Choosing a family car

Family life throws a lot at a car these days so choosing the best one for the job is not easy writes Geraldine Herbert

With safety ratings, storage, space and practicality to consider,choosing a family car can be a difficult and daunting task. Before you make any decision always consider running costs along with the initial purchase price – It’s important to work out an estimate of fuel consumption along with road tax, insurance and maintenance costs to ensure you’re buying a car you can actually afford to drive. Test drive the car, always do a history/finance check and ask a trusted mechanic to look at the car before handing over any cash.

Petrol, Diesel, Hybrid or Electric?

There has never been as much confusion sounding the choice of what should fuel your next family car. Gone is the simple rule of thumb that if you did high mileage you should opt for diesel and if you didn’t then petrol was the best choice. The demonisation of diesel, the emergence of greener alternatives and higher fuel prices looming means its harder to decide what is best for your family. Unless you do very high mileage or need towing capacity there is little reason to opt for diesel also. If you do opt for diesel remember there has been a narrowing of the diesel premium against petrol and lower running costs and strong residual values are no longer guaranteed so you need to consider whether the higher price can be justified. Ideally buy the greenest option you can afford and don’t underestimate how good electric cars are. Ireland is let down by an unreliable network of charging points but electric cars are getting cheaper and the range longer so know longer are they the lacklustre urban runaround to park alongside the family’s proper car, they’re all the car you’re going to need and with instant torque they are even fun to drive. Alternatively consider a hybrid,or a plug in hybrid where by you can dip into the electric car experience of plugging your car in over night without having to endure the dreaded range anxiety. However if you are considering either an EV or a hybrid check how big the boot is as many take up storage space in the boot.

Storage Wars

Kids give a whole new meaning to needing some space so you should ensure that there is enough room for a pram, shopping, travel cots and any other objects you might require? Find a car with lots of storage space but beware of underfloor storage compartments in the rear footwells of some cars. These might seem useful, but not if you’re using an Isofix-mounted child car seat with a support leg, as it can’t safely stand on top of a hollow storage area also look for door and seat pockets, cup-holders and under-seat storage.

Car seats and isofix


Regardless of the type of car seat you choose isofix is the safest option for securing your child’s car seat.  Remember when it comes to buying a car seat  it depends on the age and weight of your baby and the type of car you drive.

Safety rating and airbags


Check the EuroNCAP safety rating of the car you intend to buy and take the time to compare and contrast safety rankings for cars you are considering. Pay particular attention to how many airbags are on offer, airbags activate during a collision, reducing the impact between driver, passengers and the interior. Look for a car with airbags for both the front and rear to ensure all your family are protected.


Geraldine Herbert

23rd May, 2018

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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