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So you need a new family car?

By James McRoberts, June 2017

Choosing the best family car isn’t always as straight forward as it seems. There really is a huge amount of choice out there. We have over 60- brands in Australia. There’s just no way you could, or would even want to spend your precious time researching very manufacturers options. So here we explore a simple 6 step strategy to help you narrow down the field and determine what is the best family car option for you and your loved ones.

Note safety features has not been included in any of these steps and I’m going to assume that the safety of your family is paramount in your decision.

Step 1- Who’s going to be in it?

You have to start somewhere and this is logical place. We all know how many members there are in our family, right? Though we may also need to also consider who may pop out in the future? Will extra room be required for any expected, or potentially unexcepted future family members? Have the kids talked you into getting a dog yet? They’re going to want a dog at some point, right? Do you like big or small dogs? What about little Johnny and his mates, are they going to need a lift to footy on weekend? Finally, we shouldn’t forget Granny, we just love taking her out for a counter lunch on Sundays don’t we?

What we find out here in step 1 will give us important clues to what body shape and size we require. The 4 main model types available are compact, sedan, SUV and people mover. Each affords differing levels of space, storage and of course seating.

Step 2 – Where will the car be?

It’s not just about what city you live in, its climate, topography and road conditions. Though these are all key factors to consider. It could also be about where you hope it will be. Will you be heading to the slopes, going camping, going outback or traveling with work?

Importantly, where are you going to be driving regularly? What are the condition of the roads, where are you parking, how is the access for parking at home and at work? This is a critical consideration, as you’ll want to make sure you can easily navigate your car parking areas without running the risk of damaging your new car. So if you were hoping for an SUV and have tight parking, maybe you’re better off in something little smaller

All these factors play primarily in to your decision on what body type best suits my needs, which is the critical first choice on choosing your new family car. They will also guide your decision making in term of some of the technical specifications for your car. Will an All-wheel drive for example to get around those corners, or will you need lots of power to get up those hills?

Step 3 – Determine exactly what you need the car for?

When we are talking about families, one thing I know for sure is that it’s no longer about just getting from A to B. So what are all the things you will likely be doing in your new car? Maybe it’s:

  • to get to work
  • pick the kids up from school
  • take the dog to the park
  • your mobile office
  • or even your mobile home
  • going on the occasional adventure
  • or taking longer journeys up the coast or into the bush
  • will you need to tow the boat or campervan?
  • How much stuff will you need to put in it?
  • What about nipping down to the shops, gym, beach or for a coffee?
  • How important that you look as stylish a possible when doing all these things?

More than likely it will be a combination of some of these and other factors that will drive your decision making process. Start by writing a list of absolutely everything you need to use the car for, in order of importance. This will help you decide or compromise when you look at the options such as model type. Though probably more pertinent here is trying to decide what accessories you want and can afford. So decide what are the must have accessories and what are the desirables.

Step 4 – Do the research

Now that you know what’s important to you, it’s time to get on those review websites. You probably spend a bit of time out on the roads already, so keep your eyes open for suitable cars you like the look off. Then look them up on the net. Talk to people, find out what other people think.

Of course, please don’t only look at manufacturer websites. Have a look for different reviews on the web. Here you’ll get critical information, in particular around safety, which will be one of the key factors in your decision. Though it’s not only expert reviews that are worth reading, look for consumer reviews on forums to see what their actual customers think.

Step 5 – go for a test drive

Now the fun bit. By now you should have narrowed it down to 1 to 3 options. If you have more than that, I’d recommend you get ruthless and cut out those with least amount of desirables identified in step 3.

Get down to your local dealership and put the pedal to the metal and take a test drive. You need to get the ‘feel’ for the cars you have chosen and maybe ask a salesperson a few questions. After test driving your options, you’ll now know what is the best family car for you

I always recommend you buy off your local dealer, they’ll have more incentive to make sure you are well looked after. Your opinion should matter more to them as you can talk to other people in their local area. So don’t bother wasting time driving to multiple dealers of the same brand. They’re unable to deliver much variation in price anyway. If you must, go to only 2 dealers and choose the place who has the best staff and customer service as this is general an indication of how you’ll be treated further down the line once you own the car and need to return for servicing etc.

Step 6 – Purchasing

You’ve chosen your car so now it’s time for the fun bit, getting your hands on a brand-new car! Though before you can do that you have some other thing to consider. Firstly, how are you going to finance the car? There are quite few different financing options available. So to find out what best suits your needs andtalk to the dealership’s Business Manager. They will have access to different lenders covering all the option and they have the most incentive to get you the best deal. There are also great new finance options available in the dealership, where they can guarantee the trade value of your new car when you eventually decide to get your next new car! They can also take care of insurance and extended warranties for you. Now simply pay the deposit and await delivery of your brand new family car.