Do Kids Influence Parents' Car-Buying Decisions?

MMS ID 52190 (created by CM Utility) automatic-content-migration

Buying a car is a complicated process. What are the safety and reliability ratings? Does it have a third row? Is there enough space for that rear-facing child-safety seat? What about all-wheel drive and the all-important keyless entry?

When’s editors review cars we provide shoppers with this baseline information as well as our first-hand impressions. However, I recently discovered another strong variable. In addition to a spouse’s reaction to a car, apparently kids have strong opinions about them, as well. This makes me wonder, how much weight (if any) do parents give their kids’ opinions during the car-buying process?

With a 7-year-old, 9-year-old, and 11-year-old, who thinks she’s 16, it’s interesting to see the vehicles I test-drive through their eyes. They often spend as much time as I do in these cars, and their reactions and opinions are pure and unfiltered.

Going green and mobile tech are becoming standard must-haves for our kids’ lives outside of the car, and in the near future, there could be major fallout if they’re disconnected when inside the family hauler.

My “techy” 7-year-old seems particularly interested in how hybrid and electric cars work. She asked for extra time recently in the Chevy Volt and was fascinated by how we plugged in the Nissan Leaf. “It’s like my laptop; I have to plug it in first to charge the battery,” she said of the Leaf. She also has strongly expressed her dissatisfaction at the lack of Bluetooth audio connectivity for her iPod in my husband’s car.

That may sound like a snooty extra, but having older kids who are engrossed in building music playlists is a luxury — if you can stand all the Justin Bieber — and sometimes even a necessity on long trips.

My middle child is less interested in technology. Her focus is on the color of the cars we drive. She loves anything red and loathed last year’s funky lime green Ford Fiesta to the point of begging me to drive something else when picking her up from school. “Anything would be better than that embarrassingly ugly green car,” she said. Would my girls’ desires impact the car color I choose? I’m pretty sure I’d still lean toward my favorite car color, black metallic. But if I didn’t care one way or the other, would I err on the side of pleasing my daughters?

My oldest is all about looking cool and impressing her peers in the carpool lane. One might think this would extend to high-end or luxury manufacturers, but she’s only interested in progressive exterior design no matter the sticker price.

She was a huge fan of the Hyundai Veloster for its edgy cool factor. If she can imagine someone famous driving a car then it receives her voracious approval. I could agree to be swayed by her opinion on this one, as I also loved that the Veloster looked different than everything else on the road. But if I had to choose between it and a more sensible sedan at the dealership would her viewpoint win out?

It seems parents are as accommodating as possible to their kids’ wishes these days (for better or worse), and we’re wondering if that influences a major decision like a car purchase.

What feedback have you gotten from your kids on your family’s cars? Have you ever taken their “advice” when shopping for a new car? Or do Mom and Dad have the final say? Tell us in the comment section below.

Latest expert reviews