Woman’s Day (Australia)
How to CHOOSE THE RIGHT FAMILY CAR
Moving to a bigger vehicle is a big commitment! Here’s what to look for...
Whether you’re raising a new family, or find that you’re often helping out with the grandkids, there can come a time when the old small car just doesn’t cut it any more. Yep, it’s time to consider a new set of wheels to accommodate those extra family members. Here are a few things to consider when making the transition...
You have probably heard of an ANCAP rating, but what does it mean? Well, it stands for the Australasian New Car Assessment Program. It’s a car safety performance evaluation that crash tests vehicles sold in Australia.
Vehicles are awarded an ANCAP rating of between zero and five stars indicating the level of safety they provide in the event of a collision.
The more stars, the safer your vehicle. To achieve the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, a vehicle must achieve the highest standards in all tests and feature advanced safety assist technologies to help prevent an accident. Obviously safety is paramount when kids are involved, so when looking for a family car, go for a vehicle with five stars.
Whether it’s making space for prams, car restraints, school bags, musical instruments or sporting equipment, ask yourself how much storage you’ll need. This is usually expressed in litres. Also ask: Do the rear seats fold down to improve cargo space? Most importantly, does the boot accommodate a pram or a set of golf clubs if you need it to?
CONSIDER AN SUV OR PEOPLE-MOVER
There is a reason SUVS are the car of choice at the school drop off/pick-up zone. Their upright driving position offers better visibility over traffic. Their height means they are easier to get in and out of with
kids and shopping – you’ll do your back in twisting and lowering a snoozing baby into a low car. SUVS generally hold more stuff.
Also consider people-movers. Their sliding doors are brilliant when it comes to ushering kids into the car. Not to mention eliminating dinged doors in the car park! If you’re a parent or grandparent, it’s also likely that you’ll have to ferry around extra unexpected passengers, such as school friends or sporting groups.
GO FOR TOP-SHELF TECH
If you’ve ever tried to reverse park with three screaming kids in the back and prams and groceries obscuring your view you’ll know that children equal distraction! Chuck in sleep deprivation and you have a recipe for a bingle.
For this reason, top-shelf tech is all important. While I am yet to trust auto park, always invest in a vehicle with quality reversing cameras, sensors, radar cruise control and lane assist.
Smartphone mirroring, head-up display for freeway driving, voice control that works well and good Bluetooth are also useful. Connectivity is important and will reduce any chance you’ll fiddle with your phone – which is, of course, illegal, but still tempting when you’re busy.
DON’T IGNORE CONVENIENCE & COMFORT IN THE BACK
Consider a vehicle that has multiple USB charging ports. Everyone has a device now, and the last thing you want is a flat ipad on a long car trip. Rear seat climate control is also a bonus for littlies trapped in the back, and make sure there are plenty of cup holders for rear passengers.
FUEL TYPE & EFFICIENCY
Petrol, hybrid, electric – they’re all a bit different in terms of energy consumption. Make sure you get the one that best suits your needs.
Manufacturers will always have an official fuel consumption expressed as litres per 100 kilometres. But this is usually a combination of “urban” and “extra-urban” – aka freeway conditions.
The manner and usage in which you drive your car could make that quite different.
For example, if you’re a parent or grandparent doing school runs and stop-start city driving, your fuel usage will be higher.
EXTENDED FACTORY WARRANTY
The warranty is usually buried in the fine print. Go for five years with unlimited kilometres at least – it shouldn’t be particularly hard as most manufacturers offer five years now. Some manufacturers even offer seven years!
DO YOUR RESEARCH
This is a massive asset you’re buying so do your homework. A site like whichcar.com.au provides plenty of reviews and car comparisons.
Book in test drives and make sure they occur back-to-back, because it’s really easy to forget the feel of a car. Visit a number of different dealers and ask each for their best deal. Some might give you a low interest rate when it comes to financing, but they won’t budge on the price of the car.
Drag along your partner. This is a team decision. And don’t be afraid to take the pram and golf clubs on the test drives if this is necessary. No use getting the new family wagon home only to discover the family doesn’t fit!