Top Tips for Buying a Family Car

Buying a family car can be difficult. We all know that second-hand options are better; after all, they’re cheaper, don’t contain an oasis of spotless leather and clean fabric for little hands to dirty and are generally easier to get hold of. But when it comes to the choice between different models, the decision is harder. Rather than looking at simple reliability and how nicely a car drives, you need to consider its practicality for all members of the family. Children, parents and pets all need to play their part in your decision making. Here are five things to look for in your next family car.


At first instance, you might be fooled into believing that saloon cars are bigger than hatchbacks and therefore give you more room. Don’t be deceived into thinking that this makes them a better family car. Saloons lack the flexibility of hatchbacks, and can be a nightmare for loading pushchairs and prams, due to their narrow openings and high load lips. It’s a good idea to take your pram or pushchair with you when you view a car to make sure that it will fit. Hatchbacks are also great for transporting dogs and other pets, whereas saloons aren’t so accommodating for your furry friends.

Wide-Opening Doors

It’s a no-brainer that five doors are better for families than three. What a lot of people forget to check is how wide these extra doors open. When viewing a car, check that the back doors pull wide enough for you to install a car seat and get younger children in and out of the car. Sliding rear doors, as found on some MPVs, are the ideal option, offering convenient access even in cramped car parks.

Passenger Airbags Which Can Be Switched Off

Many car seats for very young babies will be rear-facing and have to be strapped into the passenger seat. If you have such a carrier, it’s essential that you choose a car with the option to deactivate the front left airbag. Although it’s recommended that you avoid front-seat baby carriers and stick to ones which go in the back, if you own one you need to be able to switch off the airbag yourself rather than having to ask a garage or dealer to do it. You want to make sure that it can be turned back on when other passengers are travelling with you in the front.

High Euro NCAP Ratings

Before buying a car, take a look at its Euro NCAP score. These scores give an indication of the car’s crash safety and the protection it offers to children. You might also want to look at the vehicle’s pedestrian protection score, because if you’re likely to use the car on the school run you’re going to be especially keen to minimise the risk of hurting someone if you hit them. A 2.5 tonne SUV might not be ideal…


As loathe as you might be to start driving around in a people carrier, if you have three young children, all needing to be seated in child car seats, MPVs and some of the larger 4x4s are your only safe options for transporting the entire family. Although cars with two fold-up seats in the back might seem like a preferable option, they severely restrict boot space and so are impractical if you regularly transport seven people.

To find an extensive selection of used cars, try checking out a site such as or, if you’d prefer a helping hand, go to a reputable dealer for some good, honest advice and help choosing a suitable vehicle. They’ll know which models make perfect family cars and can help you choose something to suit the whole family.

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