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8 Factors to Consider When Upgrading to a Family-Sized Car

8 factors to consider when upgrading to a family sized car header

By Ali Wilkinson on February 3, 2021 in Life Hacks

Most growing families realize they need a bigger car at some point. The transition from a sporty coupe to a minivan can make you feel less-than-cool. However, once you realize the convenience and comfort of a bigger car, you won’t want to go back! Keep reading for a list of factors to consider before you upgrade, as well as tips for choosing your new family car.

Considerations When Upgrading to a Bigger Car

Here are eight factors to contemplate when upgrading to a bigger car.

1. Safety

Safety is likely your number one priority since you’re carrying precious cargo. Before you buy, check out National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ratings and look for a vehicle with five stars.

2. Car seat fit and anchor positioning

Almost all cars now come equipped with the LATCH car seat system. With the LATCH system, your car seat clips into hooks located in the crack between the seat and back of the seat. A third metal hook on the back of the seat further tethers the car seat in place. The LATCH system makes car seats relatively easy to install and uninstall safely, so it’s a must for a family car.

Also, make sure your car seats fit in the car you choose. Rear-facing car seats take up more room than front-facing car seats. Before you buy, install a rear-facing car seat in the second row, and make sure the driver has enough room to sit comfortably in front of it. also offers analyses on how car seats fit into various cars you may be considering.

3. Size and cargo space

The key reason to upgrade to a family-sized car is because you need more space! Get a vehicle that accommodates your new family member and the gear you’ll need to transport — a car seat, stroller, toys and snacks, and extra groceries, to name a few. Think about whether the car will grow with your family. Will you have more children? Do you plan to use the vehicle to take your family on camping or road trips where you’ll need extra cargo space, or is the car mainly for commuting or running errands? Will you carpool to soccer games and playdates? Keep all this in mind when looking at prospective vehicles.

4. Fuel efficiency

As your family grows, so do your living expenses. A fuel-efficient car is not only good for the environment, but it’s also good for your wallet. A vehicle that gets 30 miles per gallon versus 20 could save you more than $500 a year on fuel costs.

5. Climate control

If you buy a large car, make sure it has numerous vents, including in the rear, so passengers in the back seat stay as cool or toasty as those in the front. Some cars also have dual-zone or tri-zone climate control so the driver, passenger, and rear-seat passengers can have their own temperature control.

6. Backseat entertainment options

Many cars come equipped with screens, WiFi connections for smartphones or tablets, HDMI connections for gaming, and even built-in games.

7. Easy-to-clean interior

It only takes an instance of car sickness or a forgotten granola bar to demonstrate the importance of an easy-to-clean interior. Dark upholstery helps hide stains. Vinyl interiors are easier to clean and more stain-resistant than cloth interiors.

8. Extra features

From onboard vacuum cleaners (yes, please!) to built-in coolers to keep drinks chilly, you can explore family-friendly car options. Do you want side window shades? A trunk that opens with the touch of a button? Driver-assistance systems that warn you when you’re close to hitting an object? A back-up camera? All of these options are available at a price.

Tips for Choosing a Family Car

Now that you know what factors to consider, here are some tips to help you decide on a car.

  • Consider future family planning

The car you need for a family of three may look different from the vehicle you need for a family of five. Consider whether the car you’re looking at is a car that you can drive for the next 10 years or more, or whether you’ll need to upgrade again in a few years if another family member arrives.

  • Decide on a budget

Before you buy, carefully consider your budget. Are you hoping to buy a new car, or does your budget make it more realistic to opt for a certified pre-owned vehicle? Don’t forget other expenses that come with having a car, including interest, maintenance, and car insurance.

  • Do your research

A massive amount of online information can help you compare cars and see the various features cars have. Reading reviews and doing advance research will help you narrow in on what cars will work best for your family.

  • Talk to friends

Check in with friends and relatives who’ve upgraded to a bigger car or who drive the vehicle you’re considering. They can give you details you may not consider when researching vehicles

  • Test drive different types of cars

The best way to get a sense of whether the car you’ve been eyeing will work for your family is to drive it. You may want to try out crossover, midsize, and full-size SUVs as well as minivans and station wagons. Test drive your top choices on the same day so you can compare your experiences. Pay attention to how the cars drive and brake, the amount of cargo space, and the space between the first and second rows.


Upgrading to a family car is a big decision. With these factors in mind, you’ll be able to narrow in on the family car that works best for you.

Ali Wilkinson is a consultant for Say Insurance. She's a lawyer and writer based in Portland, Oregon. She has been practicing law for over 15 years, working with clients across a wide range of specialties from accounting malpractice to victims' rights.