Buying the perfect car for your family is a tall order. Unlike choosing a car for yourself, you need to take varied (and sometimes contradictory) priorities into account. From the school run, to your next family vacation, is there a car out there that can tick all your boxes?
To help you make your comparisons, here’s a roundup of the most popular family car body types, and their pros and cons.
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A hatchback is a vehicle that has a boot that spans the full width of the car. The trunk is hinged at the roof of the car, and flips upwards to allow you to access to the trunk. Technically, the boot lid is considered one of the car’s doors, which takes the tally of doors up to either three or five.
The wide-opening lid of the trunk will enable ease of access for unloading the kids’ school bags, your grocery shopping, a child stroller, or the dog. The seats at the back can usually be folded down for extra packing space when needed. Whether you need to fit a couple of skis or your teenager’s Ikea furniture when they move off to college, you’ll be amazed by how much you can cram into a hatchback with the seats folded flat.
Hatchbacks come in all shapes and sizes. Some top sellers include the Ford Fiesta, the Ford Focus, and the Ford Mondeo. These three vehicles range in size from small to large, making the Ford Mondeo both a popular choice in general, and an excellent choice for a family.
If space matters to your family, you might consider buying an estate. Essentially, an estate gives you the versatility of a hatchback with the additional trunk space allowed by an extended body. Some models provide the possibility of extra space for additional passengers, too.
Extra storage means the car is super practical for day-to-day life, especially if you have a few kids. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that because estates are longer than other models, your family car might be a little tricky to maneuver. This may not be an issue for you, but if you have teenagers who will be learning to drive soon, an estate might pose challenges for learner drivers. (On the other hand, maybe teaching your teen to drive in a difficult-to-park car is the best way to ensure that they develop excellent parking skills!)
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If you value style on top of space concerns, you might like the sound of a super-trendy SUV. You have the choice of either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, so if you’re the kind of family that is just as at home on the dirt track as the strip to the mall, the SUV could be for you. Whether you’re canoeing or heading out for a weekend of camping, there isn’t much that you could throw at an SUV that it could not handle. These much sought after cars sit slightly higher up on the road, making it easier for you to see, and providing extra space in the back seat for kids, grandparents, dogs, and other passengers!
You’ll have a few size options to choose from. The more compact SUVs such as the Citroën C3 Aircross—popular for its smooth feel and elegant design—or if you need something bigger, you can go all the way up to a 7 seater, like a Volvo XC90. Other well-regarded options are the Volkswagen Tiguan, the Nissan X-Trail, and the Mercedes GLS-Class.
Buy Two Vehicles
Yes. That’s right: sometimes there is no single perfect family car. Especially if you are a two-car family anyway, it can make a lot of sense to see those two vehicles as two separate opportunities to meet different, yet important, requirements for your family vehicle. For example, if school economy is crucial for your school run, but you only have two kids, a hatchback could be the perfect run-around, allowing you to zip through traffic, grab that tight parking space at the grocery store, and saving you money on fuel. Running a fuel-efficient car might enable you to invest in a second vehicle that is purely for leisure. Whether you spend that extra budget on the best mattress for an rv or a roof-rack and off-road tyres for your 4X4, it can be freeing not to demand that your family car be everything in one.
Whether you have one child or five—not to mention pets—finding the perfect family car can be a challenge. This roundup of the most popular family vehicles should help you narrow down your options and work out which body-type might work best for you.