As a recent father, one of the best decisions I made was upgrading my car to something better suited for a family. While I loved my small hatchback, moving to something with more space has made driving with a family much better. No more struggles to get the buggy in the boot and I don’t have to break my back to put the car seat in.
If you have a little one on the way or have been thinking about changing your car to something better suited for the family life, there are some things you have to consider. Here’s what you need from a family car.
Above everything, keeping your family safe is the priority. So a car with an excellent safety rating is vital. While you can opt for a car that has lots of safety gadgets installed like rearview cameras, blindspot detection and automatic braking, what you really need is to look at how the car has been rated by Euro NCAP.
Euro NCAP conduct safety tests on almost all models released in Europe. Not only do they rate the car for driver protection, they also test how much protection the car gives to children in a car seat. If there’s a make and model you like the look of, see what safety rating the car has been given before making a purchase.
ISOFIX points are the names of the clips that are installed in the back seats of most cars to attach a child’s car seat. Much more secure than a seat belt, all the best rated car seats now attach using these ISOFIX points.
Almost all cars built since 2010 have ISOFIX points installed. It varies a lot more in older cars. But it’s worth ensuring you choose a car with them in place as they provide the best protection for your child.
When it comes to a family, boot space is not just about fitting the buggy inside. While this is going to be what takes up most of the room, you need to think about all the accessories that come with a child. So changing bags, coats, even scooters and bikes when they get a bit older. So you want a boot that has plenty of space inside. You should also check to ensure its comfortable for you to lift the buggy up and inside. Some estates have a lip that makes the entrance to the boot slightly higher. Bear this in mind if lifting something is not easy for you.
Children love to fight and argue amongst themselves. Having space in the back means that you can create some neutral space between them. A demilitarised zone that hopefully means they can only squabble verbally (no car can stop that unfortunately!). Space also provides more comfort when they get bigger, and leaves you room to put more bags and accessories inside for those longer journeys or holidays.
Getting your kids in and out of the car can be a pain when they are cooperative. So imagine how hard it is if they are squabbling! Putting them in the car seat needs to be as easy as possible, so make sure the door space is open wide enough that you can place them inside without breaking your back.
Top tip: Some car seats come with a base that allows you to spin the seat towards you. This really does make things so much easier, so is worth considering when you purchase the car seat.
Children are messy creatures. You might think you’ll be strong and will stop them eating in their car seat. But when they are grumpy or crying, a snack can be a good way to calm them down. That means crumbs, sweets and other bits of food getting on the seats of your car. So you’ll want seats that are easy to clean. Leather wipes easily, so it could be a good option. Otherwise, you might want to invest in some sort of seat protector.
A smooth ride is vital if you want to keep your kids happy and content. If they are sleeping, a bumpy wide can wake them up. So when it comes to looking for that new car, make sure you see what reviewers say about the suspension. Most family cars will take this into consideration, but it’s worth checking or asking about it when looking at the car.
Children grow a lot quicker than you might think. You’ll want to ensure that there’s room to grow as they get older. Unless you know your going to change car in the next few years, think about how they are going to get bigger. If you are also thinking about adding to your family, then you need to consider that too.
The Nissan Qashqai is the best-selling family car in the UK, its popularity down to the excellent seating position for the driver and the spacious interior. The Ford Kuga is another popular choice, putting a lot of the excellent all-round qualities that Ford specialise in and placing them in a crossover SUV package.
If SUVs aren’t your thing, the Skoda Octavia is one of the best reviewed family estates on the market, ticking all the right boxes for a family vehicle. If you want something a bit fancier, the BMW 3 Series Touring edition is a joy to drive and has lots of mod cons that add to the comfort and entertainment value, making it ideal for families as well as professionals.