For most families, a car is an essential part of life, making everything from day trips in the country to the school run and the weekly shop possible. Cars bring freedom to our lives, relieving us from the shackles of public transport and offering independence.
With such a huge range of makes and models available, it can often seem quite a daunting prospect trying to work out which car is right for you and your family. However, following a few simple pointers and asking yourself some basic questions will make the process of investing in your next family car considerably easier.
Key things to consider in your choice of vehicle
All families are different, but there are some key things everyone should consider when compiling a shortlist of family cars to choose from:
Safety: The safety of our loved ones is at the top of the list for most families, so be sure to check a vehicle’s Euro NCAP ratings to get a clear idea of how safe a car is. Modern vehicles feature numerous safety features – not just in the bodywork and seating, etc, but also in terms of driver aids, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and driving assistance.
The practicality of the vehicle: Very often, families attempt to achieve a careful balancing act of what’s right for the parents and what’s right for the family as a whole. Obviously, you still want a car that can be enjoyable to drive but there are some unavoidable practicalities you’ll need to factor in your choice. For example, a car that has a higher torque is better for baby seats. Where you might be tempted by faster, sportier models, try to consider the family as a whole and imagine how you all will use the car in a real-world setting. The new Citroen C3 is a perfect example of a spacious car suitable for the entire family that is still fun to drive.
Size: Another key consideration is the size of the vehicle. A larger family is clearly going to benefit from having a larger vehicle with more space. List your particular needs now – but also think about any changes that might happen in the future. For instance, if you plan on having another child, you’ll want more space for cots, toys, prams, etc. Or, if you have older children, it’s quite likely they’ll get into sports or past-times that might require bigger boot space. A family car will most likely be with you for some time so try to plan ahead.
Day-to-day running costs: Having a family is expensive enough already so the last thing you need is the dread of running an expensive, petrol-guzzling beast of a motor. Moreover, the insurance for a powerful car will be higher – and it’s equally likely that repairs and replacement parts will have a similarly high price tag. Think about the overall running costs of the car – particularly if it’s likely you’ll mostly be using it for short runs to the shops, school or kids’ sports activities. Also, remember your car will depreciate over time. And, if you’re buying on finance – you will need to factor in payments and interest. As a guide, it’s worthwhile taking a look at your current week-to-week expenses, then working out what you can realistically afford over and above your existing costs.