In the market for your next family car? Car ownership has hit all-time highs this past year, with 91.3 percent of households having access to at least one car. Even despite the events of last year, Americans still went car shopping. With the average age of cars on the road creeping up to over 11 years, many families are in the market for their next vehicle. Whether it’s due to a growing family, or because you got into an accident and need to replace your car, buying a family car doesn’t just come with considerations of price and aesthetics. From safety records and family needs to the all-important affordability factor, here’s what you need to think about when choosing your next family car.
buying a new car tips

Understand Your Family Finances – Upfront And Monthly

Before choosing a car, decide on your family’s price point. If you don’t have a family budget, this is the perfect time to draw up one. This will give you a good idea of how much you can afford, and help you decide whether you will buy your family car outright or on finance. Pick a monthly payment that you can comfortably afford if you plan on using auto financing. Be sure to include the entire ownership costs of a car, such as insurance, gas, and car maintenance.
According to data from, it costs $5,264.58 to own a car per year in the U.S. However, this varies according to your location, car model, and other factors. For instance, in New York, the average car insurance premium is $1,582 annually – almost 11 percent higher than the national average. However, car insurance policies in South Carolina average $1,361. Also, you can use an auto loan calculator to get a glimpse of what your monthly repayments and interest rates would look like. According to advice from Bank of America and Edmunds, you can expect your monthly car payments to drop by $15 to $18 for every additional $1,000 downpayment you add.

Do Your Homework On The Safety Ratings

One of the most important considerations when buying a family car is its safety ratings. Every parent wants to be assured that their car will keep their loved ones safe – even if they have to spend a bit more. A good way to find out safety ratings for car models you may be considering is to head to the NHTSA’s 5- Star Safety Ratings. Combined with consumer and expert reviews of SUVs, trucks, and other large family cars, you can get a good idea of what car models are safe and perform well on the road. Reviews will tell you all the top features that past owners like and dislike, which means you are getting honest opinions from people who have actually driven the vehicle on fuel economy, navigation, and handling – instead of a salesperson in a dealership.

Make A List Of Your Family’s Needs, And ‘Nice To Have’s

The next thing on your list should be deciding on what the ideal family car looks like in your eyes. The majority of car shoppers have no idea of the kind of car they’re looking for when they begin car shopping. However, narrowing it down to a family car that suits all your needs ensures you make the right choice – a car that will grow with your family. The easiest way to do this is to create a list with two columns: non-negotiable features and elective features.
When making your list, think of factors like the size of your family (and any plans to grow your family), the age ranges and abilites of family members, and what you plan on using your family car for. If you’re a mom who will be shuffling kids to soccer practice and running errands, you’ll need plenty of space. Other families may like smart functionality and integration features like touchscreens or smartphone integration to keep kids entertained on road trips and long drives.
Don’t forget to separate your list, distinguishing between must-have car features like certain safety ratings or reliability, and additional perks like heated seats. This will be a valuable point when negotiating the final price of your car and your final choice. There are so many options out there for a family car. The trick is finding the one that is right for your family. This can get you off to a good start.