Buying a family car that is perfectly suited for every member of the family can be one heck of a mission. Instead of looking at how nice, or how cool it looks, you need to focus more on the reliability side of things, as well as how well it drives. On top of that, you also need to figure out whether it’s practical for each member of your family.
Another key aspect, maybe even the most important, is the price. My advice would be to go for a used family car, there’s plenty of choice on websites.
Partners, children, grandparents and pets all need to be a part of your car decision, so there’s quite a lot to get your head around. But don’t curl up in the corner just yet, here’s a handy guide to get you on the right path.
Size Matters…But So Does Practicality
Big family = big car, a simple equation so you’d obviously steer more towards a saloon (the bigger of the two). But looks can be deceiving. Loading pushchairs and prams into the boots of saloon cars can be a nightmare – they’re not as flexible as one might think.
An SUV such as the Honda Odyssey could be the perfect family car that isn’t too big, but is also big enough to get all the family and some luggage in.
But this is speaking in general terms. If your heart is set on a saloon car, take the pushchair and pram with you when you go to check out the vehicle, because you could be surprised. However, the main problem with saloon cars is if you plan to transport your pets around. Hatchbacks, on the other hand, offer the space at the back; whilst saloon just don’t.
When it comes to choosing between a three-door or a five, go for a five, always. However, always make sure the back set of doors open wide enough for you to set up a child’s car seat, and spacious enough for the kids to get in and out with no bumps and bruises.
It also helps to have wider doors if you’re over six feet tall, or six feet wide. Sliding doors are even more convenient, especially in those cramped car-parks.
Raised seats, often referred to as ‘stadium seating,’ is where the back seats are slightly higher than the front. It makes it that little bit easier to accommodate car seats and children, as well as improving the back seat passenger’s view, reducing the chances of car sickness.
Can The Passenger Airbag Be Disabled?
If you have a child that may need to be transported in the front seat in a rear-facing child seat, ensure that the passenger airbag can be switched off. It isn’t recommended to host a child in the front seat, due to obvious safety issues, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. Have the dealer show you how to turn it on and off for a little piece of mind.
Sliding rear seats can be a huge plus. You can push them back to increase rear legroom or slide them forwards to improve boot space and bring children closer to the front seats – making it easier for front passengers to pass them drinks, or give them a clip round the ear for example. Some cars also offer a small degree of recline on the rear seats – a good feature to stop kids’ heads hanging forwards if they fall asleep.
Kids hate long and boring drives, so, if you have the cash to spend, shop around and install some plug sockets in the car for the kids DVD player or handheld consoles. Other features that you should think of are things like UV-filtering tinted windows to limit the children’s sun exposure on the long journey’s.
Also, try to avoid beige colours in the car. The inevitable spills and stains will stand out like a sore thumb, so opt for a more practical material like dark leathers.
Hopefully, now you’re mind has been put to some rest. It’s stressful trying to make everyone happy and feel comfortable in just the one car so follow this advice, take your time, and you’ll find the perfect car in no time.