A simples guide

What to look for in a family car

Car buying is fun and stressful in equal measures, probably even more so when you’re trying to buy a family car.

There’s just so much to think about – whether the boot’s big enough for the dog, bikes, suitcases, whether it’s economical and most importantly – what colour are you going to agree on? So, here’s our guide to finding the best family car (you can bicker about the colour later).

 

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What should I look for in a family car?

A family car needs to work as hard as you do and that means it needs to multi-task. Sadly, that means an end to your two seater sports car days and you’re probably looking at something you vowed never to drive. But image isn’t everything and what’s important is how practical and safe your family car will be when you’re on the school run, doing the grocery shop and using it for long journeys.

car and sunset
Steering wheel and road

Do you need a car or a MPV?

How big your brood is, is likely to have the greatest impact on what you buy. Even large standard cars can struggle for rear seat space if you’ve got child car seats. Think about whether you’re likely to need space for grandparents on a regular basis, if you are, it might be worth considering an MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) or a people carrier (we did say family cars weren’t glamourous).

Safety

Anyone with children is likely to rate this as one of the most important features for a family car. You should look out for the Euro NCAP safety rating – all cars undergo a series of tests to see just how safe they are. If you’re using this as a guide all you need to remember is the more stars, the better.

Also look for things like whether the front passenger airbag can be easily switched off –which you’ll need to do if you want to put a rear facing child seat in the front. Plus, check out whether there are Isofix mount points – this means you’ll be able to clip in car seats quickly and easily whilst knowing that they’re secure.

Boot space

Your family car’s expected to take the weight of family life so don’t underestimate how much space you might need. Pushchairs, baby changing bags, the family dog, sports equipment and musical instruments, you’ll be amazed at what you end up stashing in the boot.

Don’t make assumptions about boot space based on the style of car. Saloons may look bigger but that doesn’t mean they are – or that they offer flexible space. The boots on many hatchbacks are deeper than they look at first glance and they may be lower to the ground making loading easier – great if you’ve got a heavy buggy. Hatchbacks also offer versatile space if you get a model where the rear seats fold down flat.

Doors

Selecting a car with five doors rather than three, will make life much easier when it comes to securing child car seats and seat belts. You could also consider rear sliding doors which are the saviour for many parents in crowded car parks. It sounds obvious but doors should be wide enough for you and passengers to get in and out of the car without struggling.

Another thing to bear in mind is whether the head rests can be easily taken off as you may need to accommodate child seats.

Nice to haves

There are of course, all those extra little bits that make choosing a car a bit more exciting like whether there are integrated DVD players in the back for the kids. It might sound like a luxury but after you’ve heard ‘are we there yet’ on repeat for three hours, you might view it as a necessity. 

Good storage is important too such as having somewhere to put your phone, drinks, snacks – but don’t get too excited. Think carefully about whether the storage available is the right kind of storage, is it intuitive and practical? The last thing you want to do is rummage through numerous cubby holes looking for something you know you’ve put somewhere.

But which car is right for my family?

You’ll need to think about how you use your car, families come in all shapes and sizes, as do family cars so it’s about finding the right fit for you. Whether you travel a lot, need space for camping/sports/school equipment or have a dog will influence the type of car you buy. Also think about the landscape of where you drive, if you’re in a town and never venture off nicely tarmacked roads then a 4x4 might not be economical or practical.

Cars are expensive and probably not something you’ll chop and change very often. So plan ahead and think about whether you’re likely to have more children or if the car you have in mind is likely to be flexible enough to cater for your family as it grows.

The family car market is hugely competitive and you might find some car dealers offer more than the standard three year warranty or special fixed prices on servicing. It’s worth checking out the various offers because it could save you some pounds and give you peace of mind.

What else do I need to know?

You won’t be able to drive your shiny new car until you’re insured to drive it so make sure you’re covered as soon as you drive it off the forecourt. We know that choosing the car’s the exciting bit and the insurance probably not so much – but that’s where we come in. You see, we love insurance, it’s what we do and with over a hundred trusted car insurance providers we’re confident we can find you the right deal at the best price. So go on, compare the market with us today and see what you could drive away with.

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