Parents are often reluctant to take the plunge and trade their sporty SUV or stylish sedan for a “swagger wagon.” But once they start piling in car seats, diaper bags, strollers and all the other necessities that come with an expanding family, it becomes pretty obvious that they need more space.

If you’re in the market for a minivan, we’ve compiled some important factors to consider as you’re shopping.

Safety Features & Crash Test Scores

Minivans are generally some of the safest vehicles you can buy. There are quite a few safety features that are standard, such as dual front airbags, side airbags, antilock brakes, 3-point safety belts and LATCH systems for infant/toddler car seats.

Some features that generally aren’t always included but are worth considering are: rearview cameras, reverse-sensing systems, traction control and side curtain airbags.

Another important piece of safety information to look at are crash test scores put out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Family-Friendly & Convenience Features

Minivans have become extremely family-friendly. They also come equipped with many standard features like rear A/C controls and dual power sliding doors, but there are also some add-ons that can make your life even easier.

For convenience sake, we highly recommend considering a navigation system, power rear-side windows, a conversation mirror and a remote that can open both the rear doors and trunk. The last thing you want to do when you’re carrying grocery bags and kids is find another hand to open the trunk.

Other tech upgrade options include: rear DVD systems, onboard hard drives, auxiliary inputs, power outlets and satellite radio.

Space & Storage

While minivans generally have decent cargo space, one factor to consider is how the seats can be rearranged. Most minivans now have third-row seats that fold flat into the floor, and we think this is a must-have feature. When you go back and forth between needing extra seats for friends and extra cargo space, you can avoid the hassle of removing and reinstalling the back seat. Also check out how the second row seats can be rearranged and tucked away for more versatility and even more cargo space.

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