Written by: David Willis
Admit it: The days of driving around in a two-seater convertible with the wind in your hair are over. You never got around to building a kit car, and with a family to think of there’s no chance of that American classic now. So what car should you buy? What can you drive that looks good, is economical but most importantly keeps the family safe and comfortable on the road? What is the perfect family car? We’ve done our homework so you don’t have to, so, before going anywhere near garages and showrooms check out our guide to choosing the best family cars on the market.
Before we get down to specifics, though, it’s worth thinking about the rationale that led to our top choices: The foremost factor to consider has to be size. How big is your family? Do you really need a large car or an estate car when a smaller when will suffice? Are you planning on extending your family anytime soon? These are some of the questions to consider when thinking about the size car you require. The size of a car will determine a great deal in terms of comfort and usability, so make sure you have a clear idea of your size requirements when looking at your options.
Another crucial feature is, of course, safety. Now that you have your loved ones on the road with you, their wellbeing is paramount, and you’ll be a far more confident and happy motorist if you can rest assured that your car is up to scratch in the safety department. When choosing a car, ensure that the model has implemented all the necessary safety features into its design. At a basic level, these are things like air bags, head restraints, an antilock brake system (ABS) and smart seatbelt reminders.
However, many models now offer advanced safety features such as tyre pressure monitoring systems, electronic stability control and lane keeping technology. So take these things into account when making a decision, ask your car dealer for information on safety features and don’t get frustrated by technological jargon – ask questions and make sure that you understand the specific features of a car before you make a decision.
Take your whole family with you
When looking for an ideal family car, it is a good idea to take the family with you; after all it involves them as well. It sounds like common sense but many people fail to try before they buy. Taking the family to try out a prospective purchase is the only way to know for sure that the model is a suitable choice.
Another factor to take into consideration is cost: Cars are not cheap, but you can save money in the long run by purchasing one that’s cost effective. If you have a family, the last thing you want is a fuel guzzling machine that you have to fill up every time you come back from the school run. Look at ratings and statistics on fuel efficiency, and again ask questions. Find out which cars are economically friendly and all round good value for money. Other things which fall under the cost category include maintenance and car insurance. You can get an idea of maintenance costs by learning about the car manufacturer and model and by discussing this with your dealer before making a decision. You should also get an insurance quote for the model before buying, so that you can take this cost into account. In terms of saving cash, it really does pay to do a little research.
Make a family car list
Last on the list of things to consider are special features: These days many cars have the capacity for technology and entertainment, coming with all sorts of bonuses such as iPod docks and built in DVD players. These are excellent, fun bonuses but do not allow these gadgets to become a primary focus. Once you’re happy that a car has all the main features you require, then it’s safe to get all excited about gizmos and gadgets.
A good idea of what would best suit your family should help you make an informed decision and ensure that the car buying experience is a good one – but to give you a nudge in the right direction here is a summary of our top family cars:
1: Ford Mondeo Hatchback
This car made it to the top of the list for its all round appeal. It is smooth, comfortable and spacious and is quite simply a great drive. Statistics show that this car is one of the safest on the road, but the drive speaks louder than the ratings in this family-orientated model.
2: Skoda Superb
Skoda has come up with a design that has given rivals a run for their money with this well designed, efficient model. The Superb has a range of desirable attributes and apart from looking stylish it has great composure, handling beautifully for a car of its size.
The following cars are also contenders for the best family car, making excellent alternatives to our top models.
3: Ford C Max
4: Toyota Auris
5: Honda Accord
6: Honda Civic
7: Mazda 6
8: Seat Leon
9: Hyundai i40
10: Citroen DS5