Ditching the Soft-Top: How to Choose a Family Car
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Ditching the Soft-Top: How to Choose a Family Car

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Whether you’re a family with one child or an extended clan with four or five, choosing the right car in which to transport your loved ones is very important. There are around 4,500 different models of car currently available to choose from, sold by 50 different brands, so the task of picking out the perfect vehicle can seem like a daunting task. However, the process can be simplified by identifying your family’s needs and drawing up a checklist that can be referred to when you’re scouring the internet or at a dealership. As much fun as the sporty convertible was in the past, now is the time to let it go and embrace a vehicle with four doors and proper cargo space!

Size Matters

This may seem obvious, but the size of your family will be the biggest factor in deciding what kind of family car you choose. If you have young children, it’s important to remember that they won’t stay small forever and your car should be equipped to accommodate them at different stages of their growth. Having enough leg room can make all the difference on longer journeys. Try to plan ahead if possible; if you intend to have more children, choose a vehicle that allows for this.

Fuel Consumption

It’s widely known that bigger vehicles consume more fuel and therefore cost more to run. If you’re not driving over rocky terrain and you don’t live in the countryside where roads can be unpaved or very narrow, you probably don’t need an SUV and the fuel consumption that accompanies it. Some models of wagons provide as much cargo space as an SUV, but with better fuel economy. With the price of petrol increasing, a sedan might become the more popular choice. Small sedans can be extremely price-friendly and their size means that the driver can easily reach children in the backseat.

Safety First

The first thing a family car has to be is safe. To get up-to-date research and statistics on all cars on the market, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Board. It provides 5-star ratings, information on crash tests, rollover statistics and research on airbags, technology and tires. From 2012, all vehicles are required to have an electronic stability control program in place, as it will keep you in control if the road is slippery or if you’re making an emergency manoeuvre. If you have babies or toddles in car seats, ask about side airbags because they can be dangerous for young children.  Get the right insurance and breakdown coverage for your new vehicle because it may require a different package from a previous car that wasn’t as child-friendly.

Space Requirements

Does your family enjoy camping, skiing or other outdoor activities? Do you need extra room to carry home improvement or gardening supplies? Does your partner like to fill up the boot with thrift store finds or bulk buys? Is the double buggy going to fit in? If you need a car with more cargo space, you should plan accordingly. Small wagons, minivans and SUVs all offer increased cargo space, so select according to your requirements. Check whether the seats fold down for extra room, something that can be useful when you’re bringing something sizeable back home; a Christmas tree for example.

Keeping the Kids Happy

No one wants to be stuck in a car with fussy little ones on a longer journey! If the seats are very low or the windows are small, children won’t be able to distract themselves with the view outside. ‘Stadium seats’ or higher backseats are popularly believed to reduce travel sickness which can be a real boon to parents. If you’re planning on taking long trips, it might be worth finding a car that has inbuilt backseat DVD players if your budget allows it. If your children are old enough, including them in the process of choosing the new vehicle can be a good idea. Their comfort will make journeys much less stressful!

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