Cars for Mum: Great choice for mother's little helper

By Liz Dobson

Whether for the school run or supermarket, SUVs hit the spot

Mum's are typically the family taxi driver. Photo / Getty Images
Mum's are typically the family taxi driver. Photo / Getty Images

Like it or not, we mums are often the taxi drivers in the family - enduring that panic-filled school run most mornings or loading the family vehicle with our offspring and their friends for afternoon visits, sports practices or games, plus those visits to the supermarket.

The Volvo XC60 makes a great family car as it has built in booster seats.
The Volvo XC60 makes a great family car as it has built in booster seats.

But just because you're the unappreciated chauffeur doesn't mean you can't drive a vehicle that not only has road presence but will be the envy of the other parents at school pick-up time.

So in time for Mother's Day this Sunday, I've found some family-friendly - yet sexy - vehicles that have recently been launched in New Zealand.

They include people movers such as Kia's Carens and Citroen's Grand C4 Picasso, designed to transport the kids around, and Mazda's crossover CX-5, which won our Car of the Year 2012 and remains a family favourite for Kiwis.

And you'll be finding vehicles such as the CX-5 parked in front of kindys and schools around New Zealand as the compact SUVs, aka soft-roaders, take over from the station wagon as mummy's little helper.

Ford is just launching its compact SUV, the EcoSport, to join the likes of Holden's Trax and Peugeot's 2008 aimed at 30-something couples who are having their first child.

Luxury brands Porsche and Mercedes-Benz are adding their compact SUV to the mix in New Zealand with the, respectively, Macan and GLA.

The car brand that is synonymous with child safety is Volvo and in New Zealand the XC60 (priced from $69,990) is the company's most popular model with 66 of the crossovers sold already this year.

The Volvo XC60 makes a great family car as it has built in booster seats.
The Volvo XC60 makes a great family car as it has built in booster seats.

The feature that gives the XC60 kiddie kudos are the two built-in booster seats. With the law change that means kids under 7 must be in a booster seat, some school kids are embarrassed to be in one, but the XC60's seats are Scandinavian cool. They can be set in three different positions; folded down adult position, first stage low position and second stage high position. The low position is designed for larger children and the higher for smaller children.

The booster seat makes it easier to position the safety belt and blends in with the interior of the car.

When it comes to driver-friendly features, I'm picking the new BMW X5 large SUV that was launched here late last year. The standard heads-up display reflects on the windscreen in front of the driver your speed, a warning for a potential head-on collision, and directions if you're using satnav.

Priced from $129,000, the eight-speed auto has a 360-degree camera for excellent reversing and add $3600 and you get a third row of seats.

The mid to large SUV is now the pick as the main family car - with Hyundai's ix35 and Santa Fe plus Toyota's Highlander and RAV4 in the top 10 new car sales figures last month.


The new BMW X5 SUV includes heads-up display that warns of a potential head-on collision.Picture / www.bwmedia.co.nz

But some mums are picking an even tougher ride as their family vehicles. Two urban mums I know use the double cab utes as their daily drive, not only because of the height but also because their large dogs can sit in the tray and not mess the inside of the vehicle.

But if you are thinking of buying a ute, make sure it has five full seatbelts and not a lap one in the back seat.

- NZ Herald

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