A little over a year ago, I had my first child. Since she came along, I've tested more than 50 cars, with my daughter in tow for most of them. I've struggled to lift her car seat into tall trucks, contorted myself to buckle her in the back of sporty coupes, juggled her and groceries while digging through the diaper bag for car keys and lost my temper at small SUVs that didn't have enough cargo space to fit my jogging stroller.
Clearly, when you introduce kids to the mix, what you look for in a new vehicle changes. That's why we've released the 2013 Best Cars for Families awards. The annual awards capture what families need and want in a new car, van or SUV: quality, space and family-friendly features. Each of the award winners has the best combination of those three things in their class.
Because each family is different, when we looked at family-friendly features, we considered a wide array of new car offerings. For example, the Ford Fusion, the 2013 Best Midsize Car for Families, not only has the space you need for car seats and baby gear, but also has MyKey, a system that lets parents set limits for teen drivers. When determining the winners, we looked at features like the number of LATCH connectors a car offers, for making installing car seats easier, rear-seat entertainment systems, for keeping passengers occupied and happy, and features like Bluetooth, that help keep the driver's eyes on the road. The result is that each of the winners not only works for someone with a 1-year-old, like me, but for parents who are getting ready to hand over the keys to their teens.
So check out the 2013 Best Cars for Families awards. Look at photos of the winners. Let us know what you think of the winners on Twitter and Facebook, as well as what your must-have family car features are.