What to consider when buying a family car

What you need to know:

For instance, bigger mini Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) or multi-purpose vehicles are considered ‘crash safer’ for the family than mini hatch or small saloon cars

I now have three children and I am looking for a reliable family car. What are some of the things I should consider?


Hello Daudi, when buying a car, early parenthood priorities change from looks, how fast it drives or the kind of sound system it has to safety, family comfortability and budget. Checking the safety rating of the choice car is a good way to start. Online searches for a car’s accident safety ratings from test organisations such as Australasian New Car Assessment Programme are a good way to know how the car may perform in the event of a crash or rollover.

For instance, bigger mini Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) or multi-purpose vehicles are considered ‘crash safer’ for the family than mini hatch or small saloon cars. Safe seating is also important, especially for young children. A car should be child-seat or booster-seat friendly with child seat anchor points and safety belts all round.

Presence of multiple forward and side airbags though considered a supplementary safety feature is controversial when it comes to children. Airbags can sometimes cause serious injury if you are not secured by a primary restraint seat belt.

Ample forward facing seats are considered safer for children and the family than inward facing bench type seats. Multiple and quick access or exit points are considerations for family safe transport. Cars with four doors or easy to get in automatic sliding doors are a good choice for safety. The more safety systems a car offers, the better.

Modern cars come with plenty of safety features. Back up cameras and proximity sensors help to avoid accidentally running over toddlers. Autonomous braking and attention assist systems, which detect the speed of the car ahead of you and brakes automatically to slow or stop the car to avert a crash is also important. This technology can detect when you are overcome by fatigue and vibrate the steering to wake you up while deploying autonomous stopping to prevent collision. This and other technologies help keep the family safe.

Family comfortability considerations start with the vehicle size or shape. This will take into consideration the size of the family; in your case five passengers. So, a five-seater with flexible loading space and a favourable ground clearance for children (not so high) is ideal.

This may influence your decision to choose a mini SUV such as a RAV4, multi-purpose vehicle or minivan such as a Noah Voxy or lower clearance easier access Toyota Spacio or Wish; all concepts designed to offer the best solution to a family mover.

Car seating space takes into consideration flexible seat configuration, which may offer third rows, foldable or fold down seats to ramp up cargo space to accommodate child strollers, boosters, and toys and push carts, among others. Creative space planning in a car you want to buy should also provide storage boxes, storage nets, under seat bins as well as ample cup and bottle holders.

An easy to clean interior is also an important consideration if you have nursery or primary going children. You may have to upgrade your upholstery to seat covers that can be wiped without interfering with safety features such as child anchor points.

Family entertainment is also key. It helps to provide controlled and appropriate entertainment to keep the young passengers positively engaged. Nowadays, cars provide USB charging ports or wireless charging pads for rear passengers, DVD players, Android Apple play and Bluetooth; all designed to cater for family members with or without devices.

Fuel efficiency, reliability and maintenance cost are also crucial since they affect your family budget. It is useful to give some thought to the size of the engine, car make in terms of reliable, readily available and affordable after sales service and repair parts. Consider taking on a comprehensive family insurance policy that can cover any injury of family members or damage to the car in the unlikely event of a crash.

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