When autonomous driving finally becomes safe and is sold to the mass population, will you go by a new self-driving car? It’s largely considered a given that the latest as well as future generations of drivers don’t really care about driving. And it’s also believed that kids prefer to Snapchat rather than steer a car and as a result will embrace autonomous technology more than their elders.
But according to Nielsen’s recent Youth Viewpoint on Self-Driving Cars study, like most generalities, this generation-gap view of self-driving isn’t completely accurate. Conducted by Harris Poll among just over 1,000 respondents between the ages of 8 and 18, the survey revealed that although knowledge of self-driving vehicles is highest among older kids in grades 9 through 12, more than 60% of those surveyed said they would rather drive than let technology take the wheel.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, since they’re closer to having the freedom that comes with a set of car keys, the survey’s older respondents expressed the strongest desire to drive themselves. Almost three in four high-school students said they want to be in control, compared to just over half of elementary-age kids who feel the same way.
The survey also sheds light on one potential issue for established automakers regarding self-driving and brand loyalty: Whether nameplate will matter to future generations. And whether they would rather riding in one of Google’s egg-shaped autonomous pods or prefer a premium experience from a name-brand automaker, such as Mercedes-Benz’s exotic autonomous vision via its F 015 Luxury in Motion concept.
Every family is different and has different needs when it comes to their vehicles. If you and yours are the outdoorsy types, an SUV may be the best way to go. Urbanites might benefit from a minivan or sedan. Those in between, well, that’s what crossover SUVs are for. The good news is that the days when station wagons were the only choice for families are long gone. The market has responded to these different circumstances with a plethora of shapes and styles to suit virtually any need. Of course, determining the best of these choices is what we do, so we gathered together 23 of the latest and greatest different vehicles from a variety of manufacturers to determine which made the cut. We started with last year’s finalists, and culled those that were either due for imminent replacement, or which had been clearly surpassed by newer vehicles in the segment. To that, we added new vehicles that had come out since last year — including a couple of redesigns — voted on candidates, narrowed the field, carried the one, and ultimately landed on the vehicles you see here.
The final field included three minivans, four compact SUVs, four midsize SUVs, two full-size SUVs, two full-size sedans, and three midsize sedans, the kinds of vehicles that usually come to mind when thinking about family cars. However, this year we also included cars from other categories. First were two full-size pickup trucks, unconventional choices to be sure, but roomy, comfortable, and with seemingly endless cargo space, they were definitely worthy of consideration. On the other end of the spectrum were three compact cars, often the first choice of anybody on a budget.
It came as no surprise that two minivans — the 2015 Honda Odyssey and the 2015 Toyota Sienna — made the family car final cut. The 2015 Nissan Pathfinder and new 2015 Toyota Highlander midsize SUVs also appear on our list of finalists. The Honda CR-V was joined by the new Subaru Outback on our list of small SUVs, and all three midsize sedan candidates — the 2015 Honda Accord, 2015 Hyundai Sonata, and 2015 Toyota Camry — made the cut. The 2015 Chevrolet Impala full-size sedan makes its second appearance, too. In the realm of small cars, both the 2015 Honda Civic and surprisingly flexible 2015 Kia Soul won out. On the other end of the size spectrum, both the 2015 Ram 1500 and new 2015 Ford F-150 full-size trucks we tested were deemed worthy of family duty. Finally, the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe made the list.
Everyone has their own car buying tips and tricks but they’re not all credible. A former car salesman of 12 years shares his top tips for buying your next car based on his experience and expertise.
1. If you’re in no rush to buy a car, the end of a model year is a great time to get a deal. Determining when this is for a particular car can be difficult, but if a dealer has two years of a new vehicle on its lot (say, 2014s and 2015s), chances are the older ones are going to be priced to move. The last week of the year is another good time to buy. You’ll find lots of specials and manufacturer incentives at both times of year.
2. If you’re looking to get information on a car or talk about a deal, but you aren’t quite ready to buy, a weekday afternoon is a great time to go visit a dealership. You’ll get more personal attention than you would on a busy weekend.
3. Don’t be afraid to listen to dealership suggestions. I’m not talking about bait and switch, but salespeople offering really good alternatives. When I sold cars, it was common for people to come looking for a particular model because of its low sticker price, but then drive out with a nicer car at the same or a lower price, thanks to the special programs and incentives that they didn’t know existed.
4. If you’ve already picked out a car from a dealership’s online inventory and worked out a price, do as much of the deal paperwork you can get over the phone. In many cases, you can be in and out of a dealership in less than an hour if you started the deal-making process online and over the phone. Why sit around in a showroom if you can avoid it?
5. Test-drives are still an important part of car buying. Bring along the people who will regularly ride in the car with you, if possible. Have them try all the seats. It’s better to learn that your teenage son doesn’t fit in the backseat before you buy the car, not after.
6. When you’re trying to negotiate a lower sales price, give the dealership a reason to discount the price. If you’ll use the service department, say so. If you’ll refer friends, be sure to say that, too. If you’re likely to give a perfect survey or buy a future car from them, share that with the dealership, too.