by Sara Lacey


When it comes to looking for a fuel-efficient or alternative-fuel family vehicle, there are a few things for parents to keep in mind.

First, hybrids and electric cars can be a great family option—if families go in to the test driving process knowing what to expect. Hybrids and EVs generally favor a less-is-more approach to features. Engineers prefer to keep these cars light and work to conserve as much power as possible.

Basically, families, here’s your heads-up that many of these types of vehicles don’t have all the bells and whistles. That’s okay, because you can usually find your own solutions. For example, don’t expect to find an entertainment system with multiple screens, wireless headphones, and other additions. Don’t panic! Instead, opt for the iPad holder accessory and BYOiPad. The upshot of a plug-in vehicle is that heated seats and steering wheels are available (and sometimes standard equipment) because they take up less power than the climate control systems do.

Another consideration is storage for your personal items. Many fuel-efficient vehicles are very smart and strategic when it comes to smaller goods, but don’t expect cavernous consoles for large purses or baby bags. To offset this lack of storage, you could be more strategic and not bring as much along with you. Ha! Right! In reality, plan on using a tote in which to keep essential items that will fit in the cargo space. I mean, you’ll have to pare down a little. I know, but you can do it!

Hey, my mention of cargo space reminds me: Hybrid and EV cargo space is small. And inflexible. Battery packs are usually stored in the cargo area of these vehicles, so you have less actual cargo space. Adding to the problem is that the rear seats do not fold down. So be prepared that what you see is what you get, and test out your strollers, bags of sports gear, and any other large-ish items you transport regularly.

The truth is that hybrids and EVs are great options for families (hello legroom, pocketbook); they just require a little more forethought and planning to make them function the way you need them to.

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