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Best Car Features for Caregivers

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

If you frequently make calls while on the road, a hands-free Bluetooth phone system can help limit distraction. Systems like the one 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 paramedics. These systems, which are available on General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz 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 both 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 easy to get in and out of, but they also tend to have better fuel economy than SUVs. The Jeep Patriot, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Hyundai Tucson have great fuel economy for crossovers. The Toyota Sienna gets 19/24 mpg city/highway, which is the best fuel economy among minivans.

Special features, just for you

Car makers are making 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.

You may also like: 10 most dangerous cities for driving. >>

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."

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