Car Tech

10 Accessories for Active Families

Families have stuff, and once everyone’s in a vehicle, they need places to put everything. Along with that, you’ll often want extra items when you’re driving, or when you get to where you’re going.

Today’s vehicles come with a huge number of features and storage cubbies, but sometimes you need just a little more. Whether you’re doing something major like a camping trip, or as simple as getting everyone off to school, here are ten accessories that can make life easier.

1. Honda Vacuum

Honda’s Odyssey was the first to include a vacuum right inside the van (Chrysler’s Pacifica now has one too), so you don’t have to lug a canister vac or have a rechargeable one run out before you’re done. It’s about more than just looking good, since keeping the carpet and upholstery clean helps it last longer and improves the resale value.

2. Ford Expedition Tent

You can get tents from several manufacturers, to fit a variety of SUVs and pickup trucks. This one turns a sport-ute into a campground shelter, making the vehicle’s interior completely accessible. Rather than unpack everything, you can just grab your stuff directly out of the cargo compartment, or pop in an air mattress for an extra sleeping position.

3. Subaru Cargo Tray

Putting wet boots or gear directly on the carpet will not only get it dirty, but if the carpet stays wet, it can become mouldy. You can buy aftermarket trays, but those made specifically for the vehicle fit perfectly to protect every part of the cargo compartment.

4. Mazda Roof Rack

When there’s too much stuff to put inside, roof racks are a great solution. Be sure to secure the load properly, and when you’re not using them, take them off the car. They increase wind resistance, which can affect your fuel economy.

5. Volkswagen Cargo Blocks

Nothing’s worse than turning a corner and hearing all the stuff in the back fall over and slide around. These cargo blocks can be set wherever they’re needed, and then locked in place, to keep your goods firmly corralled.

6. Volvo Dog Harness

Don’t forget your family’s best friend! It’s dangerous for a dog to ride untethered: in a crash, it can be killed by an airbag, or be turned into a deadly projectile. A loose dog may also try to protect you from a first responder who’s trying to help you, or run into traffic if a door is opened. A buckled-in harness keeps everyone safe.

7. Chrysler Uconnect Theatre

Although it’s not a huge gamechanger in any way, and I did not get enough time to spend in Chrysler’s new minivan, I did spot this gem in the promo video: a navigation update that displays on the rear entertainment screens, updating rear passengers on the trip’s progress and remaining travel time in a cartoon graphic to answer the age-old question: “Are we there yet?” Brilliant!

If you’re tired of answering “Are we there yet?” over and over, the infotainment system available on the Chrysler Pacifica minivan includes an app in the rear-seat screen that shows the remaining mileage and estimated arrival time to the destination. The system also includes interactive games such as bingo and checkers.

8. Mercedes-Benz Coolbox

Families on the go need drinks and snacks for the road. This hard-sided box plugs into the car’s power outlet to keep cold stuff cold, or switch it over to keep warm snacks toasty. Portable units are great because they can be carried right to the game or campsite.

9. Toyota Seatback Protector

Seatback protectors serve two purposes, depending on which seats they’re on. When placed on the backs of the front seats, they protect from little feet that stick out straight instead of reaching the floor. On the backs of the rear seats, they protect when the seats are folded to hold cargo, and if the seatbacks are carpeted, it’s easier to slide items across their vinyl surfaces.

10. BMW Storage Bag

 Need lots of stuff to keep the little ones occupied? Hang a storage bag from the front seat’s head restraint to keep toys, snacks, and drinks neat and easy to access. Divide items among the various pockets to keep everything organized and ready to go.