The family car buying guide: How to choose the perfect vehicle

21 August 2020 Blog

Our family car buying guide will help steer you towards the car that’s a great match for you, your partner, and your kids.

While you may have previously bought cars based on how fun they were to drive or what special features they had, buying a car for the family is different, with plenty more things to consider – from the number of seats to the on-board safety features.

What makes the ideal family car?

Not sure where to begin your search for a car that’s fit for your family? Here’s a checklist of things to look for when deciding on the perfect make and model:

  • Reliable
  • Economical
  • Plenty of space
  • Excellent safety rating
  • Good build quality
  • Affordably priced
  • Practical

What should I consider when buying a family car?

Safety

Safety is always important, but when you’re carrying the precious cargo that is your family, it’s absolutely paramount. Most modern cars have a decent safety spec, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one that meets your needs.

The easiest way to find a car with excellent safety credentials is to find out its Euro NCAP rating. This is the European standard for car safety, with models graded from 0-5 depending on their on-board safety features and performance in crash tests.

For family cars, we’d always recommend buying a car with 5 Euro NCAP rating. That way, you know your family is as protected as they can be out on the road – for total peace of mind.

Budget

Cars built for a family tend to be more expensive than smaller city cars, so your budget may need to stretch further if you want a car that ticks all the boxes above. Of course, it is possible to buy affordable family cars, but you’ll need to be savvy with your search to find a model that meets your requirements with plenty of space for the whole family.

Think carefully about how much you can afford before you hit the forecourt. Doing the sums before you start your search will help you stick to a sensible budget, and not get carried away and overspend. It’ll also make your search simpler, narrowing the field of options so you have a ballpark figure when you start looking at different models.

Using finance to buy your perfect family car is another option, which will allow you to buy a newer or higher specification model whilst spreading the cost of the purchase.

Functionality

Functionality may come behind space and number of seats when choosing a family car, but it’s still worth considering what kind of features a car has.

Added extras like smartphone integration and touch screen infotainment systems for rear-seat passengers are useful nice-to-haves for keeping everyone entertained on long journeys, while systems like Ford’s excellent MyKey (which allows you to set restricted driving mode settings) are great if you plan to lend your car to your teenager.

Practicality

Durability and ease of cleaning

With stains, tears, scratches, pet hairs and dauby little fingerprints to contend with, whichever car you choose needs to be durable and hard wearing enough to stand up to everyday wear and tear. Finding a car with decent build quality at an affordable price can be tricky, but paying a little more could help in the long-term if the interior stays looking its best for longer.

We’d also recommend a car that’s easy to clean, with minimal nooks and crannies where dirt and grime can build up. Material choice is important too, with leather seats being stain and water resistant, and some plastics being less prone to scratches and marks than others.

Seats

The number of seats a car has is an important consideration when choosing a family car – especially if you have a growing brood! There’s no point buying a five-seater if you’re hoping to extend your family with a new arrival later down the road, so think carefully about how many seats you need both now and in the future.

If you need space for a big family or may in the future, an SUV or estate with optional six and seven-seat configurations is a great choice. A lot of SUVs have folding rear seats, so they’re there when you need them.

Space

As well as the number of bums you can fit on seats, you also want a car that can fit all the extras that go alongside day to day family life, such as prams, pets, shopping bags, bikes and more. There will also be times where you need to fit luggage in if you’re planning trips away.

You ideally want to look for cars with a minimum of 300 litres of boot space to comfortably fit you, the kids and everything in between. The Ford Kuga is a great option with a 456L boot (expanding to 1653L when the seats are put down), as well as the Seat Leon Sports Tourer, offering a generous 587L (increasing to 1470L when you put the seats down). If you’re after a smaller familiar car, the VW Polo comes with a 351L boot, increasing to 1125L when you put the seats down.

Folding rear seats on SUVs are again a good option, available when you need them, with the ability to be folded away should you need the extra space.

Reliability

If you’re out doing your weekly shop with the kids, an unplanned breakdown is not what you need, so reliability is key. Newer cars will offer you more reliability, having had fewer previous owners and less wear and tear.

Nearly new cars are a great option if your budget won’t stretch to a brand new car. You can get the make and model that you want, often saving an average of 40% on the original list price. They also come with lower mileage (generally under 30,000), and some of the original manufacturers warranty still remaining.

Economical

Further questions you should ask yourself when looking for your family car are the vehicle’s fuel economy and other running costs such as tax, insurance and the type of driving you will be doing in the car.

A car considered as having good fuel economy is anything between 50-60mpg. This will provide you with an efficient vehicle with lower running costs.

Which Are The Best Family Cars To Consider?

Need a little helping hand knowing which family cars to consider first? Below, we’ve listed 6 of the best cars for families.

Volkswagen Golf

If you’re not quite ready to give up on hatchbacks just yet, you can’t go wrong with a VW Golf. The Golf is spacious and practical enough for a family of five, with none of the trade-offs which come with bigger, more ungainly cars. Plus, the Golf is one of the best made and most durable cars in its class, so it’ll put up with whatever your family throws its way.

Vauxhall Astra

One of the most stylish family hatchbacks on the road, the Astra is both economical and reliable making it a firm favourite in the family car market. It ticks all the boxes; plenty of space, decent-sized boot, seats comfortable enough for both driving around town and longer motorway journeys, plus a 5-star NCAP rating. 

Citroen C3

The ideal run-around for those big supermarket shops, you’ll avoid those dents and scrapes with the rubberised plastic on the Citroen C3. The simple-to-use technology makes it easy to get from A to B in comfort and style. Add to that, versatille seating arrangements and plenty of space in the front, it’s great for a growing family.

 

Hyundai Tucson

If you’re looking for an SUV at an affordable price point, the Hyundai Tucson is definitely worth adding to your list. Not only does it offer great value for money, the spacious interior offers plenty of room for growing legs. Choose from a range of trim options, from the base model SE to the top of the range Ultimate.

Ford Focus

The Ford Focus has long been the go-to car for many families, and the latest iteration proves why it’s still a frontrunner for the claim of Britain’s best family car. Comfortable, practical and with plenty of space for a family of five and their dog, the Focus is also fun to drive with lots of clever features – so there’s zero trade-offs and plenty of fun plus points for drivers.

BMW 3 Series

If you want a family car that’s comfortable enough for everyone whilst still being devilishly fun to drive, look no further than a BMW. Basically, any BMW would make an excellent family car, including the smallest 1 Series, but we’ve opted for the 3 Series for its combination of space, practicality and performance. Because it’s an estate, there’s ample room for any four-legged friends as well as your luggage, while the 5 Euro NCAP rating and BMW’s legendary build quality should inspire confidence out on the road.

Whatever you’re looking for from your next family car, you’ll find it with Motorpoint. Our collection of nearly new and used cars has everything, from hatchbacks to SUVs, so you can find the make and model to suit your family’s needs. Browse all our vehicles or call us on 01332 426 514.