This is a sponsored post on behalf of Autotrader.

Some of you have already noticed on Instagram that we bought a new vehicle. We have an Elantra that has served us well for years as well as Nate's big adventure truck, the F-350. When Bam came along, we ran out of seats in the sedan and decided it was time to get an everyday family hauler. We're trying to raise the boys to be responsible, independent thinkers, so we do our best to involve them in all our big decisions. To help prompt a discussion about this particular life change, we took them to see Cars 3.

Our new van Our family finds a great deal of inspiration in the movies we watch. As a parent, I think some of the best films are ones that show how individual qualities make each and every person awesome. Our differences are something to celebrate, and I love it when movies can help us further that discussion! Those are some of the best lessons we can pass on. Especially for Nate and I, as each of our four children are remarkably different.

Going to go see a movie

That’s one of the reasons I love the whole Cars series. Not only did the original inspire us to get out on the road more as a family, but it highlighted the advantages of being unique. In a world where your car personality might not match your “frame,” it’s great to see characters push past what's expected of them. That’s one reason Sidekick loves Guido so much. No one thought that little forklift could handle a pit stop by himself, let alone be the best at it!

So how does this all tie into vehicles? With four boys ages six and under, there’s no easy way of getting where we need to go. We’ve got booster seats, car seats and the classic baby seat. This all on top of my 6'4″ husband Nate who likes to ride in a vehicle with ample leg room and a plush cushion. The time had finally come to upgrade from the sedan to a vehicle that could really handle our needs. Something that would not just be form following function, but that would allow the family to feel as though their time spent in the vehicle was pleasant and even enjoyable. After all, we put down a lot of miles!

How to find the perfect car for you | car shopping

I knew I needed a large vehicle, but car shopping has never been a joy for me. Nate has the personality to make a car dealer’s lot his own personal battlefield, but we don’t necessarily have the time…and all my patience is designated for my four mini Nates. I also don’t feel comfortable designating so much energy to a single manufacturer. I’ve learned from past experiences that unless you know exactly what you want, stepping foot on a car dealer's lot is like a fly taking a break on the petals of a Venice Fly Trap. You're done for.

Shopping for a car with kids

The best way Nate and I avoid these pesky traps is by researching through our sponsor Autotrader. Without leaving our home, we can search through thousands of vehicles using Autotrader's Car Match Tool. This way, car shopping is easy and I find a vehicle that fits MY car personality instead of what someone wants to sell me.

Cars 3 characters

A car salesman wants to put you in a car they have, not the car you need. If you've seen any of the previews for Cars 3, you probably know that a prevalent theme is standing out against what “they” say you can do. I don’t have plans to drive in a race anytime soon, but I do know that I want to make my own decisions. When it came to car shopping, in the words of Lightning McQueen, “I decide when I’m done.”

Car Match Model Finder on Autotrader

In Cars 3 we’re introduced to a new character who embodies the spirit of a motivated racer. In an exchange with McQueen, Cruz Ramirez says, “Don’t fear failure. Be afraid of not having the chance. You have the chance.” I want my boys to know that – especially in this day brimming with technology – they have so many chances. Opportunities are plentiful, and for them, it's just a matter of being wise in their decision-making. Autotrader is yet another example of this. We are given complete control over our search options and can choose what is best for us.

So if you find yourself thinking about car shopping, even for fun, don't be afraid and know that you have a chance. It's all about you and your personality. Your needs. No one can tell you who you are or when you're done but you. I've definitely had people tell me that my chosen priorities in a vehicle don't matter, but only I can say what serves my purposes. For me, heated seats are a must when we take quick trips to the snowy mountains. I need keyless start and keyless entry because…well…with four children this is basically like buying myself a third hand! And a sunroof? Heck yes, I want to see the world.

In case you're wondering what vehicle we wound up with…it was, in fact, one of the ones that Autotrader highlighted for us in their Car Match tool. Our Chrysler Town & Country has all the bells and whistles, including stow-and-go captain chairs, a roof rack and tailgate back seats so we can pull up and park and be ready to party right out of our trunk. I never pictured myself as a “mini van mom,” but the ability to lay all the chairs flat without storing them elsewhere – turning our whole interior into an open cargo space at the drop of a hat – has been a game-changer for beach trips and weekend playdates.

Cars 3

Oh, and Cars 3 was great! Don't tell anyone, but Nate cried. I'm sure he was happy the theater was dark.

Are you shopping for a new car anytime soon?