Ask LH: What Should I Look For In A Family Car?

Dear Lifehacker, Me and my wife are in the market for a new car. We are also getting ready to start a family. What car would you recommend that is suitable for an expanding brood? Thanks, Sire Of Beings

Family car picture from Shutterstock

Dear SOB,

This largely depends on the amount of kids you plan on having. If you foresee a whole troupe of rugrats in your future, a minivan or similarly plus-sized vehicle might be the way to go.

If you're thinking of the more traditional "2.5", get something with a spacious boot, preferably a hatchback — this will be indispensable when it comes to packing for holidays and carting around prams. Just be mindful that some hatchbacks aren't designed for baby seats. That said, getting an anchor point professionally installed usually isn't too difficult.

You also need to consider whether you want to stay in the new car market or not. If you want your car to last you ten-to-twenty years, you obviously need to plan ahead to ensure it's suitable for currently non-existent family members. However, if you're planning to upgrade every few years, this wont be an issue. (Tarmac Rally Champion Samantha Stevens offers some good car buying and selling tips here.)

Otherwise, the most important consideration is safety — check out the safety records of the models you're considering.

We'll leave it up to our readers to nominate specific models. Let SOB know which cars are perfect for families in the comments section below.

See also: 30 Essential Things You Should Keep In Your Car | How Can I Make Travelling With Kids Less Of A Nightmare

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    We bought a Kia Grand Carnival before 3rd child was born. It would easily fit all 3 baby / booster seats in second row. When my sister visited with her kids, we had 5 baby seats and could still take 3 adults.
    6 years on and we now also have a dog. We remove the middle seat in second row for the pooch and use seats in 3rd row.

      I have one of these too - 3 months of research, test-driving, etc. Also have 3 kids (2 still in child restraints). Not to overstate it - BEST FRICKEN PURCHASE EVER. It goes (V6) it was cheap, its never had a mechanical issue, everything wipes down, lots of storage and cup-holders. I may be in love with this vehicle.

    There will be many opinions on what is the best car, and I'm not going to buy into that argument except to say my Toyota Camry, while an unexciting car does a good job of getting my small family around, is a reasonable price and has plenty of space.

    For those wanting to get by with a smaller car, they should consider that when you have a baby in a rear-facing car seat, that generally means the passenger seat (or drivers seat if you get twins) will need to be moved forward. If you have a smaller hatchback, and tall parents, then this can be quite uncomfortable!

    I'd advise only buying the car that will cover you for your current needs, with an eye on future value in the next 3 - 5 years if you need to upgrade later on. Also it'll give you the flexibility of keeping the first smaller vehicle as the all essential second run-about needed for modern living.

    The days of everyone crowding into the commodore or falcon with faux-leather PVC seats have long gone. Even with one child you'll be needing to look at a SUV to carry baby in her child seat, stroller, changes of clothes, bottles, plus all the other stuff just the two of you used to have. Something along the lines of a Nissan X-Trail, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Forester, Hyundai iX30. These will give you enough space + the family dog in a cage or another two adults (at a squeeze) in the back.

    Once the second and third kids come along you'll be wanting something like a Ford Territory, Toyota Highlander (Kluger), Hyundai Santa Fae, Nissan Patrol, or Kia Grand Carnival. At this point you might also need to look at a roof rack or take the deep dark plunge in to mini-van ownership.

    Renault Scenic - hands down.

    Nice to drive with great visibility. Ultra practical, with storage everywhere. Blinds in the rear window. Rear seats mounted higher so the kids can see (and be seen). Isofix points on front and rear seats. All seats are removable.

    It's the most flexible car I've driven

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