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The term ‘family car’ is a pretty broad one, potentially covering many different types of car, ranging from hatchbacks to people carriers (MPVs). Nonetheless, most of us probably instinctively know what is meant by the term ‘family car’. Or at least, we have a decent sense that a family car tends to be more about practicality and reliability, than outward style or performance.
Does that mean a family car has to be a mere ‘dull and worthy’, rather than exciting purchase? No, not really. But if you’re being responsible in your search for the right family car, perhaps having just welcomed a little one into your household, you will probably be thinking a lot more about such things as a given car’s price, number of seats, and safety ratings, than its 0-60 figure or whether there’s a convertible option.
What do we mean by ‘type’ of family car, anyway?
While the term ‘car type’ could conceivably refer to the manufacturer and model of a particular car, most of us probably better understand it as referring to the given vehicle’s body style or shape.
Traditionally, a lot of motorists trying to decide on the best choice of family car for them have gone for a hatchback such as a Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf. But depending on your own needs and circumstances, of course, you could go bigger or smaller than this.
For smaller families, for instance, a supermini such as the Vauxhall Corsa or Renault Clio could make a lot of sense. Or if you have a larger family – and therefore need a vehicle with as many as seven seats – a people carrier or MPV (the two terms are both valid, and mean the same thing) is probably the obvious body style to consider. Examples of well-regarded MPVs include the Ford Galaxy, Volkswagen Touran, and Citroën C4 SpaceTourer.
There are also plenty of saloons and estate cars that could reasonably be regarded as ‘family cars’. And in recent years, we’ve also seen the rise in popularity of the ‘SUV’ category for people other than those who need to do some hardcore mug-plugging from time to time. Vehicles of this body style, such as the Land Rover Discovery and Nissan X-Trail, tend to have high driving positions and a lot of cargo capacity.
The factors to consider when comparing the possibilities for a family car
Anyway, enough explanation – let’s start whittling down the best-suited options for you. What are the central factors that ought to influence your choice of family car, including the type or body style?
Here are the ones we’d pick out.
- Your budget. It may seem like an obvious one to mention, but you’d be surprised by how often even many families aren’t always responsible with their budget-setting when they are in the market for a car. So, whether you’re buying new or used, it’s crucial to do the sums and to be clear about exactly how much you can spend, and then stick to that budget.
- Your needs that give rise to this purchase. Sure, you might be using the car to get from A to B on a day-to-day basis, including for getting to and from work, and dropping off and picking up the kids at school. But how else do you expect to use the car, and what implications might this have for the body style you choose? If, for example, you expect to be going on camping adventures or embarking on holidays to more mountainous and/or isolated parts of the country or beyond, you might want to look less at superminis, and more at capable off-roaders (bearing in mind, too, that even a lot of SUVs are not very effective off-road).
- The amount of space you need. We touched on this factor above, but it’s not just a case of matching the number of family members to the number of seats in the car you’re considering buying. Also think about such things as whether you intend to have more kids in the future, how many prams you may need to carry around, whether you have any pets, and your likely shopping requirements. As a general rule, we would suggest you aim to buy a car with at least 300 litres of boot space.
- The running costs. We’re mentioning this additional to the point we made above about budget, because the month-by-month costs of driving the car will naturally feed into your financial calculations. So, whatever car you have your eye on, be sure to check such things as the probable tax, insurance and fuel costs.
- Safety. This is, of course, something you should be carefully considering when comparing cars even if you haven’t just welcomed a new arrival in the family. But safety becomes even more crucial when it won’t just be you in the car – so, be sure to check the Euro NCAP ratings of the models you’re looking at. A five-star rating would be the (literally) safest bet when you’re picking a new family car.
The above, of course, isn’t an exhaustive rundown of all the things prospective family car purchasers will need to think about, but it should provide an important template for your decision-making.
As for how you can make your family car purchase affordable, you can click here for deals on great car finance. So, even if you don’t have the best credit history, we might still be able to help you secure a car finance deal that could enable you to get behind the wheel of the family car you really want.