The coolest car add-on keeps everyone hydrated and happy.
You can be the coolest mom, dad, aunt, uncle or friend—both literally and figuratively—with a built-in car refrigerator. This accessory, available in very few cars, beats the pants off schlepping a cooler in the car for several reasons:
- You don’t have to remember to buy ice
- It doesn’t slide around
- You can even freeze items if needed
My daughters played club soccer, which meant tournament weekends and full days on hot fields every spring and summer. And sometimes fall to boot. At the end of a long day of multiple games, the girls would gulp down whatever leftover drinks the parents could find: the odd-flavored Vitamin waters, off brand endurance drinks and leftover water. Every tournament drive home had to include a stop at a convenience store for overpriced drinks.
We parents always tried to anticipate the kids’ needs, but ice melts and long games extended by overtime required extra drinks.
Imagine if you drove a Lincoln MKT, with the optional second-row refrigerated console. This crossover lets you add a mini-refrigerator between the captain’s chairs in the second row, so if you need the extra seating with the bench row, you can’t get the console. But if you do, the compressor-driven unit can chill up to seven 12-oz. cans to 41°F, and it can work as a freezer, too.
Food borne illnesses, be gone!
Think of going to Costco on a summer day and buying shrimp or milk—no worry about the food spoiling before you get home. Or bringing a container of egg salad to a picnic. My mother in law believes cold salads are dangerous within minutes of leaving the cool confines of a refrigerator. This could alleviate her listeria phobia.
Lincoln’s sister car, the Ford Flex, also has the same size refrigerated console, available in the Limited edition; you have to choose the second-row 40/40 heated reclining seats to get the cooler.
The Honda Odyssey offers a “cool box” that uses the air conditioning system to chill whatever is inside. It’s offered on EX-L, Touring, and Touring Elite models. The cool box can accommodate up to four 20-ounce bottles, or six-12-ounce cans, and it’s also in the second row, where little kids can reach. You have to turn the feature on when you want to use it, and run the air conditioner, too.
Never let your Champagne get warm
As children grow up, their needs—and yours—change. Maybe instead of baseball games, you are now driving to a regatta, or your son’s engagement party, and you want to bring that special bottle of champagne you’ve been saving. The Mercedes-Benz S-class luxury sedans have the cold box for you; an optional refrigerated compartment, with a capacity of about 8.5 liters, or a couple of bottles of Dom Pérignon. And, of course you want a refined, smooth driving experience if you are transporting bubbly in a car.
What you need to know about these insulated boxes
- The refrigerated consoles only work when the car is running, so they are ideal for a road trip. Though the cold box is well insulated and will stay cooler than the rest of the car, it will not keep perishables at an optimal temperature. A Honda spokesperson said that once the ignition switch is turned to “lock,” the cool box maintains its temperature for one hour. Maria Smith says her Odyssey’s cool box works best by keeping already cold drinks cold longer, and notes that it’s especially useful in the South during the summer
- A car refrigerator is great for bringing home a doggie bag from a restaurant – but don’t forget to take the food out when you get home, or you will be in for a nasty surprise the next day! Fadra Nally had a Ford Flex with a cold box and said it was nice to have, but the worst part was forgetting you put leftovers in there until the next time you used the car
- A built in fridge can literally be a lifesaver for a baby. Dana Zucker had one of the first cars to offer a cold box, the Toyota Winstar. She used it to store breast milk while commuting to work with her twins (who are now 20 years old) 30 minutes each way to work. The cold box offered her peace of mind and provided her children with safe milk. If you are traveling with medication that needs to be kept refrigerated, the console is also a great option
- A perfect place to stash chocolate. Scotty Reiss tried bringing ice pops in a cold box and said they melted slightly. But the console will keep chocolate at an optimal temperature, and save your car seats from smears of melted chocolate
- Accessibility! Typically placed in the center of the car, cool boxes are reachable by second row passengers. The Escalade Platinum’s cool box is between the front seats so everyone can reach it (or, have your chauffeur hand you a drink).
- All those cool drinks may lead to extra stops. Sure, you don’t have to pick up drinks, but now the kids could be so well hydrated, you will have to make an emergency stop for the bathroom.
Some of the Best Cars That Currently Have Refrigerated Consoles
Now, some of the first folks to but a refrigerator in a car were luxury car makers that wanted to provide high-brow customers with a place to store high-quality alcohol. We’ll include a few of those after the more budget-friendly options.
- Honda Odyssey (high-end trims only)
- Ford Flex
- Lincoln Nautilus, formerly the Lincoln MKT
- Cadillac Escalade
- Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
- Volvo XC90 Excellence
- Rolls-Royce Phantom
- Bentley Mulsanne
Doesn’t this beat lugging your dented Coleman around all summer?