The cars we drive reflect the stages of our lives. When starting a family, we graduate from convertible to medium-sized SUV through to seven-seater. But the need for safety features and ever-increasing space as our families grow need not mean compromising on style, comfort and driving pleasure.
This article will take a look at the benefits and important features of the family SUV and discuss what is suitable for a growing family.
Recent research tells us that more and more Australians are choosing to holiday locally. The declining value of the Aussie dollar means that overseas holidays are less affordable for young families. Yet the Australian sense of adventure won’t be reined in just because we are choosing to holiday in Australia. Australian families are embracing the camping holiday and the family road trip more than ever before, often resulting in some big ticket purchases to facilitate these trips.
If you are upgrading your car specifically with family holidays in mind, there are certain things you need to consider. For example, do you intend to take it ‘off road’? Will you be taking it interstate, so undertaking some extended hours of driving? Do you need towing capacity?
SUV – The Modern Family Car
A family car choice that is becoming more popular is the SUV. SUVs have more boot space than a sedan and more style than a station wagon. It is the happy compromise between the standard family car and the monstrosity that is a the 4WD.
Many parents don’t want to drive around suburbia in a car that is designed primarily for off-road outback adventures – it’s a bit overkill. Most just want the capability to explore while they’re on holidays and not be limited by where they can go. An SUV strikes the right balance between school runs and the family adventure.
Another aspect that appeals to parents with a young family is that they can help their children in and out of the car without bending too much. Strapping small children in and out of car seats can be hard on your back, particularly on long trips, with frequent toilet and playground stops. The hip-height of an SUV can easily serve as a nappy change table without too much strain on your back.
The folding seats in an SUV are also great for fitting bulky items, like push bikes, that may not fit easily into a regular boot. If you’re a seasoned camper you’ll know, bringing the kids bikes on a road trip is a must. Most SUVs also have roof racks and towing capabilities – so if you opting for a camp trailer or van, you’ll have all bases covered.
Safety & Efficiency
Car safety is always top of any family’s list of concerns. You can check the crash safety rating of the car you are considering, at ANCAP. Look for cars that have the maximum five star rating. Other safety considerations include ABS brakes, electronic stability control, traction control and air bags for all occupants of the car. It’s also worth considering fuel efficiency to help keep petrol and general running costs down.
Also look for safety features like lane departure warning, blind spot detection and autonomous emergency braking, which all assist the driver to avoid accidents. Rear parking sensors and mounted cameras are important too, especially if you’re spending time in family camp grounds and caravan parks. They are full of children roaming freely on bikes and scooters and rear parking sensors will give you the peace of mind that your reverse path is clear.
Space & Comfort
Drivers of family cars will need something practical and spacious. An average family of two adults and two (or more) kids can accumulate a lot of luggage, so this also needs to be factored in.
Space is a major factor, particularly if you know you’ll be doing some road trips in the future. Look closely at the size of the interior and possible storage space for luggage and camping gear, once all the kids are in their seats. If you can fit your luggage and camping gear in, you can be safe in assuming that you’ll be able to fit prams, groceries, school bags and other day-to-day items as well.
The car will need to be comfortable, particularly if you are planning drives longer than a couple of hours. Look for air conditioning for all rows of the vehicle, heated seats for winter or early morning travelling, and cup holders so you don’t have to keep passing around their drink bottles.
Long car journeys always involve the inevitable whinge of “I’m booooored”. While we all want to limit our kids screen time, sometimes a bit of screen time is the perfect antidote to this. So, when you are looking for a new car, look for fitted iPad holders. They usually come with headphones and a charger, and are fitted to the back of the front-seat headrest. It may seem like a bit of luxury but once that first cry of boredom is uttered, you’ll be patting yourself on the back for getting this feature.
The second inevitable whinge from kids in the car is ‘I’m hungry’. Some of the later model SUVs have a glove box cooler that is linked to the car’s air-conditioning system. So you can have fresh snacks on hand when the whining begins.
When choosing a car and it associated features, practicality is important but so is Mum and Dad’s sanity.
Opting for a seven-seater SUV is a worthwhile consideration. Not only for the extra space it creates, but as your family grows, you will be able to accommodate extra children – whether they be yours or someone else’s. If you have seven seats, you always have a contingency. You might be certain that you are not having any more children, but stranger things have happened! But if your family really is complete, as the kids get older they will get to a stage where siblings and parents are no longer enough, and they’ll want to bring a friend along. If you’ve opted for the seven seats, you’ll have the space to do this.
With this in mind, an SUV will provide space for your growing family and the capabilities needed for family holidays. Comfort and style are also a given – you’ll maintain your ‘cool-factor’ while doing the basketball drop off, as well as deep in the outback or camping on the banks of a countryside river.
Hyundai’s SUVs are as capable off-road as they are stylish and comfortable on road. With AWD, turbo diesel engines and luxurious features like panorama glass roof, heated front seats, reverse camera, Sat Nav and an electric boot, the only question is, are you a 5-seat Tucson or 7-seat Santa Fe family?