When you first pass your driving test and are free to hit the open road, most people dream of having a convertible car that’ll look the part as they’re cruising down the highway. Alas, all dreams have to come to an end (if they ever came true in the first place), and there’ll be a time when it’s simply not appropriate to have a vehicle that is all style, all substance, but patently not right for your new circumstances. We’re talking about when you and your partner decide to have a child. When that happens, it’s high time you invest in a car that’ll be ideal for everyone in your clan. Below, we take a look at what you’ll need to think about when it comes to buying your first family car.
How Much Space Do You Need?
A hot rod two-seater won’t be of any use when there’s another body you need to transport. At a minimum, you’ll need to have a car that can comfortably house you, your partner, and any children you’re expecting. And of course, it goes without saying that it’s not just your new child (or children) you’ll need to need to fit into the car; there’s also the matter of prams, baby supplies, and the option to bring along the grandparents for the ride, too.
What Are Your Future Plans?
You won’t just be buying a car for one or two years. For your investment to be worthwhile, you should look at keeping your vehicle for the long-term. As such, it’s worth thinking about your future plans. If you’re deadset on just having the one child, then you can go ahead with your purchase with only your present circumstances in your mind. However, if you’re planning to have more children in the future, it’ll be worthwhile buying a car that can accommodate a growing clan. If you don’t end up having more children, then you’ll make use of the extra space in other ways (we’re thinking, carting around your child’s sporting equipment and the like).
Safe for the Family
Forget looks, forget entertainment features: those things are bonuses, not necessities. What is essential is that your car is as safe as can be. Cars are capable of having many safety features these days, but not all will come as standard, so make sure whatever car you’re thinking of buying offers more than enough protection for you, your partner, and your little one. Cars like the Subaru Outback, which was built with families in mind, are highly rated for their safety features, making them an ideal choice when safety is a priority. As well as offering sufficient levels of protection, having a car that has plenty of safety features will give the peace of mind you need to drive your child around knowing they’re as safe as can be.
Being a parent is a varied, versatile job, and this should be reflected in the car you drive. A family isn’t just about taking care of one role; it’s about taking care of many tasks, and that means your car needs to be ready to handle whatever comes its way. If you’re also in the process of putting together your house, you’ll want a car that is large enough to transport all the bulky items you’ll have in your home. When your children are older, you’ll want to have the space to take camping supplies and the like along with you when you go on trips.
Cruise Control Parenting
We’re sure you already know that parenting is a full-on job. You’ll be tired, you’ll be juggling a thousand things in your mind, and you’ll also have to take care of all the essentials, such as food shopping. This is why it’s essential to have a car that’s easy to get into. If you’re carrying a child, you’ll appreciate small features like keyless entry. Once you’re in, an automatic start feature will help you to get on the road without worrying about where you put the key when you were in a rush. You’ll have enough on your plate as it is, and will appreciate the small features that make parenting that little bit more straightforward.
Bringing the Fun
There’s definitely to be said for all those classic car games that can keep the whole family entertained for…oh, ten minutes or so. In today’s world, you don’t have to rely on the games of old, as fun as they may be. You’ll be able to have things like television screens, DVD players, and advanced music systems all installed in your car. You might only be playing as many versions of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ as you can get your hands on during the first couple of years of your child’s life, but you won’t mind if it helps to keep your baby asleep or otherwise entertained when you’re on the road.
How Much To Run
You’re going to have a lot of bills on your hands when your child arrives. The cost of having a baby is rather expensive these days, and as such you might need to cut on some of your other expenses. As such, it’s important that you consider not just the base price of the vehicle that you’re considering buying, but how economical it is when it comes to fuel efficiency. Any taxes it’s liable for, and how much insurance will cost, should also be factored into the overall price of the vehicle.
Where Will You Be Going?
When selecting any car, it’s crucial that you keep what you’ll be using the vehicle for at the forefront of your mind. If you live in a city, then you’ll want a car that can handle busy traffic and small parking spaces. However, some cities have public transport that is so efficient that it’s not worthwhile driving there. If that’s your home city, think about what you will be using the car for, such as going on long-distance journeys to see relatives, and so on.
One car might be perfect for one destination, and positively terrible for another, all because of the weather. If you live in a place that receives a lot of snow, then it goes without saying that you’ll need to have a vehicle that can comfortably go about its business no matter how many inches have fallen the night before. If you live in a sunny year-round climate, then select a car that has seats and an exterior with a light color; it’ll reflect the heat away and help keep things cool.
Staying in Touch With the Clan
We live in an interconnected age, and with a new baby in the family, you’re going to be in near constant contact with your partner. Make sure your vehicle has the technological capabilities to place calls with ease. If you can’t do it through your dashboard, then you’re going to spend more time than you’d like trying to get your phone out of your pocket to make a call, which will also compromise the safety. If necessary, get a phone holder so you can touch the screen without fidgeting too much.
For You, Too
The car will be selected primarily with your child in mind, but in this day and age, you don’t have to choose between safety and style. Many cars have both. While safety should always be given top billing, remember that you’re the one who’s going to be driving this car around; it should be fun for you too. Test a few vehicles and make sure how much fun it is to ride is factored into the final decision process. You won’t mind making all the runs to and from pre-school if you enjoy driving around town in your car.
Think About Cleaning
There’s an open secret about children: they’re messy. As such, consider how easy a car is to clean. There’s going to spillages, vomit, and just about everything else present at one time or another in the car you buy. How hard will those things be to clean up? It might be a good idea to opt for leather seats, as it’s much easier to clean than the usual upholstery. If not, then invest in a solid cordless vacuum; you’ll be grateful for it when you’re trying to get rid of all the crumbs that have accumulated in your back seats.
Do Your Research
No matter what your requirements are, it’s imperative that you conduct your own thorough research before buying a car. The needs of you and your family will be different to another family, and thus you might end up with a car that works just for you, nobody else. Make a list of all the things you want and then test drive a few to see which car works best.
It’s not always easy making the transition from cool hot rod to family vehicle, but as we’ve shown above, family cars can also be cool and fun to drive!