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Best Car Features for Caregivers

When you're a chauffeur for older adults, children or people with disabilities, what you drive matters

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If you frequently make calls while on the road, a hands-free Bluetooth phone system can help limit distraction. Systems like the one that is standard in the Kia Sportage let you make and answer calls with voice commands so you can keep your eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel. Having phone access from your car can be a big help when scheduling appointments or waiting for test results.

You might also consider in-car telematics, which are systems that monitor the car's condition and position. A touch of a button and you're connected with roadside assistance or emergency services. These systems, which are available on some models of General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and other vehicles, also feature automatic crash response technology that detects a crash and sends help, even if you're incapacitated.

Finally, don't forget about having some fun, too. A rear-seat DVD system can keep children and adults happy.

Fuel friendliness

Taking care of someone else can take a healthy chunk out of your budget. Make sure your car's appetite for fuel doesn't do the same thing. Not only are crossovers usually easier to get in and out of, but they also tend to have better fuel economy than SUVs. The Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax, Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V have great fuel economy for crossovers. The Honda Odyssey gets 19/28 mpg city/highway, which is among the best for minivans.

Special features, just for you

Carmakers are focusing on more products that make sense for an aging population, but in some cases the car you buy off the lot won't be able to handle everything you need it to. If that's the case, you'll need to consider how a vehicle can be customized to your needs.

For instance, a ramp is going to be easier to install on some types of cars than others. Resources, including the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association, can help you find the right car for the modifications you want — and a reputable dealer to install the features that fit your needs.

Jamie Page Deaton is the managing editor of the U.S. News Best Cars rankings. A version of this article originally appeared on the AARP Driver Safety Program blog "The Road Well Traveled."

Originally published October 2011

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