What to look for in a family car

As a result of this however, it may feel daunting trying to work out which exact family car is best for you. Obviously you don’t want to risk spending your money on a car which doesn’t offer everything you’d expect, nor spend over your budget on something which has more then you need.

If you take into account a few key areas and undertake a little research then your decision on what to buy can be made much easier. Here are our tips on what exactly to look for in a family car.

Suitable size/bodystyle

An important step to make early on when searching for a family car purchase is establishing size and bodystyle can fit your family and luggage.

For example if you’re looking for something which could seat up to seven passengers, or five passengers plus lots of luggage, you are probably suited to one of the bigger MPV or SUV models available.

Current models such as the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso and the Ford Grand C-MAX are both highly-rated and very practical motors which can fit a tremendous amount in their cabins. In five-seater mode these MPVs can offer around 700 litres of boot space or over 2,000 litres with the middle seat row down. Similar levels of practicality can be delivered on SUV models.

If you have a smaller family and less space is required then you are probably better suited to a three or five-door family hatchback – like a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra. These are still overall practical but deliver a more engaging driving experience and are easier to park.

A crossover model, which offers the chunky, appealing styling of a SUV but the size and driving style of a much smaller car, can also be considered for smaller families. In the last couple of years many new examples have entered this particular market segment, joining more established examples like the Nissan Qashqai and the Ford Kuga.

Efficient engine

If you’re going to be transporting family members around on a regular basis, you’ll want a car which can travel long distances before refuelling, and just generally general running costs down.

The good news is that these days virtually every new family car model on the market is available with at least one highly frugal engine option. Often now with each family car sold there is a diesel option which can deliver a CO2 output below 120g/km or even below 100g/km.

Very recent examples include the new Nissan Qashqai with its 109bhp 1.5-litre dCi diesel – which returns a combined fuel economy of 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km.

The refreshed Ford Focus range for 2014, on sale from July this year, will offer a 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine with CO2 emissions at just 99g/km.

High safety rating

Protecting your family and yourself is always vital when searching for a new car. Therefore learning about the various safety features and ratings a particular model has is an important consideration.

When it comes to determining how safe a potential family car purchase is, the ratings provided by the safety body Euro NCAP is always a good reference point. Founded back in 1997, this organisation takes almost every car on sale in the UK and thoroughly examines their safety credentials.

Through a series of different crash tests, Euro NCAP provides detailed ratings and an overall safety rating out of five stars for each car. Criteria taken into account for the star rating include adult and child passenger safety, as well as pedestrian safety and any onboard features specifically designed for safer driving.

Many of the most commonly chosen choices for new family cars, like the Vauxhall Astra and Nissan Qashqai, already boast maximum five-star safety ratings from Euro NCAP.

It’s always worth delving further to learn the standard safety features available on a new family car – like parking sensors, lane departure warning and forward emergency braking.

Useful equipment

Ideally your family car will come included with various onboard comforts and gadgets which can keep passengers comfortable, particularly on lengthier journeys.

When viewing a candidate for your next family car purchase, have a read of the specification details. See if it includes equipment such as air conditioning, DAB radio and if it has sockets for charging your phone or connecting a music playing device.

If you want kit like this included in your family car, happily these features are now often standard on new models. If not, however, then you might have to consider a higher trim level or an alternative model choice.