much safer and enjoyable. I look forward to seeing what new car technology comes out next.

What's your favorite tech feature in your car?