It might be time to upgrade your current family car, whether that’s for a newer model or to accommodate your growing youngsters. You may even be preparing to take your driving test so that you can take the kids to and from school, fitting in your research into your first family car around practising for your theory test.
Whatever your reason for buying a family car, we’ve prepared a list of things you should consider before making your purchase:
Safety has got to come top of the list when choosing your next family car. All cars manufactured to UK specifications must meet minimum safety standards but did you know the testing agency Euro NCAP conducts a number of additional tests to encourage manufacturers to exceed the minimum standards? The Renault Espace, VW Touran and Ford S-Max were among MPVs and family cars that recently gained the maximum five stars in the 2015 ratings. To check out the rating for a car visit the website at www.euroncap.com.
Consider whether there’s enough storage for all the family’s bits and pieces. That might be school bags, musical instruments, PE kits, buggies and enough space for the weekly shop on the way home. Maybe the seats fold down for extra storage. You may need to consider a roof rack if you are going to be taking the car on family holidays.
Are the seats easy to tumble and fold? Can you slide them forward to make space for extra leg room? Is it easy to install child seats? These are all factors to consider when looking at your next car. You might plump for a seven seater but it might be no good if you’re transporting elderly parents who struggle to access the rear seats. If in doubt on how to fit child car seats the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has plenty of information.
4) Getting in and out
You may need to look for a low step-in height and a handle by the window or above it for your passengers to use when getting in and out of the car. Again, this is something to consider if carrying elderly parents. If using a car seat will you be able to get in to easily lift the children in and out of the car? Also look at the seatbelts – are they easy for older children to access and use?
5) Running costs
How much is it going to cost to run your new car each year? This could depend on the fuel it uses and its ‘fuel economy’. When looking at road tax, remember that this is linked to the vehicle’s fuel type and CO2 emissions. Diesel cars often have lower CO2 emissions than petrol engines so vehicle excise duty can be cheaper – and some ‘eco’ models actually require no tax at all. Also check out how much it will cost to insure your new vehicle as this may put a cap on your ambitions.