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5 Things to Look for in a Family Car

Finance | 06/04/2023 12:17

When you have your first kid a lot of things change–including what you need to look for in a new car. The sporty coupe of your younger days is no longer a practical option, so you may find yourself scouring Kelley Blue Book reviews to find the next set of wheels for your family. So what are the must-haves when it comes to getting a family car?

Here are 5 things you should look for in a family car.

#1: A High Safety Rating (and Added Safety Features)

Safety is the most important thing when it comes to picking out a family car. There are a number of things that contribute to how safe a car is. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) evaluate new cars every year to determine how well they protect the occupants during a crash. The IIHS uses Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ as a ratings system and the NHTSA uses a 5-Star Safety Ratings Program. But they both measure similar aspects of safety, performing the following tests to determine how safe a vehicle is:

  • A Frontal Crash Test Scenario

  • Side Barrier Crash Test Scenario

  • Side Pole Crash Test Scenario

  • Rollover Resistance Test Scenario


All of these tests are performed to determine the safety of a car and these will inform the rating that each institution awards them. 


High safety ratings will give you peace of mind that the car you are selecting will perform well if there is an accident. But there are some additional things you should look for in addition to a high safety rating to ensure your car is safe enough for the whole family.

The Size 

In general, bigger cars are safer because there is more to protect you. A minivan will provide much more physical protection for you than a small coupe will. Many safety tests compare cars of similar sizes so that you are comparing apples to apples, but larger vehicles are in general a safer option. According to the IIHS:

  • Minivans have the lowest collision fatality rate with a driver death rate of 25 per million.

  • Pick-up trucks have a collision fatality rate of 52 driver deaths per million. 

  • Cars have a driver death rate of 56 per million.

  • Four door mini cars have an average driver death rate of 82 deaths per million.

The Body Build

New cars today are built to be safer than older cars. They are designed to brace for accidents and crumble in ways that will protect the occupants inside. A newer car that is designed for family use will be safer than an older model.

Airbag Safety

Airbags are incredibly important when it comes to vehicle safety. In fact, studies have shown that front airbags reduce driver fatalities by 29%. Recent additions of side airbags to newer cars have saved even more lives, with the IIHS reporting that these additional airbags have reduced driver death by 37% in cars and a whopping 52% in SUVs. Considering the amount and placement of airbags in your new family car could literally save your life.

Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

While this may seem like an unnecessary feature to older generations accustomed to checking tire pressure manually, these monitoring systems are a huge safety feature.These became the law in 2007 and the NHTSA estimates that it saves about 80 lives and prevents over 10,000 accidents every year. While this isn’t a concern in newer cars, be sure that any used car you are considering has this feature.

Additional Safety Features 

There are a number of additional safety features that manufacturers have been rolling out in recent years. Some of them are not especially proven, but some are definitely worth any added costs. The NHTSA recommends the following when looking for a new car:

  • Forward Collision Warning

  • Lane Departure Warning

  • Automatic Emergency Braking

  • Rearview Video System

#2: Enough Seating

Safety is the top concern when looking for a family car, but seating is also a huge consideration that can’t be ignored. Of course you will need enough seats for your immediate family, but you should also think about the future. Do you need additional room for car seats and booster seats? Do you anticipate friends tagging along on trips? Is there a possibility of sports carpooling on the horizon? Will you need a space or a seat for the family pet? When you figure out how many seats you will need, you can then think about the specific type of vehicle–car, SUV, minivan, or truck–that will work best for you.

#3: Storage for Everything

A family car needs to be practical for your everyday life. This means grocery trips, sports gear, luggage–the list goes on and on. So it’s important that your family car has excellent storage. A large trunk and seats that fold flat will all help you to store as much as possible in your car when the time comes.

#4: Backseat Extras

Little extras can make your car trips a lot easier. Cupholders give your kids a place to keep their drink that is easy to access, USB ports allow them to charge their phones and devices independently, and back seat pockets give them a place to get organized. Some luxury cars even have tray tables and adjustable seats, but you don’t need to go too crazy. A few backseat comforts can make your trip more enjoyable for you and your kids.

#5: Keyless Entry and Power Doors

This may seem like a small thing, especially if you do not yet have kids. But the second you bring your first child home you will realize that you do not have enough arms for everything. Early on you will be lugging the car seat and diaper bag, and then you will move on to toys and backpacks and sports equipment. And all of this can be miserable if you have to fumble for your keys every time you go to load up. But keyless entry will make your life a lot easier. It is more and more standard on new cars nowadays, but keep your eye out for it just in case. Power doors can similarly make your life easier. Closing your backseat doors with the push of a button will make all the difference some days.

Those are five things you should look for when buying a family car.

Buying a family car is a big deal. You spend a lot of time in the car, especially when you have kids that you are constantly driving. So it’s important to pick a car that you like and enjoy AND that is safe for the whole family.


Already have your dream family car? Consider refinancing your car loan with Auto Approve!


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