Choosing a car to suit your growing family can be an overwhelming experience at the best of times. The future is often uncertain, with many families not knowing exactly what the next 6-12 months will look like. There are also aspects such as car depreciation, the time and effort it takes to find the right vehicle and the anxiety that can come with making long term financial commitments, all things that can weigh heavily on a person who is unsure where the future will lead them.
Do you plan for the family you have now or the one you’re planning to have in 5 years? Will the car be big enough when the kids grow up? Do you want a car big enough to transport your children and other family members, such as your parents, as well? These are all questions you have to consider when purchasing a family car. There are a lot of options on the market, so deciding which factors are the most important to you and your family is a great start to determine what car is best for you.
Safety is at the forefront of aspects you need to consider. How safe is the car you’re planning to drive your family in?
In Australia, cars are required to undergo crash tests through the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), where they’re given a score with 5 stars being the safest rating a car model can obtain. The ANCAP safety rating is broken into four subcategories; Adult Occupant Protection, Vulnerable Road User Protection (pedestrians and cyclists), safety systems and most importantly, Child Occupant Protection. Ideally you’d like a new car to have a child occupant protection rating of 85% or higher.
If you’re purchasing a pre-loved car, visit How Safe is Your Car? to determine safety scores.
One of the biggest concerns when purchasing a family car is often, how many people can fit inside and can it carry all of our stuff? Although children themselves are small, the space they require for their luggage, pram, car seats, feeding supplies, sporting equipment and booster seats can all add up!
Ensure there is enough space for car seats to fit in addition to considering the boot space to carry your groceries and all other essential items.
The price of a car is always going to be a deciding factor. Even though a $70,000 medium size SUV would be the perfect choice for your current family needs, if you can’t afford it, then there is no point picking this as your desired vehicle. Investigate the costs of owning a car, and decide on a budget to determine what price range you can afford. Be sure to take into account the required loan repayments and interest premiums if you are choosing to finance your new car through a bank or lender
How do you use your car currently? Is it for road trips and camping holidays away or do you use it to mainly get you around the city?
If you don’t currently require a 4WD for your lifestyle, purchasing one for your family may be unnecessary. A medium sized car or a small SUV would suit perfectly for school drop offs or trips to the shops. Many small SUVs are deceptively roomy and allow for a large amount of storage without the need for a bulky family van.
Test Drive with the kids
Where possible, we recommend taking your desired car for a test drive with the children. Bring the whole family along with car seats,prams, and anything you require on a normal family outing so that you can test the vehicle with your family requirements in mind. This will help you to determine if the car suits your current lifestyle needs, or if you should move on and continue the search for a more appropriate vehicle.