Monday 21st January 2013. Choosing the right car for your family

car
As families grow, their needs change – especially when it comes to finding the right car to carry children, pets and equipment in safety and comfort.

The appeal of a high-performance, low-slung model soon fades when faced with the reality of transporting pushchairs and bulky child-related equipment. Practicality becomes the prime consideration, taking into account the needs of each member of the family.

With so many models available, it can be difficult to choose the right car for your family. Here are a few things to bear in mind when you’re making this important decision:

Safety
Most families would agree that safety is the major consideration when transporting children. When you’re comparing different models with safety in mind, you might find it helpful to look online to find Euro NCAP ratings.

This is the standard which awards cars up to five stars for safety. The tests carried out to achieve the ratings look at all aspects of a car’s safety, including how well child occupants are protected in the event of a crash.

Air bags are a standard safety feature, but can be dangerous if you need to carry a baby or young child in a car seat fitted to the front passenger seat. You might want to look for a model that allows you to turn off the airbag.

Size  
When you’re faced with a growing family and its gear, it’s tempting to think the bigger the better when choosing a car. But shape and ease of access are  equally important – good design can go a long way towards ensuring comfortable journeys.

If you’re unsure whether to opt for a hatchback or a saloon, remember that hatchbacks can offer easier loading for pushchairs. It’s a good idea to take along your pram or pushchair and try before you buy. Pets, too, can usually be carried more safely in a hatchback.

Rear doors that open as wide as possible are very helpful, as anyone who has installed a child seat will know. Installing a child in its seat is also much easier when you have room to manoeuvre. Good access to the back seat is also useful if you carry adult passengers on a regular basis.

Families with three or more young children needing car seats might want to consider a people carrier or one of the larger 4x4s. Some models have sliding rear doors, offering convenient access to the back seat.

Running costs
When you’re driving on a family budget, running costs are important. You can get a good idea of how much it will cost to run the car of your choice by doing some homework before you part with your cash.

The price of fuel is significant, especially if you’re planning long family trips, so look at fuel consumption when you’re comparing models. ‘Greener’ cars are designed to be fuel efficient, and have the added bonus of carrying a reduced road fund tax.

Finding the right car insurance cover for your family’s needs is a major factor. Get a car insurance quote before you buy a car, as insurance premium costs could influence your final decision.

Author Bio:
Jan Chapman writes on a range of topics including family matters and car insurance. Her interests include food and wine and driving in the countryside.

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