Buying a Family-Friendly Car

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Picking out a car in itself can be exhausting and overwhelming, add in the fact that you’ll be transporting your precious cargo and all their gear (kids come with A LOT of gear) and it’s a whole new ballgame. There are thousands of cars on the market ranging in size, functionality and most importantly, safety. And finding the right one for your family can be tough. You want the best of the best. The one with the highest safety ratings. Good on gas with plenty of space to fit your whole family comfortably. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could type everything on your check list into a computer and that exact car pops out…without costing you a fortune?! So how do you pick?

When we started car shopping for a family car after my first was born we knew we wanted something big enough and something safe…very safe. We looked at a ton of cars, mostly SUV’s and decided on a Toyota Highlander. It seemed like the perfect family car. It was the highest rated in safety, great on gas and spacious. Or it was spacious enough at the time. Now with two kids that are getting older, we are realizing how fast we are out growing the car and how many things we overlooked when we purchased.

We hear “third row seating” and think “awesome! Plenty of space!” But is it? That’s exactly what we said at the dealership, but what we should have done was asked to see the car with the third row pulled up. When it’s up there is no trunk and getting to that row is an obstacle. You can pull a lever on the seat in the second row so it falls forward BUT if you’re like us and have car seats installed in row two, that’s simply not an option. You’re only other option is to open the trunk and climb over the seat that way.

The trunk space isn’t as big as other SUV’s either. Most people, like us, don’t do much research on trunk space. Packing up for our yearly family beach vacation is quite the tight squeeze. Think about all the stuff a baby and kid come with! Strollers, pack-n-plays, toys…the list is never ending & that’s not counting the actual suitcases for everyone! And naturally as your kids get older they may want to bring a friend, so there’s another person with more luggage.

So much goes into finding a family-friendly car and there are so many options. Once you’ve decided on a budget, think about how long you want to drive the car. If you’re fine with buying and selling your car every couple of years, maybe it’s an easier decision for you. However, if you’re like the rest of us and don’t want to deal with car shopping repeatedly and forever having a car payment, then you may want to spend a little extra time looking into the smaller details of car buying until you’ve found one that fits your families needs.

Here are a few things I find to be important when car shopping for that perfect family car:

  • Keep in mind kids grow. Families grow. Car seats are big and bulky. Find something in size that accommodates your growing family, not just something that fits your newborn.
  • Trunk space. Trunk space. Trunk space. Sure, it can hold a massive stroller, but can it hold anything else when that stroller is in there?
  • Do you really need third row seating? If your answer is yes, make sure you haven’t completely lost all your cargo space.
  • Accessibility. Make sure you can get to all seats easily…jumping over the seats through the trunk is fun for only so long.
  • Gas mileage (especially in an SUV). I’m constantly in my car driving my kids around. To school, from school, to gymnastics, to soccer, to cheerleading, to birthday parties…you get the point.
  • Safety. This a a given, whether it’s a car for your whole family or just you. We want to be safe. Find out where all the airbags are. Does it have side air bags? or just front? Does it have roll over bars in the roof in case of a roll over crash. We want top notch in safety for our family.

Before shelling out all that money, make sure the car you decide on makes sense for your family. cars.com is an excellent source in helping to make your decision easier from start to finish. It even tells you exactly what dealerships in your area have for inventory! Genius! That way once you’ve made your decision you can walk right into that dealership knowing exactly what you want. A quick and easy visit to the dealership? Your family will thank you.