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.
Some cars that offer cold storage as standard or optional equipment include the Ford Flex Limited, the Honda Odyssey's upper trim levels, the Lincoln MKT and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
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.)