With the seemingly infinite list of things new parents need to buy for their bundle of joy, a suitable family car is often overlooked. Until the day that the bouncing baby is brought home, the once spacious vehicle overflowing with diaper bags, bottles, nappies and a pushchair, a car seat precariously strapped into the back. If you find the paraphernalia of parenthood spilling from the windows of your ride, it’s time to start the quest for a family car.
The first issue to consider, and the easiest to resolve, is how big your new vehicle will need to be. Most families can manage with four seats, but if you’re looking at rapidly expanding your family or you regularly transport friends and relatives you might need something bigger. The answer to your question will be able to inform the type of vehicle you choose, whether that’s a sedan or a people carrier.
Once your seating logistics are established, safety features should be your next concern. You need to make sure that, wherever they sit, children are safe in the car, so there should be lap and shoulder belts available in every seat – especially the middle of the back seat where children are safest.
Many car seats for very young babies are rear-facing and have to be strapped into the passenger seat. If you have such a carrier, it’s essential that you choose a car with the option to deactivate the front left airbag. Although it’s recommended that you avoid front-seat baby carriers and stick to ones which go in the back, if you own one you need to be able to switch off the airbag yourself rather than having to ask a garage or dealer to do it. You want to make sure that it can be turned back on when other passengers are travelling with you in the front.
Air bag technology has advanced rapidly in recent years. Most cars now feature side air bags to provide additional protection in the event of a crash, which minimizes the risk of injury to small children. Advanced air bag systems are also available in some cars. These use sensors which detect the severity of a crash, the occupant’s size, the use of a safety belt and the seating position to determine the appropriate level of deployment. Place a real focus on finding a suitable airbag safety system when viewing cars. For the optimum family vehicle, the more advanced the technology the better.
Hatchback vs Saloon
When picking your car, choose a hatchback model. At first instance, you might be fooled into believing that saloon cars are bigger than hatchbacks and therefore give you more room, but don’t be deceived into thinking that this makes them a better family car. Saloons lack the flexibility of hatchbacks, and can be a nightmare for loading pushchairs and prams, due to their narrow openings and high load lips. It’s a good idea to take your pram or pushchair with you when you view a car to make sure that it will fit.
We all know that second-hand options are better; after all, they’re cheaper, don’t contain an oasis of spotless leather and clean fabric for little hands to dirty and are generally easier to get hold of. For good, honest advice and help choosing a suitable second-hand vehicle, it’s a good idea to buy from a reputable seller such as ExchangeandMart.co.uk rather than a private owner. They’ll know which models make perfect family cars and can help you choose something to suit the whole family.