Safety over Speed: How to Choose a Family Car

What’s the best car? There is no definite answer to this. It depends mostly on your needs, preferences and financial abilities. The only thing we can help you with is narrowing down your search to cars which have a good reputation, but which are also good for families. What you will surely need is a safe and roomy car, the one with wide entrances and peril-free approaches, lots of storage spaces and an option to switch off the passenger airbag.

Additional requirements, depending on your needs and funds, might include sliding seats, kid-perks such as tinted windows and entertainment systems, or even an MPV body style.



This is the most important feature here. There are several ways of checking your car’s safety. First of all, you can, and should, have a look at the safety tests performed by the likes of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Euro NCAP. However, these tests are standardized (which is good), so many car manufacturers have adapted to the requirements and, knowing what’s tested, started making cars that do good in tests and have more or less success in the real world (which is not so good). This resulted in an ever-increasing number of cars with top safety ratings and made it very difficult to single out the best ones. This is why the tests are getting stricter all the time and this is also why they started marking some unconventional and modern safety features.

For example, you can only go up to a certain point in the attempts to beat physics, so rather than trying to further improve the already amazing collision safety, many manufacturers offer collision preventing technologies, which play a big role in the most recent tests. These have proven to be very useful in both preventing accidents and reducing the damage should the accident happen.

However, there are many cars which have not been tested, so you should also research insurance claims and accident reports, especially if you are buying a used car which has been on the market for a while.

If you are buying an older car, make sure it has ABS. Also, make sure you can unlock the boot from the inside and you can switch off the passenger airbag if you have a baby. If you put your baby in a rear-facing child seat mounted on the passenger’s seat, it is incredibly dangerous to leave the airbag on. Most cars nowadays have an option of software regulated on/off switch.

Also, on a side note, many people feel that Isofix is paramount. Even though it makes mounting a seat a lot easier and faster, and we definitely recommend it, it is not much of a safety feature, so you should consider all of the previously described things more important.


Body style

An SUV is a good and usually safe choice for a family – the new Volvo XC90 has particularly nice marks. However, if you have a lot of city driving, a tanker-sized car is not the best option. Moreover, they do cost more and their regular maintenance and tyres are far more expensive, so you should make sure you can afford to drive an SUV.

Other good family options include MPVs. They are generally very good for travelling. They provide lots of storage space and, despite their size, they are usually easy to drive. Moreover, many of them offer seven seats most of which are sliding, so MPVs tend to be very practical. Just make sure that your pick’s safety rating is good.

Lastly, if you have just one child, you will get far more options. You can go with smaller and sportier cars and even the Hyundai offers a third door in the sporty Veloster although it is hardly a family car. Anyway, a good sedan, or estate such as the Mondeo, or the Mercedes E-Class are great picks for families.


Personal preferences

You need to feel good and safe in the car you drive. Some people like to be able to see from their cars, while others like to feel cocooned in their driving seat. What you need to do is inform yourself about the general stuff described above and then do research about the cars you like. There is a lot of good content online, so this could prove to be more than interesting and it should help you reduce the number of options.

General features

These are important in any car, regardless of the body style. You need to be able to turn around in the car; you need to be able to maneuver without huge pillars blocking your sight most of the time; you should get dark interior to help you conceal the stains that are sure to appear; you need storage space and you should get some sort of entertainment for the kids, such as headrest mounted DVDs. However, these don’t need to be in the car when you buy it, since they are fairly inexpensive and easy to set up.

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