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4 Tips for Buying a Family Car

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If you’ve got a growing family, the next car you purchase probably isn’t going to be like the sporty roadster in which you might have driven in your younger days. When it comes to choosing the right vehicle for your brood, it’s time to get practical about your new set of wheels. Here are four things to consider when buying a family car.

Is It Safe?
For most parents, the safety of their children is a top priority. As a starting point, you should check the crash safety ratings published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS researches and evaluates the damage and injuries that could result from vehicle crashes and provides ratings to guide you in selecting safe vehicles. Beyond that, you should brush up on the safety equipment that most newer cars have. Features from lane-maintenance and blind-spot warnings to automatic braking can help keep you and your family safer on the road.

Is It in Your Budget?
If you have a growing family, it may be a smart option to invest in a vehicle that’s larger than you think you need. That way you have a car that can accommodate any expansions in your brood. With that being said, it can be tempting to go too far and overspend on a vehicle that might really pinch your wallet. Take a hard look at what you can afford now and going forward, and commit to staying within that price range. It’s also critical to review all of your auto financing options before you set foot in a car dealership. Many times your bank or another financial institution can get you a better rate than what you’ll be offered by the dealer.

Does It Have Everything You Need?
Once you’ve identified some models that will meet your safety expectations and are within your budget, it’s time to think about what each vehicle has to offer. Passenger and cargo room are key considerations; there should be enough seating for your whole family - plus any potential tag-alongs - and you’ll want ample room for items like groceries, sports equipment, etc.

Good fuel economy is an important consideration as well; in general, the larger the vehicle the higher the cost to fill up the tank. Larger cars can also be more challenging to operate, whether it’s squeezing into your garage or maneuvering on busy highways. Try to strike that balance between having enough room to meet your needs without going overboard on size.

What Useful Extras Are Available?
After narrowing down some options that meet your basic requirements, it’s time to evaluate special features and options that could be beneficial to your family. For instance, if you plan to use the vehicle for camping or other off-road trips, then all-wheel or four-wheel drive might be a necessity. If you have a boat or other recreational vehicles to tow, you’ll want to factor that in as well.

There are other extras that can be invaluable when transporting your tots around town. A passenger entertainment system can keep your kids engaged on long rides; some will even let riders stream from their phones and run different content on each screen. Separate climate controls for each row can keep everyone comfortable and minimize bickering. Another terrific feature that’s showing up on new cars is a rear-passenger alert system, which reminds you that the back seat is occupied if you exit and lock the vehicle. This can be an effective way to avoid the potential tragedy of leaving your child behind in a hot car.

Keeping these tips in mind should make it easier to shop for a family vehicle. Once you find a car that meets your safety and affordability requirements, you’ll be able to focus on the features and options that best suit the needs of your brood. Then you can make a purchase and hit the road knowing that you’ve made a great choice that your family can enjoy for years to come.

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