What to look for in a family car
What family car features should you look for if you have a big family? Obviously, you'll need more seats but what else is there to consider?
Now dont say a soundproof dropdown screen between the front and back so you dont have to hear the kids screaming and fighting!
I know, when it was just you and your partner, things were cruisy (sorry to remind you of those times). You didn't have to consider child restraint anchorage points or how messy a popper or milk bottle dropped or forgotten in the back seat could be, let alone an icecream (aarrrgh!!!).
How about when you are in the middle of an intersection trying to do a right hand turn and your kid is screaming at the top of their lungs for you, yes you all powerful one, to scrap their half-melted icecream off the floor?
Before kids life was cruisy but you can still achieve some (albeit a pale) reflection of those halycon days.
One way around the constant reminder that you are no longer a child-free couple is to buy a car with a sunroof. At least, you and your partner can pretend you are out cruising in a sports car without a care in the world. Well maybe not when kids are fighting in the back, but a sunroof can be a bit of a thrill and at night when it turns into a moon roof, the kids can look at the night sky and give you, some, a few moments at least! of peace.
But enough of that, let's get practical!
Sliding Doors and Childproof locks
I learned how it puts more stress into your family driving (or rather parking) experiences when you don't have sliding doors and/or childproof locks. Without a care or worry in the world and oblivious to the cost of scratching a parked Merc, Beamer or Rolls next to you, kids always seem to open back doors in a hurry to get out. That's fine if you've left yourself plenty of room. If you didn't and Mighy mite slams the door open onto the beautiful Merc, Beamer or Rolls you happen to be parked next to - uh-oh - a little fun trip to the park can turn into an expensive nightmare!
Sliding doors are a good strategy because they save you having to train kids and modify behaviour! Childproof doors prevent them opening doors while you are driving.
Number of 12volt outlets
No of 12volt outlets in the back (every car has one in the front - it's usually the cig lighter).
You may need to run DVD and other players like Sony Playstations, Xbox or Ninetendo Wees etc..or how about an esky to keep drinks and icecreams cold.
My kids have a Netbook computer on which they play Yahoo Kids but as far as I know (strangely?) computers don't generally charge on 12volts DC. When are manufacturers changing this?
But there is this solution - an inverter. These convert the cars voltage so you can use a laptop in the car but I have heard that you have to make sure it is a pure sine wave not a modified sine wave inverter. The former are more suitable for sensitive electronic equipment though, on the other hand, most laptops run off their battery power anyway so the supply is simply a DC charger making the question of what type of wave inverter irrelevant but...
Disclaimer: Check with your manufacturer re this or do a Google search. The following page has information on the differences between inverters http://www.donrowe.com/inverters/inverter_faq.html
These are often very useful to have in a family car, especially since the squirts so often have a bottle of pop or juice they carry with them on journeys out in the car. Also, it makes things a whole lot easier/less messier when you go through the drive thru of a takeaway burger or other joint and no-one wants to wait till you get home to eat.
Do you have to install these or are they provided with the car - you will usually want to put the baby seat just behind the first row (where the driver sits). Will you have to get these installed so the child restraint can be fitted properly and safely?
Access to the back seat for the kids.
How are the squirts going to get in? Some cars - but these are usually the breadbox on wheel type - will have a gap between the second row seats which means the squirts can go between to get in the back.
Some have a removable side middle seat which makes getting in easier but you lose a seat. If you can sacrifice a middle seat this makes it easier for the squirts to get in and out which brings me to the next issue - the type of doors you will want for your family car.
Sliding Doors or Opening Doors?
When children are young they are not usually very aware I've noticed of other cars when you park yours. Non-sliding doors can be a bit of a hazard in this respect as the squirts get in and out with no regard for the immaculate duco of the BMW or Rolls Royce you' ve just parked next to! Ouch that can hurt the hip pocket.
Of course the more powerful the vehicle the more fuel you will use though a V6 rather than a 4 cylinder will labor far less as a rule but you wont want to be watching the fuel guage going down as you drive!
Diesel is a great way to go as far as economy goes but the number of diesel cars on the market is much smaller so you might have to be lucky to get one if you are not buying your vehicle new.
Is the boot large enough for your family? This is an obvious one if you go on family holidays and need to pack for a large family.
You might also want to consider how easily you can you attach roof racks or a bike rack. Does the car have a towbar or can one be attached easily if these features are not available on the car?
This hub has just been a general tick the boxes type hub. Please contribute any tips you have on family cars! Thanks in advance.