Work-at-home moms who run their own home-based business while they take care of their families may not have to rush out the door every morning only to sit in gridlock on their way to the office, but that doesn’t mean they don’t spend plenty of time in the car.  The kids need to be taken to school and picked up each day (not to mention being ferried around to their multitude of after-school activities, appointments, and play-dates) and there are all kinds of errands to be run, with grocery shopping at the top of the list.  And all of these tasks must be accomplished in a timely and efficient manner because there’s work (and housework) waiting to be done.  So the vehicle used by a work-at-home mom must be both reliable and suitable for her needs.  Here are just a few of the options to consider when trying to choose the best car for such a hectic lifestyle.

Minivans are where it’s at for the mothers of today.  The fallback of moms everywhere, it really doesn’t get much better than the behemoth that is the minivan.  In a recent comparison test, Car and Driver dubbed the Honda Odyssey Touring Elite the best on the market (as compared to the Chrysler Town and Country, the Nissan Quest, and the Toyota Sienna).  It got high marks for comfort, storage, and engine capability, as well as family considerations (like child-seat attachments).  And with 28 mpg, you can really get behind the economy of this minivan.  The only drawback: prices starting at $44,000.

Also prevalent are sport utility vehicles.  The SUV is like a modern and stylish version of the minivan, generally offering more power (although less fuel economy) to busy moms on the go.  And the Chevy Suburban seems to be at the top of the list.  With seating for eight and room for a load of cargo, it can fit even large families that love camping.  It’s not the sportiest car on the road, probably due to its massive size, and the price may stop you in your tracks (the base on a new model is just shy of $41,000, although that’s actually mid-range for the vehicle type), but it got a 5 out of 5 rating on safety crash tests and it comes with a stability control system to minimize the likelihood of rollovers.

And finally there is the wagon, of wood-paneled infamy.  These days you don’t see too many station wagons on the road.  They have long been outshined by the two competitors listed above.  But there is something to be said for a vehicle that seats a lot of kids, holds plenty of gear, and can actually be maneuvered into a single parking space.  And with the “man-wagon” hitting the market in recent years (decked out with electronics and amenities meant to appeal to the less-fair sex), you can actually find some stylish options that are comparable to the utility of the wagon’s larger brethren.  In a 2009 study, the Wall Street Journal rated the Subaru Outback as having the best value (as compared to the Audi A4 Avant, the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen, the Volvo XC70, and the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon).  It may not be pretty, but a roomy interior, sporty handling, excellent fuel economy, and a base price of $23,000 more than make up for its utilitarian styling.

Of course, you’ll have to try all these vehicles for yourself to see if they’ll present the right package for you and your family, but whatever your price range and size requirements, you’re bound to find the car that’s right for your lifestyle if you gravitate towards one of these three vehicles.

Jennifer Kardish writes for Buy a Toyota where you can find great deals on a Toyota Prius and a range of Toyota sales in your area.

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