A daunting task at any stage of life, car buying can feel particularly difficult and tricky during early parenthood. The focus of a car search shifts from looks, horsepower, and sound systems, to safety, family functionality, and affordability. If you’re searching for a family vehicle and need help with the hunt, here are five features to pay attention to:

1. Vehicle size

The first thing you should do when searching for a family vehicle is figure out what size vehicle makes sense for you. SUV’s are by far the most popular among family car buyers because of their versatility and higher ground clearance. SUV’s range from smaller four passenger to larger eight seat cars. It’s important to consider buying a car for the family you expect to have down the road. You will want to buy a car that will fit your family and children as they continue to grow into their teen years.

2. Car seats

Many SUV’s come equipped with extra seating, but not all SUV’s are the same when it comes to car seat capacity. Before you go shopping, you should consider how many booster seats you’ll need to strap in. Not all SUV’s can fit three car seats across. It’s also important to look for child safety seat anchors. If you are considering a vehicle with a third row, it’s important to check for anchors to ensure the safety of children in car seats.

3. Interior

The standard in most vehicles are cloth-covered seats, and they’re better for the budget. But, consider upgrading to a sleeker, more wipeable material if you plan on holding on to your vehicle for a while. Leather is an easier cleanup with kids. Although it could cost more initially, it will likely save you in the long run if you are not living with mystery stains and smells.

4. Cargo

Many new cars offer foldable rear and third-row seats, some even folding flat into the trunk to optimize cargo space. Some fold with a push of a button while others can’t easily be collapsed without removing the car seat. It’s worth testing different options and choosing the best for your family. You could even bring your stroller or car seat along to the test drive to test out how it fits.

5. Safety systems

Now is a great time to buy a car because of how much safety technology has improved over the last couple of years. Some examples that make driving safer include back-up cameras, parking sensors, and blind-spot warning devices. Not all safety tech is standard, so it is worth searching for these safety features if you can: automatic emergency braking detects the speed of the vehicle in front of you and automatically stops or slows down to avoid a crash. Adaptive cruise control will adjust your speed depending on traffic on the highway. These are some features that might be worth paying for.

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