There are so many different types of family the idea of a “family car” is actually quite a tricky one to pin down. Some families are made up of 2 adults and 2 teenagers who all basically need the same amount of space. Other families are simply 1 adult and 1 child, there could of course be the odd grandparent to add to the mix too. Essentially choosing a family car is actually about you choosing the right car for your family, and not picking it from a pre-determined list of cars with a “family” tag on them.
How Many Doors?
The first thing to think about is the number of doors. Many people think space is the key, and it is important but space is no good if you can’t actually get in the car easily. For many small families hatchbacks can be appealing, and they are very flexible cars but always go for a 5 door version. It is a simple fact that getting a baby seat in the back of a 3 door car is hard. Getting a lanky teenager in the same space can also prove tricky. With the extra doors you will find access is so much easier for kids of all sizes.
Small family hatch back suggestions- Seat Leon, Vauxhall Astra or the Ford Focus.
To Estate or Not To Estate?
The second thing to consider is boot size. For some families this is the “big one”, fitting all the bags in the boot is everything. Unless your family is very small and likely to stay that way, an estate car will always deliver the biggest boot space. Those new dads out there that never thought they would buy an estate like their own father…once you try one you will never go back. The idea of every single but of holiday luggage fitting neatly in the back of the car so the cabin is a comfortable place with no bags falling on you is, for some, a very tempting one. For smaller families or ones that perhaps don’t plan on taking that much stuff around, consider the smaller SUVs, these often have ample boot space without having the added length of an estate.
Larger Family suggestions – Vauxhall Insignia Estate, Nissan Qashqai
How Big is Too Big?
An important third consideration is the overall size of the car. It is tempting to think big when looking at family cars. This, however, can be an issue if you live in a town, or parking near your home is hard. A long estate is a joy to own for those who have the space and don’t spend a great deal of time in tiny city car parks. But, you may want to consider some more mid-sized options like the estate versions of popular hatchbacks, the Ford Focus is a good example. Never forget the trusty people carrier (or MPV) either, before the rise of the SUV these were the preferred choice for larger families and still offer fantastic flexibility and space. If you do go for something big because you simply must have all the space then it is well worth spending a little extra making sure you have front and rear parking sensors. Many cars now have rear facing parking cameras and even parallel parking assist too, both are great but not essential. Good sensors should be your minimum requirement.
When size does matter – Consider a Ford Focus estate for something mid-sized. For a MPV with style try the SEAT Alhambra or the Ford S-Max.
Your Family’s Needs
Whatever your needs, put them on a list and take them with you to your dealership. It is essential to consider your family and their requirements. It is also important to think ahead, if you are planning on a second child then buy with that in mind they have a habit of taking up even more space than the first.