Ideally, you’d probably love to speed around town in your two-door BMW. Alas, you have a family, so a two-door BMW might not be a vehicle best equipped for taking the kids to school, or driving them to soccer practice, or picking up enough groceries to feed the whole family for a week.

When you’re shopping for a family car, you need to find a vehicle that’s going to best serve everyone’s daily needs, and which is also going to accommodate everyone on longer road journeys. Here are a few guidelines to help you find the best car for the whole family.

Find a Vehicle That’s Roomy

One of the most important aspects of your new family car is that it should be roomy. If you’re going to fit the kids (and maybe even the family dog) in the backseat, then there should be enough room for everyone to fit comfortably.

Just because there are three seats in the back doesn’t mean that it can comfortably hold a family of five. Your kids shouldn’t feel crammed in the backseat, with everyone’s elbows shoved into each other’s gut. The seats should be wide enough so that everyone feels that have enough arm resting space. There also should be lots of leg space in the front seat and back seats.

Unless you’re homeschooling your children, you’re probably going to drive them to school every day. Even if these journeys are short, you might eventually have to take the family for a longer drive, and nobody likes to be crammed in a small vehicle for hours at a time. 

Safety First

Safety is definitely the most important thing, and your family car should have plenty of features that will protect you and your passengers in the event of a sudden stop or collision. Some of these features might be built in under the hood, like automatic ignition kill or driveline traction control. Selecting great tires for your car is also a must. But some of the most important safety features will be installed in the cabin. There should be airbags in the front seats and side or knee airbags in the passenger seats. Airbags can sometimes be harmful to young children, so these vehicles should give you the option of deactivating these airbags when necessary.

At the beginning of this post, we joked about a luxury car not being quite right for a family vehicle. In reality, though, luxury vehicles often have the best safety features. They’re expensive for a reason: they’re built with more advanced structural and interior collision control features that provide more protection for passengers. You always want to make the safety of your family a top priority so it might be a good idea to test drive some vehicles at a Mercedes-Benz or Audi dealership near you.

If you’re going to buy a used vehicle, make sure that you get it carefully inspected by an auto mechanic so you know that its brakes and tires are in good shape, and also look out for windshield cracks, which could severely hamper the effectiveness of your windshield in a collision. 

Entertainment Matters

When you’re traveling with your family on a long road trip, you can count on your kids to get bored during the journey. You don’t want to deal with them constantly asking you, “Are we there yet?” so you might consider getting a family vehicle that has built-in DVD screens. You should also get a vehicle that has good speakers because your family will inevitably want to play their favorite tunes.

For a family car, an entertainment system borders between a must-have and a nice-to-have. If you can’t find the right vehicle that has built-in entertainment features, you could always buy a portable DVD player to bring with you on long car rides. Or, you can set your kids up with a tablet, or better yet, a Nook.

Make Sure There’s Ample Storage Space

Your family vehicle needs a lot of storage space for a variety of reasons. First, you’re going to have to fit the entire family’s luggage when you go on road trips. Second, you’re going to need to fit the massive amount of groceries that you buy on your monthly Costco trip. Third, you might need space to fit your kid’s helmets, shoulder pads, and lacrosse sticks when you’re picking them up from practice. Make sure that your family vehicle has lots of pouches, a large trunk, and backseat chairs that fold down so you can fit longer items.

Kids in the back of a car

It might seem impossible to find the perfect family vehicle, but if you keep these tips in mind while you’re shopping, you’ll get a car that everyone loves driving in.

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Family with dog in a car.

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Contributing Author

This article was written by a contributing author.