When you’re buying a car for yourself, you might have a lot more freedom in what you prioritize and what appeals to a car lead you to vote with your wallet. However, it has proven time and time again that the car that gets your heart pumping isn’t always the best mode of transport for your family. If you’re buying your first family car, or you’re just looking to make a better choice than last time, here are a few pointers to get you in the right direction and an example of the kind of auto you might want to choose based on your preferences.
There are very few drivers that like to think of themselves as “unsafe”, but the truth is that we don’t often prioritize our own road safety as highly as we should when buying a car. When it’s a car that you transport your children in, however, you might become much more acutely aware of the dangers of the road. There are different ways to measure the safety of a car, too. For instance, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat has earned safety awards for how well it fares in side and front impacts and the general strength of the car. But you should look at the safety features that come as standard with them, too. The anti-lock brakes, stability control, and pretensioners in the Passat all adds to its viability as a top safety pick for family car on top of its sturdiness.
Your mileage may vary on the size of car you want depending on how large your family is. However, there’s no doubt that bigger cars make a much more comfortable ride for both you and the kids in the back. Minivans like the Honda Odyssey are still some of the most popular cars for that very reason. You have to consider the fact that young children and older children have different space needs, and whether or not your family might be expanding in the near future. Having too much space isn’t a big deal, but having too little can be an inconvenience at the best of times.
This is related to the size of the car, but it’s looking at a different aspect of it. Beyond having enough space for the family and whatever you have to transport next, from soccer bag to cello case, adaptable cars make for a much more reliable choice. Seven-seaters like the Seat Alhambra or Cadillac Escalade, for instance, are a good option even if you don’t have a family of seven. That’s because of the folding down seats that allow you to switch between more space for people and more room for storage in an instant. The ability to securely and safely fit in multiple seats, baby car seats, and booster seats if you have younger children is a must-have, too.
Budget is always going to be a big part of your consideration when choosing a car. However, fuel economy grows all the more important when you have a family. Family cars get driven a lot more, which means that a poor fuel economy could mean much higher expenditures than if you had it for a car that you used individually. When you browse for a new car, make sure you look at the MPG and, if you live in an urban area, look at whether they differentiate between city and highway MPGs. The Volvo XC60 makes for a great family vehicle, not only because it’s a spacious comfortable SUV but because it has one of the most competitive fuel consumption ratings in the whole class.
Fuel costs are a key figure in working out the true cost of owning your vehicle of choice. However, one that isn’t considered quite as often is the costs of repairs and maintenance done over the years. The reliability of a car relates, in this case, to how often your car is going to suffer malfunctions or need work done on it to keep it in top condition. The Reliability Index is one of the best indicators of this, and the vehicle currently ranked second in all of its listings, the Mitsubishi Lancer, makes for a great family car. The low rate of failure isn’t just an economic concern, either. For as much use as it gets, a family car that needs to be regularly taken off the road can be a huge inconvenience.
It might not be considered as important as the factors already mentioned, but there’s no doubt that comfort matters in a family car. As mentioned, people who own a family car tend to drive a lot more. The small comfort issues that might otherwise only occasionally bother you can become a much more noticeable issue when you have to spend so many more hours a week driving. The aforementioned Volvo XC90 also makes for a great family car in this regard.
This is what you might think of the lowest-priority choice. Entertainment certainly doesn’t matter as much as whether a car is safe enough, spacious enough, and economic enough. However, beyond getting them from point A to point B, if you’re willing to pay for it, a car can help you keep the family entertained enough so those long-drives don’t become a chore with the help of some very dissatisfied children. A great audio system, in-built infotainment system, and seat-back screens can help you keep the kids distracted so that you’re free to focus on the road, not what kinds of mischief they might be causing behind you. These features can also make a car great for those long road trips with little to do in between stops. It’s a take-it-or-leave-it consideration only if you have the extra to fit in the budget.
Which of the above takes the top spot on your list of priorities is up to you. The best family cars find a balance amongst the different elements. If you find a spacious, affordable vehicle that’s safe and reliable, then you have yourself a perfect family car.