*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Motoring.com.au
When I fell pregnant with my sixth child, we also fell into a debate over our family vehicle. At the time, we owned a Kia Carnival seven seater and the problem for us was, once baby arrived, there were going to be eight of us.
It was a pretty big calling card for my Husband in the argument against having a sixth child altogether, (prior to conception) and I know this expensive fact is seriously considered by many in family planning discussions.
"No problem!" Was my attitude. We'll not need a new car. We'll get by with the seven seater we already own and just rely on two vehicles whenever we all need to go somewhere as a family because..."pfff...how often does that happen?!"
It was a problem solved in my mind and another strong tick in the 'pros' column for the 'have the sixth baby' argument. A win, win for me!
In November 2012, baby number six arrived early but safe and was welcomed into our home with all the special fanfare only a baby can induce. Following a C-section delivery and the extended recovery time that came with it, (which amounts to no driving at all for six long weeks), the boredom and frustration of being stuck at home very quickly set in.
Geographically we were trapped and I was unable to attend a few events in the early days because of the dreaded car situation. (And it pained me to admit it.)
You can bet within days of arriving home with our new bundle of joy, It was I who was on the web searching up a new larger vehicle, just as my Husband had predicted we would need so many months earlier!
Babies do that don't they? How many of us have bought a new car specifically because the family situation has altered or a change is planned down the track? It's not all bad though. I like to think about all the things we gained by having baby number six and naturally, I wouldn't change any of it for all the money in the world.
One of the great things about buying a new vehicle is that you get a new vehicle! There are benefits such as a more modern design and better safety features. (Our new Kia Grand Carnival not only has eight seats but curtain airbags and a much improved powerful engine too.) The extra space and features are plenty and I feel so much safer on the roads now. (Our greater safety standards were proven in our recent car accident.)
So what else should you consider when choosing a new car for your developing family?
First and foremost, (and I am speaking from experience here!), always choose a vehicle with more seats than you think you will need. We have personally upgraded our family car three times now due to family expansion and while I always profess that I seriously never intended to have more than two kids, I think I am living proof that things can change in that department! You never really know how you might feel a few years from now. Besides, when your children get older, a spare seat, be it for extra comfort, storage or a visiting friend's play date, is never going to be a bad thing.
Do your homework. Once you have honed in on the car you think ticks all of your boxes, ask around, look around and see what the experts say. Start small: I initially approached drivers in car parks whenever I saw the Kia we were keen on - What did they think of their vehicle? After only hearing good things, I was convinced it was the vehicle for us.
You can and should check out reviews too, as well as safety studies to see how your specific choices rank next to their competitors. Motoring.com.au is one place that is ideal to find information specifically on this lifestyle and family vehicle category.
Storage with a growing family is of prime importance too. As kids grow and branch out into the world, they join groups and other luggage-toting ventures. Can your car carry all of the equipment easily? Obviously this requires loads of guesswork but it is another factor to consider. Equally important to family life is a holiday - can your new vehicle cope with bundles of luggage or day to day shopping requirements plus prams and what have you?
Booster seat anchor points are a huge consideration for parents of younger children and you should definitely check these out inside any car of interest. Likewise, will all of your children's boosters fit side by side and safely within the available seats of any car you consider? How easy is it to access all of the seats? Mentally map out a seating plan for your family and consider how things will change with time.
Being parents means being on a budget for a couple of decades for most of us. (Maybe longer if your kids particularly love living at home!) How fuel efficient will your proposed new car be to run? Generally the more powerful, the more fuel burned and your cash along with it. Consider the distances you need to cover regularly and your financial situation - will they match? You can do some research into fuel efficiency and environmental factors to help you make your decisions.
What types of features will make driving a pleasant experience for you as a parent? Kids are frustrating and noisy at the best of times making them dangerous passengers when you need to concentrate your hardest. How family friendly is your vehicle?
My Kia, for example, has a pop down fish-eye rear-view mirror so that I can keep an eye on the goings on within my car. Rear sensors to detect children behind your car should be an essential you consider standard with babies and young children and cup holders are a must for preventing spills. Even window tinting is advisable for preventing kids from overheating and getting sunburnt. There are so many things I could include here but decide what's for you and yours and insist on it when making your choices.
Finally, choose a dealer who is willing to go the distance for you, not only on price, but the package in every respect. When we found our Kia, the dealer actually drove it to our home so that we could see it in person. (Given that I was recovering from surgery and we were unable to go in one car to them.) For him it was a whole two hour round trip. Not surprisingly, we were impressed with the service and for the dealer it resulted in a very appreciated sale.
I can still recall our dealer laughing at me while I pretended to drive our chosen vehicle. I was sitting in the driver's seat in our driveway making "Brrrrmmm" sounds since I couldn't actually test drive it myself that day!
What do you consider essential when choosing a vehicle for your family?
Are there any features you wish you had in your current car?
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The Christmas That Was Plus A Blogging End Of Year Linkup
Guest Post: Meet Natalie of Sophisticated Mumma Blog and a Special Festive Knack Recipe Recipe Share
Happy New Year!