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What are the best cars for babies and young families?

What are the best cars for babies and young families?

By Swansway Motor Group 28-06-2018

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Having a baby, whether it’s your first, or your fifth, is a nerve-wracking time, so, anything that makes life easier for parents-to-be is to be welcomed. Motoring journalist, John Swift, looks at what makes the perfect young family car.

What are the best car boots for prams?

Having a baby, whether it’s your first, or your fifth, is a nerve-wracking time, so, anything that makes life easier for parents-to-be is to be welcomed.

Sleeping baby in a car seat


Thinking ahead helps and an area you can focus on before the birth is finding the best car for the carrying all the baby paraphernalia; mainly transporting your baby’s transport – the pram. Choose the wrong one and you’ll be adding stress to your day to day life.

Prams or travel systems, as they’re called today, are sometimes not as foldable as you might expect, meaning the dimensions of your boot can be crucial. Don’t buy a pram until you can be absolutely sure that it will fit in your boot.

Pram crammed into a car boot

The first thing you need to do may seem fairly obvious; if you have a four door saloon you need to change it for a five door hatchback, SUV or an MPV people carrier, such as a VW Touran.

The second thing to think about is that while a sloping roof may look good, it will do you few favours, either when you’re getting baby in and out of the rear of the car or in terms of usable boot-space.

Look for the size of the boot space which should be in the car data and is given in litres. For example the SEAT Leon SC, a three door coupé, has 1,150 litres when measured with the back seats laid flat, but the five door hatchback has 1,210. If you want maximum room, SEAT also makes an estate version which has 1,470 litres enough space for twins or even triplets….

Here are some of the best mid-market family cars with big boots for prams and paraphernalia.

Explore hatchbacks  Explore SUV  Explore MPV


Up to £20,000

Honda Jazz

Honda has an ace up its sleeve, with not just the boot space, but something it calls `magic seats’ which it designed and engineered expressly for collapsible, but still bulky items such as a pram. By folding a rear seat upwards there is room to carry a pram. Use it once and you will be hooked, they’re brilliant. Maximum boot space is 1,314 litres which is pretty darn good, but it’s the magic seat which gives the little Honda its big advantage.

Honda Jazz with Magic seat raised

Explore the Honda Jazz


Citroën Berlingo Multispace

Forget the van-with-windows look; this is one of the most practical cars for a young family on the market. A mini-MPV which, with the back seats down has a huge 3,000 litres of boot space. You could run a nursery in it let alone put a pram there! The Peugeot Tepee is closely related to it mechanically and has the same dimensions. These two cars and others such as the Ford B-MAX offer one other huge attraction which is the practicality of sliding, rather than hinged rear doors. These have a much bigger opening and make it easier to lift a baby or infant seat in or out.

Interior space in Berlingo Multispace

Explore the Citroën Berlingo Multispace


FIAT 500 L Wagon

Not as big as the Citroën or Peugeot, this is the biggest of the 500s and built for families who need more room, but want to keep some of the cheeky charm of the little supermini. You can get it in seven seat form; it has a maximum of 1,509 litres, but more importantly it has a square-ish shape which cuts down on wasted space.

Interior of FIAT 500L Wagon

Explore the FIAT 500 L Wagon


£20,000 to £25,000

It’s around this price point that we see some of the nicer SUVs coming in such as the Kia Sportage, a perennially popular car and good for families. SUVs are very much the flavour of the month, but bear in mind that the lip height of the boot tends to be higher than that of a hatchback and you don’t want to struggle lifting a pram in and out at any time, least of all when you’re bone-tired from parenting.

Mid-size MPVs may seem less glamorous, but they’re often a more practical option. Renault pretty much invented this sector back in 1996 with the first Scenic and another French car giant, Citroën joined the game with the Picasso.

Now renamed as the:

Citroën C4 Space Tourer and Grand Space Tourer

Citroën has come back with a bang and these mid-size MPVs, five and seven seaters respectively, are brilliant family cars.

Both look so much better than some of the of the boxier MPV styling and while the C4 Space Tourer is a conventional five-seater, the Grand Space Tourer offers another level of practicality and versatility with a pair of seats which fold down flat when not in use but are perfectly acceptable for adults when locked into position.

Citroen C4 SpaceTourer and Grand SpaceTourer

Explore the Citroën C4 SpaceTourer  Explore the CItroën Grand C4 SpaceTourer


Peugeot 308 SW Estate

Estate versions of hatchbacks have fallen out of favour a bit as buyers switch to SUVs but it is wrong to overlook them if you need and use your car for carrying an infant, their pram and accompanying kit. To take just one typical example, Peugeot’s 308 SW estate has a maximum load space of 1,775 litres, the otherwise identical 308 hatchback 1,309. For a premium of less than £1,000 you get around a third more space and you may be grateful of it every time you swing in a pram and associated paraphernalia.

Puttng stuff into the boot of a Peugeot 308 SW Estate

Explore the Peugeot 308 SW


£25,000 to £35,000

In this price bracket and above you get what are essentially bigger versions of the aforementioned types of car, all with the same advantages, only magnified. It’s an up-sizing game, with smaller MPV making way for larger siblings, VW Touran, the Citroen C4 SpaceTourer for the Grand SpaceTourer and so on.

Selecting one car here is impossible, they’re all plenty roomy enough; so, if you’re lucky enough to have this kind of budget you can indulge yourself and your family!

What I would say is just check an SUV carefully and look at the lip height before you buy one. It’s one thing swinging in a carrier bag full of shopping which is at the end of your arms, quite another to bend down and pick up a pram from floor level. Remember SUVs sit higher off the road and so the boot area is higher than that of an SUV or estate.

Explore new cars  Explore used cars


Put your baby/child's safety first

As well as selecting a car on the suitability of its boot for a pram, you should look for cars with ISOFIX child seat anchorage points. These are metal locks by the back seats which are part of the car’s structure and once attached to them the infant’s seat becomes part of it, making it far less likely to come loose and roll around in emergency braking, let alone an impact.

ISOFIX is not always found on used cars, but it’s absolutely worth seeking out.

Child car seat locked in using the ISOFIX system


What’s the safest way to transport babies and children?

  • Secure baby/child seats in the back seats of the car. It’s statistically a safer place than the front passenger seat.

If you have to use the front passenger seat you must:

  • Fit the car seat so that it faces towards the rear of the car and the back rest.
  • You MUST disable the passenger airbag; one analyst likened the force of an airbag hitting your baby/child seat as that of taking a punch from a professional boxer.
  • The switch for turning off the passenger airbag is often located in the glovebox or underneath it.

Crash test dummies showing how forceful an airbag going off into a baby seat can be


 

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