Choosing the right vehicle is an important consideration for anyone who commutes, but even more so for home care nurses. With countless models available, choosing the right one to meet your daily needs can seem a daunting task. After all, there are more than a few factors to take into account when evaluating options.
In this article, we’re going to cover some of the most important features caregivers should look for, what they need to avoid, and give you our take on the best cars for nurses.
How to Pick the Right Car for the Job?
When looking for a car to use on the job, you’ll probably have different concerns and priorities compared to when buying a family or city car.
If you’re unsure what you need to focus on or need some help evaluating options - you’re at the right place. Read on as we explore the most important features of the best cars for nurses and some considerations you need to keep in mind when it comes to cars for caregivers.
Buying New vs. Buying Used
The decision of whether to buy a new or used car often comes down to the budget you’re working with.
However, cashing out on a brand new vehicle isn’t always the best course of action. With the recent shortages the automotive industry is facing and the resulting rise in prices, you should be extra careful when making that decision.
While a new car comes with obvious advantages, a lightly-used one will have its value depreciate at a slower rate. This is an important factor to keep in mind if you’re planning to trade it in after a couple of years.
At the end of the day, it is something you need to decide for yourself. Going down either of these roads has its own benefits, depending on your situation and your plans for the future, so it’s definitely worth giving it some thought.
The Most Important Features to Look for in Cars for Nurses
When it comes to features to look for in cars for nurses, there is a lot to cover. Naturally, some are more important than others, and not only due to the nature of the job. In order to zero in on the best pick for you, you should also consider factors such as mileage reimbursement, the terrain you need to traverse, interior design, maintenance, etc.
Below are some guidelines you may find helpful when choosing the right vehicle for yourself.
Since you’ll be spending a lot of your time in the car, comfort should be one of your top priorities. Comfortable, adjustable seats and steering wheel, a hand rest, and suspension offering a smooth ride are a good place to start.
Ultimately, however, your best bet is to take a couple of models you like for a test drive and see how they feel on the road. Your local car dealer is likely to be more than happy to demonstrate how you can adjust the interior to maximize your comfort and answer any questions you might have.
Closely related to comfort, a roomy interior can be a big plus when it comes to cars for nurses. Make sure it has enough legroom and sufficient roofline height to accommodate tall passengers.
Additionally, a big glovebox and multiple compartments can help you store your stuff and supplies securely and within arm’s reach.
The trunk of the car you choose needs to have enough space to fit all your equipment. Although storing some of it on the back seat may seem like a viable option, it is an unsafe practice and one you should avoid. Assess how bulky your equipment is and narrow down your choice to cars that have enough trunk space to store it.
A GPS guidance system accompanied by voice navigation and a well-placed display can make the life of a caregiver on the road much easier. While there are other alternatives, built-in navigation with regularly updated maps is by far the safest and most convenient solution to finding your way through the city or locations you aren’t familiar with.
Although most cars have the Bluetooth feature nowadays, it’s definitely something worth looking for. Being able to take calls while driving is a must for a home care nurse. Connecting your phone to the vehicle’s multimedia system allows you to do so both safely and legally, without having to take your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel.
It’s worth mentioning that if the car doesn’t come with this feature by default, you can always have a Bluetooth device installed subsequently. It’s a relatively small investment considering the convenience and safety benefits it offers.
Safety should be the top concern for anyone in the market for a new vehicle, especially when it comes to caregivers’ transportation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has an exhaustive list of cars and their safety ratings for frontal crashes, side crashes, and rollovers. You can use their website to compare your top picks and see what kind of safety scores and features they offer.
Naturally, when comparing the best cars for nurses, gas mileage can often be the tie-breaking factor between different models. When looking at fuel efficiency, consider how much of the cost your employer will reimburse through mileage tracking, come up with the number where you break even, and use it as a reference point.
Since gas mileage is something you’ll have to deal with for as long as you have the vehicle, it’s a good idea to account for all the factors that influence it. Although you can’t do much about many of them, it’s important to know what kind of MPG you can expect.
- Driving in an urban environment and through dense traffic will increase the average fuel consumption compared to open roads.
- Cold weather, driving uphill and on unpaved roads also have a negative effect on fuel economy.
- Excessive use of A/C increases fuel consumption, whether it’s cooling or heating.
Taking EPA estimates at face value is probably OK in most cases. However, understanding the factors that influence your fuel economy and why it may differ from EPA estimates can help you a lot when considering the total monthly or annual fuel costs you can expect.
FWD vs. RWD vs AWD
The type of drivetrain affects several aspects of vehicle performance, as well as its price in some cases. Without going into too much detail, we’re going to try and list the most important pros for each of them when it comes to cars for nurses and caregivers.
Front Wheel Drive Pros:
- Simpler design equals a lower price tag in most cases
- Better mileage due to lighter weight
- Better traction in bad weather compared to RWD
- More legroom in the back
Rear Wheel Drive Pros:
- Better towing capacity compared to FWD
- Better handling in dry conditions
- Cheaper drivetrain maintenance
All Wheel Drive and 4 Wheel Drive Pros:
- Best traction in bad weather and across difficult terrain
- Better handling in all weather conditions
- Better performance across all types of surfaces
Obviously, when buying a vehicle, the price tag itself shouldn’t be the only expense you are considering. The maintenance costs of different makes and models vary - and not necessarily by little.
Regular maintenance is a big part of ensuring your car is roadworthy at all times. By knowing what you can expect in terms of standard maintenance, as well as the cost of keeping the car on the road over the years, you can ensure there are no unpleasant surprises when the time comes.
Finally, you’d also be well-advised to consider the availability of parts for your car and whether there is a certified mechanic near you.
Consider Performance Throughout the 4 Seasons
Depending on where you live and work, you may experience different kinds of weather and road conditions throughout the year. This shouldn’t interfere with your ability to perform and meet your schedule, so it’s important to carefully consider these external factors when choosing a vehicle.
Knowing exactly what you need from the car will help you prioritize the different characteristics and features we’ve covered in this article.
Do you face heavy snow and rain accompanied by low temperatures? Perhaps an AWD vehicle with seat heating and large wheels is what you should be looking for.
Do you work in an urban environment with little precipitation and flat roads? Maybe an easy-to-park FWD car with good fuel economy can help you cut down on costs while meeting all your needs.
The truth is, there is no single best car for nurses or anyone for that matter. Your choice should depend on finding the vehicle that will check the most boxes for you. And one of them we haven’t mentioned is personal preference.
Our Top Choices of Cars for Home Care Nurses
That being said, below is a list of our top choices when it comes to cars for home care nurses to help you get started with the right mindset. In compiling this short list, we’ve used the information available on cars.usnews.com while putting an emphasis on the features that meet the needs of home care nurses and caregivers.
1. Best All-Round - Honda CR-V
Honda’s compact SUV is our top choice for a couple of reasons. Not only does this model check most of the boxes in terms of features, fuel economy, maintenance cost, and safety ratings, but there are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to engines, drivetrain, and equipment.
Depending on your budget, you can browse older or newer vehicles, since the model has been in production for a long time, so you can find the right car for yourself without breaking the bank.
You can choose between diesel, petrol, or hybrid engines with FWD or AWD drivetrains and varying power and fuel consumption. If you are looking for a balance between an urban and extra-urban car, the CR-V has a lot to offer.
When it comes to production years, you may want to avoid the 2015 model, as it has received the most complaints.
2. Best for Urban Environments - Honda Accord
The Honda Accord mid-size sedan is a top choice for urban environments as it provides great comfort and reliability without sacrificing any passenger or trunk space. With great MPG and decent equipment, you can hardly go wrong with this model. Also available in a long list of production years, the Accord can fit into anyone’s budget.
3. Best for Rural Environments - Subaru Forester
If you are in the market for an SUV with good off-road capabilities while still meeting all the requirements of a caregiver’s car, Subaru Forester may be the perfect choice.
With good gas mileage, spacious cabin and cargo space, as well as a smooth ride both on and off road, the Forester will get you and your equipment anywhere you need to go both safely and comfortably.
Below are a couple of other solid options in terms of cars for nurses you can explore that combine affordability with performance and the requirements of a caregiver.
1. Toyota RAV4
2. Toyota Camry
3. Hyundai Tucson
So, What’s the Best Car for Nurses?
Ultimately, the choice of the right car for you is one only you can make. There is no simple answer to the question of what the best car for nurses or other home caregivers is.
However, hopefully, we’ve helped you get on the right track when researching the options. If there is one thing we’d like you to take away from this article, it’s that your needs and circumstances are unique, and they should be the ones governing your choice.
Understand what you need from the vehicle, prioritize the features and characteristics and look for the car that can give you the most. Finally, keep in mind that you’ll be using it virtually on a daily basis, so make sure you feel good when you get behind the wheel.