When your family starts expanding, your small hatchback might start to feel a little cramped. If you’re jammed up against the steering wheel in order to get the baby capsule in, it’s probably time for an upgrade to a more suitable family vehicle.
When in the market for a new family car, there are some things you should consider before making a purchase:
What is your budget?
How much are you willing to spend upfront? While the latest BMW does look tempting, remember that expensive vehicles are typically more costly to maintain, and parts needed for your services will be pricey. Then there’s your insurance – even with the advantage of being a good driver with no history of taking out a claim, you will still pay more per year for a high-end luxury car.
On the other hand, cheaper models may put you and your family’s safety at risk. Often, luxury models are equipped with more safety features. Though, this is not always the case. According to ANCAP ratings, the safest cars of 2018 were the Toyota Corolla, Mercedes Benz A-Class and Holden Acadia.
Petrol, diesel… or even alternatively powered vehicles, which is better?
The average motorist will spend over $100,000 on fuel over their lifetime! That’s frightening, isn’t it! So which is cheaper? If you look at pure running costs alone, a diesel vehicle is cheaper; but they attract a higher tax which could offset any savings you were set to make.
As a general rule of thumb, a diesel vehicle might be the better choice if you do a lot of mileage and distance driving. If most of your journeys are short local mileage a petrol car might be more suitable.
If you have a little more money to spend, a lot of electric vehicles are entering the market and have the ability to save you a LOT of money on fuel. We’ve got a great article that explores cars that run on fuel alternatives so if you’re considering going green, check out our article for more info.
Consider how much room you need.
Having a family means having to cart a LOT of stuff around everywhere you go. You should evaluate how many seats you’ll need; but also make sure you have plenty of boot space to hold a pram, any toys, as well as your shopping and other essentials.
Check you have adequate child seat anchorage points and that they are easy enough to access. But before you settle on a big old 7-seater mum-bus, double-check you’ll have enough wiggle room in your garage for your new wheels.
What safety features are you looking for?
Modern cars come equipped with a multitude of advanced vehicle safety features these days. From automatic emergency braking to pedestrian detection, and blind-spot monitoring, our cars are becoming more and more helpful in making sure you get from A to B unscathed.
To evaluate the safety of your potential new car there are helpful websites online like ANCAP and howsafeisyourcar.com.
Should you get a used car or a new car?
Getting a new car isn’t the be all and end all. There are plenty of used vehicles for sale with low mileage that have been well looked after. By choosing a used or demo vehicle you can make some considerable savings. To guarantee you are getting the safest used car, RACQ has produced a comprehensive guide of the safest used cars available.
If you choose a used car it’s a good idea to run a check if there’s any money owing on the car, as this can nasty surprise can get you in a bit of trouble. This search can be done through the Personal Properties Security Register (PPSR) and costs only $2 to do online.
Another important check you should undertake upon purchasing a used car is the car’s history. For under $40, you get a report that outlines if the car has been stolen, damaged, or written-off. You’ll also see the car’s ANCAP safety rating, emissions rating, and an accurate odometer reading. These are all important factors that may influence your purchasing decisions.
Additional Features to look out for
- When you’re taxi-ing little ones around it’s a good idea to look for a vehicle with UV protection. Tinted windows are a great extra that can block almost 100% of harmful UVA and UVB rays to protect your family and your vehicle interior.
- Inbuilt DVD players are an investment you won’t regret when you’re doing long stints of driving with little people. Also, look out for inbuilt 12-volt power sockets for electronic devices.
- Light coloured finishes. Dark coloured cars retain more interior heat than lighter colours. During the sweltering summer heat, a black car’s cabin will measure nearly 20 degrees hotter than that of the white car after a few hours in the sun. Lighter coloured cars also cool down quicker than darker cars once the aircon is cranked. As children (particularly babies) are more sensitive to heat this is an important consideration for their health.
Once you’ve settled on these decisions, you might like to start looking around for what’s on the market. For many, this stage can be a bit overwhelming. There’s a lot of information to sort through. To help you reach a decision, we’ve compiled a list of the best family-friendly cars across various categories.
Best 7-seater family car:
We’re actually going to one-up this category and raise you one seat. That’s right, we’re giving you eight seats for the price of seven! That’s enough room to fit your kids, their friends, a pet or two, and your golf clubs.
The winner for this kid-friendly category is the Kia Carnival at a reasonable price point of $42,490 for 2019 model. Not only does this car look sleek, but it is equipped with some handy tech. Enjoy smartphone connectivity, heated seats, JBL premium sound system, electronic parking brake, 8-speed auto transmission, and heaps of other features.
The best luxury SUV:
The Audi Q7 is fancy five-seater oozes style and luxe with leather upholstery, rearview mirror auto-dimming, lane change warnings, rain-sensing wipers, anti-lock braking, BlueTooth connectivity, a multifunction display, child seat anchor points and so much more.
Most fuel-efficient family car:
Fuel efficiency is a winning feature in the long term, particularly if you do a lot of driving and cover fair distances. The attractive Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV features a 2L petrol tank + plug-in hybrid engine! This efficient vehicle uses only 1.9L of petrol over 100km. In comparison, the Peugeot 3008 GT is an all petrol car with a 2L tank and uses 4.8L per 100kms – which in itself is actually considered fuel-efficient.
You will pay a little bit more for such efficiency, with the Outlander priced from $50,490. If efficiency is important to you Carsguide has put together a list of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market today in various categories.
The safest family car in 2019:
With so many vehicles on our roads now, safety really is everything. Sporting a 5-star ANCAP Safety Rating the 2019 Honda Odyssey gets our top spot for the safest family car. With too many safety features to list including; but not limited to:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Blind spot sensors
- Lane departure warning
- Road departure mitigation system
- Lane-keep assist
- Self-parking capability
If that doesn’t sound safe enough the Odyssey is also fitted with eight airbags! According to the Redbook evaluation information on this vehicle you’re looking at $47,590 new, $39,900 – $43,300 via private sale or $33,700 – $37,100 trade-in.
BONUS: Honda really has thought of everything. This model features an integrated vacuum which makes clean up a breeze when you have little expert mess-makers on board.
Car with the best tech:
If you love to tech out when you hit the bitumen, the 2019 Mazda 3 5-seat sedan might be your perfect companion. Compact yet suitable for a small family, this vehicle starts at only $24,990 new and has a bunch of fun gadgets for you to play with.
- 8.8-inch screen with smartphone capability
- Active driving display on the windscreen
- Heated seats and steering wheel
- Reverse camera with a 360-degree display
- Bose sound system
- Commander control (voice control)
- Satellite navigation
Not only is she techy, but she’s also big on safety too with blind-spot monitoring, driver attention alert, dynamic stability control and intelligent speed assistance plus a whole lot of other great safety features.
Most affordable family car:
At the end of the day, all families really want is a reliable, safe, and comfortable family vehicle that meets their personal needs. Buying a new family car doesn’t have to break the bank! Our top pick for the most affordable family car cruising the car yards… Mazda CX-3 2019. Winner!
This good looking hunk of polished metal is classified as a small SUV and drives out of the showroom for only $25,456. The great thing about this vehicle according to RACV’s cheapest family cars to own and operate is that it only costs about $158.47 to run per week. That’s compared to $254.14 for a standard SUV. The RACV survey takes into account all expenses associated with normal car ownership including purchase price, interest, fuel, servicing, new tyres, insurance and depreciation.
Take your time and test drive!
Never purchase a vehicle without taking it for a spin. It’s important to get a good feel for how the car drives. You’re carrying precious cargo with your family on board, it’s best you choose a vehicle that is just right for your needs.
Once you’ve found the perfect wheels; put those haggling skills to good use and bag yourself a great deal. We hope you enjoy car shopping and that your family has many adventures in your new car for years to come.