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Top 5 family car-buying tips

Here are Auto Trader's Top 5 Tips on how to choose your perfect family car.

Words by: First published: 8th September 2015
There are five key factors to finding a great family car: how safe it is; whether the car’s shape is suitable for fitting a family in; the suitability of the seats; the storage; and the specification.

Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be halfway towards parental salvation.
1. Safety
Check whether the car has been awarded a maximum five star Euro NCAP rating – this is the standardised crash safety scoring system across all new cars on sale in Europe – but also look into that car’s individual score for areas such as child occupancy protection, too.

The Volvo XC90, for example, is one of the safest family cars on sale, scoring 97% for adult occupancy protection and 87% for child occupancy protection.
2. Shape
Try to choose a car shape that is tall and boxy. Granted, that may not sound as appealing as a sporty coupe, but having a boxy shell lets you maximise every last litre of space.

A tall car also helps give you a commanding driving position on the road ahead, as well as lighten the load on your back if you’re having to stoop to install child car seats or get buggies in and out.
3. Seats
It’s critical you check the flexibility of those rear seats. Are they all the same size, so you can avoid any arguments about who sits in the middle? Can you slide them forward, making it easier for mum and dad up front to pass things back? Are they easy to tumble and fold, and how many chairs have Isofix points so you can install child car seats?

Remember, if you need a full seven-seater, are nan and granddad going to find it easy to access those rearmost chairs?
4. Storage
Most cars come with plenty of storage cubbies, but be sure to check whether they’re a good size for all your parental paraphernalia. Are they easy to reach if you have any spillages when driving? Do the kids have enough storage if, for example, you want to hide their toys and games when the car is parked up.
5. Specification
Specifying your vehicle correctly will not only help make your life easier, it will help ensure you get a better price for your car when you come to sell it. Remember, dark cabin materials are better at hiding stains and spillages, but also consider options such as a reversing camera in addition to reversing sensors, hill-hold assist to prevent the car from rolling back on any awkward hill start,s plus a panoramic sunroof to increase your sense of space and light. And if you do longer journeys, it’s wise to consider a setup for tablets or DVD screens.