Family cars - what do you drive?

Hi everyone,

I'm writing an article about family cars and, not being a mum myself, I thought it best to come and ask the experts!

If you have a few seconds to spare, please can you tell me:

- what are the top five things you look for in a family car?
- do you have any tips for fellow parents on things to consider when choosing their family car?

Thanks in advance!


My Top 5 requirements are;

  • Safety ratings
  • Washable seats, fixtures and fittings
  • Storage space & boot space
  • Isofix points in the rear seats
  • Prettiness (because you can't always be practical)

When I chose the car I have now it was solely to accommodate two children rather than one; my Fiat Punto was perfect for one child, impossible for two. If I had my time again I'd have bought a larger car the first time around, so that I wouldn't have had to spend money buying the larger one. Aside from that I'd say it's always worth learing how to change your oil and a tyre, and having roadside assistance when you have children; there's nothing worse than a flat tyre in pouring rain with two small grumpy boys running about. 

It'd help if you had a car that came with a spare. Only ound out after collecting it that mine came with a can of gunk and no spare, a flippin nightmare.

In my case I needed to look at space first, would it hold my family and a wheelchair, plus shopping etc.
Once we'd narrowed down makes that were big enough  we looked at 
Fuel consumption
Climate Control - normal air con being out
Easily cleanable interior.

When choosing a car look forward to the future and ask will it easily accomodate your amily in 2 or 3 years time, note that 2 door cars are fine with older children but not for those in car seats, don't go for the first car you try, do look at a few to find what suits you best

Size (seven seater)

Seat size (five teenagers)



nearness of dealers

We needed to have a BIG car - seven big seats and then some space for shopping (not a normal car with 'pop up' seats in the boot).  I wanted something that was reliable - I didn't want to have to take out a mortgage to buy it, and living up here on the norfolk coast I wanted to buy one from somewhere that wasn't 100's of miles away so I could take it back if it broke down or needed servicing etc...  The warranty and recovery package was important too.

Thanks for your replies! Please keep em' coming, folks! This is all really useful.

I've been doing some research and some of these family cars look like buses! Some mums have told me they need cars with up to 9 seats to accommodate all their kids plus friends, buggies, etc. That's a whole lot of vehicle! Surely these things are difficult to park?

Have any of you got experience of driving these mammoth cars?

I know someone that used to have a minibus (really) to accommodate all the children plus wheelchair etc.

I had a VW polo, suprisingly spacious. I could get my 2 girls, 12 & 14 and my neice 4 in the back comfortably. Smalls booseat seat couldn't go in the middle seat though.

I would say ....

Comfort for everyone
Boot space
Safety (after the accident we've just had I'm glad I was in a VW is all I can say... )

Good radio/cd player to keep everyone amused when you've run out of Ispy or other
It's good for piling beach stuff in the back, fits loads of shopping, easy to clean seats.


I used to have a Kia Sedona - it was surprisig ly easy to drive and apart from car parks it was easy to park - only problem with car parks is the size of spaces

I can't stand those people carrier things or those cars that are almost 4x4s but not quite, because they normally only have two-wheel drive!

I drive a Ford Focus, which does the job very nicely. I can cram three kids into the back if i really have to, although I virtually never carry more than two. i think my msot important features in a car would be;

Economy - I do a LOT of ferrying around, and with the current price of fuel, a frugal car is a must. I'd love to have a proper 4x4 (not a noddy one!) but the thought of spending £100+ filling up makes me go a little bit faint!

Easy to park - I have rubbish spatial awareness, so need to have good all-round visibility to park safely.

Safety - I am putting the most important things in my life in it. I have had two Saabs and i wish i had another.

Decent boot space - we're beyond the buggy stage but it was a major factor  when we WERE at that stage. If you've got a buggy) or worse, a double buggy) the boot has to be big enough to fit the buggy plus a few bags of shopping, otherwise, its frankly, the wrong car. Again, my old Saab had a truly cavernous boot. You could almost fit a Silver Cross pram in there! Now we need space to carry sports kit, which like work and debt, expands to fit the space available!

Reliability - I CAN change a wheel, i CAN fix bits and pieces, but i don't want to, and i don't want to spend hours sitting by the side of the road waiting for the AA man. If i wanted a deep and fulfilling relationship with the AA man, I'd buy a Lotus. 

I too have a kia sedona jaqui - and yes, it causes problems, it's the width really (oeer matron).

I was in a car park last week and the actual spaces on the ground weren't big enough for my car to go in one - often I can't get out the door because the space is too small - and there is a multi storey where I cannot get around the ramps because of the length.

I also live on tiny country lanes - so that causes it's own issues!

I have a Toyota Corolla which is fantastic for everyday driving. It has a 1.4 engine so is very economical and it isn't huge so parking it isn't an issue. I can get 3 people in the back (but not 3 carseats because the seat isn't flat) and there is reasonable back legroom. The passenger airbag is easily turned off so on the odd occasion I have needed to get 3 carseats in I have turned it off and put one child in the front. It feels a solid car (DH has a Nissan Almera which just feels like a tincan) and has lots of airbags so it feels safe.
Its only downside is that for a car aimed at families it has a small boot (many of the superminis have bigger boots) which is more than adequate for shopping, buggies etc but for going on holiday we have to use a roofbox. I don't need anything bigger for the day to day running around so having to use the roofbox for a few weeks a year works for us; a bigger car would cost us more to run.