5 budget and baby-friendly cars
Without question, a new addition to the family calls for a complete lifestyle change. When expecting a child, a car probably doesn’t immediately spring to mind on the newborn baby checklist. In the midst of pram, nappy and cot shopping, it’s a distant consideration (if a consideration at all). But just a couple of trips in, you will come to know how suited your car actually is for your new family. Having a pushchair bigger than the boot is no fun, nor is attempting to stretch into the rear of the car to secure a baby car seat that’s out of reach.
To help you weigh up all the various baby-friendly options out there, here are five of the best cars for new parents. These provide plenty of boot space, value for money and high driving position for the best visibility yet are small enough to be nippy through town and steer into busy supermarket car parks.
This mid-size crossover is one of the most reliable and practical option on the competitive family market. Oh, and the most distinct too thanks to its quirky style. Its spacious cabin offers plenty of room for bulky child seats while its 416l boot space is plenty for your child’s buggy or pram. Choose from a range of petrol and diesel options to suit your driving needs. You can also choose two or four-wheel drive depending on whether you prefer economy or something on the sturdier side.
Looking for a great all-rounder that’s well built with low running costs? Meet your match – our best selling SUV, the high-riding Nissan Qashqai. It’s reliable, has countless safety features and comes with frugal motoring costs. Inside, the Qashqai’s spacious interior is child friendly, with ISO-Fix fixtures as standard. The 430-litre boot is also great for storing shopping bags and your buggy.
A smaller option among our baby-friendly cars list is the Renault Captur. Small supermini-SUV crossovers are bang in fashion right now and the Captur has the looks to be leading the catwalk. It’s smooth, quiet on the road, more practical than any of its rivals and has a great range of engine choices. We’d recommend the 120 horsepower petrol or 90 horsepower diesel for a good mix of performance and economy.
We’re pretty confident that the Peugeot 3008 will grab attention on the road with its bold looks. It doesn’t just look great either – it also comes with plentiful equipment, safety kit and practicality to suit the needs of everyday family life. What Car? Says that no other car in its class “equal the 3008 for upmarket feel.” This roomy model offers supportive driver’s seat dusk sensing lights and rain-sensing wipers as standard throughout the range.
A concoction of great style, practicality and drivability, the SEAT Leon is arguably one of the best family hatchbacks on the market. Access to rear seats is really easy with plenty of headroom to make installing your child’s car seat easier than ever before. The latest Leon boasts 380 litres of boot space – more than that of its rivals such as the Volvo V40 and Ford Focus.
OUR TOP 5 TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE BEST FAMILY CAR
Check whether the car has been awarded a maximum five star Euro NCAP rating – this is the standardised crash safety scoring system across all new cars on sale in Europe – but also look into that car’s individual score for areas such as child occupancy protection, too.
Try to choose a car shape that is tall and boxy. That may not sound as appealing as a sporty coupe, but having a boxy shell lets you maximise every last litre of space.
A tall car also helps give you a commanding driving position on the road ahead, as well as lighten the load on your back if you’re having to stoop to install child car seats or get buggies in and out.
It’s critical you check the flexibility of those rear seats. Are they all the same size, so you can avoid any arguments about who sits in the middle? Can you slide them forward, making it easier for mum and dad up front to pass things back? Are they easy to tumble and fold, and how many chairs have Isofix points so you can install child car seats? Remember, if you need a full seven-seater, are Nan and Grandad going to find it easy to access those rearmost chairs?
Most cars come with plenty of storage cubbies, but be sure to check whether they’re a good size for all your parental paraphernalia. Are they easy to reach if you have any spillages when driving? Do the kids have enough storage if, for example, you want to hide their toys and games when the car is parked up?
Specifying your vehicle correctly will not only help make your life easier, it will help ensure you get a better price for your car when you come to sell it.
Remember, dark cabin materials are better at hiding stains and spillages, but also consider options such as a reversing camera in addition to reversing sensors, hill-hold assist to prevent the car from rolling back on any awkward hill start, plus a panoramic sunroof to increase your sense of space and light.