With features like ISOFIX points, under seat storage and child-friendly safety features now becoming the norm, there has never been a better time to lease a family car.
To help you find the best family car for you and your family, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts take a look at ten things you should consider before deciding on your next family car.
It may seem a bit obvious to say this but it makes sense to save money where you can and a fuel efficient car can help you do you just that. Look for a vehicle with a high MPG and you save you money at the fuel pumps.
You should also be aware that larger vehicles such as SUVs and MPVs - unless they are hybrid versions such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - aren't always the most fuel efficient. In fact, hybrid cars can save you quite a bit of fuel, but they, of course, have their limitations on distance (at the moment) when it comes to electric only.
Getting babies and young children in and out of cars can be a problem, especially if your children are young enough to need strapping into a car seat.
Five doors is a given requirement on this occasion and they need to open wide enough to get in and out of, as well as being able to get luggage and the like in too.
If you get the chance on your test drive, also stop the car on an incline and open the doors. Tests have found that some doors won't stay open, which means the door trying to close on you while you load in your children or other passengers.
Having family in the car means that you are going to need good storage options to help avoid the car becoming cluttered with the sort of things that are very much part of a family life, such as children’s toys, food, drinks, mobile phones and tablets.
Storage places to put things are very useful, wherever they are. From the front to the back of the car, compartments can be used store all sorts of equipment to keep passengers entertained. Take a look at the Kia Sorento, Peugeot 3008, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Honda CR-V for cars that feature the best in storage features.
Especially important for child seats, having ISOFIX mounting points is a big plus when choosing a family car required for smaller children.
ISOFIX is the International Organisation for Standardisation standard, which states the anchoring system in a car for permanent child safety seats. This is described as Group 1 Child Seats that are secured with a single attachment at the top and two attachments at the base of each side of the seat that are also part of the car.
When viewing a car with ISOFIX mounting points, take your child car seat along with you to see how easy it is to fit. Cars like the Citroën Grand C4 SpaceTourer, SEAT Alhambra, Ford S-MAX and the Audi Q7 all include ISOFIX mounting points.
From prams and pushchairs to the food shopping for hungry teenagers, boot space is a key consideration in a family car. Add in family holidays and a need to cater for suitcases, toys and sports equipment and a large boot is a must.
Along with the aforementioned Kia Sorento, Peugeot 3008, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Honda CR-V, try the Lexus RX, Mazda 6 and the Honda Civic for boot space. When viewing the car, be sure to take a pram or pushchair with you because looks can be deceiving.
Euro NCAP ratings are given out by the European New Car Assessment Programme based in Brussels as part of the European car safety performance assessment programme and is designed "to help consumers, their families and businesses compare vehicles more easily and to help them identify the safest choice for their needs."
Safety ratings are awarded following a series of vehicle tests that important real life accident scenarios that could result in injured or killed car occupants or other road users. The more stars a car gets, the safer it is.
Check Euro NCAP safety ratings, especially for crash safety and child protection, because you want as much protection as you can get for your family. You can find Euro NCAP's safety ratings on its website. The Subaru XV, Subaru Impreza, Vauxhall Crossland X, Volkswagen T-Roc and Volvo XC60 all stand out for their high safety ratings.
You may want to look around for family cars that are child-friendly and contain such features as:
Many of these are optional extras so tailor your car to your needs.
Making your passengers as comfortable as possible can help stop back-seat arguments involving elbows, legs and cries of "I'm squashed" ruining your own travel experience. So if space is a consideration for you, aim to look for vehicles with as much room in the back as possible.
Some MPVs and SUVs can offer what is known as 'stadium seating' – where the rear seats are higher-set than those up front – giving children a better view to the front, which may help reduce travel sickness
There is also the option of sliding rear seats that can be pushed back to increase rear legroom, or slid forwards to improve boot space. Check out the Volkswagen Golf SV for this. For general best legroom take a look at the Skoda Superb, VW Touran, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, SEAT Alhambra and the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
Another factor that is guided by cost is insurance. As a general rule, safer cars attract less insurance costs and AEB (autonomous emergency braking) is just one feature that helps keep car insurance costs down. Consider the fact that accident avoidance is an important factor for insurance companies, as well as your own personal history.
Finally, tied in with the Euro NCAP rating, car safety is a vitally important consideration. A lot of cars offer advanced safety systems as standard such as AEB (autonomous emergency braking), Brake Assist, Forward-collision warning (FCW), Automatic emergency braking (AEB), Pedestrian detection, Adaptive cruise control, Blind-spot warning, Rear cross-traffic alert and Lane-departure warning (LDW). Check what the car you want offers as standard and what is available as extras.
Another point to consider is if you are able to switch off the passenger airbag. If you need to fit a rear-facing child seat to the front passenger seat, you must choose a car that allows you to deactivate the front airbag as it could be dangerous to the child if it were to go off in an accident. Read the instructions in the owner's manual to locate the airbag 'off' switch and don't forget to reactivate it when you have an adult front-seat passenger.
Have a question about leasing a family car from Nationwide Vehicle Contracts? Call 0345 811 9595 one of our friendly Customer Service Representatives about the options available to you.