NEW YORK (MainStreet) Automakers have been putting kid-proof locks and rear-seat DVD players on vehicles for years, but here's a Mothers Day look at some lesser-known car features that can make any mom's life a little easier.
From special safety features to equipment that makes loading and unloading a vehicle a snap, below are my picks for some of the most mom-friendly auto amenities of the 2014 model year. (OK, busy dads will like them, too.)
Read on then call your mother and wish her a happy Mothers Day.
Nothing can calm down a fussy child in a hot car better than a cold drink, which is partly why automakers offer built-in cold storage in certain models.
Some devices are merely insulated coolers that keep already-cold items from heating up (or cool them off a bit using cold air from the car's air conditioner). But other models come with full-blown mini-refrigerators that tap into a vehicle's electrical system for power.
Car cold-storage bins are usually only big enough to hold a few cans of soda, but that can mean the difference between a temper tantrum and a quiet ride when you're stuck in traffic on a summer driving vacation.
Built-in vacuum cleaner
Why didn't anyone think of this before?
Honda has given its popular Odyssey minivan a major refresh for 2014, and in an apparent first for the auto world included a built-in vacuum cleaner in the top-of-the-line Odyssey Touring Elite.
With two attachments and a hose long enough to reach the entire cabin, the "HondaVac" should help busy moms clean up dirt, crumbs and other junk that commonly build up in the family ride. (Sadly, a reputed "HondaHair" attachment that would allow moms to give kids and dogs in-car hair cuts turned out to be an April Fool's joke from the automaker's marketing department.)