Most adults remember those carefree casual pre-parental days when you could drop the folding roof, engage sport mode and take off on a random driving adventure. Then, one day, a happy announcement is made and the responsibilities start to pile up. Time to think family.
Now, the family unit can come in all shapes and sizes; manufacturers understand this and build a wide variety of car choices in all shapes and sizes. Whereas back in the dark recesses of time the typical family owned a large saloon or shooting brake, contemporary families can choose from SUVs, crossovers, pickups, estates and hatchbacks. Certainly, it is nice to have a choice but a wide variety means choosing the right vehicle for your brood can get a bit more complex, so perhaps you’d like a few tips.
The criteria you need to consider should include characteristics that make a car family friendly. Safety, comfort, durability, economy of operation, child-friendliness, space, a reasonable purchase price and good resale value must all be considered and don’t forget, you still want something that’s a decent driver too. Just as there is no perfect family, there is no perfect family vehicle that is right for all the people all of the time.
Traditionally, buyers would select those perennial favourites the Mondeo or Passat in saloon or estate format as the household choice but with the emergence of the East European and Korean brands in recent years the selection has never been greater. Skoda, arisen like the Phoenix from the ashes of communism, has the truly excellent Octavia. Value for money is at the heart of the Octavia’s appeal, but just because it’s reasonably cheap, that doesn’t mean it lacks desirability elsewhere. In the same price bracket and perhaps a more interesting offering, there’s the Skoda Yeti. Absolutely masses of room with a versatile seating layout. There’s a 4×4 option as well.
Mazda, Citroen, Hyundai and Kia all have new SUVs or MPVs coming out and there’s still that reliable standby Volvo, beloved of country Mums. Ford are refreshing the terrific Kuga. It’s going to longer with better aero characteristics, have improved fuel figures and some new technologies. For a bit of a left field choice, how about a pickup?
Ford offer the Ranger which comes as a double cab version to suit an outdoorsy family with bikes and tents to tote around. Maybe not quite as comfortable on the road but it does have all the mod cons. In the words of Ford’s own advertising parlance this is a vehicle ‘that loves to play dirty’. Blimey.
There’s far too many options to list here and a serious trawl through the impartial guides is essential if you are to find just the right model for your needs, but just as a parting suggestion, have you considered the Dacia Duster? It’s out next winter. Renault now have a hand in Dacia, a Romanian company, but the car will be built in India. It’s going to be a ‘no frills’ SUV that could start at as little as 10K. If budget is your priority that’s a terrific incentive for a new car.