There comes a time for every family when a decision has to be made about a new vehicle. It could be you and your partner – now with a baby and toddler – have outgrown the small car you had as a single woman. You might feel as if you need a vehicle that’s bigger and safer – notwithstanding the risk of being seen as ‘one of those’ women driving around the more affluent suburbs of Australia in 4WDs or an SUV!
But there’s so many to choose from, picking one can be overwhelming.
Just about any vehicle can make a great family vehicle as long as it meets a certain set of criteria. Here are four important factors to consider before purchasing a new vehicle for your household to ensure you have a safe and reliable ride for years to come.
1. The safety rating
Safety should be every parent’s first and foremost concern when shopping for a new ride – and nobody knows safety better than the various state-based automobile associations (eg. NRMA, RACV, RACQ etc) and the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). ANCAP constantly puts new cars through rigorous tests on every vehicle on the market and awards a safety rating up to 5 stars. They look at stability control, structural integrity, anti-lock braking systems, air bags and seat belts. Ask new car dealers for the ANCAP rating or check it for yourself.
2. Fuel economy
The most expensive part of owning a new vehicle is filling the tank. Consider a vehicle’s fuel economy before you sign on the dotted line. What type of driving do you do? If it’s mostly city-based with frequent stop-start, research suggests you might be better off with a hybrid. Look into a vehicle’s fuel economy before making a decision, so you know what you’re getting into.
3. Cargo room
If you’re taking a family holiday or transporting your daughter’s soccer team to practice, you’re going to need a lot of cargo room. When test driving a new car, bring a load of luggage along with you to ensure that your ride is spacious enough to meet your needs. You might be surprised with what you learn from this simple test.
Nobody likes an uncomfortable ride, and nobody complains quite like children. Make sure that your new ride has enough amenities to make your family outings tolerable. Things to look for include cup-holders, rear climate control. You don’t need all the bells and whistles, but a few creature comforts can go a long way.