In Edmonton, transport forms part of the city’s DNA. Known as The Gateway to The North, transportation is the reason Edmonton exists in the first place, with early settlements near the Saskatchewan River forming the heart of the historic fur trade.

So as an Edmontonian, you’re already geared to know a good car when you see one. But what about a family car? Selecting the ultimate vehicle for your family is an important choice, and can be easier said than done. Unlike selecting a car to get yourself from A to B, you have to consider several additional factors. From kids to pets, grocery shopping to family holidays, you need a car that ticks all your family’s boxes, as well as prioritizing the safety of your family on the road.

 If you’re out to find the perfect family car in Edmonton, here are some crucial considerations to help you make the right choice.

Sort Out Your Priorities

Spaciousness is usually top of the list when it comes to purchasing a family car, but cubic footage is certainly not the only factor worth taking into account. (Space might not even be number one on your list.) Understanding what matters to your family is step one. Unless you set out a clear list of priorities, you may get overwhelmed by the choices of second-hand cars in Edmonton and forget to ask your dealer about something vital. It’s unfortunate when buyers end up choosing a car that somehow falls short of their needs, when they could have found the perfect car, if they had done a little brainstorming before beginning the search.

What should you consider? First and foremost, ask yourself how many seats your family will need. You’ll also want to do your sums when it comes to required fuel economy, and consider what types of terrain your vehicle will be required to drive on. (It would be a shame to buy a big family car for your outdoor adventures if going off the beaten track is out of the question, right?)

 Get The Kids Involved

 Of course, parents ultimately get to decide what car the family gets, but involving the children in the purchasing process can give you new insights into what your family needs, and make the kids feel as if their opinions matter. Even if they don’t know much about cars (though many parents are surprised to discover that their kids know more than they do!) kids are great for pointing out little details that you may have overlooked.

 Bring your kid along for a test drive, and you may be really glad you did. A good used car salesperson will be able to answer those curve-ball questions that kids seem uniquely capable of coming up with!

Work Out A Solid Budget

 With a huge variety of vehicles in Edmonton to choose from, you may end up with a fairly long long-list of options that you’re considering buying for the family. But you have to make that long-list a short-list somehow, and budget is the obvious way to start sorting the options into “realistic” and “maybe if I get that promotion.” While the upfront investment you make on a vehicle is an important consideration, when it comes to making a budget, it’s also important to build the running costs into your calculations, as these extra expenses will be part of your monthly household budget for as long as you use the car. Take a look at your vehicle long-list and work out how much money you will be required to set aside for vehicle costs on a monthly basis.

When you’re doing your sums, it’s crucial to include costs like fuel, tax, and insurance premiums. When it comes to maintenance costs, make sure you include the price of routine checks, like services, as well as building in tyre replacement and other big-ticket expenses that will crop up down the line. For example, how much would replacement parts cost for your vehicle? Would the parts need to be imported? Questions like this will help you know in advance what you will be signed on for month after month, and will ultimately help you make the most sensible decision. Once you’ve got your budget down on paper, you’ll be better equipped to make other decisions.

Consider Buying a Used Vehicle

Purchasing a used car is a fantastic way to provide an excellent vehicle for your family without paying an arm and a leg for the privilege. New cars depreciate so fast. Buying a used car means you won’t waste money on that “new” feeling, so you can afford to spend your budget on a vehicle that answers your genuine priorities.

But unfortunately, not all used vehicles were created equal. Unless you have an impressive knowledge of used cars, you are much more likely to get a good deal on a used car through a reputable local dealer, who can help you ensure that your vehicle delivers on value and quality. If you’re looking for a used car in Edmonton, DriveNation is a highly regarded dealer. Conveniently located on Stony Plain Road, DriveNation offers access to over 300 vehicles backed by expert salesmen.

Door Wisdom

If you’re in the market for a family car, a three-door is probably out of the question. But in the five-door world, there is still a lot of variation in terms of accessibility and practicality. Here are a few things to look out for, door wise:

Wide-opening doors:

If you have a small child, it’s important to find a car that has back doors which open wide enough to allow a child seat to be installed and lifted in and out of the vehicle. This is especially crucial if you have back pain, or are over six feet tall.

Wide-opening doors have the added benefit of providing ease and comfort for your older passengers who may find it physically challenging to step in and out of a vehicle. If the ‘family’ you’re thinking of when you’re on the hunt for a family car includes three generations (i.e. your children, you and your parents) then wide-opening doors are a must.

Sliding Doors:

If you spend a lot of time reversing in and out of tight parking spaces, and you value ease of access to your cargo (including kids in the back) you may like to consider sliding rear doors, like those boasted by some models of people carriers or MPVs, like the VW Sharan or the Ford B-Max.

Door Hinges:

One of a parent’s worst nightmares is the idea of a vehicle door closing on a child when they are trying to get into or out of the car. A car’s open door should stay open until you pull it closed—it should never close by itself—but tests have demonstrated that not all car doors will stay open, especially if you are parked on a hill. When you test-drive your vehicle, you may like to take the opportunity to test how firm the door’s hinges are. Park the vehicle on a hill and open the doors. If the doors stay open, this car may be a safer option than a car whose doors drop shut on an incline.

Consider Stadium Seating

Raised rear seating (also known as “stadium seating”) is a seating arrangement in which the back seats are set higher than the driver and passenger seats. This feature is often found on SUVs, 4X4s and MPVs, all of which represent great options for a family car, depending on your needs.

Stadium seating has a couple of advantages when it comes to transporting family. Firstly, the added height makes fitting child seats that much easier. Secondly, your children or backseat passenger will get a better view of the road up ahead, which is one of the best ways to curb car sickness. If you have a child who is prone to motion sickness, stadium seating can be a lifesaver. If you do opt for a vehicle with stadium seats, remember to check whether the back seat head restraints are easily removable, as they may need to be removed in order to install a child seat.

Take Your Pushchair on the Test Drive

If you have a baby, or are expecting, it’s a good idea to take your pushchair on the test drive, even if your child stays at home. Yes, you may look a little silly arriving at the used car dealership with an empty pushchair, but you’ll be glad you did once you have the added peace of mind of knowing the boot is going to fit your pushchair without your having to do Rubik’s cube every time you want to take your child anywhere. At a glance, a car’s boot may look like it has ample space, but  as many parents have discovered too late: looks can be deceiving. Unless you’re really good at judging volume, it’s best not to assume that the vehicle’s boot will open wide enough for your pushchair to fit. Obviously, if you find a car that is otherwise perfect but your pushchair doesn’t fit perfectly, you do have the option of buying a new pushchair. Even so: rather know in advance that purchasing this car will come with the added expense of a replacement pushchair.

Can the Passenger Airbag be Switched Off?

If you require a rear-facing child seat on your passenger seat, it’s essential that you select a vehicle with the option to deactivate the airbag on the front passenger seat. Fitting a child seat in the front is not recommended, but if the need does arise, it is crucial that you should be able to deactivate the front passenger air bag manually. Speak to your car dealer, or check the instructions on the vehicle’s owner’s manual to see if an airbag ‘off’ switch can be located. (Of course, switching the airbag off periodically means that you will have to remember to switch it back on again once the child seat has been removed.)

Isofix Points

When fitting a child car is part of your day-to-day life, you need a car that makes this process easy and fast. Clip-in Isofix fixtures ensure that the process is smooth, fast and safe. When you’re thinking of buying a used car, ensure that the vehicle has sufficient Isofix points for your needs, and that they are easy to access. It’s even better if you can bring your child seat along with you. That way, you can test out how easily and securely it fits.

Pay Attention to Safety Ratings

 If you’re thinking of buying a particular car, it’s well worth your while speaking to your dealer or doing your own homework about safety ratings to give you a sense of how well prepared your vehicle scores on measures like child protection and crash safety. If you’re unlucky enough to be involved in an accident on the road, your vehicle’s safety rating could make all the difference, so it’s really important to choose a car that offers the highest level of protection. Some vehicles boast advanced safety systems, like autonomous emergency braking, or AEB. This helps by detecting situations in which you are about to crash, and braking on your behalf. Taking the vehicle speed into account, the AEB system can stop the car prior to impact, or at least slow your momentum to reduce impact.  If you do consider a vehicle with AEB, you’ll be pleased to know that you could save on your insurance premium because of how effective they have proven in reducing the likelihood of motor vehicle accidents.

Choose The Best Body Style For Your Needs

 Choosing the best family car for your family can be a minefield. Many manufacturers compete to be the ‘go-to’ family car, using advertising targeted at people wanting to provide the best possible car for their family. Not surprisingly, many people assume that the car manufacturer should be the primary category when it comes to deciding what makes a good family car. However, this might not be the most common-sense approach when it comes to narrowing down our options.

It could be more useful to consider body style. This will allow you to prioritize practical issues, rather than brand or manufacturer-related features, which are not especially helpful.

 For example, while the standard 4-door saloon is a traditional choice for ‘family car’ because of its sizable luggage capacity, this body type may not be flexible because the cabin and the boot are separate. A five-door hatchback is an undeniably practical option, but this won’t be much good if you have some off-road adventures on the family calendar. If pets are a consideration, an estate will offer you heaps of boot space for the furry, four-legged members of your family. Here’s where your list of priorities come in. Use these to determine which body type will be best for your family.

Choosing a family car can be a challenge. These tips will help you work out what matters to your family and find the ideal vehicle to suit your family’s requirements.